MLB 2020: JT Realmuto, Dallas Keuchel and Andrew Heaney among the many Oklahomans in the majors
Baseball is back, albeit the sport looks different than normal due to COVID-19. The strangest start to a season the sport has seen, there are no fans in the stands and players are social distancing.
There are new rules, a shortened schedule and the playoffs have been expanded to 16 teams. The competition remains, however, as Opening Day yielded several thrilling contests. Oklahoma had it fingerprints all over opening weekend in the form of shutout pitching, home runs and first-ever wins.
Here are players with ties to Oklahoma that made MLB rosters:
Northeast Oklahoma A&M
Ramon Laureano, Oakland Athletics: Drafted out of Northeast Oklahoma A&M, Laureano is off to a hot start in 2020. The 26-year-old, who is in his third season with the Athletics, went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and two RBI’s in their win over the Angels. In 2019, he batted .288 in 434 at-bats.
Ryan Helsley, St. Louis Cardinals: Drafted out of Northeastern State, Helsley could see an increased workload in his second season with St. Louis and was used as the set-up man in the Cardinals' opening day win over the Pirates. The closer, drafted out of Northeastern State, went 2-0 in his rookie season in 2019, pitching in 24 games and striking out 32 batters. Should any Cardinals pitchers be removed from rotation, he should be next man up for 2020.
Chase Anderson, Toronto Blue Jays: Former Oklahoma standout Chase Anderson has been placed on the 10-day injured list for 2020, but should see some production with Toronto. He made his debut with Arizona in 2014, and was traded to Milwaukee two seasons later. Last season, the right-hander was traded to Toronto. In 2019 he posted an 8-4 record with a 4.21 ERA and 124 strikeouts.
Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies: After being offered a deal by the Yankees in 2011 but declining to transfer to Oklahoma, Gray has now spent all six of his professional seasons with Colorado. The right-handed pitcher is firmly in the Rockies rotation, but will be looking to improve on his 11-8 record from 2019. Jon Gray made his first appearance of the season on Saturday.
Jack Mayfield, Houston Astros: A rookie in 2019, Mayfield saw limited action as an infielder with Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve starting for Houston. The former Sooner doubled in his very first at-bat ever, and posted a .156 batting average in his 64 at-bats in 2019.
Garrett Richards, San Diego Padres: A former Edmond Memorial and Oklahoma star, Richards will be the starting pitcher in the Padres third game of the season. He’ll be entering his tenth professional season, most of which was spent with the Angels. This will be just his second season with San Diego. Last season, he started in three games, and finished with an 0-1 record.
Burch Smith, Oakland Athletics: Smith got off to a 1-0 start in 2020 after holding the Angels to just one hit in one inning on Friday. The right-hander was drafted out of Oklahoma in 2009 and will be entering his fourth season in the league. Last season he played for the Brewers and Giants, pitching in 11 games and striking out six batters.
Brad Wieck, Chicago Cubs: Wieck, who was drafted out of Oklahoma City University in 2014, struggled on Opening Day for the Cubs. The left-hander allowed one home run in their 8-3 loss, but should remain a longterm rotational player. He played for two other teams in 2019 before landing with Chicago.
Tom Hatch, Toronto Blue Jays: A former Jenks and Oklahoma State standout, Hatch just made the Blue Jays 30 man roster for the upcoming season. Even more, he received the nod for their third game of the season against the Rays. Hatch was drafted in 2016 by Chicago. This will be his first professional season.
Andrew Heaney, Los Angeles Angels: Heaney started his first ever Opening Day game for Los Angeles on Friday, July 24. The Putnam City star and left-handed pitcher allowed just one run on two hits, but the Angels ultimately lost in extra-innings to a walk-off grand slam from Oakland. The 29-year-old is in his sixth season with Los Angeles.
Jordy Mercer, Detroit Tigers: The primary backup shortstop for the Tigers, Mercer could see action depending on the lineup. The former Oklahoma State and Taloga High School standout played seven seasons in Pittsburgh, but signed to play with Detroit in 2019. In his first season with the Tigers, he finished with a .270 batting average in 74 at-bats. He had 69 hits and nine home runs.
Chi Chi Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies: Drafted out of Oral Roberts in 2013, Gonzalez played for the Rangers in 2015 and 2016. Now with the Rockies, he’s fighting to become a rotational pitcher. He threw three scoreless innings in their spring training contest versus his old squad. Gonzalez finished 4-6 in 14 appearances in 2015, and 0-2 in three starts in 2016.
