Even though they don’t wear the red and white Austin Peay jerseys anymore. former Governors have continued their baseball success in the professional leagues.
Currently, there are three former Govs who play in the at the Major League Baseball (MLB) level — A.J. Ellis of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Shawn Kelley of the New York Yankees, and Matt Reynolds of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Since the start of the 2012 season, Ellis has been the starting catcher for the Dodgers. Not only is Ellis a great leader of a starting rotation that features Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, but the 32-year-old has also come into his own as a hitter. This season, Ellis is batting .257 with an on-base percentage of .341, including five homers and 32 RBIs. On Monday, July 22, Ellis went four-for-five with a homer, five RBIs, and three runs scored against the Blue Jays. His team is also tied for first place in the NL West division.
The best performance by a former APSU player this season may arguably be Yankess relief pitcher Shawn Kelley. New York acquired the former 11th round pick before the season began, and has turned out to be a great piece of the Yankees bullpen. This season, the reliever holds a 3-0 record, 3.44 ERA, and 56 strikeouts in 36 appearances. On Sunday, July 21, Kelley pitched his best game of the season against the Boston Red Sox. Kelley entered the game in the ninth inning and pitched two shut out innings, striking out five of the six batters faced in a crucial situation. The Yankees lost the game on a walk-off run after Kelley exited the game, but still are in playoff contention with a 52-47 record.
Diamondback relief pitcher Matt Reynolds is currently sidelined with an elbow injury, but pitched very well before suffering the blow. On the season, Reynolds is 0-2 with a 1.98 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 30 appearances. He hasn’t pitched since June 9, but the team has held its own without him as they are tied at the top of the NL West.
The 2013 draft class set a new record for most selected, and are in the process of working their way up in the minor leagues.
Former closer Tyler Rogers was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 10th round, and is currently playing at the Class A Short-Season level for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Northwest League. He has appeared in just two games thus far — earning the win in one of those — allowing only two hits with three strikeouts. In the Rookie League prior to joining the Volcanoes, Rogers pitched in six games, totaling 15 strikeouts. He has not allowed a run so far in his minor league career.
Six picks later, Jordan Hankins was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 11th round. Hankins was drafted as a catcher, but has primarily been used as an infielder so far in his career. Hankins played in just two games in the Rookie League, going one-for-seven with his lone hit being a triple. Currently, the former All-American plays for the Boise Hawks at the Class A Short-Season level in the Northwest League. Hankins has played in 19 games, and is batting .235 with three RBIs and eight runs scored.
Lee Ridenhour only played for Austin Peay one season, but also had experience at the University of Kansas to help his draft stock. Ridenhour was selected in the 16th round by the Philadelphia Phillies, and has spent his time with the Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York-Pennsylvania League at Class A Short-Season. The right-hander has appeared in nine games, totaling a ERA of 2.76 and 10 strikeouts. Ridenhour was primarily used as a starter at Austin Peay, but has entered out of the bullpen. He also has one save so far this season.
Clarksville native Reed Harper grew up an Atlanta Braves fan his entire life, and now plays in their organization. Harper was drafted by the Braves in the 25th round, and has played in 22 games in rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League. The shortstop has showed consistency in his minor league career, batting .280 with eight RBIs and seven runs scored. In 86 plate appearances, Harper has struck out just eight times.
The final Gov to be drafted was California native Craig Massoni, who was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the 33rd round. Massoni has played 14 games of rookie ball in the Arizona League, batting an impressive .326 with one homer, 11 RBIs, and 11 runs scored.
Even though he wasn’t selected in the MLB draft, senior starting pitcher Casey Delgado got his opportunity to play for the Frontier Greys in the Independent League. Delgado has played in six games — starting five of them — and is 0-4 with a 3.86 ERA and 13 strikeouts.
The list goes on for former Govs who continue their baseball playing careers.
Jack Snodgrass was taken in the 27th round of the 2011 draft by the San Francisco Giants, and has worked his way up to AA in his third year. While playing for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Snodgrass has started 18 games, compiling a record of 8-4, 3.45 ERA, and 56 strikeouts.
Drafted in the 37th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves, Ryne Harper — older brother of Reed — has made the move up to AA level. Harper plays for the Mississippi Braves as a relief pitcher where he is 4-2, 1.72 ERA, 36 strikeouts, and five saves.
Jeremy Dobbs was selected in the 33rd round in the 2011 draft as well, by the Seattle Mariners, and is currently a member of the High Desert Mavericks of the California League. This season, Dobbs is 5-0 with a 2.40 ERA and one save as a reliever.
Greg Bachman went undrafted following his senior season in 2012, but has found a home with the Fort Worth Cats in the United League. This season, Bachman is batting .269 with one homer and 31 RBIs.
Stay tuned over the course of the season for more updates on former Govs making impressions in the pros.
Photo: Tyler Rogers (Josh Vaughn/The All State)