Major League Baseball is on the horizon, and three former Ohio State players will be on Opening Day rosters. An additional ten Buckeyes will be plying their trade in the minor leagues, including a number of names that should be familiar to fans of the team in the past few years.
Among the players that will start the season in the big leagues, there is one glaring omission: Nick Swisher, whose name is on the field at Ohio State, was released by the Atlanta Braves one week before Opening Day, and is still without a team as of this writing. Swisher, 35, is in his 12th full Major League season and has hit 245 career home runs. Last season, while dealing with a knee injury and being traded midseason to the Braves by the Cleveland Indians, the former first round pick of the Oakland Athletics hit just .196 in 76 games, homering six times and driving in a mere 25 runs. The Braves released Swisher despite still owing him $29 million over the next two seasons.
In the absence of Swisher, there currently appears to be just three former Buckeyes that will start the season on a Major League roster. The first is J.B. Shuck, who is an outfielder for the Chicago White Sox. Shuck, who has spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues, had a productive 2015 for the Southsiders mainly in a reserve role. He hit .266 in 79 games, and was particularly effective off the bench, posting an .820 OPS in that role.
The second former Ohio State player who will be suiting up on Opening Day is Cory Luebke, a relief pitcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Luebke is an inspirational story, having gone through two Tommy John surgeries and not appearing in a Major League game since 2012. A former first round pick of the San Diego Padres, the lefty drew raves for his velocity in spring training.
Former catcher Eric Fryer, who has appeared in 65 games over the past five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Minnesota Twins, attended spring training with the St. Louis Cardinals. A career .243 hitter, Fryer is pegged to open the season as the backup to Yadier Molina due in large part to Brayan Pena opening the season on the disabled list.
While the Major League side of things is a little thin, the Buckeyes will be well represented in the minors with some ten players who still have hopes of making it to the show. These players include (along with their organization):
- Brad Goldberg (Chicago White Sox)
- John Kuchno (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Travis Lakins (Boston Red Sox)
- Jaron Long (New York Yankees)
- Brett McKinney (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Pat Porter (Houston Astros)
- Ryan Riga (Chicago White Sox)
- Drew Rucinski (Chicago Cubs)
- Connor Sabanosh (San Francisco Giants)
- Alex Wimmers (Minnesota Twins)