June 1, 2011
While the season may be over for the current members of the Tennessee team, the year is just starting to get into full swing for former Vols playing professional baseball at every level, including one player who recently traveled across the globe to play in Taiwan.
In his first full season in the big leagues after a brief call-up last year, J.P. Arencibia has gotten off to a solid start, hitting .258 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in his first 41 games. The Miami, Fla., native has picked up the pace in recent weeks, hitting safely in 13 of his last 15 games. That streak started with a three-RBI effort at Minnesota on May 14 in which he homered and drove in a pair of runs with a double. Arencibia's most productive game this month came in New York though, where he led the Blue Jays to a 7-3 win over the Yankees with four RBIs, including a bases-clearing double off of Bartolo Colon. Probably the biggest hit to him, however, came on May 19 when he launched a tiebreaking two-run home run to lift the Jays to a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay. Making it even more special was the fact that Arencibia, starting pitcher Ricky Romero and the entire Toronto squad had dedicated the game to the memory of a local boy who had died of leukemia the day before. J.P. has lived true to his Volunteer roots in his short time in Toronto, quickly becoming a valued member of the community by donating his time a local elementary school and Camp Oochigeas, a downtown recreational facility specifically designed for children with cancer. A prolific Twitter user, make sure you follow J.P. at @JPArencibia9
The starting centerfielder for the Texas Rangers, Julio Borbon is currently on the DL with a strained hamstring suffered against the Angels on May 13. In 32 games this year, he is hitting .270 with 11 RBIs and six stolen bases in eight attempts. Prior to his injury, Borbon had been working on a 10-game hitting streak in which he was 12-for-31 (.387). Against the Yankees on May 7, Borbon drove in three runs with a two-run triple and a perfectly executed suicide squeeze. He is currently on a rehabilitation assignment with the Frisco RoughRiders and is expected to rejoin the Rangers later this week.
Despite suffering a foot injury last week, R.A. Dickey bounced back with a vengeance in his most recent start, striking out a career-high 10 in 7.2 strong innings against the Pirates. He was saddled with the loss, however, after allowing three runs on five hits. For the season, Dickey is 2-6 with a respectable 4.39 ERA. A knuckleball specialist, he has 45 strikeous and just 23 walks in 67.2 frames of work this year.
In his third full season at the Major League level, Chase Headley is hitting at a solid .273 clip with one home run and 19 RBIs in 54 games with the San Diego Padres this year. Always a spectacular defensive third baseman, Headley has really come on strong at the plate recently, currently sporting a 10-game hit streak during which he is 13-for-38 (.342) with five doubles. He has 15 two-baggers on the year and is a perfect 4-for-4 on the basepaths.
In his 15th season with the Colorado Rockies, Todd Helton is enjoying a resurgent year, hitting .307 with six home runs, 11 doubles and 22 RBIs. The Knoxville native has put together a Hall-of-Fame worthy career as a stellar defensive first baseman and one of the top hitters in the game. With 538 career doubles, Helton recently passed baseball greats Frank Robinson, Al Oliver and Lou Gehrig on the all-time list. A lifetime .324 hitter, Helton has 2,283 career hits, 339 home runs and 1,261 RBIs in 1,976 total games.
The Opening Day starter for the Kansas City Royals, Luke Hochevar is 3-5 with a 4.96 ERA in 12 starts this season. He has thrown a team-high 78.0 innings, placing him 15th among all Major League pitchers. During that time, he has collected 37 strikeouts and opponents are hitting just .248 off of him. He has been particularly effective against right-handers, limiting them to a .234 batting average. Despite strong efforts against both Oakland and Texas in recent weeks, Hochevar did not factor into the decision in either game. He allowed just one run in both contests, twirling 7.0 innings against the A's and 8.2 frames versus the Rangers. Between starts earlier this month, Hochevar hosted kids from the Challenger Baseball League at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
James Adkins - RP, Carolina Mudcats (AA - Cincinnati Reds) - Stats
After being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers during the offseason, James Adkins was picked up by the Cincinnati Reds and assigned to Double-A in early May. In nine relief appearances for the Carolina Mudcats, the Nashville native is 0-0 with a 4.66 ERA in 9.2 innings of work. He has struck out eight and opponents are hitting .231 off of him. Adkins has allowed just five runs this season, three of which came in a single game against the Birmingham Barons.
