clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

'Dores on the Farm: The Class of 2015 Battles Injury, Cotham to the Bronx and Back

Dansby Swanson is finally ready to make his professional debut, but he wasn't the only member of the 2015 Vanderbilt Commodores that has had to deal with injuries at the outset of his MLB career.

Seconds later, Cotham crumpled that baseball in his hand like an empty aluminum can.
Seconds later, Cotham crumpled that baseball in his hand like an empty aluminum can.
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Vanderbilt Baseball was well represented at the 2015 MLB Draft. While Dansby Swanson made headlines as the #1 overall pick, eight of his teammates heard their names called by professional teams as well. When the dust settled, only one draftee - probable weekend starter John Kilichowski - returned to Nashville for a third year on campus.

Unfortunately, injuries have taken their toll for the latest class of Commodore professionals. Walker Buehler won't make his professional debut for at least another year after the Dodgers shut him down for Tommy John surgery. Swanson's debut was delayed when he ate a fastball to the face in a simulated game with the Diamondbacks. He's finally primed for his first start on Wednesday night. Zander Wiel got two games into his baseball career before getting hurt. Xavier Turner received one at-bat in his Single-A debut before he landed on the disabled list. As a result, only a limited number of players from this year's national runner-up have had a regular impact in the minors.

Here's how the guys from that class are carving out their legacies - and how one older #VandyBoy is living his major league dream.

Caleb Cotham: "Cotham City" and his 21.6 Ks/9 earned a second call to the majors last week, but his stay was brief. Cotham spent one day in the Bronx before the Yankees shipped him back to the minors in favor of five-star prospect Luis Severino. The uncertainty didn't have a noticeable effect on the former Commodore; he returned to Scranton and hurled 2.1 innings of scoreless relief for the RailRiders, lowering his AAA ERA to 1.16 over 23.1 innings. With a 12:1 K/BB ratio, he's a lock to wind up on the 40-man Yankee roster this September.

Rhett Wiseman: Wiseman hasn't made a smooth transition from college to Short Season Single-A baseball. He's batting just .232 in his first year as a pro, but he's also showing off flashes of power (three home runs in his first dozen games) and speed (six stolen bases in seven attempts) that make his early returns promising. That July surge earned him New York-Penn League Player of the Week honors, and a recent four-game hitting streak has helped raise his average 38 points over the last 11 days. The transition has been shaky, but Wiseman has still been able to prove that he has the tools to be one of Washington's top prospects.

Zander Wiel: Wiel homered in his fifth professional at-bat. One game later, he was dropped to the disabled list after an errant pitch broke his hand. The Vandy first baseman went hitless in his first game, but he led off his second with a two-run blast that helped lead the Elizabethton Twins to a 12-1 win. Now they'll have to wait at least two more weeks before they can get Wiel back in the lineup. In his brief pro career, Zander has a sparkling 1.214 OPS.

Carson Fulmer: Fulmer threw exactly one inning in the rookie league before getting a promotion to Advanced A, where he's been up-and-down in four appearances. He's struck out at least one batter per inning each time he's taken the mound, but a three-run outing against Wilmington has his ERA at an un-Fulmerlike 3.60. His numbers won't matter if his pitches remain as sharp as they've been all summer, however. A few more strikeouts could move the SEC Pitcher of the Year up to AA if the White Sox continue their recent tradition of fast-tracking pitching prospects through the minors.

Tyler Ferguson: Ferguson's no-good 2015 has continued as a professional. After posting a 2.69 ERA as a sophomore and looking like a sure-fire weekend starter, the electric-but-uneven righty walked 35 batters in 20 innings en route to a 6.30 ERA this spring. Those control issues have persisted; Ferguson has issued nine free passes in rookie ball despite pitching only 4.2 innings. While he's struck out more batters than he's allowed hits, those walks have saddled him with a double-digit ERA and a glaring need for an overhaul. Ferguson has the makeup to be a special pitcher, but he's got to blow up the mental block that has kept him from regaining that 2014 form.

Xavier Turner: Turner shook off the rust of year-long NCAA suspension (for what we *still* aren't sure) by playing his way out of rookie ball in just 20 games. A .295/.329/.359 line was good enough to earn a call to the Single A Hickory Crawdads, where he's been even better. Despite batting .250, he's got four extra-base hits in nine games and appears capable of providing the power needed to play third base as a professional. His slash line is up to .250/.371/.500 thanks to the combination of strength and patience at the plate early in his career.