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Big East in the Big Leagues: April 2017 Recap

How did your favorite ex-Big East players do in MLB this month?

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

While Big East baseball is a weird and wonderful mess most of the time (our weird and wonderful Alex Sindelar covers it brilliantly several times a week. Check it out.), sometimes players make it out of the madness and get drafted into MLB.

Long-time readers of BECB will remember this as a weekly recap we used to do to keep up with your favorite ex-players. Our pal Phil Neuffer used to do it very diligently for us. Last April, Phil left us to go run Down The Drive, SB Nation’s Cincinnati Bearcats blog. He continues to do the post, but obviously about CIncinnati players instead of Big East players. Over here, we got pretty busy with things and stuff and it went by the wayside.

But, as you may have guessed from the title of this article, that’s not the case any longer! Big East in the Big Leagues is officially back. It will be a monthly recap instead of a weekly recap, but it’s gonna be a lot of fun regardless.

NOTE: We’re focusing on players from current Big East teams, regardless of if that player actually played in the Big East. Someone’s going to complain about it, and I’m going to refer them to this disclaimer.

Let’s get to it.


Butler Bulldogs

Pat Neshek

Since Tampa Bay Rays folk hero Dan Johnson doesn’t find himself on an MLB roster this season, Pat Neshek is the lone Butler representative in the big leagues.

The thirty-six year-old submarine reliever has had a strong start to the year with the Philadelphia Phillies, with an ERA of 0.00 in nine appearances (7.2 innings pitched).

Neshek has been used primarily in the seventh or eighth inning as a setup man for Phillies closer Hector Neris.

The Phillies don’t project to be contenders this season, so if Neshek keeps up his strong play, he could be moved to a buyer at the trade deadling.


Creighton Bluejays

Ty Blach

Since “switch-pitcher” Pat Venditte is bouncing around the minor leagues, Blach is Creighton’s lone representative.

Blach started the year in the San Francisco Giants’ bullpen. He was pretty good, save for one appearance in which he gave up three runs in an inning. Then, Madison Bumgarner decided he wanted to spend his off-day riding a dirt bike and messed his shoulder up.

Blach was rewarded with a spot in the starting rotation.

In his first start of the season (April 25), he pitched well. Blach allowed four hits and two runs over five innings against the Dodgers. Unfortunately, he was matching up with Clayton Kershaw, so giving up two runs is unacceptable.

However, Blach hit a sweet double off Kershaw, so it wasn’t all bad.


Georgetown Hoyas

Tim Adleman

The Cincinnati Reds are a young team. As such, guys like Adleman get chances they might not get elsewhere. After making his season debut in relief on April 16, pitching three innings in a loss, Adleman was deemed stretched out enough to join the starting rotation, one of two former Big East players in the Reds rotation. His first start came against the Chicago Cubs, where he allowed just two runs in six innings, striking out seven, before his bullpen imploded and cost him the win. Then, Adelman faced the St. Louis Cardinals, where he didn’t fare quite as well, allowing five runs in five innings and taking his first loss of the season.


Seton Hall Pirates

Jason Grilli

Jason Grilli is old. Jason Grilli’s first year at Seton Hall (1995) was one year after PJ Carlesimo’s last year as men’s basketball coach (1994). The fact that Jason Grilli is still contributing to a Major League Baseball team is phenomenal.

The 40 year old reliever currently finds himself on a 6-17 Toronto Blue Jays team. Grilli’s starting to show his age, though, as he’s given up seven runs in 8.2 innings for a whopping 7.27 ERA. When you pitch in the bullpen, it’s hard to get your ERA down to a manageable level after a bad start like that. Hopefully, for Grilli’s sake, he’s able to make it happen.


St. John’s Red Storm

Amir Garrett

Alright, so... this one is kinda weird. Garrett went to St. John’s but he played basketball, not baseball. The Reds drafted him in high school and he decided he was going to play college basketball and professional baseball, which was apparently allowed. He averaged 6.2 points per game in two seasons for the Red Storm while playing in Rookie Leagues in the summer. Eventually, Garrett transferred to Cal State Northridge while continuing to play baseball, but before he appeared for Northridge, he quit basketball to focus on baseball full time.

Fast forward to 2017. Garrett made the Reds opening day roster and is part of their rotation, along with Adleman.

Garrett won his first two decisions, allowing a combined two runs and seven hits in 12.2 innings to the Cardinals and Pirates. Garrett’s third start, though, was perhaps his most impressive. He struck out 12 Orioles in seven innings and recorded his third straight quality start, but the Reds lost 2-0. Check out his 12 strikeouts below.

Garrett’s fourth start didn’t go well, as the Brewers tagged him for nine runs in just 3.1 innings. But if Garrett is going to have three good starts for every one clunker in his rookie season, the Reds may have found a gem.

Joe Panik

Panik has been one of the lone bright spots on the sputtering Giants. He’s put up an April slash line of .320/.376/.816 in 23 games and has been generally solid in the field, coming off his 2016 Gold Glove at second base. While the Giants may be struggling, Panik is certainly a joy to watch on both sides of the ball.


Villanova Wildcats

Matt Szczur

Szczur isn’t off to the phenomenal start he got off to last season, but he got a World Series ring with the Chicago Cubs, and he remains on the Cubs roster. There was talk over the offseason of the Cubs trading Szczur because he’s out of minor league options, but those talks never went anywhere and he remains in Chicago. Szczur’s hitting .182 in 11 at-bats this season, but the Cubs like to have him around for depth and defensive replacement situations.