Pat Venditte (Creighton)
You may remember Venditte as the collegiate phenomenon, who dazzled the world with his ability to pitch from both the left and right side. After making it onto Creighton's baseball squad as a walk-on, he went on to earn All-American honors and the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament's Most Outstanding Player award as a junior. His success caught the attention of MLB clubs, specifically the New York Yankees, who drafted him in the 45th round of the 2007 MLB Draft and then again in 2008, after they failed to sign him the previous summer.
Since breaking into the professional ranks in 2008, Venditte has kicked around the minors, spending time with more than 10 teams in the Yankee and Oakland A's farm systems.
Well, after eight seasons of waiting, the switch-pitcher finally got his first shot at the Major League level on Friday. It was a solid outing, as he pitched two scoreless innings of relief against the Boston Red Sox. Oh, and the game was in Fenway Park. Try to find a more historic park to start your career in. You can't. Two days later, Venditte came in and recorded the final out of the eighth inning in his second career appearance.
Of course, telling you about his performance is one thing. What if you could see it? Well, by the power of social media, here is a visual taste of Venditte's debut.
And, as if being able to neutralize batters using both arms wasn't enough, Venditte is apparently able to survive in both land and underwater environments. Evolution is crazy, huh?
Matt Szczur (Villanova)
Just last week, this column praised Szczur for his torrid hitting for Triple-A Iowa. Well, just hours after that piece ran, the Chicago Cubs decided to call Szczur back up. Clearly, the power of #BigEastInTheBigLeagues is real. I promise to only use these powers for good, or to hurt the Yankees. Oh wait, I already said good.
Unfortunately, the stellar vibes didn't last long, as Szczur was optioned back to Triple-A two days ago. It is easy to see why, as his strong play in the minors did not immediately translate last week. Szczur was used mainly as a substitute, but he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his only start of the week and had one hit in seven total at bats before being demoted. Hopefully, we'll see him back at Wrigley again soon.
Joe Panik (St. John's)
The Golden Boy of this series continues to be a force in the batter's box. He has hit safely in 12-straight games and boosted his average to .316, up from .303 last week at this time. Along with getting in a hit in each of the last 12 games, he has gotten on base in each of the last 20, which is the second-best streak running right now. He had three multi-hit games inj the last week, including a 3-for-5 effort on Sunday against the Phillies. Along with his burgeoning batting average, Panik is also getting on base at a fantastic clip (.384 OBP) and slugging a decent amount for a player not called upon for his power stroke (.456 SLG). Second base is a position which rarely gets in on the power game, so Panik is doing just fine in comparison to others at his position, as he is third among NL second baseman in extra-base hits with 18.
Comparing him to other NL second baseman brings us to his candidacy for the All-Star game. According to the most recent update on All-Star voting, Panik is in third place with 1,159,514 votes. Ahead of him are the Marlins' Dee Gordon (2,226,127 votes) and the Cardinals' Kolten Wong (2,113,069). So, I say to you, lover's of the Big East, do your duty and #VotePanik today and every day.
Pat Neshek (Butler)
It was a nice, relaxing week for Neshek. He only pitched in two games, throwing shutout innings of relief against Baltimore and Toronto. His ERA continues to dwindle (now at 2.08), while his scoreless appearances streak has extended to 17. Unfortunately, his team did not have the same type of success last week, going 2-5 in the last seven days, with the five losses coming in the last five games. At 34-25, the Astros still have a hold on first place in the AL West, but the Texas Rangers (30-27) are just three games back.
Jason Grilli (Seton Hall)
Like Neshek, Grilli wasn't shouldering a big workload this week. He pitched in only two games, earning a win after pitching a scoreless ninth inning against Pittsburgh on Saturday. On Monday, the result was not so positive. Grilli entered in the ninth inning with the Braves leading the Padres 3-2. He gave up a ground rule double to Yonder Alonso to start the inning. He recovered with a strikeout of Will Middlebrooks, after which Melvin Upton came in to pinch run for Alonso. Upton advanced to third after an errant pick-off attempt by Grilli and scored on a sacrifice fly from Cory Spangenberg. The blown save was the second of the season for Grilli, but his ERA still fell to 3.72 as the run was of the unearned persuasion.
Darin Ruf (Creighton)
Don't think just because Venditte made his debut that we would forget about another Creighton alum. Ruf went 2-for-6 during the last seven days, including a 1-for-3 effort on Saturday in his only start of the week. He is now batting .223 with nine extra base hits and 10 RBI on the season. In general, Ruf, who is a bat off the bench, has been more effective in the everyday lineup. Ruf has 18 at bats as a pinch hitter this season and his batting just .111 in such situations. Meanwhile, he is batting .350 with two home runs and seven RBI as a starter.
Amir Garrett (St. John's)
Perhaps Garrett still has some polishing to do before he is the next Johnny Cueto. After spinning a 12-strikeout effort on May 30, Garrett regressed in epic fashion in his next start. He allowed eight runs, that's right, EIGHT RUNS, on eight hits over five innings in taking his fifth loss of the season. The disastrous outing caused his ERA to implode from 2.40 to 3.52. He still managed to strike out four batters during those turbulent five innings, but it was a major step back after all the progress he had made in the early going.
Danny Burawa (St. John's)
Our final member of the BEITBL crew also fell flat on the mound. He allowed two runs over four innings of relief during the last week, as his ERA jumped from 1.75 to 2.12. Still, with that ERA, a .165 opponent batting average and a 1.04 WHIP, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders still have an effective and reliable arm in the bullpen.
Well that's it for this week. Until next time, remember to keep calm and #VotePanik.