Sunday, August 07, 2011

JB Shuck, #52

On Friday night, JB Shuck made his major league debut with the Astros. He entered the game as part of a double switch in the top of the fifth, singling in the bottom of the inning and later grounding out to second. On Saturday night, he again entered in a double switch, drawing a walk in the seventh and singling off (literally) John Axford in the ninth. Unfortunately, he also made the last out at third base, trying to advance after Axford’s throw to first ended up in right field.

Shuck is not a top prospect by any respect; he’s a 24 year-old left-handed hitting outfielder who would be stretched in center and doesn’t have any power (career .085 minor league ISO). Was he not in an organization with little talent to begin with that just traded 2/3 of their outfield, he wouldn’t be getting a chance at the majors, and he probably won’t have much of a career. Of course, I would love to be wrong about all that.

Shuck was notable during his OSU career (2006-08) as a two-way player, a type that was always quite rare on Bob Todd coached teams. Shuck was a very good left-handed pitcher for OSU (as you can probably guess, he didn’t have great stuff, but for a Big Ten left-hander he had plenty) and played left or center as well, often batting third.

However Shuck’s career ends up, he has helped to make this a banner year for Buckeyes in the major leagues. Two of his former teammates, Eric Fryer and Matt Angle, also broke in this year, making it the first season with three OSU debuts since 1969 (Steve Arlin, Chuck Brinkman and Fred Scherman). Three Bucks also debuted in 1961 (Galen Cisco, Johnny Edwards and Ron Nischwitz) and 1927 (Arlie Tarbert, Marty Karow and Russ Miller). To put the size of this crop into perspective, during 2000-2009 only three Buckeyes made the majors in total (Nick Swisher, Josh Newman and Scott Lewis).

Along with Nick Swisher (2004 debut) and Cory Luebke (2010), five OSU products have appeared in the majors in 2011. The last time that many Buckeyes played in the majors was 1974; we have a lot of work left to do to reach the highwater mark of nine in 1969. While the three newbies are not really prospects (Fryer probably has the best prospectus on the basis of being a catcher), Swisher is an established quality contributor and Luebke is on his way to establishing himself as such, and the streak of at least one major league Buckeye (which dates to 1990, re-established after a three year drought from 1987-89) appears to be safe for some time to come.

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