Boys of Summer: Former Golden Eagles heat up as seasons come to an end
Sep 10, 2012
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Former Tennessee Tech baseball player Adam Liberatore made his prescence felt over the final month of the regular season for the Durham Bulls. He may have to wait for a big league audition, but the wait should be well worth it for the Tampa Bay Rays, who boast one of baseball's best pitching staffs.
Liberatore is one of six former Golden Eagles in the major leagues this year. All have shown flashes of brilliance this season and many have earned promotions for their hard work. Take a closer look at the former TTU Golden Eagles:
Adam Liberatore – P – #34
Current Club: Durham Bulls (Triple-A)
Parent Club: Tampa Bay Rays
UPDATE: Liberatore tore up Triple-A hitting since his mid-July call-up. He allowed just three earned runs in 16 appearances spanning 21.0 innings. His 1.29 ERA as a Durham Bull was fantastic, as were the 21 strikeouts to only eight walks. He allowed just a .225 average by batters and really finished the season on a stellar streak.
Over his final 10.2 innings, Liberatore allowed zero runs, only five hits, and struck out and obscene 16 batters. He struck out a season-high five batters twice and gave up zero home runs. The Bulls finished the season 66-78, taking third place in the International League South.
Adam Liberatore started the year with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits before a mid-July call-up from the Triple-A Durham Bulls. Since the promotion, Liberatore has been on fire in his seven appearances with the team. In 6.2 innnings, he hasn't allowed a runner to score giving him a 0.00 ERA. He has also struck out four batters during that time.
Before the call-up, Liberatore earned a 3-4 record as a Biscuit. His 2.94 ERA came over 52 innings pitched in 33 games. He struck out 27 during that span.
The Durham Bulls are 55-61 this season in the International League. They sit third in the South Division standings and are 5-5 in their last 10 contests.
The next step for Liberatore is to earn a possible September call-up from the Tampa Bay Rays when the MLB rosters expand from 25 to 40 players.
Stephen Pryor – P - #46
Current Club: Seattle Mariners (MLB)
UPDATE: Since we last checked in with Pryor, he has cooled off just a tad, allowing four earned runs since August 6. Despite the runs, he still owns a respectable 2.93 ERA in 17 appearances. He's pitched 15.1 innings, striking out 19 batters while only walking six.
On Aug. 7, Pryor struck out a career-best four batters in 1.2 innings of work against the Baltimore Orioles, who are just one game back of the Yankees for the AL East lead. The Mariners own a 67-74 record while playing in a tough AL West division that boasts three teams that are within one game of a playoff spot.
Stephen Pryor began the year with the Jackson Generals of the Class AA Southern League and progressed quickly from there. After amassing a 1.13 ERA over just 11 games, Pryor was called up to the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. He spent less than a month as a Rainier before making his major league debut with the Seattle Mariners on June 2, 2012 against the Chicago White Sox.
In only his fourth MLB appearance, Pryor combined with five other Mariners for a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 8. Pryor struck out a batter and earned the victory for his first career win. On the season, he has seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched. He owns a 1.42 ERA and has given up just one earned run in seven games.
After a stint on the disabled list, Pryor was recalled Tuesday, July 31. In his first appearance since coming off the DL, he struck out two batters while allowing no runs in an inning of work against the New York Yankees on August 3.
In 20 innings as a member of the Triple-A Tacoma Raniers, Pryor has yet to allow a run and has also struck out 20 batters. During that time, he also recorded three saves and allowed an incredible .159 batting average against his opponents.
The Mariners own a 51-59 record this season and sit fourth in the top-heavy American League West Division. The team has won eight of its last 10 games.
UPDATE: Kirby-Jones showed improvement since our last check-in with him. His OBP improved to a solid .382 and he smashed seven homers since Aug. 6. He raked in 69 RBIs to lead the team and also led the team in walks with 86. His OPS climbed to a steady .843, the highest of anyone on the Ports who played at least 80 games with the team.
The Ports finished the regular season with a 28-42 record, finding it difficult to remain in the California League North hunt with call-ups helping the parent team Oakland Athletics work their way into playoff contention.
