#TTUPurplePride Tennessee Tech Logo
 

Boys of Summer: The 2014 look at former Golden Eagles in the minor leagues

By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – After setting a program record with five players taken in the 2014 MLB First-Year player draft, the Tennessee Tech baseball team now proudly boasts 12 players currently in the minor leagues associated with MLB parent teams and another five former Golden Eagles on independent league teams.

Some of these players have been getting after it for the majority of the year, while the newbies have had barely a month of action to prove they belong. Regardless of the length of their careers in the pros, several of Tech's former greats have seen high levels of success this season. They have shown that the Tech coaching staff, headlined by head coach Matt Bragga, has built not only a winning program, but a program that leads players to rising their level of play to the best of their abilities.

Take a look at the 2014 season so far for 14 former Golden Eagle baseball players: 


Tristan Archer – P – #33
Current Club:
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Class A / Midwest League)
MLB Parent Club:
Milwaukee Brewers
Born: October 18, 1990
Birthplace: Kingsport, Tenn.
Height: 6-2
Weight: 200
Bats: R
Throws: R

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
WIS MID
3
5
4.15 19
9
0 0 4
78.0 81
42
36
4
34
52
.273
 Minors  Totals 3 5
4.15
19
9
0
0
4
78.0
81
42
36
4
34
52
.273


Over half way into his first full season at the professional level, Tristan Archer has showed flashes of what made him one of the best starting pitchers in Tennessee Tech baseball history. Archer has made nine starts in a total of 19 appearances for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, winning three games while posting a respectable 4.15 ERA.

The former Golden Eagle ace has 52 strikeouts over 78 innings of work and has also collected four saves on the season, showing the willingness to do what it takes to help his team win.

Archer has helped lead the Timber Rattlers to a 19-17 mark and sixth place ranking in the Midwest League Western Division standings so far this season.

The next step for Archer would be a call-up to the Advanced A Brevard County Manatees of the Florida State League.

To view his profile click here.


Ryan Dennick – P – #10
Current Club:
Louisville Bats (Triple-A / International League)
MLB Parent Club:
Cincinnati Reds
Born: January 10, 1987
Birthplace: North Olmsted, Ohio
Height: 6-0
Weight: 185
Bats: L
Throws: L

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
PNS SOU 0
0
0.00 1
0
0 0 0 0.1 2
0
0
0
0
1
.667
LOU INT 4 0 2.38 46 0 0 0 2 41.2 31 12 11 0 16 31 .209
 Minors  Totals 4
0
2.36
47
0
0
0
2
42.0
33
12
11
0
16
32
.217


After spending the briefest of periods with the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos (one third of an inning), Ryan Dennick earned a spot on the Louisville Bats right out of the gate. The left-hander hasn't looked back either, dominating hitters for much of the 2014 season. Dennick has made an International League-high 46 appearances while also securing the league's highest total for holds with 16.

He has posted a 2.38 ERA over 41 and two thirds innings on the mound, striking out nearly twice as many batters as he has walked with a mark of 31 Ks to 16 walks. Dennick has also tallied two saves, all while holding hitters to a measly .208 batting average.

Dennick has helped lead the Bats to a 54-57 mark and third place ranking in the International League West Division standings so far this season.

The next step for Dennick would be a call-up to the big league level as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

To view his profile click here


David Hess – P – #46
Current Club:
Aberdeen IronBirds (Class A Short Season / New York-Penn League)
MLB Parent Club:
Baltimore Orioles
Born: July 10, 1993
Birthplace: Tullahoma, Tenn.
Height: 6-2
Weight: 180
Bats: R
Throws: R

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
ABD NYP
1
1
0.68 5
2
0 0 0 13.1 8
1
1
0
3
12
.182
 Minors  Totals 1
1
0.68
5
2
0
0
0
13.1
8
1
1
0
3
12
.182


The highest drafted Golden Eagle since 1969, David Hess spent two weeks with the Gulf Coast Orioles (essentially practicing and getting prepared for a call-up) before earning a spot with the Aberdeen IronBirds. Picked in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Hess has failed to disappoint, earning a 0.68 ERA in two starts and five total appearances.

