(Editor’s note: This post, originally published June 29, was updated on July 14 to reflect Jonathan Stiever’s addition to the Chicago White Sox player pool.)
Baseball is coming back!
(At least, we think/hope so!)
With teams across Major League Baseball set to launch localized versions of spring training 2.0 later this week, a few former Hoosiers are due back at work in the coming days. A few more are still hoping for a call.
Here’s a look at which IU baseball alums are heading to summer camp, along with a glimpse of the Hoosiers who may receive an invitation at a later date:
On the roster
Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs
Well, duh. Yeah, the fastest Cubs player to reach 100 career home runs is on the roster. And with National League clubs set to utilize the designated hitter this season, Schwarber’s situation on the North Side just got a little more interesting. Schwarber has long profiled as a DH and, lucky for him, he need not leave the only organization he’s known to see how it fits. Of course, knowing Schwarber, he’ll likely campaign to see time in the field. The Cubs, too, have other potential options to rotate into the DH role. Either way, we’ll be watching. He went 7-for-32 with four doubles in 11 exhibition games this spring.
Josh Phegley, Chicago Cubs
After playing in a career-high 106 games with the Oakland Athletics last season, Phegley is headed back to Chicago. A former first-round pick of the White Sox, Phegley is one of four catchers the Cubs will use for workouts at Wrigley Field this month. Even if he doesn’t crack the 30-man Opening Day roster, Phegley could find himself in contention for a spot on the Cubs’ three-player taxi squad. He was off to a great start in spring training version 1.0, collecting nine hits in 22 at-bats (.409), including two doubles and two home runs.
Kyle Hart, Boston Red Sox
If there’s one guy Crimson Quarry will be pulling for this summer, it’s Hart. On top of being an all-around good dude (and a go-to source for quotes for this former college baseball scribe), Hart is also an intriguing depth piece for the Red Sox. After splitting his 2019 season between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, Hart was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November. The former 19th-round pick has yet to get a cup of coffee in the big leagues, but perhaps this is the year. Being on the 40-man certainly helps, as does the fact that the back end of Boston’s rotation doesn’t feel fully fortified. In six innings this spring, Hart allowed five runs on six hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
Alex Dickerson, San Francisco Giants
Dickerson is another former Hoosier who could see some time as a National League DH this summer. The Giants have a few options for that role on the roster, including Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, so Dickerson could just as easily see the bulk of his time in left field. The former third-round pick showed he could swing it last summer when he hit .290 in 56 games for the Giants after coming over in a trade with San Diego. Of his 45 hits in a San Francisco uniform, 22 have gone for extra bases. In 10 exhibition games this spring, Dickerson had eight hits in 25 at-bats (.320) with three doubles, a triple and a home run.
Aaron Slegers, Tampa Bay Rays
The 6-foot-10 right-hander has gotten at least one big league outing in each of the past three seasons, including one relief appearance for the Rays last August. As a non-40-man-roster player, it figures that Slegers will serve as pitching depth this summer. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Slegers will be one of 23 pool players working out at the Rays’ secondary training site in Port Charlotte, Fla. Across eight innings this spring, Slegers yielded seven runs on seven hits (including four home runs) with four walks and one strikeout.
Caleb Baragar, San Francisco Giants
Baragar didn’t receive an invitation to big league spring training. He also didn’t get the call to join the Giants when summer camp started in early July. But Baragar’s phone finally rang a week into workouts when San Francisco’s brass added him to the player pool on July 8. It could be an interesting summer for Baragar, who is coming off an outstanding, fascinating 2019 season. Baragar spent nearly all of last summer with Double-A Richmond, where he earned Eastern League All-Star honors, before receiving a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento’s postseason roster. In the Triple-A National Championship game, Baragar blanked Columbus over five frames and received the National Championship MVP award. Now, he has a chance to build on last year’s gains and seize a spot on the major league roster.
Jonathan Stiever, Chicago White Sox
Stiever was added to the White Sox taxi squad on July 14 and is likely to spend the rest of the summer working at the team’s alternate site in Schaumburg, Ill. The former 5th round pick has never pitched above High-A, though he worked to a 2.15 ERA and posted 77 strikeouts in 71 innings for Chicago’s Carolina League affiliate last season. It seems the White Sox want to make sure Stiever, considered the club’s No. 6 overall prospect, gets enough work in over the next few months to continue his development. Then again, if things get crazy, the mere fact that Stiever is in the team’s 60-man pool means he’s only a few weird bounces away from the big leagues.
On the bubble
Just because these Hoosiers weren’t included in the initial pools doesn’t mean they’re out of luck. Several organizations opted not to max out rosters to their 60-man limit, leaving wiggle room to add players as camp unfolds.
Sam Travis, who had seven hits in 15 spring at-bats with the Texas Rangers, could get a call, as could Ryan Halstead, who made one appearance for the Giants in March. Coincidentally, Halstead and Travis faced each other in a spring training contest on March 3, with Travis grounding into a ninth-inning double play.
We’ll update this post with any changes.