October 6, 2015
Recapping Hokies in the pros for 2015
The list includes seven who played in Triple-A and the Texas League Player of the Year

BLACKSBURG – With the completion of the 2015 Major League Baseball regular season on Sunday, it closes the books on all but two former Virginia Tech baseball players for the 2015 calendar year, as both Chad Pinder and Mark Zagunis are scheduled to play in this year’s Arizona Fall League (CLICK HERE for more information).

Below is how 21 Hokies spent their summer in the professional leagues, which includes one being named a league’s player of the year, several picking up league championship titles and an additional Hokie that could still see the field in the postseason. Also below are many additional links for more information about the players.

The list below is by level – the highest the player reached – and includes those who played independent ball. As always, CLICK HERE to view the Hokies' web page that follows all these men and has links to their professional bios.

Jesse Hahn (Oakland Athletics)– Traded in the off-season by San Diego, Hahn struggled early in the American league, posting a 1-4 record with a 4.43 ERA through May 20. However, on May 25, he tossed his first complete game – a four-hitter in a 4-0 win over Detroit that turned his first-half of the season around. He finished with a 6-6 record, including a 3-1 mark and a 2.90 ERA in the month of June. Overall, he threw 96.2 innings with 64 strikeouts and had a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts. Hahn, though, would be sidelined the second half of the season with a right forearm strain and did not pitch the rest of the year. Reports are that he will be good to go come 2016 spring training. Interestingly, of his six losses, four were to American league playoff teams (one each to Texas, Kansas City, New York and Houston).

Ben Rowen (Toronto Blue Jays) – The last 10 months for Rowen have certainly been a whirlwind, which saw him be released by the Texas Rangers (Dec. 19, 2014), signed as a free agent by the Dodgers (Jan. 20), traded to the Orioles (April 9), and then he optioned out of his contract on July 1. His summer continued by being signed by the Cubs (July 5), called to the Big Leagues on July 29, put on waivers a few days later and finally signed by the Blue Jays on Aug. 3 and pitched for the Buffalo Bison (Triple-A) for the remainder of the season. Then on Oct. 5, Toronto recalled him to the Majors and placed him on the team’s 40-man roster – a possible chance to see action in the postseason. Overall, he played for four teams, three of which were in Triple-A, and combined to go 4-1 with two saves in 48 games, all in relief. He tossed 64.2 innings and struck out 42 while posting a 0.91 WHIP.

Devin Burke (Colorado Rockies) – A wild 2015 saw Burke (pictured above) pitch for three different teams ranging from High-A to Triple-A Albuquerque through most of the summer before Burke ended the year with the Isotopes. With Albuquerque, he pitched a total of four games in relief and allowed just one earned run in 7.1 innings (a 1.23 ERA) and struck out eight batters. Overall, including his time in Modesto and New Britain, Burke was 2-3 in 30 games, tossed 69.1 innings, struck out 47 batters and had a 3.63 ERA. When he reached the Double-A level, Burke became the first undrafted Hokie to play at the level and has now pushed that impressive mark to the Triple-A level.

Joe Mantiply (Detroit Tigers) – Mantiply finished the season with the Toledo Mud Hens in Triple-A after spending much of the summer with the Double-A Erie SeaWolves of the Eastern League. He pitched in a total of 39 games, all in relief, and was 4-2 with three saves, posted a 2.27 ERA in 63.1 innings and struck out 51. With Toledo, a member of the International League, Mantiply was 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in seven outings and allowed just one run in 10 innings.

Joe Saunders (Seattle Mariners) – Saunders played for just a month with the Tacoma Rainiers before opting out of his contract on May 1. He pitched in a total of six games, all out of the bullpen, and tossed a total of 11 innings with 12 strikeouts.

Tim Smalling (Colorado Rockies) – Smalling continues to put of steady numbers each season, as this season he played his entire summer with Triple-A Albuquerque. He batted .256 in 115 games played while collecting 94 hits, including 12 doubles, a triple and six home runs. He added 37 RBIs, crossed the plate 47 times and stole seven bases. Near the end of the season, the Isotopes handed out their 2015 Players Choice Awards and Smalling received two – Mr. Hustle and Fan Favorite Player (CLICK HERE for more info)

Austin Wates (Miami Marlins) – Wates played in 109 games for New Orleans and has now played 491 games as a professional. He batted .236 for the Zephyrs with 72 hits, including 18 doubles and a home run. He added 36 runs scored and 28 RBIs. Also, Wates played an almost flawless outfield, committing just two errors on 174 chances and added five outfield assists.

Justin Wright (St. Louis Cardinals) – Wright saw action in both Double-A and Triple-A for the Cardinals organization, but spent most of his time with Memphis (AAA). Overall, he appeared in 48 games out of the bullpen, threw 56.2 innings and struck out 56 batters. He was 2-2 overall with a 3.02 ERA. His numbers for the Memphis Redbirds in the Pacific Coast League, included a 3.05 ERA in 44.1 innings with 40 strikeouts.

Chad Pinder (Oakland Athletics) – Pinder played his entire 2015 summer in the Texas League with the Midland RockHounds. Even though he was a Mid-Season All-Star, he increased his numbers in the second half of the year, posting a .332 batting average and a .844 OPS in 55 games after the break. For the season, Pinder batted .317 with a .486 slugging percentage. In 117 games, he had 151 hits, including 32 doubles, two triples and 15 home runs, while adding 71 runs scored and 86 RBIs. He played shortstop all season and had 181 putouts, 267 assists and was involved in 61 double plays, however committed 26 errors. He helped the RockHounds to the Texas League championship and was named the league’s Player of the Year (CLICK HERE for more info). Postseason, he was also named the No. 10 Top Prospect of the league by Baseball America and will head to Arizona to compete in the fall league starting October 13.