He has allowed just a single earned run while striking out an impressive 12 batters in 13 and one third inning of work. More impressive is his low walk total of three to go along with the strikeout total. He has also held batters to a meager .182 average, allowing just eight total hits so far this season.

Hess has helped lead the IronBirds to a 14-29 mark and fourth place ranking in the New York-Penn League McNamara Division standings so far this season.

The next step for Hess would be a call-up to the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds of the South Atlantic League.

To view his profile click here.


Adam Liberatore – P – #21
Current Club:
Durham Bulls (Triple-A / International League)
MLB Parent Club:
Tampa Bay Rays
Born: May 12, 1987
Birthplace: Bellflower, Calif.
Height: 6-3
Weight: 225
Bats: L
Throws: L

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
DUR
INT
4
1
2.08 41
0 0 0 0
47.2 38
13
11
0 9
65
.213
 Minors  Totals 4
1
2.08
41
0
0
0
0
47.2
38
13
11
0
9
65
.213


A member of the Triple-A Durham Bulls the entire 2014 season, Adam Liberatore has been nothing short of amazing for his squad this season. In 41 appearances (tied for second in the International League), the left-hander has compiled a 4-1 record thanks to a 2.08 ERA over 47 and two thirds innings of work.

Even more impressive has been his incredible strikeout/walk ratio of 65/9. That's over seven Ks per walk he's dishing out. He has also backed that stat up with the ability to hold opposing hitters to a .213 average.

Liberatore has helped lead the Bulls to a 58-50 mark and first place ranking in the International League South Division standings so far this season.

The next step for Liberatore would be a call-up to the big league level as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

To view his profile click here.


Seth Lucio – P – #28
Current Club:
Eugene Emeralds (Class A Short Season / Northwest League)
MLB Parent Club:
San Diego Padres
Born: April 30, 1993
Birthplace: Locust Grove, Ga.
Height: 5-10
Weight: 180
Bats: R
Throws: R

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
EUG NOR
1
0
3.14 13
0 0 0 0
14.1 9
6
5
0 11
22
.180
 Minors  Totals 1
0
3.14
13
0
0
0
0
14.1
9
6
5
0
11
22
.180


Essentially dominate as the closer for the Tennessee Tech his last two seasons, Seth Lucio has continued that dominance since being drafted in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the San Diego Padres. Pitching for the Eugene Emeralds, he has already appeared in 13 games this season, posting a 3.14 ERA and 1-0 record.

In 14 and one third innings, Lucio has struck out a staggering 22 batters and allowed just 11 walks. He is holding hitters to a .180 average, giving up just nine hits so far this season.

Lucio has helped lead the Bulls to an 18-27 mark and fourth place ranking in the Northwest League South Division standings so far this season.

The next step for Lucio would be a call-up to the Class-A Fort Wayne TinCaps of the Midwest League.

To view his profile click here.


Daniel Miles – 3B – #38
Current Club:
Hudson Valley Renegades (Class A Short Season / New York-Penn League)
MLB Parent Club:
Tampa Bay Rays
Born: August 9, 1991
Birthplace: Pascagoula, Miss.
Height: 6-2
Weight: 190
Bats: R
Throws: R
 
Team League AVG G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
TB
BB
SO
SB
CS
OBP
SLG
OPS
HV NYP
.224 22
76
10
17
4
0
0
6
21
8
16
3
1
.322 .276
.598
 Minors  Totals .224 22
76
10
17
4
0
0
6
21
8
16
3
1
.322
.276
.598


After putting together one of the greatest single seasons in Tennessee Tech baseball history, it was no surprise that Daniel Miles heard his name called in the eighth round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, going to the Tampa Bay Rays. Since draft day, Miles has battled back from a virus that caused a late start and some weakness in his game. A member of the Hudson Valley Renegades, he has compiled a .224 average through 22 games this season.

