Tennessee Wesleyan College baseball program has had fourteen players drafted in the first year player draft and has had six players sign free agent contracts since 2002. A very impressive number for a small NAIA school in Athens, Tennessee. Currently nine players are active throughout the minor leagues. Five of those nine players were instrumental in the 2012 season that saw the Bulldogs win their first ever Avista NAIA National Championship. You can follow the progress of all these former bulldogs on the internet at www.milb.com.
DOUBLE A REPORT
Freddy Lewis – LHP (2010) was drafted in the 47th round of the first year player draft in 2010 by the New York Yankees. He currently is with the Trenton Thunder, the Double A affiliate for the New York Yankees in the Eastern League. The left hander was a member of the 2010 bulldog team that made its first ever appearance in the Avista NAIA World Series. The Gainesville, Florida native has spent time this season with Class A Advanced Tampa and also with Triple A Scranton Wilkes Barre. In his last ten appearances he has a 0-2 record with three starts. In 25.0 innings of work he has given up only five earned runs and has fanned twenty seven batters. His last start came on July 28, 2013 when Lewis went 3.2 innings giving up two hits and striking out six. Freddy is currently on the 7 day DL but is expected to return soon. Trenton currently is in second place in the eastern division eleven and half games out of first.
CLASS A ADVANCED
Hamilton Bennett - LHP (2010) was drafted in the 29th round of the first year player draft in 2010 by the New York Mets. He currently is a reliever for the St. Lucie Mets, the Class A Advanced affiliate for the New York Mets in the Florida State League. A first team All-AAC selection in 2010, Bennett was instrumental in the 2010 run for the Bulldogs, on their way to their first ever Avista NAIA World Series. Bennett was the first Bulldog to ever start a World Series game. Originally from Tega Cay, South Carolina, Hamilton has also spent time in Double A Binghamton. In his last ten appearances the left hander has a 2-0 record with a 3.09 earned run average with three saves. In 11.2 innings he has struck out thirteen batters. His last appearance was on August 2, 2013 where Bennett picked up the save working 1.1 innings striking out three. Currently St. Lucie is in second place and six games out in the Florida State League Southern Division.
Jeremy Fitzgerald – RHP (2012) was drafted in the 21st round or the first year player draft in 2012 by the Atlanta Braves. He currently is a reliever for the Rome Braves, the Class A affiliate for the Atlanta Braves in the South Atlantic League. The 2012 first team All-AAC selection and Pitcher of the Year was a key member of the National Championship run in 2012. The Stuarts Draft, Virginia native has spent time this season on the disabled list due to some arm issues. He is back in Rome after a rehab stint in Florida with the Gulf Coast Braves in the GCL. During his rehab assignment he made five appearances logging 6.0 innings of work with a 3.63 earned run average and ten strikeouts. Since returning to Rome he has settled back into his relief role and is 1-0 with a 3.77 earned run average in 14.1 innings with fourteen strikeouts. In his last appearance on August 2, 2013, he worked 2.0 innings giving up one earned run and striking out three.
Stephen Branca – INF (2012) was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco Giants after the conclusion of the 2012 first year player draft. After a solid rookie season Branca was invited and attended the 2012 Fall Instructional League for the Giants. One of the more decorated players to come out of Tennessee Wesleyan, Branca was a first team All-AAC in his senior season as a Bulldog. The Florida native was the 2012 AAC Player of the Year and a NAIA 1st Team All American. A member of two World Series teams and the 2012 National Champions he was named to the World Series All-Tournament Team in his final year. Branca has spent time this season with the Augusta Greenjackets, the Class A affiliate for the San Francisco Giants in the South Atlantic League. Branca is hitting .234 in forty six games with two doubles, one triple, one homerun with twelve runs batted in. Currently he is in Arizona on a rehab assignment and hopes to return to Augusta soon for the remainder of the 2013 season. Augusta is currently in second place just three and half games back in the South Atlantic League Southern Division.
Alfonso Yevoli – LHP (2012) signed after the 2012 season with the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League. After a very impressive season and Baseball America rating him as the fifth best Independent League prospect from the 2012 season the Atlanta Braves signed Yevoli to a free agent contract. Yevoli reported for spring training this past February and prior to the Braves breaking camp he was released. The Palm Coast, Florida native dusted himself off and returned to the Wild Things for the 2013 season. Two weeks ago Yevoli got that call again, this time from the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs signed Yevoli to a free agent contract and he is currently with the Kane County Cougars, the Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in the Midwest League. A member of the 2012 National Championship team Yevoli to date has made three appearances with a 4.76 earned run average in 5.2 innings striking out six. His last appearance came on August 2, 2013 where he worked 2.1 innings with four strikeouts.
CLASS A SHORT SEASON
Justin Sprenger – RHP (2013) was drafted in the 29th round of the first year player draft by the Texas Rangers. Currently he is a reliever for the Spokane Indians the short season Class A affiliate of the Texas Rangers in the Northwest League. Sprenger was a red shirt on the 2012 National Championship team. The Washington, Missouri native in his last ten appearances is 2-1 with a 4.15 earned run average in 13.0 innings all in relief he has one save and has fanned thirteen. His last outing was on August 3, 2013 in relief Sprenger pitched 1.1 innings with no runs on one hit and one strikeout.
Michael Carballo – OF (2013) was drafted in the 18th round of the first year player draft by the Chicago White Sox. Currently Carballo is with Great Falls Voyagers the Rookie League affiliate of the Chicago White Sox in the Pioneer League. The Pembroke Pines, Florida native is currently hitting .143 in twelve games with one double and three runs batted in. In his last start on July 24, 2013 Carballo was 0-4 with three strikeouts. Great Falls is currently a game back in second place of the Pioneer League North Division.
Jake Stone – INF (2013) was drafted in the 27th round of the first year player draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Currently he is with the Gulf Coast Cardinals one of the Rookie League affiliates of the St. Louis Cardinals. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia, like Branca, Stone is one of the most decorated players to come out of Tennessee Wesleyan. In 2012 he was named All-AAC first team and NAIA honorable mention All American. At the conclusion of the Bulldogs National Championship run he was named to the World Series All Tournament Team. He followed that up this past season by again being named to the All-AAC first team and was named AAC Player of the Year to go along with being named NAIA 2nd Team All American. His pro career has started off the way his college season ended. In his last ten games Stone is hitting .371 with two doubles, two triples, one homerun and 2 runs batted in. In his last start on August 5, 2013 he went 3-4 with a triple, two runs batted in and his first homerun as a pro. The Cardinals are currently six games back in second place in the GCL East Division.
Corey Rhoney – RHP (2013) was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Royals at the conclusion of the 2013 first year player draft. Currently Rhoney is with the Idaho Falls Chukars one of the Rookie League affiliates of the Kansas City Royals. The Valdese, North Carolina native was a member of the 2012 Avista NAIA National Championship team. Rhoney was a first team All-AAC selection in 2013 and was named to the AAC All-Tournament team. In his last ten appearances he has a 3.09 earned run average in 11.2 innings with two saves and eleven strikeouts all in relief. His last appearance was August 2, 2013 in relief throwing an inning and giving up two runs with no walks. Idaho Falls is currently two games out of first in the South Division of the Pioneer League.