A number of former WSU baseball players are gearing up for their seasons in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and preparing to continue chasing their dreams of making it to the show. Four of the players discussed in this article are from WSU’s historic 2016 season where five Raiders were drafted by MLB teams.
The only active player in MLB that played at Wright State is Houston Astros relief pitcher Joe Smith. There are several Raiders in the farm systems of major league teams that could make their mark in the coming years.
WSU’s most well known farmhand is Sean Murphy, the former Raider catcher who was drafted in the third round by the Oakland Athletics in 2016. Murphy was well known for his defensive skills over his offensive skills coming out of college, and that followed him into his first professional season.
He proved doubters wrong in the first half of 2017 when he hit .297 with nine homeruns in just 45 games in Advanced A ball, earning him a promotion to AA, two levels away from MLB. He ultimately struggled with his new team, hitting .209 in his final 53 games.
Nevertheless, Murphy continued to amaze scouts with his defensive skills, and proved his bat can be better than advertised. He even began the year as the fourth best catching prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com. Murphy will start the 2018 season in AA, giving him a solid chance to make AAA sometime this season, and maybe even a September call-up with the Athletics.
Jesse Scholtens was drafted by the Padres in the ninth round of the 2016 MLB draft, and along with Murphy will begin the season at the AA level.
Between three different levels in 2016, he posted a miniscule 1.69 ERA as a relief pitcher before moving into a starter role for the 2017 season. There, he posted a respectable 3.60 ERA over 25 starts at the A(Full) and A(Adv) levels.
Scholtens will look to crack a Padres rotation that is considered one of the worst in MLB. If Scholtens can continue to provide solid production in the AA and AAA levels this season, he will leave the Padres no choice but to give him a big league call-up in the coming years.
Mitch Roman was also taken in the 2016 MLB draft, but was picked in the twelfth round by the Chicago White Sox as a second baseman.
Roman had a fantastic year in Rookie ball in 2016. He hit .332 with 33 RBI’s and 26 stolen bases in just 67 games. This incredible performance earned him a promotion to A(Full) ball for the 2017 season. Roman took a step back last year by hitting .254 while only stealing eight bases and striking out 120 times in 132 games. The White Sox still thought highly enough of Roman to promote him to A(Adv.) ball for the 2018 season. With a rebound year this season, Roman could find himself right back on track to being a top prospect in the organization.
The first of the Sexton brothers was taken by the Boston Red Sox in the fourteenth round of the 2016 draft. Being a late round draft pick didn’t stop Sexton from producing right away, as he pitched to a 1.80 ERA in his first six professional starts in 2016 Rookie ball. During that season, opposing batters hit just .208 off him.
In 2017, Sexton bounced between being a starter and a relief pitcher, and ultimately ended up
with a 3.86 ERA over 12 starts and 15 apperances out of the bullpen. Sexton seemed to find his grove towards the season’s end, ending with a 1.75 ERA over his final 25 innings of work.
Robby’s brother, Danny Sexton, went undrafted in the 2017 MLB draft, but signed with the Padres shortly after. Danny’s pro debut didn’t go quite as smoothly, as he ended his season in rookie ball with a 6.75 ERA in 30.2 innings.
There were some positive signs however, as he was able to strike out 35 batters over that span, showing he is capable of missing bats at the pro level. More than likely Sexton will begin the season back in Rookie ball for the start of 2018.