As a third baseman, Miles has scored 10 runs and laced four doubles in his short time with the club, driving in six runs and posting an OPS of .598. He has also stolen three bases while continuing to try and get back into his usual game shape.

Miles has helped lead the Renegades to a 31-13 mark and first place ranking in the New York-Penn League McNamara standings so far this season.

The next step for Miles would be to earn a call-up to the Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League.

To view his profile click here.


Chad Oberacker – OF – #5
Current Club:
Midland RockHounds (Double-A / Texas League)
MLB Parent Club:
Oakland Athletics
Born: January 14, 1989
Birthplace: Erie, Pa.
Height: 5-11
Weight: 188
Bats: L
Throws: L
 
Team League AVG G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
TB
BB
SO
SB
CS
OBP
SLG
OPS
MID TEX
.222 67
230
27
51
8
4
2
17
73
20
44
7
5
.282 .317
.599
STK CAL .235 6 17 2 4 2 0 0 0 6 3 5 1 1 .350 .353 .703
 Minors  Totals .223 73
247
29
55
10
4
2
17
79
23
49
8
6
.287
.320
.607


Now in his fourth season of professional baseball, Chad Oberacker has continued to work hard towards a spot in the majors. Through 67 games this season as a member of the Midland RockHounds, he has compiled a .222 batting average while scoring 27 runs and totaling 14 extra base hits.

The outfielder has driven in 17 runs and stolen seven bases, showing his speed off with four triples on the year. He spent a brief, six-game stretch with the Class-A Stockton Ports before recently getting called back up to Midland.

Oberacker has helped lead the RockHounds to a 62-p mark and first place ranking in the Texas League South standings so far this season.

The next step for Oberacker would be to earn a call-up to the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats of the Pacific Coast League.

To view his profile click here.


Jordan Parris – C – #51
Current Club:
Tri-City Dust Devils (Class A Short Season / Northwest League)
MLB Parent Club:
Colorado Rockies
Born: July 2, 1992
Birthplace: Tullahoma, Tenn.
Height: 6-3
Weight: 205
Bats: R
Throws: R
 
Team League AVG G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
TB
BB
SO
SB
CS
OBP
SLG
OPS
TRI
NOR
.094 12
32
4
3
0
0
0
1
3
6
10
1
0
.256 .094
.350
 Minors  Totals .094 12
32
4
3
0
0
0
1
3
6
10
1
0
.256
.094
.350


Drafted in the 20th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies, Jordan Parris has already put 12 games as a catcher for the Tri-City Dust Devils under his belt, collecting three hits and scoring four runs.

One of the best defensive catcher in the country the past two seasons, Parris will look to keep dominating base runners over his professional career.

Parris has helped lead the Dust Devils to a 17-28 mark and third place ranking in the Northwest League North standings so far this season.

The next step for Parris would be to earn a call-up to the Class-A Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League.

To view his profile click here.


Stephen Pryor – P - #46
Current Club:
Rochester Red Wings (Triple-A / International League)
MLB Parent Club: Minnesota Twins
Born:
July 23, 1989
Birthplace: Donelson, Tenn.
Height: 6-4
Weight: 245
Bats: R
Throws: R

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
JXN
SOU
0
1
14.73 4
0 0 0 0
3.2 5
6
6
2
3
3
.333
TAC PCL 2 1 4.65 24 0 0 0 1 31.0 26 16 16 4 18 27 .226
ROC INT 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 0 0 0.2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Minors Totals 2 2 5.60 29 0 0 0 1 35.1 31 22 22 6 22 30 .235
SEA AL 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 0 0 1.2 1 1 0 0 2 1 .200
 Majors  Totals 0 0
0.00
1
0
0
0
0
1.2
1
1
0
0
2
1
.200


After spending the majority of the 2013 season on the disabled list due to injury, Stephen Pryor has continued to work towards full health during the 2014 campaign, appearing with the Double-A Jacksonville Generals, Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers and even a single game with the Seattle Mariners. Pryor was recently traded to the Minnesota Twins for Kendrys Morales, giving the big right-hander a fresh start.

