It’s Opening Day across Major League baseball! Normally we track Purdue football and basketball players at the next level, but the baseball team’s success from six years ago continues to pay dividends. Last season was the first year, maybe ever, where four different Purdue players played in at least one Major League game during the same season. That seems unlikely this year with Josh Lindblom returning to play in Korea, but three players will be on the 40-man roster to start the season.
Kevin Plawecki - New York Mets - Kevin was the No. 35 overall pick in 2012, one of the highest picks in Purdue baseball history. He has struggled somewhat since making his Major league debut in 2015. He batted .219 as a rookie in 73 games in 2015 and .197 in 48 games in 2016. that had him going back and forth between the big club and Triple-A. last year he started to click, however. He batted .260 with 3 HR and 13 RBI in 37 games. that improvement, plus a solid spring, led to the surprise of him being named the opening day starter at catcher:
Plawecki had a solid spring, posting a .747 OPS after a torrid start. It’s expected he and d’Arnaud will share the position close to equally this season. Such an arrangement proved successful for the Mets in the final six weeks of last season, when Plawecki was among the team’s better performers.
Nick Wittgren - Miami Marlins - Wittgren made his MLB debut with the Marlins in 2016 and has been a decent reliever for them in the last two seasons. He has a 7-4 record with a 3.83 ERA in 86 appearances over the past two seasons. Given the current state of the Marlins’ roster that should make him an elder statesman.
Unfortunately, Wittgren will begin the season at Triple-A New Orleans. He is still on the 40-man roster for Miami, so when they need a reliever he is likely to be one of the first to get the call. He was the 287th overall pick back in 2012 and, being an experienced player on the 40-man, he could be trade bait at some time this season.
Cameron Perkins - Seattle Mariners - Perkins, the 218th overall pick in 2012, finally made his Major League debut last season with the Phillies. It amounted to a cup of coffee, but he batted .182 in 88 at bats over 42 games with a home run and 8 RBI. The Phillies made him available for waivers, however, and Seattle picked him up.
Perkins will start the year at Triple-A Tacoma, just a short call from the big club in Seattle. In the minors he has batted .282 with 39 home runs and has been a solid producer. He is also on the 40-man roster like Wittgren, giving him a better chance of being called up.