Jordan Romano, Toronto Blue Jays: Romano got the Blue Jays off to a 1-0 start with a win in relief. The Oral Roberts draftee, who pitched in 17 games for Toronto in 2019, earned his first win on Opening Day. He spent five seasons in the Blue Jays minor league organizations. This season, he could push for a much larger role.
Jose Trevino, Texas Rangers: A catcher hailing from Oral Roberts, Trevino saw one at-bat in the Rangers Opening Day game. While he is the current back up, an injury nearly to Texas’ No. 1 catcher nearly let him see the field. Last season, he played in 40 games, finishing with a .258 batting averaging and finishing with 31 hits.
Cam Hill, Cleveland Indians: Drafted by Cleveland in 2014, Hill made the Indians' 30-man roster for 2020, marking his rookie season in the majors. The former Redlands Community College pitcher narrowly made one of the final spots in the Cleveland bullpen after pitching in Triple-A for the entirety of 2019.
Western Oklahoma State
Josh James, Houston Astros: A right-hander out of Western Oklahoma State, James earned his spot in the Astros' rotation to start the season. He will follow Zack Greinke and pitch in July 27’s contest. The 27-year-old is entering just his third season. Last year, he finished 5-1 in 18 starts, and posted a 4.7 ERA.
Casey Sadler, Chicago Cubs: Sadler will be making his major league debut for the Cubs this year. The right-handed pitcher had to battle to make the cut, but was added to their Opening Day roster. In the minor leagues in 2019, he posted a 4-0 record in 24 games, and finished with a 2.33 ERA for the Dodgers, before being traded to the Rays.
Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels: Simmons scored the second run for Los Angeles in their 2020 opener. Drafted by the Braves in 2010 out of Western Oklahoma State, the shortstop joined Los Angeles in 2016. He has amassed 1,030 hits in his nine year career, and added another in the Angel’s opener.
Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins: The starting third baseman for Miami, Anderson finished Saturday 1-for-2 with a walk. Drafted straight out of Deer Creek High School in 2011. He is now in his fifth season with the Marlins, and finished with 120 hits in 459 at-bats. He posted a .261 batting average and smacked 20 home runs.
Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks: Now in his sixth season with Arizona, Bradley was named a closer for the 2020 season. The 27-year-old was drafted straight out of Broken Arrow High School. He posted 4-5 records in each of his last two seasons, and finished with a 3.52 ERA in 2019.
Dylan Bundy, Los Angeles Angels: Bundy through a shutout into the seventh inning of Los Angeles’ 4-1 win over the Athletics on Saturday. The Owasso product was drafted by the Orioles in 2011, and played for Baltimore for five seasons. Now with the Angels, Bundy should see a significant amount of starts.
Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers: Fulmer, a Deer Creek High School standout near Edmond, earned Rookie of the Year in the AL in 2016, and All-Star status in just his second season in the MLB. The right-handed pitcher drafted out of high school will be rebounding from Tommy John surgery and knee surgery that sidelined him all of the 2019 season. He has seen some action in the Tigers spring training exhibitions.
Adrian Houser, Milwaukee Brewers: Houser, a graduate from Locust Grove high school, originally was committed to play for Oklahoma before signing with the Astros. Now in his fourth professional season, he will be starting for Milwaukee in their matchup with the Pirates on Monday. In 2019 he finished 6-7 in 35 games.
Matt Kemp, Colorado Rockies: Kemp was drafted straight out of Midwest City, and is beginning his 16th season in the majors. He spent ten years with the Dodgers, and swapped around to three other teams before landing with Colorado for the 2020 season. He’s been an All-Star three times, in 2011, 2012 and 2018. He finished 1-for-3 with an RBI batting fifth in the lineup for Colorado in Saturday’s win over the Rangers.
Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros: A graduate from Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa, Keuchel will be entering his ninth season in the majors. The right-handed pitcher was drafted out of Arkansas in 2009, and spent seven seasons with Houston, winning the Cy Young Award in 2015, as well as obtaining All-Star status twice. After a one-year stint with Atlanta in 2019, he is now with the Chicago White Sox. He allowed just two runs in their 10-3 win over the Twins on Opening Day.
JT Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies: Realmuto, who was drafted out of Carl Albert in 2010, had a three-run shot in the Angels opener to propel them to a 7-1 win over the Marlins. The 29-year-old catcher and first baseman earned All-Star status in each of the past two seasons. Last season with Philadelphia he posted a .328 batting average, and amassed 148 hits, 25 home runs and 83 RBI’s.