Indianapolis, Indiana isn’t exactly known as a hotbed of prep baseball talent, but in recent years there have been numerous players with local ties selected in the upper rounds of the Major League Baseball amateur draft, and many have worked their way up through the minors, and are currently playing in the top level of professional baseball, and still others are close to achieving the same goal, making the current crop of talent coming out of Indianapolis perhaps the best it’s ever been. Let’s take a look at some of the notable players around the area living out their dream of playing in the Major Leagues.
Indianapolis Area Players in Professional Baseball:
Jake Fox: Fox grew up in Beech Grove, Indiana and graduated Cathedral High School in 2000. He spent two seasons at the University of Michigan, where he was a first-team All-Big Ten selection his sophomore year. Fox was drafted by the Cubs in the 3rd round (73 overall) of the 2003 draft.
He got a cup of coffee with Chicago late in 2007, but didn’t stick, and spent the entire 2008 season in the minors. 2009 was a different story, as Fox forced his way into Lou Pinella’s lineup and endeared himself to the Wrigley Field faithful by clubbing 11 homers and driving in 44 runs. The Oakland Athletics thought enough of his performance they traded for him in the offseason. Fox has struggled to find consistent playing time in Oakland, and is hitting just .214 with two homers in 98 at-bats, but it’s only matter of time before his power bat gets back on track.
Kyle Gibson: Attended Cathedral before transferring to Greenfield-Central High School after his freshman year. He went on to the University of Missouri, where he had a stellar three-year career. Gibson was considered the second best collegiate arm in the 2009 draft class, but fell to the Minnesota Twins at pick No. 22 because of a stress fracture in right forearm. He began his minor league career this season, and has already progressed to Double-A. In 80.1 innings, he’s posted a 2.69 ERA, 71 strikeouts, and a 1.18 WHIP, indicating it won’t be long before the local product is pitching in the big leagues.
Cory Wade: Wade is a 2001 graduate of Broad Ripple High School. He spent three seasons at Kentucky Wesleyan College where he pitched and played shortstop. The Los Angeles Dodgers made him a 10th round selection in the 2004 draft. Wade debuted in 2008, and was impressive out of the bullpen, pitching in 55 games and tabulating a 2.27 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. He struggled early this season, and was sent down to Triple-A to work things out. Currently pitching for the Albuquerque Isotopes, Wade has a 6.75 ERA in 18 appearances.
Drew Storen: Storen was a standout pitcher for Brownsburg High School, leading the Bulldogs to a state title in 2005. He went on to a dominating career as a reliever at Stanford University and was selected by the Washington Nationals with the 10th pick in 2009. Storen, who’s the son of WNDE 1260 drive-time sports guy Mark Patrick, blew through the minor leagues at the start of the 2010 season, earning a call to the big club in May. He’s done nothing but impress at the Major League level, compiling a 1.74 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 10.1 innings.
Wes Whisler: Whisler was the 2001 Indiana Mr. Baseball out of Noblesville High School in Noblesville, Indiana. He played three seasons at UCLA, and was selected in the 2nd round by the White Sox in 2004. After five season in the minors, he finally made it to the bigs at the end of 2009, pitching in three games for the White Sox. This season he has a 5.27 ERA in 27.1 innings out of the bullpen for Triple-A Charlotte.
Lance Lynn: Another product out of Brownsburg, Indiana, Lynn attended college at the University of Mississippi, but struggled in the tough SEC. The St. Louis Cardinals saw enough promise to take him in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft though, and he’s had much more success in the professional ranks, already reaching the Triple-A level. Lynn’s sports a 4.13 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 13 starts with Memphis, and is considered a call-up possibility if the Cardinals were to need an extra arm.
Tommy Hunter: After dominating at Cathedral High School and Alabama University, Hunter was selected in the 1st round of the 2007 draft by the Texas Rangers. He made it to the Majors just one year later, but struggled in his initial season. He made 19 starts in 2009, finishing the season with a 4.10 ERA. Hunter began 2010 in the Triple-A, but has since rejoined the Rangers, surrendering only three earned runs in 15 innings in two June starts.
Other Notable Indiana Residents in Major League Baseball
Clint Barmes: Barmes grew up in Vincennes, Indiana and attended Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was drafted in the 10th round of the 2000 draft by the Colorado Rockies, and he’s been there ever since, carving out a useful role as a utility infielder. Barmes is hitting .219 with four home runs and 29 RBI this season.
Bryan Bullington: Bullington was born right here in Indy, but went to high school in Madison, Indiana. He played college ball at Ball State University, and was so dominant the Pittsburgh Pirates made him the #1 overall selection in the 2002 draft. He made just six appearances with Pittsburgh’s Major League club before injuries and ineffectiveness led to his release.
Bullington made a couple of starts for Cleveland in 2008, then tossed six innings out of the bullpen for the Toronto Blue Jays last year. He caught on with the Kansas City Royals prior to the 2010 season, and he’s spent much of the year at Triple-A Omaha, registering an encouraging 1.88 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 52.2 innings. He was briefly called up in May to bolster the bullpen, but was sent back down after three outings.
Adam Lind: Born in Muncie, Indiana, Lind played at Highland High School in Anderson, Indiana. He was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the eighth round of the 2002 draft, but Lind choose to attend college instead, spending two years at the University of South Alabama. The Blue Jays made him a 3rd round pick in 2004, and Lind quickly ascended to the Majors. Primarily a designated hitter, he burst onto the scene in 2009 by parking 35 homers and driving in 114 runs, winning the Silver Slugger Award for the DH position. 2010 hasn’t been quite as friendly — he’s hitting .209 — but don’t expect that to continue for long. Lind has the talent to earn multiple All-Star nominations before his career is over.
Joe Thatcher: Known as “The Throw’in Kokomoan,” Thatcher, a Kokomo, Indiana native, is a relief pitcher for the San Diego Padres. He attended Indiana State after a storied basketball and baseball career at Kokomo High School. This season he’s notched a stellar 1.42 ERA and 0.55 WHIP in 18 appearances, making it his most productive of his four Major League seasons.
Clayton Richard: Richard was the winner of Indiana’s Mr. Football AND Mr. Baseball award his senior year at McCutcheon High School, located in Lafayette, Indiana. The 6’5, 240 pound lefty accepted a scholarship to the University of Michigan to play both sports. He was redshirted for the 2003 football season, and then worked as a backup quarterback to Chad Henne the following season. He quit football his junior year and joined the baseball squad.
The White Sox drafted him in the 8th round of the 2005 draft, and Richard spent four years in the minors before making it to the majors in 2008. Though he showed some promise with the White Sox, he was dealt to the Padres during the middle of the 2009 season. The move out of hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago to the spacious confines of Petco Park in San Diego has been good to Richard. Through 12 starts this season he has a 2.72 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.