Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Baseball boasts seven pros on 2013 opening day rosters

Stony Brook, N.Y. - As Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball celebrate their Opening Days this week, Stony Brook Baseball is proud to have seven former Seawolves on active pro rosters this week with two more awaiting minor league short season assignments. In total, there is at least one former Stony Brook player at each level of the full-season Minor League affiliates (AAA, AA, Advanced A, A) and at the Major League level.

The group is headlined by Joe Nathan '97, a five-time MLB All-Star who is in his second season as the closer for the Texas Rangers. Overall, Nathan is in his 13th season in the big leagues and is 24th all-time in MLB history in saves with 298. He is the second among active players, behind only New York's Mariano Rivera.

Nathan was a two-time Academic All-American and hit .378 in his time with the Seawolves and was also inducted into the Stony Brook Athletics Hall of Fame on Dec. 6, 2006, when he became the first former Stony Brook student-athlete to have his number retired. Stony Brook's field bears Nathan's name as he donated the lead $500,000 gift for the construction of Joe Nathan Field, which opened in 2011.

Fellow pitcher Tom Koehler '08, who made his Major League debut last season for the Miami Marlins, opens 2013 with the New Orleans Zephyrs, Miami's AAA affiliate, and will be the opening day starter Thursday at Nashville. Last season, Koehler was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 13-1/3 innings with the Marlins. He made his debut on Sept. 5 against Milwaukee and recorded his first strikeout against Martin Maldonado. At New Orleans, Koehler was 12-11 with a 4.17 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 151 innings.

A two-time, All-America East second team selection, Koehler finished his four-year Stony Brook career second in program history in innings pitched (293.1) and third in strikeouts (297). He was a part of the 2008 America East Championship winning team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Nick Tropeano, less than two years removed from being selected in the fifth round of the MLB Draft by the Houston Astros, moves up to AA to play for the Corpus Christi Hooks and is projected to be the team's opening day starter on Thursday. Last season, Tropeano split time with the Lexington Legends and the Lancaster JetHawks in Class A ball. In his pro career, he is 15-9 with a 2.85 ERA and 229 strikeouts in 211-1/3 innings. He is currently the No. 9 prospect in the Astros organization, according to Baseball America.

Tropeano was a two-time All-American at Stony Brook, setting an America East record for wins (12) and strikeouts in 2011. He was also a two-time America East Pitcher of the Year, the 2011 Stony Brook Male Athlete of the Year and helped lead the Seawolves to the 2010 America East championship and the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament win.

Stony Brook's first-ever first-round MLB draft pick, Travis Jankowski, opens his first full season in the pros with the Lake Elsinore Storm, the Class A Advanced affiliate of the San Diego Padres. After being selected 44th overall by the Padres last season, Jankowski hit .282 with 15 extra base hits and 17 stolen bases with the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Earlier this spring, Jankowski appeared in five spring training games for San Diego and hit .444 with two RBI and two runs scored.

Jankowski had arguably the greatest season in Stony Brook history in 2012 when he led the nation in hits (110), triples (11) and runs scored (79) and also ranked eighth in the country in batting average (.414) and sixth in stolen bases (34). He was named the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) National Co-Player of the Year, first-team All-American and America East Player of the Year. He is the program's all-time leader in stolen bases (74) and triples (16).

Pat Cantwell, who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the 2012 MLB Draft, opens 2013 with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Texas' Class A Advanced team. Cantwell spent 2012 with the Spokane Indians, where he hit .255 with one home run and 22 RBI while sporting a .342 on-base percentage.

Cantwell was a four-year starter at Stony Brook and three-time All-America East selection. He hit .314 with 60 extra-base hits and 109 RBI in his career and was a tremendous presence behind the plate, where he threw out 60 out of 90 attempted base stealers, an incredible 66.7 percent rate. He helped the Seawolves to two NCAA Tournaments and was named the 2010 America East Championship Most Outstanding Player.

Maxx Tissenbaum, drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round last season, will start 2013 with the Fort Wayne TinCaps in A ball, the same team Jankowski played for last season. Tissenbaum appeared in 47 games for the Eugene Emeralds last season and hit .296 with three home runs and 29 RBI while posting a .403 on-base percentage. He had nearly twice as many walks (27) as strikeouts (14). Like Jankowski, Tissenbaum also had the opportunity to play a few games for the Padres during spring training, going 1-for-4 at the plate.

Tissenbaum was a two-time All-America East selection and a 2012 third-team All-American for the Seawolves. Last season, he was the fourth-most difficult man to strike out in the country, fanning just once every 26.8 at bats and just nine times all season. In his career, he hit .362 with 12 home runs, 115 RBI and a .427 on-base percentage.

William Carmona, an 11th round draft choice by the Philadelphia Phillies last season, resumes play with the Lakewood BlueClaws of Class A ball, the team he finished with last year. Splitting time with Lakewood and the Gulf Coast League Phillies, Carmona hit .281 with four home runs and 30 RBI in 52 professional games.

Carmona left Stony Brook as the program's all-time leader in hits with a whopping 255. He had a career average of .380 in his three seasons, hitting 24 home runs and driving in 161 runs while scoring 143 of his own. He was a two-time All-American at Stony Brook, the 2011 America East Player of the Year and 2010 America East Rookie of the Year.

Reliever James Campbell, taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 12th round last year, reports to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in Class A Advanced ball for 2013. Campbell appeared in nine games for the Great Lakes Loons last season, posting a 2.40 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 15 innings. 

Campbell was the America East Championship Most Outstanding Player in 2012, helping lead the Seawolves to a second conference title in the last three seasons. He finished his Stony Brook career with a 7-3 record, 4.53 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 115-1/3 innings. He had eight career saves, which ranks him fourth in program history.

Two other Seawolves are currently in the minor leagues awaiting short season assignments. Tyler Johnson, Stony Brook's all-time leader in wins with 31, pitched last season with the AZL Athletics in Rookie ball, posting a 5-1 record with a 3.33 ERA in relief. He was a 33rd round choice by the Oakland Athletics last season. Jasvir Rakkar, a former Seawolves reliever, pitched seven games for the AZL Cubs, posting a 2.70 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 10 innings. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 26th round last year.