The last week in Big Ten baseball news was headlined by the promotion of a pitching coach, pitchers standing out over the summer, and a former top Big Ten pitcher reaching the bigs.
Bunn elevated to IU associate head coach
Indiana head coach Chris Lemonis has promoted pitching coach Kyle Bunn to associate head coach, Indiana announced on Aug. 22.
“Kyle is very deserving of being named Associate Head Coach,” said Lemonis. “He has shown the ability to guide and develop a pitching staff on the national level. We have had eight pitchers who have been drafted and or signed on with MLB organizations in the past two years and the 2016 pitching staff finished as the 11th best team ERA in the country. He is a tireless recruiter who lives the game of baseball and has prepared himself to be a head coach in the very near future.”
“I feel very honored and fortunate to have been named the Associate Head Coach for IU’s baseball program,” said Bunn. “My family and I have had a relationship for over 20 years with Coach Lemonis as a player, a mentor and currently a boss. He is not only a great man but has been and still is an awesome example to follow in my journey through college baseball. I look forward to the seasons ahead for Indiana Baseball, and I am extremely grateful to be a part of it each day as we continue to work to ‘dogpile’ and be a champion.”
Enter the third season of Bunn leading Indiana pitchers, the 2016 season saw Indiana turn in one of the best pitching performances by any team in the county. The Hoosiers finished second in the nation in walks allowed per nine innings (2.31), fifth in WHIP (1.15) and 11th in team ERA (3.09).
Dunn is a 15-year assistant coach, previously serving on staffs at Ole Miss (2002-07), Clemson (2008-09), Alabama (2010) and East Tennessee State (2012-14).
Four selected as summer All-Americans
Scouting service Perfect Game chose four Big Ten players as Summer Collegiate All-Americans.
Maryland sophomore right-handed pitcher Cameron Eck received first team honors for his strong summer in the Perfect Game League. Eck held a .61 ERA over 59 innings.
Iowa shortstop Mason McCoy was named a third team All-American for batting .320 with 18 doubles, eight home runs and 24 stolen bases.
Joining McCoy on the third team were sophomore pitchers Hunter Parsons and Riley McCauley. Parson, the second Maryland right-hander to receive summer All-American accolades, struck out 44 batters against seven walks in 38.1 innings of work in the Cal Ripken League. McCauley, a right-handed pitcher from Michigan State, spent his summer in the Texas League, where he collected six saves, striking out 51.1 batters over 32.1 innings.
Receiving Honorable Mention were Indiana junior right-handed pitcher Brian Hobbie, Maryland junior shortstop Kevin Smith and Ohio State sophomore left-handed pitcher Connor Curlis. A write-up on the summer of those three can be found here.
Ohio State’s Alex Wimmers called up
The only two-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Year finally received the call of his career. Former Ohio State right-handed pitcher Alex Wimmers was called up by the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 26, making his Major League debut six years after he was a first-round pick.
After twice named the Big Ten’s top pitcher, Wimmer was selected with the 21st overall pick in the 2010 draft, and viewed as a pitcher not far from the big leagues. With a plus changeup complimenting a curveball and low-90s fastball, Wimmers was a polished three-pitch pitcher. Two months after he was drafted, Wimmers started his career at Advanced-A Fort Myers, and struck out 23 batters over 15.2 innings, conceding just one earned run for a .57 ERA. Unfortunately Wimmers battled serve control difficulties in his first full pro season, then saw parts of the next three years lost to Tommy John and nerve surgery.
Struggling to find the success enjoyed at Ohio State, which culminating in being names the 2010 College Pitcher of the Year, the second-half of the 2015 season saw Wimmers moved to a relief role for AA Chattanooga. Wimmers has remained a reliever for the 2016 season, holding a 3.62 ERA over 49.2 innings for AAA Rochester. Serving as the Red Wings closer, a role he at times held as a freshman at Ohio State in 2008, Wimmers saved 11 games in 12 opportunities to earn the call up.
Debuting against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wimmers struck out two batters in a perfect eighth inning.
Schultz makes two Wildcats in Toronto
On Aug. 27, the Toronto Blue Jays recalled right-handed pitcher Bo Schultz from AAA Buffalo, giving the American League club two former Northwestern Wildcat pitchers on its active roster. In his return to the big leagues, Schultz joins left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ as once Wildcats looking to lead the Blue Jays to the AL East crown.
A Northwestern pitcher from 2005-08, Schultz carries a 4.15 ERA on the year, pitching 13 innings over 11 outings out of the Blue Jay bullpen. Happ has been Toronto’s ace, holding a 17-4 record alongside a 3.19 ERA in 155 innings. Where Schultz went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Oakland Athletics following his collegiate career, Happ was a three-time First Team All-Big Ten selection, drafted in the third round of the 2004 draft following his junior season.