Tampa Bay Devil Ray John Flaherty is the only GW alumnus in Major League Baseball, but six former GW baseball players taken in last June’s draft could give the former Colonial catcher some collegiate company in the major leagues.
Junior Jake Wald and seniors Mike O’Connor, Mike Bassett, Tony Brown, Jason Baker and Matt Krimmel were all chosen during the 50-round First Year Player Draft June 4 – 5 in New York City. In the past three months since the former Colonials packed up and left GW, a few have shown early potential to their big league clubs.
GW Head Baseball Coach Tom Walter said that Bassett and O’Connor were doing particularly well, not surprising given the success each had at GW. Bassett owns several GW career records, including homeruns (62), RBI (254), hits (290), runs (198), total bases (535), at-bats (846) and games played (231) while O’Connor was an all-conference reliever.
O’Connor is averaging more than a strikeout and a half per inning for the Vermont Expos (Class A) in the New York Penn League. The left-handed reliever has a 2-and-3 record with four saves in 20 appearances and carries an impressive 3.29 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 25 walks in 41 innings.
O’Connor was taken in the 7th round (197th overall) by the Montreal Expos after being named to the Atlantic 10 First Team in his senior season at GW. He finished that season with a 2.06 ERA, nine saves and 68 strikeouts.
The switch-hitting Brown is a teammate of O’Connor in Vermont, but is not experiencing as much success. Selected in the 18th round (527th overall), the outfielder has a .185 batting average with no homeruns and 11 RBI in 45 games. Brown’s biggest asset is his speed, but he has only seven stolen bases.
Bassett was promoted from the rookie-league Billings Mustangs to the Class A Dayton Dragons for two weeks, where he hit .250 with no homeruns and 2 RBI in 12 games. The lefty outfielder has since returned to the Mustangs where he is batting .311 with eight homeruns and 44 RBI in 48 games.
Bassett was chosen in the 11th round (315th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds following a distinguished career at GW. Krimmel was doing well alongside Bassett with the Mustangs through 21 games, batting .348 with two homeruns and 16 RBI, but he has since left the team and retired from baseball for personal reasons, Walter said.
“He has decided that he needs some time away from baseball,” Walter said. He added that he expects Krimmel to make a decision on his baseball future sometime this winter, since he has not been released and is invited to spring training next year.
The lone GW underclassman to be drafted, Jake Wald, now plays shortstop for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Class A) in the Northwest League, where he is batting .241 with two homeruns, 24 RBI and 20 runs scored.
Walter said his former defensive star is holding his own in the minor leagues.
Selected in the 11th round (337th overall) by the San Francisco Giants, Wald was a premier defensive shortstop while at GW and holds the single-season school record for assists, 181.
Baker, now playing for the Ogden Raptors (Rookie) of the Pioneer League, is 4-3 with a 4.96 ERA in 13 appearances. He has struck out 24 batters while walking nine in 32 2/3 innings. The Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the 31st round (919th overall). Walter said he thinks it will just take time for his former athletes to completely settle into the grind of minor league ball.
“I think it takes one full year of pro ball, by next summer they’ll all be adjusted,” he said.