Cullowhee, N.C. - Two former Western Carolina Catamount baseball players recently embarked on their professional careers. Jeremy Null, who was drafted on the second day of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, was assigned to his first two minor league teams while former pitcher Jordan Smith inked a contract with
Smith Signs with the Detroit Tigers
Former Western Carolina right-handed pitcher Jordan Smith has signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers. His next step was to report to Lakeland, Fla., home of the Tigers' Gulf Coast Rookie League team.
According to available research, Smith is the first Catamount baseball player to be signed by the Tigers. However, former WCU pitcher - and Hall of Fame member - Jason Beverlin played in the Major Leagues with the Tigers franchise during the 2002 season.
Smith, a native of Liberty, N.C., finished his Catamount pitching career as the program's all-time leader in career games started (59) and career innings pitched (374.2). He became just the fourth different Catamount pitcher to eclipse the 300 innings pitched plateau. The four-year starter finished fourth on WCU's career strikeout ledger with 291 career K's including a career-best 82 during his senior season helping him land on the post-season All-Southern Conference squad.
In 61 career appearances, Smith won 25 games with a collective ERA of 3.87, limiting opponents to a .262 career batting average against as a collegian.
Former Catamount slugger and current baseball scout, Grant Brittain - who signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves after the 1990 season - was critical in helping Smith earn the professional contract.
Null Assigned, Promoted in Cubs Organization
After a rehabilitation stint after being drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 15th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, former Catamount right-hander Jeremy Null recently made professional debut. The Claremont, N.C., native made two appearances with the Cubs' Arizona League rookie-league squad before joining the Class A short-season Boise (Idaho) Hawks in the Northwest League.
With the AZL Cubs, Null made two appearances - his first coming on July 27 - tossing an inning both times out with a strikeout. He made his debut with the Hawks on Aug. 2 before the career-long of his fledgling career with a two-inning outing on Aug. 8 against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, fanning two in scoreless, two-hit relief. Currently, Null has a 3.00 ERA in Boise.
Through three seasons, Null posted a 3.70 ERA with 265 career strikeouts in 265.0 career innings pitched. He was a three-time national Player of the Week including twice as a sophomore, and also earned National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) National Pitcher of the Week following the 2014 opening weekend victory over nationally-ranked Mississippi State.
Updates on Former Catamounts in Professional Baseball
Jared Burton - Minnesota Twins, American League Central:
This season, Burton has a 2-2 record with a 4.30 ERA through 50 games ... the middle reliever has one save in one opportunity, scattering 43 hits with 34 strikeouts against 18 walks ... Has pitched in 349 career games with eight saves in 343.0 combined innings with a career record of 17-16 ... Has amassed 293 career strikeouts in the Majors ... Burton was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the eighth round of the 2002 MLB First-Year Player Draft ... He was later selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft in 2006 ... the Reds released Burton prior to 2012 spring training where he made the squad with the Minnesota Twins ... Made his Major League debut on April 4, 2007.
Greg Holland - Kansas City Royals, American League Central:
Through 46.2 seasonal innings pitched in 48 appearances, boasts a 1.74 ERA with 69 strikeouts against 14 walks ... Currently tied for the lead in the American League for saves with 35 - one shy of the Majors lead of 36 held by Francisco Rodriquez of Milwaukee ... For his MLB career, Holland is 14-9 with 102 saves a 2.29 ERA and 360 career strikeouts ... Holland has been both a Pacific Coast League (PCL) Pitcher of the Week (7/26/2010) and Texas League Mid-season All-Star (2009) with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals ... He was an American League All-Star in both 2013 and 2014 ... Holland was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 10th round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft ... Made his Major League debut on August 2, 2010.
Matt Benedict, Altoona Curve (Double-A - Eastern League):
The fourth-year professional is back with the squad in which he opened the 2014 season, the Altoona Curve ... He has bounced between three teams this year, including the rookie-league Bristol Pirates and the Bradenton Marauders in Florida ... With Altoona, has appeared in 29 games with one start, tossing 42.2 innings with an 0-5 record and a 7.17 combined ERA ... Has 26 strikeouts against 23 walks ... For his career, the St. Petersburg, Fla., native has pitched in 100 games with a 12-29 overall record and a 4.79 collective ERA and 183 strikeouts ... Benedict was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 30th-round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft ... Was a 2012 South Atlantic League Mid-Season All-Star with the West Virginia Power
Julian Ridings, Bowling Green Hot Rods (Class A - Midwest League):
After opening the 2014 season with the Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Class A Advanced, Florida State League, Ridings is currently in the Class A Midwest League ... With Charlotte, the Shelby, N.C., product was batting .272 (28-for-103) with five doubles, four triples and two home runs and eight runs driven in ... In 23 games with Bowling Green, he is currently batting .291 with three doubles, a triple and a homer with eight RBI ... Ridings was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Tyler White, Lancaster JetHawks (Class A Advanced - California League):
Opened his second professional season with the Class A Midwest League Quad Cities River Bandits where he was batting .305 in 71 games played with 20 doubles, a triple and seven home runs with 41 RBI before earning the promotion ... In 24 games with the JetHawks, is batting .266 (25-for-94) with eight doubles, a triple and three home runs, driving in eight runs and scoring 13 ... Over the past two years, has played in 161 games in the minors with a career batting average of .306 with 42 doubles, two triples and 16 homers ... White was selected by the Houston Astros in the 33rd round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Adam Martin, Everett AquaSox (Class A Short Season - Northwest League):
Through 43 games played, is batting .250 as a professional with 37 hits in 148 at bats including nine doubles and five home runs ... Has scored 18 runs with 18 RBI ... Was selected to the Northwest League's All-Star game back on Aug. 5 ... Martin was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 10th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Aaron Attaway, Bluefield Blue Jays (Rookie League - Appalachian League):
Has played in 26 games this season with a .175 batting average, collecting 10 hits in 57 at bats including two doubles and a pair of triples ... Collected his first professional base hit on June 29, 2014 ... Has five RBI with a sacrifice fly, and he has been plunked by a pitch four times ... Attaway was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 20th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft.