Minor league round-up

Tim Saunders batted .381 in his first season as a professional baseball player.
Marietta athletics photo

2012 was a banner year for former D-III baseball players toiling in the MLB minor league system. Tim Saunders was the top 2012 drafted player as he continued the success he had at Marietta. William's Harry Marino and Babson's Andrew Aizenstadt pitched well in relief after signing free agent contracts this summer. Yazi Arbelo continued to hit home runs, reaching the double-A level in his third year in the minors.

Saunders spent time this summer for three teams in the Chicago Cubs's farm system  and excelled at all levels. Saunders hit .493 and averaged one RBI per game before splitting time at two single-A teams in the Daytona Cubs and the Peoria Chiefs. The D3baseball.com All-American shortstop finished the summer batting .381 with five home runs and 33 RBI.

Several other players had successful starts to their professional career. After six games on Arizona's rookie league team, 2012 D3baseball.com Player of the Year Bruce Maxwell moved on to the Diamonbacks short season team in the New York-Penn League. Maxwell is still looking for his power stroke but the catcher had a solid .254 summer with 26 RBI. Joining Maxwell on the Vermont Lake Monster's roster was Tucker Healy. The Ithaca product pitched in 22 games, compiling a 3.07 ERA with 45 strikeouts. Emory's Paul Schwendel and Chapman's Brian Rauh ended the season in the South Atlantic League. Schwendel was 2-3 with two saves in 16 games, limiting batters to a .204 batting average.  Rauh started nine games, finishing 3-3 with two saves in five relief appearances. Rauh had a 3.99 ERA with 43 strikeouts.

Harry Marino had a no-hitter for Williams, one of 23 in D-III baseball in 2012.
Williams athletics photo

Despite some late interest in Marino by Arizona, Toronto and Cincinnati, all three teams passed on Marino in the 2012 MLB draft. Marino signed a free agent contract to start his professional career and with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Marino finishing 2-0 with 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings. Aizenstadt got his start with a professional contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. The righthander started the season for the Williamsport Crosscutters in the New York-Penn League. Two saves in seven appearances earned him a late season promotion to the Phillies' high-A affiliate in Clearwater Florida. Aizenstadt finished the year with a 1.45 ERA and 18 strikeouts.

Marino and Aizenstadt were not the only undrafted D-III players who found success last summer. Justin D'Alessandro's chance for a professional career came with a phone call by the Toronto Blue Jays organization. The Catholic pitcher spent the summer at the Blue Jay's rookie league team in Florida. In a middle relief role, D'Alessandro earned one win in 14 appearances. Former Wis.-Stevens Point infielder Justin Jirschele signed a free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox. Jirschele batted .267 for the Great Falls Voyagers, finishing strong with a .444 batting average in September. After just 26 games with the Batavia Muckdogs, the St. Louis Cardinals promoted Randolph-Macon alumus Jordan Walton to the Class-A Quad Cities River Bandits in the Midwest League. Walton, who has moved to the outfield, hit .297 for the Muckdogs but struggled for the River Bandits, hitting .149 in 18 games.

Sean Murphy averaged a strikeout an inning in 2012 for the Stockton Ports.
Keystone athletics photo

Keystone's Arbelo continue to put up power numbers with 21 home runs in 2012. Arbelo, who has 72 home rus in three minor league seasons, finished the season playing for the Mobile BayBears. A second Keystone graduate, Sean Murphy, made a successful transition from low to high A. Murphy finished with a .500 record for the Stockton Ports with 107 strikeouts in 108.2 innings. Mark Williams helped pitch Marietta to a national championship and in 2012 made his home in the same stadium that the Pioneers celebrated in 2011. Pitching for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Williams was twiced named named Midwest League pitcher of the week and played in the mid-season All-Star game. Williams was 7-10 with two saves in 116 innings. Casey Lawrence, an Albright grad, started the season in double-A but after three games moved down to Toronto's top single-A team in Dunedin, Florida. Lawrence  was 9-6 with a 3.63 ERA and 90 strikeouts for Dunedin in 24 appearances. David Colvin a late round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners, stayed in the bullpen in 2012. Colvin made 32 appearances for the Clinton Lunberjacks, ending 5-3 with a 3.15 ERA.

Zach Lutz, Anthony Recker and Vinny Rottono got MLB callups in 2012 but it was Eastern Mennonite's Erik Kratz who had the best year of the four in his MLB at-bats. Here are some of the players who continued to find success on the diamond.