Steve Crnkovich - SP (Extended Spring Training - Detroit Tigers) - Stats
Steve Crnkovich started the 2011 campaign with Detroit Tigers' Class A affiliate, the West Michigan Whitecaps, but was reassigned to extended spring training in May. In eight appearances with the Whitecaps, he was 1-0 with a 6.52 ERA, striking out seven over 9.2 innings. All seven of the runs he allowed, however, came in his first two appearances of the year. After the shaky start, Crnkovich yielded just one hit in his next six outings, spanning 7.1 frames of action.
Kentrail Davis - OF, Brevard County Manatees (Class A Advanced - Milwaukee Brewers) - Stats
In his second stint with the Brevard County Manatees, Kentrail Davis is hitting .242 with two home runs, eight doubles, nine stolen bases and 11 RBIs in his first 48 games this season. A supplemental first-round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009, Davis has had no trouble with left-handed pitching this season, going 15-for-47 (.319) against southpaws.
Scot Drucker - RP, Lamigo Monkeys (Chinese Professional Baseball League) - Stats
After a brief but successful stint with the independent Grand Prairie Air Hogs in the American Association of Independent Baseball League, Scot Drucker recently signed with the Lamigo Monkeys in Taiwan. In two starts with the Air Hogs, Drucker posted a 2.10 ERA over 13 innings of work before hopping on a 15-hour flight to Taiwan to join the Lamigo squad in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. To follow Drucker's international exploits, follow him on his blog or on Twitter at @UTBaseball30
Blake Forsythe - C, Savannah Sand Gnats (Class A - New York Mets) - Stats
The everyday starting catcher for the Savannah Sand Gnats in the Atlantic League, Blake Forsythe is hitting .206 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in his first 38 games of the 2011 campaign. A third-round selection by the New York Mets last year, Forsythe ranks third on the team in longballs and guides a pitching staff that leads the league with a 3.11 ERA and tops its division with a 28-23 record.
Ty'Relle Harris - RP, Tennessee Smokies (AA - Chicago Cubs) - Stats
Since being traded to the Chicago Cubs organization last season, Ty'Relle Harris has been a valuable member of the Tennessee Smokies' bullpen. In 15 relief appearances this year, he is 1-0 with a sparkling 2.45 ERA and 25 punchouts in 29.1 innings of work. Opponents have had a hard time figuring him out, hitting just .225 against the 6-4 righthander. His efforts have helped the Smokies jump out to a Southern-League best 33-19 record.
Cody Hawn - 1B, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Class A - Milwaukee Brewers) - Stats
In his first full season of professional baseball after being drafted in the sixth round by the Milwaukee Brewers last year, Cody Hawn is currently playing with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the Midwest League. In 42 games this season, the Knoxville native is hitting .257 with three home runs and 13 RBIs.
Deunte Heath - RP, Charlotte Knights (AAA - Chicago White Sox) - Stats
Deunte Heath is currently pitching at the Triple-A level with the Charlotte Knights in the Chicago White Sox organization. In 13 appearances, including one start, the 6-4 righthander is 0-2 with a 4.78 ERA. He is averaging 10.04 strikeouts per nine innings with 29 punchouts in 26.1 frames of work so far this year. Heath has held opposing hitters to a .196 batting average, allowing just 19 hits. His most recent outing was also his first start of the year. He allowed one run on one hit while striking out four in 4.0 innings against Buffalo.
Bryan Morgado - RP, Lakewood BlueClaws (Class A - Philadelphia Phillies) - Stats
The Philadelphia Phillies' fourth-round pick last year, Bryan Morgado started the season with the LakeWood BlueClaws in the South Atlantic League but is currently on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation. He made five appearances in April, posting a 2.08 ERA and striking out five in 8.2 innings.
Augie Ojeda - INF, Iowa Cubs (AAA - Chicago Cubs) - Stats
After four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Augie Ojeda was signed by the Chicago Cubs during the offseason. While competing for a spot on the Cubs roster during Spring Training, however, he was slowed by back spasms that kept him in extended camp in Arizona until recently. Ojeda was activated on May 31 and joined the Cubs' Triple-A squad, the Iowa Cubs, where he promptly went 2-for-3 with a run scored and two walks in his season debut.
P.J. Polk - OF, West Michigan Whitecaps (Class A - Detroit Tigers) - Stats
A 13th-round selection by the Detroit Tigers last year, P.J. Polk was assigned to the West Michigan Whitecaps to start the 2011 campaign, his first full season in professional baseball. In 34 games so far, Polk is hitting .189 with 14 runs scored, four RBIs and a pair of stolen bases. Much of his success has come against lefties this year, as he is hitting .351 (13-for-37) off of them.