ATLANTA, Ga. - Twelve alumni from ASUN Conference Baseball programs have been named to Opening Day rosters for their respective Major League Baseball clubs, as the 2019 season begins on Thursday with all 30 clubs in action. Included in the group of 12 players are a pair of Cy Young winners from Stetson in Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom, as well as a World Series Champion in Boston Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale who went to FGCU.
ASUN Conference Baseball Players on Opening Day Rosters
Jacob deGrom, Stetson/New York Mets (RHP)
- Winner of the 2018 National League Cy Young Award, deGrom comes off one of the best seasons in MLB history. The former Hatters product posted the sixth-lowest ERA since the mound was lowered in 1969 with a phenomenal 1.70 mark. deGrom also broke the all-time record for consecutive quality starts, posting 23 in a row last season. The DeLand native now owns 2018 Cy Young and 2014 NL Rookie of the Year honors.
Chris Sale, FGCU/Boston Red Sox (LHP)
- Fresh off a contract extension and a World Series title with Boston, Sale begins his third season with the Red Sox and his 10th overall. Posting double-digit victories in each of the last seven years, Sale has also finished with Cy Young and MVP votes in each of the last four seasons. The former FGCU star is 13th among all active pitchers with 1,789 strikeouts, sitting just under 120 away from the top 100 all-time in MLB history.
Corey Kluber, Stetson/Cleveland Indians (RHP)
- Winner of two Cy Young awards, Kluber begins his ninth run with the Indians who return to the field as contenders for the World Series crown. Posting 20 wins for the first time in his career in 2018, the former Stetson product has won at least 18 games in three of the last four seasons and sits four shy of breaking the century mark for his career. Kluber has led the Tribe to three-straight AL Central Division titles.
Daniel Murphy, Jacksonville/Colorado Rockies (IF)
- After an injury plagued 2018 season, Murphy signed on with Colorado to provide a veteran presence in the middle infield. A three-time All Star from Jacksonville, the former Dolphins star has collected 173 extra-base hits over the last three seasons including 105 doubles, 60 home runs and 8 triples.
Richard Bleier, FGCU/Baltimore Orioles (LHP):
- Arguably the most consistent arm for the Orioles out of their bullpen last season, Bleier comes off a 3-0 mark in 2018 highlighted by a minuscule 1.93 ERA. The lefty posted just 15 strikeouts in 32.2 innings of work, but limited opponents to just four walks for a ratio of nearly 4:1.
Jacob Barnes, FGCU/Milwaukee Brewers (RHP):
- Entering his fourth season in the Majors, Barnes has become a key arm out of the Brewers' pen after posting a 3.33 ERA with two saves in 49 appearances last season. The former FGCU hurler has performed as a mid-to-late innings option for the Brew Crew in the last two years and is a bridge towards the back end highlighted by Josh Hader.
Cory Gearrin, Mercer/Seattle Mariners (RHP):
- The only former ASUN player to have already appeared in a game this season, Gearrin threw one inning of scoreless ball for the M's in the Opening Series held in Japan. A 2019 free agent acquisition, the former Mercer product enters his seventh full-season in the bigs with at least 56 appearances in each of the last three seasons.
Chad Sobotka, USC Upstate/Atlanta Braves (RHP):
- Making his big league debut in 2018, Sobotka proved to be a flamethrower out of the Braves 'pen with 21 strikeouts and 14.1 innings pitched, posting a 1.88 ERA along the way. Potentially a late-inning option to close out games for the Braves, Sobotka recorded 16 saves in the Minors before being called up.
Travis Bergen, Kennesaw State/San Francisco Giants (LHP):
- A 2018 Rule 5 Draft pick, Bergen's first appearance in the 2019 season will also mark his Major League debut. Originally a seventh rounder of the Blue Jays, Bergen posted a 1.27 ERA across 59 appearances in the Minors over the last four years, adding eight saves as well.
Jake Noll, FGCU/Washington Nationals (3B):
- Noll becomes the first position player to ever make it to MLB from FGCU, cracking the Opening Day roster for the Nationals. A .276 hitter in the Minors, Noll totaled 33 home runs as well while breaking the 70-RBI mark in a season twice.
Ryan Cordell, Liberty/Chicago White Sox (OF):
- Cordell makes his first Opening Day roster as a member of the White Sox, manning the outfield for 19 games as a September call-up in 2018. A 2013 Draft selection, Cordell posted good numbers in the Minor Leagues last year to earn his call-up, hitting three homers while driving in 22 runs in limited action of 44 games at AAA.
Sergio Romo, North Alabama/Miami Marlins (RHP):
- A veteran bullpen piece, Romo makes the rounds with his fourth club after spending the previous 11 years with the Giants, Dodgers and Rays. Posting 109 saves in his career, Romo took on the role of "opener" for Tampa Bay last season, bringing national attention to a new trend across Major League Baseball.
Players in Minor Leagues With MLB Experience
- Austin Hays, Jacksonville/Baltimore Orioles (OF)
- Alex McRae, Jacksonville/Pittsburgh Pirates (RHP)
- Rex Brothers, Lipscomb/New York Yankees (LHP)
- Caleb Joseph, Lipscomb/Arizona Diamondbacks (C)
- Josh Smith, Lipscomb/Boston Red Sox (RHP)
- Billy Burns, Mercer/New York Yankees (OF)
- Drew Butera, UCF/Colorado Rockies (C)