Huskers in Major League Baseball First Half Recap
Lincoln - A total of six former Huskers have seen time on the field during the first half of the 2012 Major League Baseball season. The No. 2 pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals in the lone position player represented, while five former NU pitchers have seen the mound in a MLB game, including Brian Duensing (Minnesota Twins), Steve Edlefsen (San Francisco Giants), Tony Watson (Pittsburgh Pirates), Thad Weber (Detroit Tigers) and Dan Jennings (Miami Marlins).
An infielder during his first four seasons in Kansas City, Gordon moved to left field last season and blossomed, as he was honored as a Gold Glove award winner and finished 21st in MVP voting. Through the first half of the 2012 campaign, Gordon is hitting .274 with 91 totals hits, including 27 doubles, two triples and five home runs in 84 games and has scored a team-high 48 runs. Gordon's 27 doubles tie him with Boston's Adrian Gonzalez for the most in the American League, while both trail Cincinnati's Joey Votto for the Major League lead, as the Reds' first baseman has 35 doubles on the year.
Duensing made his first 30 appearances for the Twins out of the bullpen, before three straight starts since June 23. With a 4.11 ERA over 46.0 innings of work, Duensing has registered 26 strikeouts on the year compared to 12 walks. A member of the Twins' staff since 2009, Duensing was forced to exit his last start after being hit on his left ankle on a line drive by Tigers' catcher Alex Avila. X-rays were negative and Duensing is expected to return to the mound for the Twins following the MLB All-Star break.
One of just two left-handed pitchers on Pittsburgh's staff, Watson has been called to the mound 36 times in 2012 for the Central Division-leading Pirates. Watson is 4-0 on the year in 26.0 innings of work and has given up 22 hits, while striking out 21 and walking 10. At 48-37 on the year, the Pirates are 11 games over .500 for the first time since 1992 and are in first place at the all-star break for the first time since 1997.
Edlefsen started the 2012 season with the Giants before being sent to the team's Triple-A squad in June. While with the Major League club, Edlefsen worked 15.1 innings over 14 games and recorded nine strikeouts. The 6-2 righty is currently listed on the Giants' 40-man roster.
Weber made his MLB debut this year when he was called up by the Tigers on April 21. A native of Friend, Neb., Weber made two appearances for the Tigers before being optioned back to the organization's Triple-A team in Toledo, Ohio. In Toledo, Weber has started 14 games and worked 85.0 innings, with 69 strikeouts and 17 walks.
A member of the Marlins' organization since 2008, Jennings earned his first call up on Sunday, April 29. Jennings pitched 5.0 innings over six games in Miami before being sent back to Triple-A New Orleans. For the Zephyrs, Jennings has a 2.75 ERA over 36.0 innings, with 34 strikeouts and just 11 earned runs in 28 appearances.
Multiple other former Huskers are right on the cusp of reaching the majors, including Andrew Brown (Colorado Rockies), Dan Johnson (Chicago White Sox) and Zach Kroenke (Arizona Diamondbacks), who are all playing at the Triple-A level.
In 81 games for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Brown is hitting .310, while ranking second in the Pacific Coast League in RBIs with 79, third in the league in home runs with 18 and fourth in doubles with 27. Brown hit .374 in June (40-for-107) and is hitting .400 in July through eight games.
Johnson is with his third Major League organization after previously playing with the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays. Playing for the Charlotte Knights, Johnson ranks second in the International League in both home runs (21) and RBIs (62). On the year, Johnson has an on-base percentage of .418 and is slugging .542. Johnson will compete in tonight's Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo, N.Y., and will start at third base on Wednesday for the International All-Star team. Johnson previously won the Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby title in 2010.
Kroenke, who has been called up by the Diamondbacks in each of the past two seasons, has started 11 games and worked out of the bullpen in another nine games for the Reno Aces. In 78.0 innings of work, Kroenke has 33 strikeouts to 20 walks and is 5-2 on the year.
Cody Asche also continues to climb through the Philadelphia Phillies organization, as the 2011 draftee is currently playing Double-A ball in Reading, Pa., after starting the year in Single-A Clearwater. Though out the 2012 season, Asche has 97 hits, 14 doubles, 30 RBIs, 34 runs and 10 stolen bases, while hitting .310 (97-for-313).