LakePoint, Ga. - ASUN Conference baseball programs currently have 12 former players on MLB rosters, as the 2018 season draws near to the mid-summer classic. The league boasts arguably three of the best starters in the game in Chris Sale, Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom.
Sale is the ace of the top team in the MLB, the Boston Red Sox, leading all of baseball in strikeouts with 153. Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner, Kluber headlines the rotation of the Cleveland Indians, the top team in the AL Central. He's exemplified pin-point control this season, as he leads the majors in K/BB ration with a mark of 8.85. deGrom is having his best season as a professional despite his team providing minimal runs in his outings. deGrom currently leads all of baseball in ERA at 1.69, but only has five wins to show for it as he gets some of the worst run support in the game. All three have serious cases to start the All-Star game for their respective leagues at next month's All-Star game in Washington, D.C.
Daniel Murphy, Jacksonville/Washington Nationals (2B)
- 13 games, 1 run, 0 HRs, 6 RBI, .200/.234/.222
- Murphy recently returned from the DL after missing roughly the first two and half months with an injured knee. He's off to a slow start in just a handful of games, but expect the three-time MLB All Star will play a key part in the Nationals second half push towards the playoffs.
Chris Sale, FGCU/Boston Red Sox (LHP)
- W-L: 7-4, 2.56 ERA, 153 Ks, 28 BB, 109.0 IP
- Sale has been up to his usual tricks this season as the ace of the Red Sox rotation. He holds a 7-4 record with a 2.56 ERA, which ranks seventh in the American League. The lanky southpaw also leads all of Major League Baseball with 153 strikeouts. If Sale keeps this up, expect to see him in the All-Star game in Washington next month for the seventh time in his career.
Corey Kluber, Stetson/Cleveland Indians (RHP)
- W-L: 11-4, 2.54 ERA, 115 Ks, 13 BB, 113.1 IP
- Kluber has further cemented himself as one of the best starters in the game this season. With a 11-4 record and 2.54 ERA, Kluber has led the Tribe to top of the AL Central and they are almost a cinch to make it back to the postseason for the third-straight season. Kluber has demonstrated excellent control this season, as he leads the league in K/BB at 8.85. He went a whole month without walking a batter, a span that reached 44.1 innings. Kluber is also another one to expect to see at the All-Star game next month for the third time.
Jacob deGrom, Stetson/New York Mets (RHP)
- W-L: 5-3, 1.69 ERA, 126 Ks, 27 BB, 101.1 IP
- Unlucky doesn't even begin describe the season deGrom is having right now. With an ERA of 1.69, you'd think deGrom's record would be better than just 5-3, but the Mets have provided little to no run support in many of his starts. In fact in a span of 10 starts from April 27th to June 13th, deGrom posted a microscopic ERA of 0.89 over 55.1 innings, but the Mets only managed to win just two of those games. Even with his tough luck, deGrom still finds himself in the conversation for the N.L. Cy Young. Expect him to represent the Mets at the All-Star game for the second time in his career.
Richard Bleier, FGCU/Baltimore Orioles (LHP):
- W-L: 3-0, 1.93 ERA, 15 Ks, 4 BB, 32.2 IP
- Despite the Orioles holding the worst record in baseball, Bleier has not been part of the problem as he's been dynamite out of the O's 'pen. The righty has posted a 1.93 ERA in 31 appearances and 32.1 innings of work. He also has walked just four batters and struckout 15.
Caleb Joseph, Lipscomb/Baltimore Orioles (C):
- 32 games, 7 runs, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .181/.204/.314
- In 32 games as Baltimore's backup this season, Josephy has knocked in four runs and has scored seven. He hit his only home run of the season back on May 8th against the Kansas City Royals.
Rex Brothers, Lipscomb/Atlanta Braves (LHP):
- W-L: 0-0, inf ERA, 0 K, 2 BB, 0.0 IP
- The 2009 ASUN Pitcher of the Year has appeared in one game this season for the Braves. He currently is on the roster at AAA Gwinnett
Jacob Barnes, FGCU/Milwaukee Brewers (RHP):
- W-L: 0-1, 1.73 ERA, 31 Ks, 14 BB, 31.0 IP
- Barnes has been great out of the Milwaukee 'pen this season posting a 1.73 ERA and holding hitters to just a .227 batting average. He's also helped the Brewers post the fourth-best bullpen ERA in the majors with a mark of 2.74. Currently, Milwaukee holds the best record in the National League with a record of 46-33 and own a 2.5 game lead on the Chicago Cubs.
Alan Busenitz, Kennesaw State/Minnesota Twins (RHP)
- W-L: 1-0, 8.44 ERA, 10 Ks, 2 BB, 5.1 IP
- Busenitz has spent most of the season in AAA, but was called back up the majors on Sunday (6/24). In very limited action, he has an ERA of 8.44, but is striking out nearly two batters an inning. Before getting called back up, Busenitz was enjoying a great season at AAA Rochester as he had an ERA of 1.59 and struck out 32 batters in just 17 appearances.
Mark Leiter, NJIT/Philadelphia Phillies (RHP)
- W-L: 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 9 Ks, 2 BB, 8.0 IP
- After being used as a starter a year ago, Leiter spent the first two months in the minors and was just recently called up to the big club. He has made just four appearances out of the bullpen for the Phillies this season, stiking out nine batters in just eight innings.
Cory Gearrin, Mercer/San Francisco Giants (RHP):
- W-L: 0-1, 4.73 ERA, 26 Ks, 13 BB, 26.2 IP
- It has been an up and down season for Gearrin thus far. He's had some great stretches out of the Giants 'pen, but a few bad outings have made his ERA go from the mid 3s to the high 4s.
Drew Butera, UCF/Kansas City Royals (C):
- 32 games, 6 runs, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .151./231./.226
- In 32 games as the backup to Salvador Perez, Butera has knocked in 10 runs and scored six. He hit his lone home run of the season back on May 27th in a win over the Texas Rangers.