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Hornets in the Pros

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Five members of the 2015 Sacramento State baseball team are among a group of 12 former Hornets active this summer in professional baseball, with several alums putting up impressive numbers.

The top Hornet draft pick in June was outfielder Nathan Lukes, taken in the seventh round by the Cleveland Indians. Lukes played in just five games before being sidelined since June 26 due to injury, but in those games he hit .313 with 5 RBIs and 4 runs scored for the Single-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Sutter McLoughlin, the Hornet program and WAC all-time saves leader, began his professional career in Rookie Ball with the GCL Phillies but has already earned a promotion to Single-A. He was 4-for-4 in save opportunities and did not allow a run over 9.1 innings pitched, permitting just 2 hits without allowing a walk and recording 12 strikeouts.

Pitcher Ty Nichols signed as a free agent with the Tampa Rays and has also been lights out in rookie ball with the GCL Rays. He has pitched in relief in five games and is 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA, allowing just three earned runs over 13.2 innings pitched with 14 strikeouts to just four walks.

Sacramento State all-time wins leader Brennan Leitao was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals and is transitioning to a relief pitcher with the Single-A State College Spikes, having thrown 6.2 innings over five relief appearances with a 5.40 ERA. Shortstop Scotty Burcham is with the Single-A Boise Hawks in the Colorado Rockies organization and, after a slow start, is hitting .256 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs with seven hits in his last four games.

The two 2014 Hornet draft picks, first baseman Rhys Hoskins and pitcher Alex Palsha, have continued to impress this year. Hoskins, a fifth round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies, is in Advanced-A as the cleanup hitter for the Clearwater Threshers and is hitting .310 with 13 home runs and 65 RBIs overall this year. To open the season he hit .322 with nine homers and 51 RBIs with the Lakewood BlueClaws to earn the promotion.

Palsha has been nearly unhittable as the closer for the Single-A short season Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York Mets organization. He is 6-for-6 in save opportunities without allowing a run, permitting just four hits over 12.1 innings with 14 strikeouts and a .108 opposing batting average. In two seasons in professional baseball he has combined for a 0.61 ERA with just two earned runs allowed over 29.2 innings with 17 saves in 18 save opportunities.

In his seventh season of professional baseball, former first round draft pick Tim Wheeler remains in the Colorado Rockies organization and is playing with the Albuquerque Isotopes in his fourth consecutive season at Triple-A. After a strong start to the 2015 season the outfielder has cooled off a bit in July but is still hitting .250 with 8 home runs and 35 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.

Former Hornet baseball and football star Mitch Lively is playing his ninth season of professional baseball and was in his fourth year at Triple-A before deciding to opt of his contract with the Washington Nationals to play in Japan. Pitching for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Lively has totaled nine strikeouts in just 4.2 innings with a 3.86 ERA.

Catcher Derrick Chung is in his fourth season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization and, after playing for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats last season, missed the start of the 2015 season due to injury and is currently hitting .273 in three games on a rehab assignment with the GCL Blue Jays.

Outfielder Justin Higley, a 2013 Hornet draft pick, has played for two Single-A teams this summer in the Oakland Athletics organization and has totaled 9 home runs and 35 RBIs over 72 games. Another 2013 draft pick, pitcher Tanner Mendonca, has pitched in just four games this year for the Great Falls Voyagers in the Chicago White Sox organization but has not allowed an earned run over 7.0 innings giving up just five hits with 12 strikeouts.

Keep tabs on all former Hornets in professional baseball througout the summer via the Hornets in the Pros page.