Last week IU had a program record 10 players selected in the MLB Draft, led by star centerfielder Matt Gorski. On Wednesday an 11th player joined that group in receiving an opportunity to play professional baseball as catcher Ryan Fineman inked a free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Fineman was a four-year starter for the Hoosiers, taking the torch behind the plate from Brad Hartong after he graduated. The California native’s college career got off to a quick start as he earned Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors in 2016. He also quickly earned a reputation for being good on defense. His best offensive season came in 2018 when he hit .284 with seven home runs and 37 runs batted in. Fineman’s senior season was hampered by injuries, but he still managed to hit seven home runs and drive in 29 runs despite playing in his lowest number of games in a season over the course of his career by a significant margin.
Now as a newly minted professional ballplayer Fineman will be assigned to one of the Rays’ minor league affiliates—potentially the short-season A-class Hudson Valley Renegades or the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Rays or Princeton Rays—and his pro career will begin.