Thrill of Victory

MLB Update: "Locals" in The Show

The Major League Baseball season almost to the quarter point, and several players with Nashville ties are having nice seasons. Chris Lee takes a look at how seven players with Nashville ties are doing so far this season in The Show.

Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates (Vanderbilt)
.217, 7 HR, 17 RBI, .280 on-base, .472 slugging

Alvarez may be MLB’s most hot-and-cold player this year. On April 22, Alvarez was hitting just .108, then went on an 11-game tear during which he raised his average to .260. During that span, he belted five home runs. Then, starting May 5, he had a six-game hitless streak that stretched for 18 at-bats. Alvarez still hasn’t homered since that day, but he’s now had a hit in his last four games, including a pair of doubles. However, he’s also struck out seven times in those four contests. Surprisingly, Alvarez has hit lefties slightly better than he has right-handers this season.

Now 25 years old, this season has given a glimpse as to what Alvarez will probably be: a guy who hits tape-measure home runs while striking out a lot, without a lot of middle ground.

Mike Baxter, New York Mets (Vanderbilt)
.393, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .485 on-base, .607 slugging

Baxter’s only had 28 at-bats this year, but boy, he’s made them count: in what’s mostly been a pinch-hitting role, he’s slammed six doubles. He’s also played errorless defense as a corner outfield reserve. Baxter’s had gotten looks at the MLB level each of the last two years, but this time, his versatility and left-handed bat may keep him here for a while longer.

Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies (Lipscomb University)
2-2, 3.95 ERA, 13 2/3 innings, 19 strikeouts

There aren’t a lot of left-handers who can throw a baseball 98 miles an hour, but Brothers is one of them. That’s why he was Colorado’s first-round pick in 2009, and why he was in the majors by last season. He needs to improve his control (nine walks), but the upside is greater than the downside, and that makes him a key member of the Rockies’ bullpen.

R.A. Dickey, New York Mets (Montgomery Bell Academy)
5-1, 3.65 ERA, 44 1/3 innings, 32 strikeouts

After bouncing around between the majors and the minors for the better part of a decade, Dickey’s mastered the art of throwing the knuckleball and is now a fixture in the major leagues. He’s gone at least six innings in all but one of his seven starts, and excepting an eight-run outing vs. Atlanta on May 18, he hasn’t given up more than three runs in any other start.

Ryan Flaherty, Baltimore Orioles (Vanderbilt)
.175, 1 HR, 2 RBI, .190 on-base, .250 slugging

The Cubs took Flaherty in the supplemental first round in 2008, but he never made the majors and was left unprotected for this winter’s Rule V draft. Given a second chance, “Flash” made a positive-enough impression to make the big-league club out of spring training with the Orioles. He hasn’t hit much (yet), but he’s valuable to Baltimore because he’s played all four infield positions, plus right and left field.

Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves (Vanderbilt)
2-2, 6.59 ERA, 42 1/3 innings, 41 strikeouts

The talented lefty is having a hard-luck season for the Braves: he’s posted nearly a strikeout per inning, and struck out nearly three-and-a-half guys per batter he’s walked, yet his ERA is 6.59. The control may be part of the problem: Minor appears to be catching too much of the plate, as he’s allowed eight homers so far.

Atlanta still seems to like Minor, plus, he’s only 24 and three years removed from being the seventh overall pick in the draft. But with phenom Julio Teheran and former rotation staple Jair Jurrjens both pitching well in AAA, Minor needs to show more consistency or he could lose his spot.

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays (Vanderbilt)
6-2, 3.10 ERA, 52 1/3 innings, 45 strikeouts

Price continues to show why he’s one of baseball’s top starting pitchers. He’s given up more than three earned runs just once in seven starts, and he’s been excellent at putting the ball where he wants it: just four walks against 22 strikeouts in May. At 26, Price looks every bit like what the Rays hoped when they made him the draft’s first pick in 2007.