UPDATE: On Tuesday, AJ Hacker announced on Twitter that he’ll be transferring to junior college Northwest Florida State. The move should give the righty a chance to play right away with the potential to reach the MLB Draft quicker. His IU career ends without a single appearance in the cream and crimson.
Headed next season to one of the top JUCO programs in the nation, Northwest Florida State Raiders. Big thanks to my coaches at @IndianaBase for the year of development. The journey continues! #SoundTheSiren @NWFSCbaseball @NWF_Raiders @martinnwf @ChrisJohns7 pic.twitter.com/9Uqc99UIgd— AJ Hacker (@AJ_Hacker10) April 14, 2020
Like everything else in the world, it appears that the coronavirus outbreak will impact the college baseball world not only in the near term, but in the long term as well.
The NCAA’s decision to give spring athletes another year of eligibility has created roster crunches across the country, as fewer players will be exiting the college ranks. But plenty will still be moving to the next level. That’s led to hundreds of players entering the transfer portal, seeking potential new homes during this uncertain time.
D1Baseball.com has reported that three of those players are from IU.
AJ Hacker is the most noteworthy of the trio. The freshman was redshirting for the Hoosiers prior to the cancellation of the season, but has plenty of promise. His resume as a recruit included a laundry list of awards including Rawlings Perfect Game High School All-American and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper High School All-American honors. He was also named Kentucky’s Mr. Baseball and Gatorade Player of the Year.
The last time he was on the diamond, as a high school senior, he showed some two-way potential as a right-handed pitcher and first baseman by posting a 0.67 earned run average and 110 strikeouts as well as a .446 with eight home runs and 45 runs batted in.
Hacker, from Morehead, Ky., was originally committed to Morehead State before flipping to IU. In a tweet, Hacker’s father Scott said that the righty is “looking for an opportunity to play now.”
Also reportedly in the portal is another IU freshman, Joe Wilkinson.
Wilkinson was one of the top 10 recruits in the state of Indiana coming out of Providence High School, and was also ranked as the sixth-best right-hander in the state by Perfect Game.
Like Hacker, the New Albany native was also redshirting for the Hoosiers prior to the season’s cancellation.
The third Hoosier to reportedly enter the portal is a veteran player, Hunter Combs.
The catcher joined IU this past offseason as a junior college transfer. He was one of what’s become several players to come to Bloomington from John A. Logan College over the past handful of years. Prior to the season, Combs was a participant in the battle for playing time behind the plate with Collin Hopkins and Brant Voth. The junior appeared in just one game this season, starting against Evansville back in March, and going 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
All three players come from positions of depth for IU. The Hoosiers have a glut of young, promising arms with whom Hacker and Wilkinson have to compete for playing time, and Hopkins emerged as the everyday backstop with Voth seeming to take the backup role ahead of Combs. He earned three appearances to Combs’ one.
Of course, entering the transfer portal doesn’t necessarily mean that these players will actually leave the program, as they could still potentially elect to withdraw their names and return to IU.
There’s also the possibility that more Hoosiers follow them into the portal. This post will be updated as these situations, and any others, progress.