August 24, 2010

Baseball round-up: where former players are now

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – As the summer comes to a close, Tennessee Tech boasts eight former baseball players as active in professional baseball, four of whom were members of the 2010 OVC regular season championship team.

Former Golden Eagle slugger A.J. Kirby-Jones has taken his skills to Vancouver after being drafted in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player draft. A first baseman for the Canadians, the Class-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, Kirby-Jones has tied* the home run record for most long balls in a short season with 12 bombs this summer.

Batting .246 for the Canadians, Kibry-Jones has contributed 51 hits in 207 at-bats, notching six doubles and bringing in 32 runs. He is slugging a .449 and maintains an on-base percentage of .415.

Kirby-Jones was voted the Northwest League player of the week for the week of July 25-August 2 when he batted .391 on the week with five home runs – including his first career grand slam - and nine RBI.

Stephen Pryor, the primary closer for Tech last season and known to throw at velocities lingering in the mid-90’s, was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the fifth round of the 2010 draft.

The right-hander currently plays with the Clinton Lumberkings, a Mariners’ Class-A affiliate and member of the Midwest League. Formerly a player for the Everett AquaSox, Pryor has a 7.36 ERA with Clinton, having pitched 25.2 innings, striking out 39. Pryor has held his opponents to a .196 average over the course of his career in the minors.

Southpaw Adam Liberatore, a 21st round draftee out of Tech, has signed with the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Class-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

In 22.1 innings pitched, Liberatore has fanned 28 batters, throwing for seven earned runs in 14 games, earning a 2.82 ERA. He has held his opposing batters to a .296 average, and has a 2-1 record with two saves.

Lee Henry, a prominent righty for Tech, has signed with the Pensacola Pelicans of the American Association. With the Pelicans, Henry has a 1-0 record with a 3.10 ERA. Having appeared in 19 games and earning three saves, Henry has pitched 40.2 innings and fanned 43 batters.

After being drafted in 2009 by the Kansas City Royals in the 22nd round, southpaw Ryan Dennick is currently active with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the Class-A affiliate of the Royals. Prior to his stint with Wilmington, Dennick pitched 43.2 innings in 27 games for the Burlington Bees, holding opponents to a .260 average for a 304 record with 41 K’s and a 4.33 ERA.

With Wilmington, Dennick has pitched seven innings in four games, fanning five batters and holding them to a .296 average for a 2.86 ERA. He has a 0.00 ERA in games played on the road, maintaining a .143 opposing batter average away from home. Additionally, his career stats boast a 4.4 record with a a .426 ERA in 50.2 innings pitched.

Bubbie Buzachero, a right-handed pitcher who has been in the minors since 2005, is currently with the Corpus Christi Hooks. In his 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 seasons, Buzachero played for six different programs and held down ERA’s under 4.00 in every season.

In the 2010 season thus far, Buzachero has maintained a a 6.43 ERA, having pitched 78.1 innings in 36 games, holding opponents to a .307 average with 47 K’s for New Hampshire, Corpus Christi and Las Vegas.

Two former Golden Eagles have reunited in the minors. Casey Benjamin, drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2003 and Jim Ed Warden (Cleveland, 2001) are both active with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

With the Blue Crabs this season, Benjamin has appeared in 92 games for 368 at-bats. He boasts a .307 average with 113 hits – 40 of which were for extra bases. He’s brought home 57 RBI and earned 36 free bases to contributed to his .527 OBP. Benjamin has rounded the bases 49 times himself during the 2010 season.

Warden, a pitcher for the Blue Crabs, has a 4-3 record this season, having pitched 45.2 innings, earning a 2.37 ERA and holding opponents to a .193 average. He’s given up only 12 earned runs in 46 games, and has also earned 24 saves.

*or broken, as the prior record involved steroid use