Since the trade, Pryor has made one appearance for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, tossing two thirds of an inning and allowing no hits or runs.

On the year, he has worked back from a rough start to command a 5.60 ERA and 2-2 record over 29 appearances. He has struck out 30 batters in 35 and one third innings of work, compiling a save and holding batters to a .235 average.

The Red Wings own a 60-49 mark and second place ranking in the International League North standings so far this season.

The next step for Pryor would be to earn a call-up to the big league level as a member of the Minnesota Twins.

To view his profile click here.

Matthew Shepherd – P – #23
Current Club: Lake Elsinore Storm (Class A Advanced / California League)
MLB Parent Club:
San Diego Padres
Born: May 2, 1990
Birthplace: Bluff City, Tenn.
Height: 6-3
Weight: 185
Bats: R
Throws: R

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG
LE CAL
5
1
5.05
34
3
0 0 1
62.1 60
37
35
8
27
67
.246
 Minors  Totals 5
1
5.05
34
3
0
0
1
62.1
60
37
35
8
27
67
.246


Now in his second full season of professional ball, Matthew Shepherd has continued to show his great ability to strike out opposing hitters, fanning 67 batters in 62 and one third innings on the mound for the Lake Elsinore Storm this season.

Over that span he has walked just 27 batters while compiling a 5-1 record and 5.05 ERA over three starts and 34 total appearances. He has also notched a save while holding hitters to a .246 average.

Shepherd has helped lead the Storm to a 62-45 mark and second place ranking in the California League South standings so far this season.

The next step for Shephered would be to earn a call-up to the Double-A San Antonio Missions of the Texas League.

To view his profile click here.


Zach Stephens – 1B – #8
Current Club:
AZL Rangers (Rookie / Arizona League)
MLB Parent Club:
Texas Rangers
Born: December 13, 1991
Birthplace: Hixson, Tenn.
Height: 6-0
Weight: 225
Bats: R
Throws: R
 
Team League AVG G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
TB
BB
SO
SB
CS
OBP
SLG
OPS
RAN AZL
.302 18
63
9
19
4
0
1
9
26
6
14
1
0
.357 .413
.770
 Minors  Totals .302 18
63
9
19
4
0
1
9
26
6
14
1
0
.357
.413
.770


One of the greatest all-around players to ever suit up as a Golden Eagle, Zach Stephens continued his outstanding baseball career by signing a free agent deal with the Texas Rangers. Since joining the Arizona League Rangers, the Tech legend has appeared in 18 games and continued to dominate with a bat in his hands.

The holder of seven TTU career batting records, he  owns a .302 batting average in his abbreviated professional career, collecting four doubles and a home run while driving in nine runners. He owns an OPS of .770 and has scored nine runs sor far this season.

Stephens has helped lead the Rangers to a 19-11 mark and first place ranking in the Arizona League West standings so far this season.

The next step for Stephens would be to earn a call-up to the Short Season A Spokane Indians of the Northwest League.

To view his profile click here.


Brandon Thomasson – RF – #35
Current Club: Idaho Falls Chukars (Rookie / Pioneer League)
MLB Parent Club:
Kansas City Royals
Born: March 15, 1992
Birthplace: Royal Palm Beach, Fla.
Height: 6-4
Weight: 220
Bats: R
Throws: R
 
Team League AVG G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
TB
BB
SO
SB
CS
OBP
SLG
OPS
IDF PIO
.247 24
89
8
22
6
0
1
16
31
5
25
1
3
.281 .348
.630
 Minors  Totals .247 24
89
8
22
6
0
1
16
31
5
25
1
3
.281
.348
.630


One of the greatest power hitters to ever put on the purple and gold, Brandon Thomasson took a record-breaking season and turned it into a 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft selection in the ninth round by the Kansas City Royals. Since then, the slugger has appeared in 24 games for the Idaho Falls Chukars, batting .247 with eight runs scored.

