The minor league baseball regular season has come to an end for the most part, so we’ll see how former UAB baseball players did this season.
The Blazers have three promising players in the minor league ranks.
We’ll start with the youngest in Brewer Hicklen. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2017 draft by the Kansas City Royals.
They sent him to the Arizona League where he played 19 games with the AZL Royals. In 69 at-bats he racked up 24 hits for a .348 average. He had three doubles, three triples and three home runs. He also scored 19 runs, drove in 13 and walked nine times for a .439 on-base-percentage.
The Royals moved him up to Idaho Falls, which is another rookie league team. There he is hitting .333 in 17 games with 17 runs, eight doubles, two triples, one home run, 10 RBI and a .405 on-base-percentage.
Hicklen also has a total of 16 stolen bases on the season (13 with the AZL Royals).
Idaho Falls will not make the playoffs, but they actually have four games left as they play through September 9, so make sure you watch Hicklen before his season ends.
Hicklen did not receive an invite to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Royals. My guess is they want to see him follow up on a good rookie performance. He will most likely start the 2017 season with their Single-A affiliate, the Lexington Legends.
Next up is Adam Lau. He spent the entire 2017 season with the Boston Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate, the Salem Red Sox.
The season started out a little rough as his ERA was over four at the beginning of June. He worked it down to 3.51 on July 4, but then gave up five runs over his next three appearances to put it back over four. However, he ended the season with 10 consecutive outings without giving up an earned run.
Lau finished the season with a 2.98 ERA in 37 games (63.1 innings). He also struck out 68 batters for a K/9 of 9.7. His WHIP actually went up from 1.28 in 2016 to 1.37 in 2017. He’ll need to get that down as he moves up the system.
The next step for Adam would be the team’s Double-A affiliate in Portland. Hopefully they allow him to make that jump next season as he continues to develop.
Last, but certainly not least, is James Naile. At the beginning of the year it looked like Naile might have a chance to make the big league roster, but an injury in May cost him over two months and delayed his development.
Other than a rehab stop with the AZL Athletics and their Single-A Advanced team in Stockton, Naile spent all of 2017 with the Oakland Athletics Double-A affiliate, the Midland RockHounds.
With the RockHounds he has a 3.21 ERA in 14 games (10 starts) with 42 strikeouts in 61.2 innings. His WHIP of 1.17 is what will impress the scouts. He’s become a durable pitcher that knows how to get guys out without overpowering stuff.
He went six innings in his last three outings of the regular season and allowed just three combined runs in those outings.
The RockHounds made the playoffs and Naile will pitch game two on Thursday in the semi-final round. Be sure to keep an eye on that one to see how the former Blazer performs in the playoffs.
Naile is listed as the 30th best prospect in Oakland’s organization according to MLB.com. I would kind of be surprised if he doesn’t get an invite to the Arizona Fall League since he missed innings this year, but either way he should definitely get a longer look in spring training next year.
James is still being worked as a starting pitcher, but his quickest path to the big leagues is as a reliever. If he continues to develop I could see him making the big league roster some time next year.
Things are looking really good for these three former UAB baseball players. Make sure you keep up with them as they try to make it to the big leagues. And check back with The Daily Dragon as we keep you updated on their progress.