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Hornets in the Pros

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A total of 13 former Sacramento State baseball players continued their professional careers in Minor League Baseball this season and put together some impressive results.

Mitch Lively, Derrick Chung, Justin Higley, Tanner Mendonca, Rhys Hoskins, Alex Palsha, Nathan Lukes, Sutter McLoughlin, Scotty Burcham, and Brennan Leitao all continued in pro ball while 2016 Hornet draft picks Tyler Beardsley, Sam Long, and Gunner Pollman began their post-collegiate careers.

Hoskins put together one of the best seasons in all of professional baseball in 2016 playing for the Double-A Reading Fightin Phills. He ranked second in all of pro baseball with 38 home runs, trailing only his teammate Dylan Cousins' 40 homers. He also hit .281 with 116 RBIs and 95 runs scored over 135 games. He helped lead the Fightins to the Eastern League title while leading the league in OPS and ranking second in virtually every other offensive category.

Hoskins was named Eastern League Rookie of the Year, was a mid-season and post-season All-Star, and was the Eastern League Player of the Month for June. He ended the season ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the Philadelphia Phillies organization by MLB.com.

In his 10th season of pro ball, Lively began the year playing with two different teams in the Triple-A Mexican League. With the Broncos de Reynoso he had a 1.72 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP, and nine saves over 36.2 innings. Towards the end of the year he resigned with the Washington Nationals organization and reported to Double-A Harrisburg.

Chung reached his fifth professional season at Double-A in the Toronto Blue Jays organization but missed the year due to injury. In his fourth pro season Higley, a former 13th round draft pick, earned a promotion to Advanced-A and hit .360 with five double and two triples in 50 at-bats locally for the Stockton Ports. Mendonca pitched his fourth season with the Chicago White Sox organization and allowed just 16 hits in 23 innings and had a 2.53 ERA in the first half of the season.

Two of the best relievers in program history, Palsha and McLoughlin continued to shine out of the bullpen. Palsha was 14-for-14 in save opportunities and was a mid-season All-Star with the Columbia Fireflies to earn a promotion to the Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets. He had a 1.97 ERA with Columbia and was part of a combined no-hitter, throwing two perfect innings to combine with three teammates for the no-hitter of Charleston.

McLoughlin spent the 2016 season as the closer for Full-A Lakewood in the Phillies organization, recording 14 saves and allowing just 13 earned runs in 46.2 innings. He was 14-for-15 in save opportunities with a 42-10 strikeout to walk ratio and lowered his career professional opposing batting average to .185 with a 0.85 career WHIP.

Lukes, a seventh round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2015, played his first full professional season in 2016 and was involved in a trade, moving from the Indians to the Tampa Bay Rays organization in part of a deadline deal that sent Brandon Guyer to Cleveland. He began the season at Full-A Lake County before being promoted and played with two Advanced-A teams, hitting .282 with six home runs and 37 RBIs overall in 115 games.

Burcham spent the 2016 season with the Full-A Asheville Tourists, where he hit a blistering .356 with a .847 OPS over 30 home games and hit .297 over the last 45 games of the season, ending the year going 14-for-22 with 5 RBI and 7 runs over his last six games. Leitao returned to being a full time starter in 2016 and was a midseason All-Star with Full-A Peoria, going 4-6 with a 2.84 ERA and a .234 opposing batting average. He also was a Midwest League Pitcher of the Week and earned a promotion to Advanced-A Palm Beach, where he had a 3.86 ERA in four starts.

The first Hornet drafted this past June, Beardsley was chosen by the Minnesota Twins in the 16th round (483rd pick). After closing for the Hornets he was converted to a starter professionally and went 2-0 with a 2.65 ERA in rookie ball to earn a promotion to the Class-A Cedar Rapids Kernels, where he had a .219 opposing batting average in 25.2 innings.

After he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays, Long was moved to the bullpen after three years starting for the Hornets. The lefty pitched in 11 games with two Rookie teams in 2016 and was strong as a reliever with a 1-0 ERA, 1 save, and 2.40 ERA over 15 innings in relief with the Princeton Rays.

Pollman was selected in the 26th round by the Miami Marlins in the 2016 MLB Draft, and after 14 games in Rookie ball was promoted to Class-A Greensboro. He allowed just three stolen bases with six runners caught stealing in 12 games at Class-A after he hit .250 with 7 RBIs and threw out two attempted base stealers in rookie ball.

For more information and stats visit the Hornets in the Pros page.