April 5, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Marshall Baseball alumni began the season with three players on minor league full-season team rosters, with four others from Coach Jeff Waggoner’s program in extended spring training.
Meanwhile, right-hander Dan Straily started the 2013 season where he finished 2012 -- in the Majors.
The former Thundering Herd right-hander is expected to get a start Friday night at Houston before heading to Class AAA Sacramento and the RiverCats’ rotation when veteran Bartolo Colon returns to the Athletics’ roster and rotation Saturday after a 50-game performance-enhancing drug suspension.
Straily pitched at three levels last season, with a combined 222 strikeouts at Double A Midland, Triple A Sacramento and in the bigs with the A’s. He was 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA for Oakland in seven starts after going 3-4 and 6-3 at AA and AAA, respectively.
Three other ex-Herd pitchers were with Class A clubs as the minor leagues’ season opened Thursday.
Right-hander Kevin Shackelford begins the season in the high Class A Florida State League with the Brevard County Manatees (Milwaukee Brewers). Shackelford went 3-5 with a 4.06 ERA in low Class A last season, with Wisconsin in the Midwest League.
Two other former Herd teammates are minor league teammates again, as they were at the start of last season in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization.
Right-handers Ian Kadish and Arik Sikula are pitching out of the bullpen in the Midwest League, with the Lansing Lugnuts. Kadish and Sikula opened last summer in the short-season Northwest League with the Vancouver Canadians, with Kadish moving up to Lansing in the last month of the 2012 season.
Kadish was 2-2 with a 2.66 ERA at two levels, while Sikula was 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA at Vancouver.
Meanwhile, former Marshall left-hander Greg Williams isn’t expected to pitch this season in the Texas Rangers’ system.
After playing last season at three levels in low and high Class A despite arm trouble, Williams underwent Tommy John surgery (ligament transplant) in October and continues to rehab at the Rangers’ facility in Arizona. He was 2-0 with a 3.96 ERA last season, mostly at Hickory in the South Atlantic League.
Four other players are listed on Major League organization rosters with clubs that won’t begin their short-season play until June – pitchers Jesse Fernandez (Baltimore), Mike Mason (Colorado), Joe Church (San Diego) and catcher Rhett Stafford (Oakland).
All are in extended spring training.
Former Herd infielder Kenny Socorro, who was a player-coach last season in the Chicago Cubs' system at Class A Peoria, is now a coach for the organization at Kane County in the Midwest League.
Marshall (11-17, 1-2) continues the season at Appalachian Power Park with a three-game Conference USA series against Houston (23-7, 5-1). Games are scheduled Friday and Saturday at 2:05 p.m., with Sunday’s finale at 10 a.m.
Houston visits with the No. 32 RPI in Division I and is ranked between Nos. 19 and 23 in the four national weekly polls).