HUNTINGTON - J.D. Hammer was regarded by many as the fourth-best player in a four-player deal when he was traded from the Colorado Rockies to the Philadelphia Phillies two years ago Wednesday.
Now, Hammer might be the jewel of the swap. The former Marshall University pitcher has been stellar in 11 games with the Phillies since making his Major League debut on May 26. Hammer is 0-0 with a 3.38 earned run average in 11 games, all in relief. The right-hander from Fort Collins, Colorado, has allowed eight hits, struck out seven and walked five in 10.2 innings. Opponents have batted .211.
Traded with minor league pitcher Alejandro Requena and shortstop Jose Gomez for right-handed reliever Pat Neshek, Hammer was the third piece the Rockies added to the deal. Since then, he has sailed through the minors, reaching Triple-A this season before Neshek, oddly enough back with the Phillies, was injured and Hammer was called on to replace him.
Hammer made his debut in impressive fashion in Milwaukee. Philadelphia trailed 7-1 in the sixth inning when Hammer was brought in to face the heart of the Brewers lineup. The former Thundering Herd hurler sat down former most valuable players Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun, as well as multi-time all-star Mike Moustakas, in order.
The bespectacled Hammer who began the year in Double-A is one of four former Marshall players active in affiliated baseball.
n Corey Bird, center fielder, Miami Marlins. Bird was promoted from the Marlins' High-A affiliate in Jupiter, Florida, to its Double-A team in Jacksonville, Florida, on April 6. Miami's seventh-round pick from the 2016 Draft has appeared in 64 games this season and has no home runs, 13 runs batted in to go with a .212 batting average, .273 on base percentage and .251 slugging percentage. A speedster, Bird has stolen 10 bases in 13 attempts and made just one error in 115 total chances.
n Elvis Peralta, shortstop, Oakland Athletics. The A's 26th-round pick in the 2019 Draft, Peralta made his minor league debut with the rookie-level Arizona Rookie League A's and homered in his first at bat. In six games, Peralta has posted a .263/417/.474 slash line wiht one homer, one double and two stolen bases in as many attempts.
n Josh Shapiro, pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers' 34th-round selection in the 2019 Draft, Shapiro has appeared in one game, pitching three innings of relief. The left-hander from Columbus, Ohio, allowed three runs on seven hits, struck out three and walked none.
Another former Herd pitcher, Burris Warner, began the season with the Detroit Tigers' High-A affiliate in Lakeland, Florida. Detroit's 22nd-round pick in the 2016 Draft retired on May 25, however, after beginning the season 1-1 with a 6.55 earned run average in 12 games. For his career, Warner went 14-7 with a 3.14 ERA.
Former Marshall star Dan Straily, Oakland's 24th-round pick in 2009, signed with the pitching-starved Baltimore Orioles on April 5 after being released by the Marlins on March 25. The right-handed starter from Redlands, California, struggled mightily before being sent outright to Baltimore's Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia, on Sunday. Straily went 2-4 with a 9.82 ERA in 14 games, eight starts. Straily gave up 77 hits, including a league-high 22 home runs, in 47 innings and opponents batted .349. He struck out 33 and walked 22.