After breaking the Tech single-season RBI record, Thomasson has continued to drive in runs, compiling 16 RBI thanks to to six doubles and a home run. He owns an OPS of .630 as a right fielder and has shown a continued ability to square up the ball.

Thomasson has helped lead the Chukars to a 20-20 mark and third place ranking in the Pioneer League South standings so far this season.

The next step for Thomasson would be to earn a call-up to the Class A Lexington Legends of the South Atlantic League.

To view his profile click here.

 


 

Independent League Players

Casanova Donaldson – OF – #42
Current Club: Alpine Cowboys (Independent / Pecos League)
Born: November 23, 1987
Birthplace: Knoxville, Tenn.
Height: 6-1
Weight: 190
Bats: L
Throws: L

Team League AVG G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
ALP IND .381 63
239
54
91
18
2
10
63
17
45
21
5


Casanova Dondaldson has put together an incredible 2014 season with the Alpine Cowboys, ranking in the top 10 in the Pecos League with 10 home runs, 63 RBI, 18 doubles, 91 hits, and 21 steals. In 63 games, he has posted a very impressive .381 batting average to go along with his great ability to both score and drive in runs.

 

A.J. Kirby-Jones – 1B – #44
Current Club: Sioux Falls Canaries (Independent / American Association)
Born: October 2, 1988
Birthplace: Knoxville, Tenn.
Height: 5-10
Weight: 230
Bats: R
Throws: R

Team League AVG G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
SF IND .269 56
201
34
54
14
0
12
40
33
55
1
3


A Tech legend in his own right, A.J. Kirby-Jones has had another great year from a power standpoint, this time suiting up for the Sioux Falls Canaries. The slugger has clobbered 12 home runs and 14 doubles in 56 games while driving in 40 runs and scoring 34 times as well.

 

Michael Morris – SS – #3
Current Club: Trinidad Triggers (Independent / Pecos League)
Born: May 30, 1991
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio
Height: 5-10
Weight: 191
Bats: L
Throws: R

Team League AVG G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
SB
CS
TRI IND .338 50
204
50
69
11
1
1
34
35
25
21
3


Michael Morris has proven to be a savvy hitter for the Trinidad Triggers in 2014, batting .338 thanks to a disciplined approach at the plate. He has drawn 35 walks while striking out just 25 times in 50 games and has been a burner on the base paths as well. He has accumulated 21 swipes and scored 50 runs to go along with 13 extra base hits and 34 RBI.

 

Ross Spurgeon – P – #35
Current Club: Schaumburg Boomers (Independent / Frontier League)
Born: June 22, 1992
Birthplace: Cookeville, Tenn.
Height: 6-2
Weight: 215
Bats: R
Throws: R

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H R ER BB SO
SCH IND
0
1
5.02
11
0
0 0
14.1 16
9
8
7
12


A native of Cookeville, Ross Spurgeon signed a free agent deal with the Schaumburg Boomers this summer and has made 11 appearances for the team already. He has posted a 5.02 ERA in 14 and one third innings of work, allowing seven walks while striking out 12.

 

Jim Ed Warden – P – #34
Current Club: Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (Independent / Atlantic League)
Born: May 7, 1979
Birthplace: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Height: 6-7
Weight: 225
Bats: R
Throws: R

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H R ER BB SO
SM IND
3
0
1.89
42
0
0 17
42.2 28
9
9
9
30


The Atlantic League's all-time leader in saves with 134, Jim Ed Warden has enjoyed several great season with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, and 2014 has been no different. Warden recently pitched in his final career game Monday evening, retiring after a 14-year minor league career.

In 42 games this season, Warden owned a 3-0 mark with 17 saves thanks to a 1.89 ERA over 42 and two thirds innings of work. He struck out 30 batters, including one in his final appearance, a 5-1 series-winning victory over the Sugar Land Skeeters.