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Sooner Pros: Former Padre on Comeback Trail

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Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
AUGUST 18, 2017

The Comeback

#35 Burch Smith | Pitcher | Charlotte Stone Crabs

Former OU pitcher Burch Smith debuted with the San Diego Padres in 2013, pitched just twice in Triple-A in 2014 and missed the following two seasons due to Tommy John surgery before returning to the mound this summer. Smith made seven starts and three relief appearances as a 23-year old rookie with the Padres in 2013. Following the 2014 season in which he battled a forearm straing, he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays as part of a blockbuster trade for 2013 AL Rookie of the Year and future All-Star Wil Myers. In April 2015, Smith made the decision to undergo surgery and it took until June 26, 2017 for him to pitch in a competitive game again.

Smith made a brief, three-inning start in the rookie level Gulf Coast League before being assigned to the Ray's Single-A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs. He pitched four innings of scoreless-relief and earned the win in his first outing before being added to the Stone Crabs' rotation. Overall, Smith is now 3-1 with a 2.43 earned run average in the Florida State League. On August 16, he threw six no-hit innings and struck out nine before being lifted at a season-high 80 pitches in his longest outing since returning to the diamond.

Gray Makes Milestone Start

#55 Jon Gray | Pitcher | Colorado Rockies

Jon Gray made his 50th Major League start on August 16; a dominating 17-2 win for the Rockies over the Braves at Coors Field. He started off with five-shutout frames before Atlanta got two runs off him in the sixth. Gray totaled six innings of work with six strikeouts to get the win and run his record to 5-2 on the season. He is now 15-14 in his career with 285 strikeouts in 271.1 innings in Colorado.

Flame Thrower

#13 Alec Hansen | Pitcher | Winston-Salem Dash

Alec Hansen, the No. 13 prospect in the White Sox system by MLB.com, has been striking out hitters in the Carolina League at anastounding rate. Since being called up to the Single-A Advanced Winston-Salem Dash in late June, he has struck out 74 batters in 53.1 innings of work. Over his last four starts, in which he is 2-2, Hansen has reached double digits in strikeouts three times; twice fanning 12 in a game. between Winston-Salem and Kannapolis, he has combined for 166 strikeouts in 126 innings with a 2.64 ERA.

Jacked Up

#3 Jack Mayfield | 2B | Fresno Grizzlies

A Texas League All-Star with the Corpus Christi Hooks, Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, Jack Mayfield was promoted to Triple-A Fresno on July 24 for his third stint with the Grizzlies in two seasons. Across two levels, Mayfield reached the 20-home run mark at Albuquerque on August 14. It is the most by a Sooner in the pros this season and eclipses his previous career-best of 14 in 2015. Mayfield has combined to hit .285 this season, including a .278 average at Triple-A, where he has added 10 doubles and 23 RBI in just 35 games.

On the Rise

#31 Sheldon Neuse | 3B | Midland RockHounds

After being traded from the Washington Nationals to the Oakland Athletcs, Sheldon Neuse was immediately promoted to Single-A Advanced. He lasted just 22 games with the Stockton Ports of the California League as he hit .386 with seven home runs and 22 RBI before receiving a second promotion. Neuse was sent to the Double-A Midland RockHounds on August 13. In his Texas League debut, he scored a walk-off run for the RockHounds similar to his debut with in Stockton, where he provided the walk-off RBI.

Double-A Relief

#13 Corey Copping | Pitcher | Tulsa Drillers
#37 Jacob Evans | Pitcher | Springfield Cardinals
#15 Ralph Garza | Pitcher | Corpus Christi Hooks

Three former Sooner pitchers, all selected in the 2015 MLB Draft, have excelled at the Double-A level late into the summer. Correy Copping began his season with the Dodgers' Tulsa Drillers, where he has remained all season. A 31st round pick, he has served as Tulsa's primary closer with 15 saves in 44 gaems and a 4-2 record, 2.97 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 60.2 innings.

Jacob Evans earned a promotion within the Cardinals' organization from Palm Beach to Springfield in mid-July. He is 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12.1 innings at Double-A. Overall, he is 3-3 with a 1.88 ERA on the season. Evans returned to his hometown of Tulsa and pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts.

Ralph Garza is working on his second stint with the Astros' Double-A affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks. He has appeared in 10 games out of the pen for the Hooks with a 3.15 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 20 innings. Across three levels, including on appearance for Triple-A Fresno, Garza is 2-3 with three saves and 64 strikeouts in 58.2 innings this season.

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