18 former Southland players earn spots earn spot on MLB player pool rosters

Story courtesy: Southland Conference Media Relations


Eighteen Southland Conference baseball alumni have been selected to their respective MLB team player pools for the league’s shortened season set to begin Wednesday.

Sam Houston State leads the way with four former student-athletes reporting to big league camps, followed by Southeastern Louisiana and Oral Roberts with three each.

Jonathan Davis (Central Arkansas) – Toronto Blue Jays

The three-time All-Southland Conference pick prepares for his third season with the Blue Jays, owning a .185 career batting average in 57 games for the major league club. Davis was reaching base at a .412 clip with five RBI and six runs in six spring training games prior to the shutdown due to COVID-19.

Hunter Dozier (Stephen F. Austin) – Kansas City Royals

The 2013 Southland Conference Player and Hitter of the Year heads in to his third season as a starting corner infielder for the Royals. Dozier led the American League in triples (10) in 2019 and ranked second on the team in home runs (26), RBI (84), batting average (.279), slugging % (.522) and OPS (.870).   

Tyler Eppler (Sam Houston State) – Washington Nationals

A Second-Team All-Southland honoree in 2014, Eppler returns to the states as a non-roster invitee for the defending World Series Champions after pitching out of the bullpen for the Nippon Professional Baseball’s Orix Buffaloes in 2019. He was 4-4 with a 4.02 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 31.1 innings.

Paul Goldschmidt (Texas State) – St. Louis Cardinals

The two-time Southland Conference Hitter of the Year (2008-09) led the Cardinals in runs (97), hits (155), home runs (34) and RBI (97) last season. Among active players, Goldschmidt ranks fourth in career on-base percentage (.391), fifth in OPS (.916) and ninth in slugging percentage (.525).

Chi Chi Gonzalez (Oral Roberts) – Colorado Rockies

In his first year with the Rockies, the 2013 Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year went 2-6 with a 5.29 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 12 starts. Gonzalez is 6-14 with a 4.87 ERA in 25 career major league starts for the Rangers and Rockies.

Josh Green (Southeastern Louisiana) – Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona’s No. 16 prospect went 11-5 with a 2.71 ERA and 101 strikeouts through 126.1 innings in 2019. Green made 14 of his 22 starts for Advanced-A Visalia, where he led the California League in wins at 9-1 and ranked second in ERA (1.73) before his July 12 promotion.

Nick Heath (Northwestern State) – Kansas City Royals

The two-time Southland Conference stolen bases leader tallied 60 stolen bases in 105 games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha in his fourth year with the Royals franchise. He hit .255 with a .345 on-base percentage, 72 runs and 36 RBI last season.

Kyle Keller (Southeastern Louisiana) – Los Angeles Angels

Keller was traded to the Angels on Jan. 6 after punching out 11 batters through 10.2 innings in 10 appearances for the Marlins in 2019. He was 2-3 with 73 strikeouts in 54 innings across 37 appearances with Triple-A New Orleans and his 10 saves were second on the team. 

Wade Miley (Southeastern Louisiana) – Cincinnati Reds

The 2008 Southland Conference strikeouts leader signed with the Reds on Dec. 18 after posting a 14-6 record and 3.98 ERA in 33 starts for the MLB runners-up. Miley ranked third on the squad in wins, innings pitched (167.1) and strikeouts (140).

Ryan O’Hearn (Sam Houston State) – Kansas City Royals

Entering his third year with the Royals, O’Hearn is batting .216 for his career with 59 walks, 68 RBI, 55 runs and 26 home runs. He was a mainstay with 88 starts at first base in 2019 with just four errors in 735 chances, good for a .995 fielding percentage.

Hunter Pence (UT Arlington) – San Francisco Giants

The longest-tenured active major leaguer out of the Southland Conference, Pence readies for his 14th big-league season. He returns to the Giants, who he won two World Series’ with in 2012 and 2014, after an All-Star season with the Rangers in 2019. Pence owned a slash line of .297/.358/.552 in 83 games.

Jace Peterson (McNeese) – Milwaukee Brewers

The two-time First Team All-Southland pick signed with the Brewers after posting a slash line of .313/.398/.512 with 46 RBI, 58 runs and 13 stolen bases in 90 games for Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate in 2019. In two big-league stints, Peterson hit .220 with 11 RBI, 14 runs and four stolen bases in 29 games.

Jordan Romano (Oral Roberts) – Toronto Blue Jays

The 2014 Southland Conference Relief Pitcher of the Year looks to build on his second season in the big leagues after striking out 21 batters across 15.1 innings in 17 games during his debut season. Romano was 2-2 with 53 strikeouts across 38.2 innings in 25 games for Triple-A Buffalo.

Addison Russ (Houston Baptist) – Philadelphia Phillies

In his third season with the Phillies franchise in 2019, Russ appeared in an Eastern League-high 55 games and ranked third in the league with 22 saves. He went 5-6 with a 2.54 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. 

Caleb Smith (Sam Houston State) – Miami Marlins

In his second season with the Marlins, Smith went 10-11 with a 4.52 ERA through 28 starts and led the team in wins and strikeouts (168). He has tallied 15 career wins and 274 strikeouts in three seasons with the Marlins and Yankees.

Ryan Tepera (Sam Houston State) – Chicago Cubs

Tepera begins a new chapter with the Cubs after an injury-riddled 2019 campaign with Toronto, going 0-2 with a 4.98 ERA in 23 appearances. He went 12-11 with 203 strikeouts in 215.1 innings in five seasons with the Blue Jays before signing with Chicago in December.

Ty Tice (Central Arkansas) – Toronto Blue Jays

Tice went 3-4 with a 2.34 ERA, four saves and 64 strikeouts through 57.2 innings in his third year with the Blue Jays farm system. He appeared in 46 contests with Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo.  

Jose Trevino (Oral Roberts) – Texas Rangers

The two-time All-Southland pick hit .258 with 13 RBI and 18 runs scored through 40 games over the final two months of the 2019 season and enters 2020 in a battle with Jeff Mathis for the starting catcher role. Trevino caught seven runners stealing and owned a caught stealing percentage of 44.

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