Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft came and went last week without a single Duke player being selected. Though there are no new Blue Devils joining teams, a former Duke star who was selected in the 2012 draft is just getting back into game action.
Marcus Stroman became the first Blue Devil to be selected in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft when the Toronto Blue Jays made Stroman the 22nd overall pick. At the time of the draft one year ago, Stroman was touted as the most MLB-ready player in the draft after posting a 2.39 ERA and .231 opponent batting average as a junior at Duke.
Instead of taking his talents north of the border in September, Stroman was handed a 50-game suspension after testing positive for methylhexaneamine. With fewer than 50 games remaining in the season at the time of the suspension, Stroman was on the sidelines when the 2013 season got underway.
Stroman made his season debut for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats on May 19, joining the team's starting rotation. Though Stroman's future is expected to be in the bullpen due to concerns over his small stature—he stands just 5-foot-9—he has been used exclusively as a starter in 2013.
The 22-year old hurler is the owner of a 4.95 ERA through his first five starts, but he has pitched significantly better than that figure indicates. Of the 11 earned runs Stroman has allowed this season, seven of them came in one nightmare of an inning. Over his other 19 innings, only four runs have crossed the plate, good for a 1.89 ERA. Stroman has allowed just 17 hits in those other 19 innings.
With numbers like he's been posting, Stroman is getting closer and closer to Toronto. The Blue Jays have already plucked pitchers Chad Jenkins and Sean Nolin straight from the Fisher Cats this season—without either player having any prior experience in Triple-A. The Blue Jays' recent pattern with making promotions makes it entirely possible Stroman could be the guy if a roster spot opens up in the near future.
If and when Stroman gets the call to the Major Leagues, he will be the fourth Blue Devil in Major League Baseball, joining Los Angeles Dodgers starter Chris Capuano, Oakland Athletics first baseman Nate Freiman and New York Mets reliever Greg Burke.
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