Dan Klein was on the fast track before a shoulder injury (Photo Credit: Official Site)
A couple weeks ago we took a look at the four Bruins currently playing in MLB, but that's not nearly the exhaustive list of former UCLA players in pro ball. In fact, there are another 32 Bruins in the minors now looking to make their way up to the big show. Of those 32 in the minors, 25 players for John Savage at UCLA, two played for Gary Adams and five played for both of the last two Bruin head coaches.
It won't be long before the four Bruins in the majors have company. Five of the 32 Bruins in the minors are at AAA so they aren't far off and three of those six have already been in the bigs before. There are also a handful of Bruins at the lower levels who are considered top prospects within their organizations and this doesn't even include Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, who remain unsigned, but are expected to sign by the August 15 deadline and will immediately be fast tracked to the majors.
These isn't close to all of the Bruins in the minors, but here are a few of the ones closest to the majors or are performing exceptionally well of late. We'll do one of these every once in a while this summer to keep track of how our Bruins are doing.
David Huff- LHP, Columbus Clippers (Indians)
Huff transferred to UCLA and spent just one year in Westwood, but he helped the Bruins make it to their first postseason under Savage and remains one of the coach's favorite players. He made his MLB debut back in 2009 and unfortunately, is best known for when he was hit in the head by a line drive by Alex Rodriguez last season.
He's been up and down between the majors and AAA since his debut and is currently at AAA, where he is 8-3 with a 3.86 ERA. Prior to his last start he had gone seven straight starts with at least six innings thrown and with his big league experience he could be a candidate to be called up if injuries bring up a need with the first-place Indians (yes, that's weird to say).
Josh Roenicke- RHP, Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies)
One of the coolest things about college baseball is the two-way players and one of the better ones in recent years for the Bruins was Josh Roenicke. A starting centerfielder who would come trotting in to the mound as the closer, Roenicke has found a home on the mound in the pros. He's played with both the Reds and the Blue Jays, but was just picked up by the Rockies and is with their AAA affiliate. He has a 4.12 ERA with the Sky Sox, .236 opponent batting average and almost a strikeout per inning there, making him a candidate for a call-up before long.
Dean Espy- 1B, Idaho Falls Chukars (Royals)
He just left Westwood and began his professional career, but Dean Espy isn't having much issues hitting the ball. He's hitting .313 with a .394 on-base percentage and four homers in just 22 games since signing with the Royals. Sure, he's just in the Rookie Pioneer League, which is too low for him, but hitting is hitting and he should be promoted before long.
Alden Carrithers- 2B, Birmingham Barons (White Sox)
Carrithers was never very imposing with the Bruins, standing just 5'9'' and he's not very imposing in the pros, but he has always been able to hit. He hit at UC Santa Barbara, transferred to UCLA and hit there and is now hitting in the pros. At AA now, Carrithers is hitting .286 with a .381 on-base percentage and has 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts. He's never going to bring the power, but if he can continue to get on base, defend well and not strike out (he has just 19 strikeouts in 213 at-bats), he'll find a way to keep playing.
Garett Claypool- RHP, Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies)
After four years at UCLA and another half season in the minors, it might be expected that Claypool would have moved past A ball, but his still being in the South Atlantic League isn't fault because all he's done is get outs. This season he is just 3-4 in 19 appearances, 15 of which are starts, but he has a 3.24 EA. Most impressive is Claypool's 104 strikeouts to just 33 walks in 91.4 innings. That along with a .215 opponents batting average should see him promoted soon.
Dan Klein- RHP, Bowie Baysox (Orioles)
Klein was dominant in five appearances after signing with the Orioles so he started this season at A ball and allowed just two runs in 15.2 innings while striking out 21, walking just three and holding opponents to a .161 batting average. After that he got moved up to AA, where he went 3-0 in nine games and was charged with just two earned runs in 16.2 innings. He struck out 16 more and walked just three to prompt speculation that he could be in the Orioles' bullpen by the end of 2011, which would be not even a year and a half after he was pitching for UCLA at the College World Series. There is still talk that the Orioles will make him a starter, but right now it is all on hold as he recovers from a shoulder injury that he is currently rehabbing with the hope of getting healthy by the end of the season.