A.J. Kirby-Jones has spent his third professional season making a name for himself for the Stockton Ports of the California League. While batting .248 this year, Kirby-Jones has managed to climb to the top of several other statistical categories for his team. He sits in the top three in OBP (.377), homeruns (14), RBIs (52, and OPS (.816) for the Ports. His team-leading 64 walks have been good enough to rank him second in the entire California League. In the spring, Kirby-Jones earned the California League Player of Week award for the week of April 23, 2012.
In his last 10 games, Kirby-Jones has drawn six walks and driven in five runs while accumulating a .342 on base percentage. The Ports are currently 17-26 on the year, but have won six of their last 10 games.
The next step for Kirby-Jones will be to earn a call-up to the Double-A Midland RockHounds of the Texas League.
Chad Oberacker – OF – #2
Current Club: Stockton Ports (Advanced Single-A)
MLB Parent Club: Oakland Athletics
UPDATE: Oberacker cooled down a tad since his early season call-up, which is to be expected when facing better competition. Despite the decline in numbers, he still managed to hit .260 and lead the team in several categories over 107 games played.
Oberacker sat atop six different categories for the Ports this season. Among them included: hits (118), doubles (25), triples (7), at bats (454), runs (64), and stolen bases (25). He also finished third on the team with 43 walks and popped 13 homers as well.
Chad Oberacker joined former TTU teammate A.J. Kirby-Jones on the Stockton Ports after just 16 games as a member of the Single-A Burlington Bees. Since the call-up, Oberacker is batting .273 with a team-leading six triples and 22 stolen bases. He has also tallied 50 runs (3rd on team), 94 hits (3rd), 19 doubles (2nd), and 35 walks (3rd). Despite not being a power hitter at TTU, Oberacker has shown impressive numbers in home runs (9) and slugging percentage (.442).
Oberacker has been on a tear over the Ports' previous 10 games, batting .326 and slugging .587 all while scoring seven runs, stealing six bases, and roping four doubles. The Ports are currently 17-26 on the year, but have won six of their last ten games.
The next step for Oberacker will be to earn a call-up to the Double-A Midland RockHounds of the Texas League.
Ryan Dennick – P – #23
Current Club: Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A)
Parent Club: Kansas City Royals
UPDATE: Dennick wrapped up the season with a 4.62 ERA in the Texas League. He struck out nearly a batter-per-inning with 72 in 74.0 innings. He walked only 30 batters while picking up six wins. Dennick struck out a season-best six batters two on two separate occasions.
Ryan Dennick spent just six games as a member of the Advanced Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks before earning a call-up to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of Double-A. Since the call-up, Dennick has spent time as a starter, reliever, and closer. During his time as a Natural, he has appeared in 23 games including three starts. He has put together a 5-4 record and also accumulated four saves. In 55 innings pitched, he has struck out 47 and held batters to a .224 average. His ERA sits at 4.42.
The Naturals sit at 13-30 for the season despite being winners of six of their last 10 games.
The next step for Dennick would be a call-up to the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers of the Pacific Coast League.
Matthew Shepherd – P – #31
Current Club: Eugene Emeralds (Single-A Short Season)
Parent Club: San Diego Padres
UPDATE: Shepherd finished his first season of pro-ball with solid numbers to show for it. His 2.70 ERA earned him a 4-2 record for the Emeralds. He pitched 40.0 innings, striking out 42 while walking just 17 batters. He allowed his opponents to hit only .239 against him.
Over the team's final month, Shepherd shined, owning a 2.08 ERA over his last 10 games. He struck out 10 batters in 13.0 innnings during that span, allowing just three earned runs and walking only two batters. The Emeralds finished second in the Northwest League West, just one game back of the division winning Vancouver Canadians.
Matthew Shepherd was drafted in the 31st round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He has since made 21 appearances for the Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League and owns a 3.00 ERA to show for it. In just 27 innings pitched, Shepherd has amassed 32 strikeouts and earned a record of 2-2. He has made one start, a no-decision, and recorded one save while allowing batters to only hit .234 against him.
The Emeralds own a 6-7 record but sill sit in second place in the Northwest League West Division.
The next step for Shepherd will be make the Padres' Single-A Fort Wayne TinCaps team next spring.