Ronnie Shaban (St. Louis Cardinals) – Shaban spent the majority of his summer with the Springfield Cardinals, appearing in 43 games, all out of the bullpen. He posted a 3-2 record with 10 saves and a 2.76 ERA with them, tossing a total of 49 innings with 46 strikeouts. For the entire summer, Shaban had a 2.70 ERA and 12 saves, adding two with the Palm Beach Cardinals. After the season, Shaban was named the Springfield Cardinals Reliever of the Year (CLICK HERE for more info).

Eddie Campbell (Seattle Mariners) – Campbell split his time between the High-A Bakersfield Blaze (14 starts, 58.0 innings) and the Single-A Clinton LumberKings (8 starts, 52.1 innings). Overall, Campbell started 22 games and tossed 110.1 innings, while posting a 4.73 ERA with 85 strikeouts. He had 53 of those punch outs in High-A, but his ERA with the Blaze was almost a full four runs higher opposed to his 2.75 ERA with the LumberKings.

Tyler Horan (San Francisco Giants) – Horan spent his entire summer playing for the San Jose Giants, appearing in 94 games. His batting averaged dipped to .215 (hit .284 a season ago) and he slugged just .392, but he spent some time on the DL. He returned on July 6 and was named the league’s Player of the Week just two weeks later (July 20), due to a six-game stretch in which he had eight hits, including three straight games with a home run. Overall, Horan had 74 hits, including 20 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs, scored 43 runs and knocked in 35. Horan also had five outfield assists playing in right, and has 17 for his pro career. He helped the Giants to the postseason, where they lost in the championship series.

Brad Markey (Chicago Cubs) – After Independence Day, Markey was almost perfect the rest of the summer when he was called up to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at the High-A level. In nine games, he started eight times and posted a 7-0 record with a 1.15 ERA in 55.0 innings, while striking out 40 opposed to just six walks. He had a 0.75 WHIP and opponents batted just .186 against him. Those numbers do not include Markey’s postseason start, in which he took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning, which would earn him the league’s Pitcher of the Week honor for the effort. The Pelicans would go on to win the Carolina League title, thanks to another Hokie (see below). Overall, Markey’s numbers included a 7-0 record with two saves, a 1.61 ERA in 21 games, 84 innings pitched and 63 strikeouts with just 10 walks.

Mark Zagunis (Chicago Cubs) – Zagunis spent his summer in Myrtle Beach with the Pelicans and put together a solid season, which included helping his team to the Carolina League title, where he scored the game-winning run in the deciding game. Overall, he played in 115 games, has a .271 average, a .406 on base percentage and a .412 slugging percentage. He pounded out 112 hits, of which 24 were doubles, five were triples and he hit eight home runs. Zagunis added 54 RBIs, scored 78 runs, walked 80 times and stole 12 bases. He also added five outfield assists in the field. He was named both a Mid-Season and a Post-Season All-Star and was once named the league’s Player of the Week. Postseason, he was also named the No. 15 Top Prospect of the league by Baseball America and will head to Arizona to compete in the fall league starting October 13.

Brendon Hayden (Philadelphia Phillies) – After playing for Tech this spring, Hayden added another 50 games played for the Williamsport Crosscutters and helped them to the postseason. For the season, he batted .291 with a .385 slugging percentage. He had 52 hits, including eight doubles and three home runs. Hayden added 20 RBIs and 25 runs scored and fielded at a .995 clip, playing his normal first-base position. Williamsport won its first 10 games en route to capturing the division title, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. After the season, Hayden was named a New York-Penn All-Star and, after leading the team in community service hours, was honored by the organization with the “Good Guy Award.” (CLICK HERE for more info)

Sean Keselica (Pittsburgh Pirates) – After playing for Tech this spring, Keselica spent his summer in nearby West Virginia playing for former Tech player Wyatt Torregas with the Black Bears. On the mound, Keselica appeared in 19 games, all out of the bullpen and posted a 2-2 record with a 4.78 ERA. He struck out 36 batters in 26.1 innings and was 3-for-4 on save opportunities. He helped the Black Bears, who were in their inaugural season, make the playoffs and win the New York-Penn League title.

Alex Perez (Minnesota Twins) – After playing for Tech this spring, Perez got off to a slow start with the Elizabethton Twins before settling in and posting a .309 average and a .804 OPS during the month of July. Overall, he played in 41 games and batted .239 with a .331 on-base percentage. He had 34 hits, including seven doubles and a triple. Perez scored 21 runs and added 12 RBIs to his totals. He also handed out 108 assists and was part of 19 double plays from his second-base position.

Andrew Aizenstadt – Aizenstadt tossed nine innings in six games out of the bullpen for the Sussex County Miners of the Can-Am League. He struck out five batters and finished with a 5.00 ERA.

Jake Joyce – Joyce pitched in 34 games for the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League, all in relief. He posted a 3-3 record with one save, tossed 40 innings, struck out 49 and finished with a 2.02 ERA.

Clark Labitan – Labitan appeared in 33 games out of the bullpen for the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League. He posted a 2-2 record with six saves, tossed 38 innings, struck out 34, walked just nine and had a 2.84 ERA.

Johnny Morales– Morales played in 75 games for the River City Rascals, helping the team to the championship series of the Frontier League. He batted .264 with 66 hits, including 17 doubles and a home run, scored 41 runs and added 35 RBIs. Morales chipped in eight hits and four RBIs during the playoffs.

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