Getting to the big leagues is hard enough. Staying there may be even harder.
Last July, Nate Orf turned in one of the more memorable moments of the 2018 season. In his third game in the majors playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, the longtime minor leaguer delivered, drilling a solo home run for his first big-league hit. He became just the 10th Brewer in team history to club a home run for his first big-league base knock.
Orf ultimately made only one more hit in his 15-game big-league stint with the Brew Crew. But lately he’s making a case to get another shot.
Orf, 29, has been one of the Triple-A San Antonio Missions’ best players this year. The second baseman out of Baylor carries a .282 average and a team-best 59 runs, to go along with seven home runs, 33 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
Recently, he’s been even better. In his past 10 games entering Saturday, Orf was 12-for-31 (.387) with 11 runs scored and six RBIs.
Orf came up the hard way. He was undrafted out of Baylor in 2013, and ended up signing a free agent deal of just $500. But he has worked and grinded ever since, and even after the Brewers sent him down to Triple A again this year following spring training, Orf was unfazed.
“For me, my hope is I can contribute at some point in the season in the big leagues, and even if it is for a couple games, I hope I can help the team win for those couple games,” Orf told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in March. “That’s just how I think my situation looks right now.”
Unless the Brewers re-sign Orf, he’ll become a minor league free agent following the season.
Duke on lookout for new home
Could it be the end of the line for Zach Duke?
The Cincinnati Reds released the veteran reliever on July 6. Duke had endured a challenging season in multiple ways. The 36-year-old left-hander had just come off a stint on the injured list before his release. On the mound, he tallied a 5.01 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in 30 appearances.
If another team doesn’t sign Duke, it might mark the end of a workmanlike 15-year big-league career. Duke, who signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization as a 20th-round pick out of Midway in 2001, reached the majors by 2005. A starter earlier in his career, he transitioned to the bullpen at around age 30, and had some effective seasons pitching for a variety of different teams.
For his career, Duke owns a 69-91 career record in 570 career games, with a 4.31 ERA and 854 strikeouts. He finished fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2005, and made his lone All-Star Game trip with the Pirates in 2009.
Ex-Bear gets promotion to Double-A
West Tunnell is heading east.
Tunnell, 25, earned a call-up on Thursday to the Jackson (Tenn.) Generals, the Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Tunnell had been pitching for the Class A Visalia (Calif.) Rawhide, where he recorded a 1.27 ERA and 13 saves in 27 appearances.
The former Baylor player will get another crack at Double-A ball. He made a brief one-game appearance for Jackson last season, but spent most of that year in Class A ball.
Wendzel still waiting for pro debut
A sprained thumb has prevented Davis Wendzel from making his pro debut yet, but he is expected to return soon.
The Texas Rangers selected Wendzel with the No. 41 overall pick in the June draft. The Baylor infielder and Big 12 Co-Player of the Year ended up signing for a reported $1.6 million before reporting to Surprise, Ariz., for rookie orientation and rehab of his thumb injury.
Once he’s ready to play, Wendzel is expected to report to either of the Rangers’ Class A affiliates in Spokane, Wash., or Hickory, N.C.
CENTRAL TEXAS PRO BASEBALL STATISTICS
|Braxton Ashcraft||Robinson||West Virginia (Pitt.)||A||0-5||5.97||28.2||20||9|
|Nate Bertness||MCC||Inland Empire (LAA)||A+||3-3||6.05||41.2||50||19|
|Jason Blanchard||MCC||Tri-City (SD)||A||1-2||10.45||10.1||14||6|
|Daniel Castano||Baylor||Jacksonville (Mia.)||AA||2-3||4.12||67.2||60||15|
|Kyle Hill||Baylor||West Virginia (Sea.)||A||1-0||6.55||11||12||3|
|Matt Kent||Midway||Portland (Bos.)||AA||5-6||4.44||101.1||55||36|
|*Brad Kuntz||Baylor||San Antonio (Mil.)||AAA||0-2||20.25||4||2||5|
|Ryan Merritt||MCC||Durham (TB)||AAA||3-4||6.64||62.1||54||18|
|Logan Ondrusek||MCC||Fresno (Wash.)||AAA||4-4||8.12||51||46||20|
|Alex Phillips||Baylor||Pensacola (Minn.)||AA||3-3||1.71||47.1||52||17|
|West Tunnell||Baylor||Jackson (Ariz.)||AA||0-0||1.27||28.1||45||17|
|#Logan Verrett||Baylor||Midland (Tex.)||AA||1-0||3.93||34.1||33||4|
|Tyler Watson||MCC||Kannapolis (CHW)||A||0-1||9.88||13.2||13||7|
|Aaron Wilkerson||Midway||San Antonio (Mil.)||AAA||7-1||3.69||68.1||70||27|
|Josh Bissonette||Baylor||Bristol (Pitt.)||RK+||.243||6||0||10||3|
|#Josh Breaux||MCC||Charleston (NYY)||A||.295||12||7||30||0|
|Kameron Esthay||Baylor||River City||Ind.||.282||35||5||36||3|
|*Brandon Grudzielanek||MCC||New Hampshire (Tor.)||AA||.156||5||0||1||0|
|Shea Langeliers||Baylor||Rome (Atl.)||A||.192||10||1||13||0|
|#Zac Law||Robinson||Charlotte (TB)||A+||.154||4||0||3||1|
|Nic Motley||MCC||Boise (Col.)||A||.222||5||1||4||0|
|Max Muncy||Baylor||L.A. Dodgers||MLB||.266||64||25||65||3|
|Nate Orf||Baylor||San Antonio (Mil.)||AAA||.282||59||7||33||10|
|Kramer Robertson||Midway||Memphis (StL.)||AAA||.250||55||10||46||7|
|Chris Roller||MCC||Great Lakes (LAD)||A||.289||37||5||25||6|
|Brendan Venter||MCC||Rome (Atl)||A||.172||15||4||19||0|