(Photo via the Flickr Creative Commons, thanks to AP3 for the shot of Schwarber)
At CBBSN, we remember some of the most successful teams in college baseball. Recapping where these teams’ best players are now, and how their careers progressed, is our homage to their success. In our second installment, we revisit the Indiana Hoosiers teams from 2012 to 2014.
The Indiana Hoosiers during their run at the College World Series from 2012-2014, blended a core of talent with substantial runs of success. During these years, Indiana won two Big Ten tournament championships (2013 and 2014), lost in the finals in another (2012), hosted two regionals (2013 and 2014), and reached the College World Series (2013). Indiana’s advancement to the CWS in 2013 was the first time that a Big Ten school made it that far since Michigan in 1984.
In total, there have been four players that have played at the MLB level: Kyle Schwarber, Micah Johnson, Sam Travis, and Aaron Slegers. After a promising rookie campaign, Schwarber, who was picked number-four overall in 2014’s MLB Draft in 2014, tore his ACL in his second game of the 2016 season. With the Cubs advancing through the playoffs and Schwarber’s knee on the mend, he was cleared to play in the Arizona Fall League in case the Cubs made it to the World Series.
The Cubs made it in 2016 and Schwarber played a key role, hitting .412 in the Cubs’ first World Series in 108 years. In 2017, Schwarber struggled offensively at the plate, but still managed to put up solid power numbers. He hit 30 home runs in his first full season in the MLB, despite having a strikeout rate north of 30 percent.
Micah Johnson was a 10th round pick by the White Sox in 2012 and seen as an athletic infielder who had plus speed, the ability to make consistent line drive contact and occasional gap-to-gap power. In the White Sox organization, Johnson blossomed in 2013, stealing 84 bases while advancing three levels. Johnson has become a “Quad-A” player in the truest sense – always the last man on the active roster, or an easy player to call up from Triple-A. Johnson has also been acquired by several teams since the White Sox playing for the Dodgers and Braves. He has also been a part of the Reds, Giants, and currently resides in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Sam Travis (Red Sox) and Aaron Slegers (Twins) each made their MLB debut in the 2017 season. Travis, a second-round draft pick, was a top prospect in the Red Sox farm system for some time, playing in the Arizona Fall League in 2015. Slegers, a fifth-round draft pick, broke into the Twins’ top prospects in the 2017 season. During this past season, he made 16 consecutive starts in Triple-A and the MLB without a loss.
In total, Indiana had 15 players drafted and one free agent signed by MLB teams that played on their 2012-2014 teams. Of those players, currently there are four at the MLB level, one at Triple-A, two at Double-A, four at Advanced-A, three at Low-A, and two have been released.
Players were not the only ones to find success at Indiana. After Indiana was eliminated in the College World Series in 2013, major changes within the program started to occur.
Ty Neal, the Indiana pitching coach, also left after the 2013 season to become Head Coach at the University of Cincinnati and was replaced by Brandon Higelin. Head coach Tracy Smith left Indiana for Arizona State after the following season, which was widely considered a huge step up since ASU is known for being one of the premier baseball schools in the country. Smith, the recipient of the 2013 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Coach of the Year Award, brought assistant coaches Ben Greenspan and Brandon Higelin with him.
The success within the staff trickled down all the way to the student managers. The head student manager, Max Thomas, received an internship with Major League Baseball’s International Baseball Operations department. He has since been promoted to Coordinator-International Baseball Operations at MLB.
Since Indiana’s run at the College World Series, former Louisville assistant, Chris Lemonis, has taken over the program and former Volunteer Assistant Head Coach, Roger Rodeheaver, was promoted to Director of Baseball Operations. Lemonis has enjoyed success, but has not had the staggering amount of wins that the program achieved each year during their run from 2012-14. Even though Indiana sits in the Big Ten and has numerous cold-weather months, the Hoosiers should now be considered a baseball powerhouse. Their former players and staff are presently enjoying success at the highest level of professional and collegiate baseball.