With spring technically here (even if it still feels like winter in the Northeast) and Opening Day around the corner, I decided to postpone the Football and Hockey editions of this series to instead check in on some probably less well-known BC alumni - those who played baseball in
Tony Sanchez (C) - Perhaps the best known of recent BC baseball players, Sanchez was taken fourth overall in the 2009 draft—the highest ever for a BC player—by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since then, he's worked his way up the minor league ladder, reaching Double-A last year before breaking his jaw when hit by a pitch. ESPN's Keith Law (Insider only) ranked Sanchez the 63rd best prospect in the nation this year, pointing out specifically Sanchez' great work ethic and labeling him a potential All-Star in the making. Baseball America went even higher, ranking Sanchez 46th. Expect to see Sanchez reach the majors some time in 2012 or 2013.
Mike Belfiore (P) - One of the best pitchers to come out of BC recently, Belfiore may best be known for throwing 9 2/3 inning in relief in BC's epic 25-inning loss to Texas in the first round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Like Sanchez, Belfiore was drafted in 2009, going to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the supplemental first round. Last year, Belfiore played for Low-A South Bend (hopefully spending the off-season throwing low-90s snowballs at unsuspecting Notre Dame undergrads) as he attempts to convert from his closer role at BC to a full-time starter. Belfiore is not nearly as highly regarded as Sanchez, but at least one analyst—FanGraphs' Marc Hulet—lists Belfiore as a Top-10 prospect for the D-Backs and sees him as an eventual No. 3 or 4 starter. He'll have to have a good 2011 to catch the eyes of the higher-ups in the organization, however, as his 2010 season was up-and-down.
Pat Dean (P) - Another one of BC's pitching stars, Dean graduated last spring and was taken in the 3rd round by the Minnesota Twins. Twins blogger Aaron Gleeman has Dean ranked as the 15th best prospect in their system, who, like Belfiore, projects to be a back of the rotation starter. Some factors working in Dean's favor: he's a lefty, he has great control, and is expected to advance rapidly through the minor leagues. I'd guess we might start hearing his name in Spring Training in 2013-14.
Mickey Wiswall (3B/1B) - Yet another recent graduate, Mickey Wiswall also graduated in 2010 and was drafted in the 7th round by the Seattle Mariners. While Wiswall is no sure thing, at least some analysts are impressed with his massive power potential and solid defense at the corner spots. After the draft, Wiswall joined Seattle's low-A affiliate but was quickly promoted to high-A after hitting 5 home runs in only 12 games. All in all, Wiswall mashed 9 dingers in 45 games last year, which projects to about 25 HRs in a typical minor league season. Wiswall's still got a way to go, but his power potential gives him a shot at the majors if he can continue developing.
BC has no current players in the majors, but it's possible that in five years, Eagles fans could see all four alumni discussed above playing in the major leagues (or at least on teams' Spring Training rosters). The recent output of talent from BC is a testament to former head coach Mik Aoki (who unfortunately crossed the Catholic Mason-Dixon Line by leaving for Notre Dame last year) , and will hopefully show potential recruits that one can have a successful MLB career coming out of Chestnut Hill. We'll have to see whether new coach Mike Gambino can keep up Aoki's good work, but things look bright for the cream of BC baseball's recent crop.