Rivets alumni in pro baseball finishing rookie seasons
LOVES PARK, Ill. – Three former Rockford Rivets picked in this year’s Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft recently completed their rookie seasons in professional baseball.
Tampa Bay Rays farmhand Michael Smith, Oakland Athletics apprentice Hunter Hargrove and Chicago White Sox minor-leaguer David Cronin were all picked in the June draft and each received an in-season promotion from his parent club. Each played for the Rivets in 2016.
Smith streaked at the end of the season with the Rays’ Princeton affiliate in the Advanced Rookie-level Appalachian League. The outfielder hit safely in each of his last six games and 16 of his 18 to finish a 31-game Appy stint with a .268 batting average. He was 1-for-3 with two walks and two runs in an 11-0 shutout of the Greeneville Astros in the P-Rays’ season finale on Aug. 31.
In 37 total games between Princeton and the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League’s Port Charlotte team, he hit .285 with no home runs and 15 RBI and stole six bases in nine tries.
The San Jacinto College product was drafted by Tampa Bay in the 18th round in June.
Hargrove is headed to the playoffs with the Vermont Lake Monsters, Oakland’s farm team in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League. In Monday’s regular-season finale, a 7-3 win over the visiting Tri-City ValleyCats, Hargrove went 1-for-3. Hargrove hit .233 in 19 games after his promotion from the Arizona League. In 36 combined games at the two levels, Hargrove hit a composite .264 with a home run and 20 RBI.
Last season, Hargrove was the Rivets’ home run and RBI leader. This spring as a senior at Texas Tech University, he won Big 12 Conference Co-Player of the Year honors. Oakland picked him in the 25th round.
Cronin, a second baseman from the University of Illinois-Chicago, hit safely in 14 of his 21 starts for the Great Falls Voyagers, and hit .282 for Chicago’s Advanced-Rookie Pioneer League farm team. The Voyagers don’t finish the season until this weekend, and have a chance to make the postseason.
In 38 total games between the Rookie-level Arizona League and the Pioneer, Cronin is batting .270 with no home runs, 17 RBI and six steals in seven attempts.
Cronin, who led the Rivets in batting average last year, was picked by the White Sox in the 20th round in June.
Four other 2016 Rivets played professionally this season in the independent Frontier League. Two of them, Traverse City infielder Josh Hauser and Evansville third baseman Ryan Long, were still on active rosters at the end of the season.
Hauser, from Belvidere, hit .168 with no home runs and five RBI for the Beach Bums. Long, who played with Hargrove for Texas Tech in the College World Series last season, hit .286 with two home runs and 11 RBI for the Otters, who are now in the FL playoffs. Both were regular starters in the second half of the season.
The Rockford Rivets are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League, which will play its 25th season of summer collegiate baseball in 2018. The Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 180 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals), two-time World Champion Ben Zobrist (Chicago Cubs) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox), Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit Tigers), Curtis Granderson (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Lucas Duda (Tampa Bay Rays). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website, NorthwoodsLeague.com.