Saturday, September 04, 2010

Cory Luebke, #49

Cory Luebke made his major league debut for the Padres last night against the Rockies, becoming the 49th OSU major leaguer according to the Baseball-Reference list. (Incidentally, I was provided a list of possible OSU products via an unidentified late SABR member that numbers 58). In any event, Luebke joins Nick Swisher as the only active Buckeye major leaguer.

The last three OSU alums to make their debut include Luebke along with Josh Newman and Scott Lewis--all left-handed pitchers. Both Newman and Lewis are now out of major league baseball. Newman simply was not very effective and is now a newly-hired assistant coach for Greg Beals at OSU. Lewis pitched effectively for the Indians in 2008 and made the Opening Day rotation for 2009, but was injured in his home opening start against Toronto, never made it back up, and was released this spring after suffering another setback.

Hopefully Luebke is on the opposite of the Lewis career path, as his debut had its lumps. He went 5 innings, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 2 homers, 3 strikeouts, and throwing 46/78 pitches for strikes. He also took the loss for his now reeling team.

With Luebke now in the fold, it's natural to look for the next Buckeye prospect. Alex Wimmers was the Twins' first-round pick, and as a polished college pitcher he is obviously a candidate. Doug Deeds has had a good season in AAA for Arizona, but at 29 and without a spot on the 40-man roster he remains a long shot. Matt Angle has reached AAA in the Baltimore system, but he's an outfielder with limited power and hit just 259/333/303 this season. Jake Hale has been solid between two levels of A in the DBack system (47 K to 9 W in 43.1 IP), but he'll turn 25 in December and doesn't have dominant stuff. Eric Fryer, who caught at OSU but was moved to the outfield by the Yankees, has been moved back to catcher by the Pirates, exponentially increasing his chances. Unfortunately, he's 25 and has yet to make it out of A-ball, hitting 299/388/475 in 332 PA at A+ Bradenton. Other Buckeye minor leaguers have been hampered by drug suspensions (Ronnie Bourquin, Zach Hurley) , face a daunting combination of injury problems and advanced age (Dan DeLucia), or have a shot but were just drafted and are a long way away (Dan Burkhart).

The closest prospect is Houston's JB Shuck. A LHP/OF at OSU, JB now goes by "Jack" sometimes and is a full-time outfielder. He hit 298/372/360 at AA Corpus Christi and earned a promotion to AAA Round Rock, where in 143 PA he managed a 273/345/320 performance. As someone capable of playing CF in a thin system, Shuck is the best bet for a new Buckeye big leaguer in 2011.

At the time Lewis made his debut two years ago, RHP Mike Madsen seemed like the best bet, even being mentioned as a possible rotation candidate for Oakland, but he was done in by injuries.

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