Five former Bulldogs are participating in 2020 instructional leagues for their respective Major League Baseball organizations this fall.
Pitchers Tim Elliott (Seattle), Emerson Hancock (Seattle) and Cole Wilcox (San Diego) along with infielders Cam Shepherd (Atlanta) and Aaron Schunk (Colorado) were selected by their organizations to continue training this year. Hancock, Schunk and Wilcox spent time this summer at their teams MLB Alternate Training site too.
The five-week instructional league for teams who usually train in Arizona is based in Scottsdale, Arizona. It is being conducted under bubble-like conditions with protocols, testing and mask-wearing. The Mariners, Padres and Rockies are among the teams training in Arizona. Overall, 28 of 30 MLB teams are holding practices and games, which provides a majority of these minor league players their first chance for game action and development in 2020. The Minor League Baseball season was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Yankees will not hold an instructional league this fall while the Cardinals plan to do their camp in January.
Elliott was the Mariners fourth-round pick in 2019 and spent his first professional season with Everett (Wash.) in the Short-Season Northwest League. He went 1-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 appearances including 11 starts. He registered 35 strikeouts in 30.1 innings. He is listed No. 28 among the organization’s Top 30 professional prospects, according to MLB.com.
Hancock was the Mariners first-round pick this year and was the sixth overall selection in the 2020 draft. MLB.com ranks Hancock as No. 30 overall among the Top 100 Prospects in baseball and the No. 3 player in the Mariners farm system.
Wilcox was the 80th overall pick in the 2020 draft, however the Padres viewed him as a first-round talent and signed him to a record bonus for a third-round selection. He is the No. 7 rated prospect among the Top 30 players in the Padres system.
Schunk was the Rockies second-round pick in 2019 and played his first professional season with Boise (Idaho) in the Short-Season Northwest League where he earned All-Star honors. In 46 games, he batted .306 with 12 doubles, six home runs and 23 RBI. While at the Rockies Alternate Training site, Schunk saw some action at second base after playing mostly third base last year and throughout his Bulldog career. He is rated No. 6 among the Top 30 Rockies prospects.
Shepherd signed with the Braves as a free agent following a four-year career with the Bulldogs that included setting a school record for highest career fielding percentage by a shortstop while making 198 consecutive starts. Also, he earned a sport management degree. The Braves instructional league was held at the team’s alternate site in Gwinnett.
In related professional baseball news, former Bulldog pitcher Alex Wood has made a pair of relief appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their National League Championship Series against the Braves. Currently, Los Angeles trails 2-1 in the series. Wood has made 18 postseason appearances in his career, first with the Braves in 2013 and with the Dodgers from 2015-18 and 2020. Wood’s former Bulldog roommate, Kyle Farmer, who he played with in Los Angeles and Cincinnati, reached the playoffs this season too with the Reds.