May 1, 2009
As April showers give way to May flowers, Major League Baseball is beginning its second month of play. Just as a box of chocolates, the season has proved to be unpredictable. Many of last year's powers are stumbling out of the gate while others are thriving. Several Vols are also thriving in the 2009 season. Outfielder Josh Alley of the Portland Beavers, right-handed pitcher Deunte Heath of the Mississippi Braves, Colorado Rockies' first baseman Todd Helton, and Carolina Mudcats' right-hander Sean Watson are all having successful starts to the season.
Josh Alley, outfielder- Portland Beavers
Over the past seven days, Portland Beavers' Josh Alley has slugged an impressive .429 batting average. Going 6-14 at the plate this week, Alley has lifted the Beavers to 11-10 on the season. Since Friday April 24, the former Vol knocked in 3 RBIs and scored twice. On the season Alley is hitting .381 in 21 at bats. Alley served on The Hill from 2003-2005 and hit .313 during his career at UT. The three-time letterman was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 10th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
Deunte Heath, right-handed pitcher- Mississippi Braves
In his four starts for the Mississippi Braves, right-hander Deunte Heath has been impressive this season. During 21.2 innings pitched, Heath boasts an ERA of 0.83 and 17 strikeouts. He earned his first win April 21 against the Chattanooga Lookouts and remains undefeated on the season. The Atlanta-native played for the Vols during the 2006 season. While on Rocky Top Heath owned a 4-3 record as a starter and had a 3.86 ERA.
Todd Helton, first-baseman- Colorado Rockies
After starting slowly, legendary Vol slugger Todd Helton has come on strong in the past few weeks. Helton has gone 8-18 in the last week, bragging a .444 average. Since April 24, the Knoxville-native has knocked in seven RBIs, scored three runs and hit his second home run of the season. On the year, Helton has raised his batting average to .303 and earned 15 RBIs. Arguably Tennessee baseball's best product, Helton earned All-America status all three years as a Vol from 1993-95. He was the 1995 National Player of the Year after slugging .407 with 92 RBIs. Helton also saw time on the mound, earning a 19-5 record and a 2.24 ERA.
Sean Watson, right-handed pitcher- Carolina Mudcats
As a middle-reliever and closer, former Vol Sean Watson has thrived this season for the Carolina Mudcats. In eight innings-pitched, Watson has seven strikeouts and a 1.13 ERA. He earned his first save of the season at the Tennessee Smokies April 27. Watson earned three letters during his 2004-2006 stint for the Big Orange. During this time he earned 18 saves and went 15-11 as a starter. Watson was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.