Former Commodores make waves in the MLB

The Commodores are on top of the college baseball world. Now they’re taking over the professional one too.


Photo courtesy Orange County Register

As the MLB regular season comes to a close, a total of 15 former Vanderbilt players have made an appearance in the majors this season, more than any other school in the country. From the most recent alumni (Kyle Wright) to the most experienced (David Price), the Commodores continue to shine on baseball’s biggest stage. These are six of the VandyBoys who stood out in 2019. 

Walker Buehler (SP), Los Angeles Dodgers

Picking right up where he left off last year, the Los Angeles Dodgers young star has logged 13 wins, more than 200 strikeouts, and has posted a stellar 3.25 ERA in an impressive sophomore campaign. Buehler represented the Dodgers in the 2019 All-Star Game in July as one of three Los Angeles pitchers selected to the Midsummer Classic, joining Clayton Kershaw and fellow Cy Young candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu. In his one-inning outing, he fanned both Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres. More recently, Buehler broke the record for the most starts in a single season with double-digit strikeouts and zero walks by a pitcher 25 years old or younger. As the Dodgers gear up to make a deep postseason run, Buehler figures to be a prominent member of the rotation, just as he was last October.

Dansby Swanson (SS), Atlanta Braves

The Atlanta Braves’ 2015 1st overall pick Dansby Swanson struggled in his first few professional seasons but turned the corner at the beginning of 2019. Prior to the All-Star break, the shortstop was on his way to a breakout season — hitting .270 with 17 home runs and 57 runs batted in. Following a heel injury in late July, Swanson was designated for rehab and missed over a month of major league action. Since his re-activation Aug. 26, Swanson simply hasn’t been the same. He’s posted a .143/.294/.186 slash line in the past 30 days and has yet to go yard since his injury. Swanson will look to rekindle his first-half magic in the playoffs and bolster an already dangerous Atlanta Braves roster. 

Mike Minor (SP), Texas Rangers

In his eighth year as a pro, Texas Rangers starter Mike Minor has enjoyed his best MLB season to date. Minor led all pitchers in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for the majority of the season, only recently falling behind Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander following a few rough starts. Selected to his first All-Star game in his age-31 season, he’s posted a very respectable 3.52 ERA and needs one more start to break the 200 inning threshold, a major accomplishment for most starting pitchers.

Sonny Gray (SP), Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati hurler Sonny Gray’s record-breaking 2019 season has been nothing short of remarkable. Following a rough two-year stint with the New York Yankees, Gray was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in January. The change of scenery has worked wonders for him, as this year he represented the Reds in the All-Star game alongside fellow Commodores Buehler and Minor. Since then, he’s notched an impressive 1.91 ERA and 96 strikeouts over 80 innings. Gray has done an impeccable job at limiting base hits this season, leading the league in hits per nine innings (H/9) with 6.29 mark and recently breaking one of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan’s long-standing records. On Sept. 17, he fired 6 and two-thirds innings while allowing just 4 hits, making it his 32nd consecutive outing allowing six hits or fewer, setting the new MLB record.

Bryan Reynolds (OF), Pittsburgh Pirates

24-year-old switch-hitter Bryan Reynolds burst onto the major league scene in his debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 20th, and he has sustained a high level of play ever since. Leading his team in WAR, the outfielder is also hitting at a .318 clip, good for fifth in the senior circuit. While the National League Rookie of the Year race has been headlined by New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., Reynolds has quietly overtaken Tatis for second in rookie WAR rankings and has collected the third-most hits out of all rookies with 153.

Mike Yazstremski (OF), San Francisco Giants

Out of every Commodore playing in the majors this season, the San Francisco Giants Outfielder may have the most to live up to. After spending over six years in the minors, Yastrzemski, the grandson of Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, was promoted from AAA on May 25. Yaz has rattled off a solid first year for the Giants, slashing .272/.332/.519 and blasting 20 home runs, the most emotional of which coming on September 17th. That was the day that Yastremski made his debut at Fenway Park, the very stadium where his grandfather carved out his legacy 50 years earlier. The younger Yazstremski proceeded to club a 400+ foot home run to center field in the fifth inning, rounding the bases to an ovation from the home crowd.

These six, joined by Tyler Beede, Curt Casali, Ryan Flaherty, Carson Fulmer, Tony Kemp, Kyle Wright, David Price, Sam Selman and Drew VerHagen, are a testament to the strength of the Vanderbilt program. The VandyBoys continue to excel on the diamond, both in Nashville and beyond.