From coast to coast, Austin Peay is represented on the baseball diamond.
Currently, there are three Govs at the Major League level, seven in the minors, two in independent leagues, while 13 current players are playing in summer leagues to prepare for next season.
Everywhere you look, from Florida all the way to Alaska, Bat Govs are progressing.
Major League Baseball (MLB)
You may have heard of these two by now: A.J. Ellis and Shawn Kelley.
The catcher, Ellis, is reliable as they come behind the plate in leading a pitching staff. Ellis missed much of the season after a couple of injuries, one coming after a celebration, but has started 28 games for the Dodgers who are currently tied for first place in the National League West. Even though his offensive numbers aren’t great — a .230 average with just four RBIs — he still has the privilege of catching the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw. Ellis was the first to greet Kershaw after the ace pitched a no-hitter on June 18.
Then there’s Kelley, the right-handed reliever who sits in the Yankee bullpen until his number is called. Much like Ellis, Kelley has battled through injuries this season and missed a month due to back problems. As a result, his ERA is up at 4.87, but does have four saves in 2014 after New York’s closer David Robertson was out early in the season, allowing Kelley to step in.
The third player at the MLB level is Matt Reynolds, although he is not active. The lefty pitcher is recovering from surgery on his elbow, and is currently on the 60-day disabled list.
While a couple of Govs perform at the highest level, several players are working their up in the minor leagues.
Let’s start with Jack Snodgrass, a guy I never got the chance to see play, but wish I could have as he is impressing at the Double-A level with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The lefty pitcher is 8-1 with a 2.81 ERA on the mound, with seven of those wins coming as a starter. He’s also totaled 40 strikeouts in 14 games, and has yet to allow a home run this season.
Another former Gov that came to the program before my time is Ryne Harper. Harper is in his second season with the Double-A team Mississippi Braves, being used as a relief pitcher. While Harper’s ERA has risen from 1.79 to 3.30 this year, he still has managed to compile a record of 4-3 with 62 strikeouts.
Now we move to the talented class of 2013 I witnessed, starting with Jordan Hankins. Hankins has quickly made it to Class A Advanced, with the Daytona Cubs. Hankins tore the cover off the ball at Kane County, batting .322 with three homers and 34 RBIs, and after making the Mid-Season All Star team, he was called up to Daytona. Currently, Hankins is struggling at the plate with a .172 average in 29 at-bats.
Former APSU standout closer Tyler Rogers is also at the Class A Advanced level, playing for the San Jose Giants. Rogers had an ERA of just over one with the Augusta Green Jackets, and is now 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA with the Giants. He is human after all when it comes to giving up home runs, giving up his first since 2012.
Right-hander Lee Ridenhour is currently at Class A Advanced, pitching for the Clearwater Thrashers. The 16th round pick is 2-5 as a reliever with an ERA of 3.99. We didn’t get to see much of Ridenhour out of the bullpen, but he does have six saves this season.
Craig Massoni may not be up to the level of former teammate Rogers in the Giants organization, but is well on his way. The first baseman is batting .274 with the Salem -Keizer Volcanoes of the Class A Short Season stage. In just 17 games, Massoni has driven in 12 men, while also hitting two homers.
Shortstop Reed Harper had unfortunate luck early in the season after sliding into a base, causing an injury to his wrist. However, he is now rehabbing in the Rookie Gulf Coast League where he began his career, hoping to get back to the Rome Braves where he was hitting .389 in six games.
A pair of former players have still managed to find a place to continue competing.
There’s Greg Bachman, who has joined the Frontier Grays of the Frontier League this season. Bachman has played in 31 games, holding an average of .226 with nine RBIs.
Also in the Fronier League is Casey Delgado, a member of the Traverse City Beach Bums (Love that name). Delgado is 5-2 in eight games started on the mound with a nice ERA of 2.68 and 46 strikeouts.
Here’s an update on current players in summer leagues:
Garrett Copeland (Alaskan Summer League/Anchorage Bears) – .286, 12 runs, eight RBIs, 7 SBs (13 games)
Shane Lantigua (Cal Ripkin League/Alexandria Aces) – 3.00 ERA, eight SO (five games)
Levi Primasing (Cal Ripkin League/Alexandria Aces) – 0-1, 8.52 ERA, seven SO (three games, three starts)
Logan Gray (Northwoods League/Mankato Moondogs) – .191, five runs, two HR, seven RBIs (23 games)
Ridge Smith (Northwoods League/Mankato Moondogs) – .271, 14 runs, four HR, 14 RBIs (26 games)
Griffin Ganick (Hamptons League/Montauk Mustangs) – .219, three 2B, three RBIs (13 games)
Wesley Purcell (Hamptons League/Montauk Mustangs) – .257, two runs, two RBIs (15 games)
Cayce Bredlau (Prospects League/Terre Haute Rex) – .276, 18 runs, 16 RBIs, six SBs (28 games)
Mark Hendrick (Prospects League/Danville Dans) – (no stats found)
Dre Gleason (Valley League/Waynesboro Generals) – .182, two RBIs (nine games)
Chase Hamilton (Valley League/Waynesboro Generals) – .167, five RBIs, 8 runs (15 games)
Jordan Harmon (Valley League/Waynesboro Generals) – 1-0, 3.55 ERA, 20 SO (seven games, three starts)
Caleb Powell (Valley League/Waynesboro Generals) – 2-1, 3.85 ERA, 16 SO (six games, four starts)
Photo: Garrett Copeland (Corey Adams/The All State)