Oct. 24, 2017
COLUMBIA – With the Houston Astros’ win over the New York Yankees in game seven of the American League Championship Series, the end of the season arrived for South Carolina Gamecocks in the professional ranks. It was a banner year for the Gamecocks in the Pros as eight players spent time on a Major League Baseball roster in 2017, highlighted by an All-Star Game appearance from Justin Smoak and three former Gamecocks on MLB postseason rosters. Here’s a look at how South Carolina’s professionals did this past season.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
• Justin Smoak hit .270 with 38 home runs and 90 RBI for the Toronto Blue Jays. Smoak’s banner first half put him in the All-Star Game, where he singled in the second inning and drew a walk in the fourth while earning the start at first base. He put up a career high in doubles (29) to go along with bests in both home runs and RBI.
• Jackie Bradley Jr. played in 133 games for the Boston Red Sox, helping the team win the American League East pennant. Bradley belted 17 home runs, had 63 RBI and a .402 slugging percentage while making several web gems in center field. He hit a three-run home run in game four of the American League Divisional Series win over Houston.
• Whit Merrifield had a standout season for the Kansas City Royals, hitting .288 with 19 home runs and 78 RBI. Merrifield also stole 34 bases and had an OPS of .784. He played 145 games for the Royals, 132 of them at second base, where he had a .981 fielding percentage.
• Jordan Montgomery earned nine wins on the mound for the New York Yankees, helping the team to the ALCS. Montgomery sported a 3.88 ERA and had 144 strikeouts and 155.1 innings pitched in 29 starts for the Yankees. Montgomery ended the season with a .236 opponent’s batting average and a 1.23 WHIP.
• Steve Pearce had 13 home runs and 37 RBI for the Toronto Blue Jays after signing a two-year deal for the club in the offseason. Pearce played in 92 games for the Blue Jays, 85 of them in left field, and had a .438 slugging percentage to go with 17 doubles.
• Sam Dyson recorded 14 saves for the San Francisco Giants in 2017, striking out 34 batters in 54.2 innings pitched. The righthander was traded to the Giants from the Texas Rangers at the beginning of June and had a 4.03 ERA with the club in 38 appearances.
• Christian Walker spent most of 2017 with the Reno Aces in the Pacific Coast League, where he earned PCL Most Valuable Player honors after hitting 32 home runs and driving in 114 runs. Walker was called up to the Arizona Diamondbacks in early September and had a pair of home runs in 12 at-bats with the team. Walker was on the National League Division Series roster for Arizona, and he came through with a single in Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
• Tyler Webb pitched in nine games between the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017. Webb struck out five and allowed just a .158 opponent’s batting average in seven games for the Yankees. Webb also pitched in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Colorado Springs, the Triple-A affiliates of New York and Milwaukee, respectively, where he combined for 64 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched.
• Grayson Greiner had 21 doubles and 14 home runs for Erie and Toledo in the Detroit Tigers farm system. Greiner had 21 doubles and a triple while sporting a .427 slugging percentage between the two teams.
• Evan Marzilli had 103 hits for Reno and Jackson combined as part of the Arizona Diamondbacks system. He finished the year with a .256 batting average with 15 doubles and a .366 on-base percentage between the two teams.
• Peter Mooney finished his 2017 season with New Orleans in the Miami Marlins farm system. Mooney had 18 doubles, 34 RBI and at total of 86 hits.
• Michael Roth ended the season with 79 strikeouts in 25 appearances on the mound between Sacramento and Durham, Triple-A affiliates of the San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays, respectively. Roth pitched 111.2 innings in 2017, earning six wins.
• Kyle Martin finished his season in Reading, Philadelphia’s Double-A affiliate, with 15 doubles, 22 home runs, 60 hits and 68 RBIs.
• Max Schrock’s season with the Midland Rockhounds, the Oakland Athletics’ Double-A affiliate, ended with a .321 batting average, 19 doubles and 55 runs scored. Schrock had seven home runs and 46 RBI in Midland in 2017.
• Joel Seddon also played for Midland, making 33 appearances on the mound for the Rockhounds. He recorded 70 strikeouts and had three wins and a pair of saves on the season.
• Taylor Widener pitched for the Trenton Thunder in the postseason, striking out eight batters in two Eastern League playoff appearances. Widener played most of 2017 with the Tampa Yankees, New York’s High-A affiliate, and had 129 strikeouts and seven wins in 27 starts and 119.1 innings pitched.
• Jack Wynkoop started 24 games on the mound for the Hartford Yard Goats, a Colorado Rockies affiliate. Wynkoop struck out 80 batters and threw two complete games in 24 starts and 150 innings pitched.
• Tanner English finished his season with the Fort Myers Miracle (a Minnesota Twins affiliate) with 16 doubles and 64 hits to go along with a .330 on-base percentage. English also played 24 games with Chattanooga in the Southern League and had a pair of doubles and three RBI for the Lookouts.
• Joey Pankake played for the Lakeland Flying Tigers (a Detroit affiliate) this season. He played in 77 games and had 50 hits, nine doubles, five home runs and 22 RBI.
• Evan Beal moved from the Royals farm system to the Miami Marlins system and ended his season playing for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He had a 1.08 ERA with the Grasshoppers in 11 games with 15 strikeouts. Beal struck out 16 batters in 10 games for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in the Texas League.
• Gene Cone finished his season with the Columbia Fireflies, part of the New York Mets system, with 69 hits, including 11 doubles, and 29 RBI in 84 games played.
• Tyler Johnson moved from Rookie to Low-A this season in the Chicago White Sox system. He pitched in 14 games for the Kannapolis Intimidators, striking out 21 batters and recording two saves to go along with a 1-1 record.
• Marcus Mooney had 99 hits with 13 doubles with the Rome Braves, a low-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. Mooney drove in 32 runs and ended the year with a .310 on-base percentage.
• John Parke pitched for Kannapolis in the South Atlantic League playoffs, earning a no-decision in a five-inning start. Park played his rookie season for the AZL White Sox, pitching in 14 games with 10 starts and posting 46 strikeouts with a 2.77 ERA on the season.
• Dom Thompson-Williams started with the Staten Island Yankees, New York’s Short-Season A affiliate, before being promoted to the Charleston Riverdogs for the final 23 games. He combined for a .244 batting average, including 28 RBIs and 54 total hits.
• Braden Webb pitched in 22 games with 13 starts for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate. He recorded 90 strikeouts and notched six wins in 86.2 innings pitched.
• Wil Crowe moved from the Rookie GCL Nationals to single-A short season Auburn Doubledays in the Nationals system this season. He finished with a combined ERA of 2.96, including 17 strikeouts, in nine games started.
• Alex Destino finished his season with the AZL White Sox sporting a .290 batting average. He had 53 hits, including 13 doubles and three home runs.
• Josh Reagan moved from the Rookie AZL Athletics to the Short-Season A Vermont Lake Monsters this season. With the Lake Monsters, he had an ERA of 2.21 in 12 games with a 1-1 record, 21 strikeouts and a save.
• Matt Vogel pitched in 34 games between Charlotte and Hudson Valley in the Tampa Bay system. Vogel had 75 strikeouts and two saves on the mound while holding opponents to a .205 batting average.