SACRAMENTO, Calif. - At the approximate midway point of the 2016 minor league baseball season several former Hornets are shining in the professional ranks.
Former Hornet first baseman Rhys Hoskins, selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 5th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, is starring for the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils and is tied for the lead in all of Minor League Baseball with 20 home runs and also has 61 RBIs while hitting .279. He was named Eastern League Player of the Week for the second week of June and appeared on the MLBPipeline.com national team of the week.
Hoskins had a 19-game hitting streak this season after entering the year ranked the 19th best prospect in the Phillies organization by MLB.com. He also had a 6-RBI game on June 14 and has hit three walk-off home runs this year. Former Hornet catcher Derrick Chung is also at the Double-A level in the Blue Jays organization but has not played yet this season due to injury.
Mitch Lively, a 2007 Hornet draft pick, is in his 10th season of professional baseball and is starring for the Broncos de Reynosa in the Triple-A Mexican League. He has taken over as Reynosa's closer and is 5-for-6 in save opportunities with a 1.53 ERA with 21 strikeouts and just one walk over 17.2 innings pitched. Lively pitched the majority of the 2015 season in Japan.
Reliever Alex Palsha was the other Hornet drafted with Hoskins in 2014 and is a perfect 11-for-11 in save opportunities with the Single-A Columbia Fire Flies in the New York Mets organization. He also has two wins with a 2.34 ERA and 44 strikeouts to just nine walks in 31.2 innings pitched. He threw two perfect innings in a combined no-hitter for the Fireflies on May 9th and is 35-for-38 in save opportunities overall with a .176 career opposing batting average in his third pro season.
Also the Single-A level, 2015 Hornet draft pick Brennan Leitao was named to the Midwest League Midseason All-Star team after leading the Peoria Chiefs to a league title. Sacramento State's all-time leader in wins and innings pitched, Leitao is 4-6 with a 2.61 ERA and 63 strikeouts to just 12 walks over 76.0 innings pitched. He was also named Midwest League Pitcher of the Week staring in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
Leitao was one of four Hornet draft picks following the 2015 season. Outfielder Nathan Lukes was selected in the sixth round by the Cleveland Indians and, after playing in just five games last season before an injury, is hitting .314 with two home runs and 23 RBIs with 14 stolen bases in 67 games with the single-A Lake County Captains.
After a slow start former Hornet shortstop Scotty Burcham has played in 18 games this year and is hitting .303 over his last 10 games for the Single-A Asheville Tourists. Sutter McLoughlin, Sacramento State's all-time saves leader, was 4-for-4 in save opportunities last year and is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA this season in 16.2 innings pitched.
In his fourth pro season former Hornet outfielder Justin Higley is with the Beloit Snappers in the Oakland Athletics organization and is hitting .417 over his last 10 games and .267 with 4 home runs, 16 RBIs and 12 stolen bases overall this year. Also drafted in 2014 was pitcher Tanner Mendonca, who has been fantastic for the Single-A Kannapolis Intimidators this year with a 2.13 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 12.2 innings pitched.
The most recent Hornets in the Pros were drafted just two and a half weeks ago. Tyler Beardsley, selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 16th round, made his professional debut on Saturday and threw three scoreless innings and earned a save for the Rookie-level Elizabethton Twins. Catcher Gunner Pollman signed with the Miami Marlins after being selected in the 26th round and has played three games with the GCL Marlins Rookie league team and is hitting 2-for-6 (.333) with 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored, and four walks.
Junior pitcher Sam Long was also chosen in the 2016 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays but has yet to sign.
Keep tabs on the all the former Hornets throughout the summer on the Hornets in the Pros page.