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Bulldogs Well Represented to Start 2020 MLB Season

Eight former Bulldogs start the 2020 MLB season on active rosters.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers-Workouts Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK via Imagn Content Services, LLC

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Eight former Mississippi State baseball players find themselves on 30-man active rosters for seven MLB teams to start the 2020 season, which has been condensed to 60 games.

The 2020 MLB season kicked off on Thursday evening with the Nationals hosting the Yankees and the Dodgers hosting the Giants. Friday’s Opening Day sees the other 26 clubs begin their pursuit of a World Series championship.

Bulldogs on opening day rosters include:

  • Adam Frazier (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Kendall Graveman (Seattle Mariners)
  • Jonathan Holder (New York Yankees)
  • Dakota Hudson (St. Louis Cardinals)
  • Mitch Moreland (Boston Red Sox)
  • Hunter Renfroe (Tampa Bay Rays)
  • Chris Stratton (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Brandon Woodruff (Milwaukee Brewers)

Active rosters will trim down to 28 players after two weeks, then to the final 26-man active roster two weeks later. All players added to teams’ 40-man or active rosters must first be on 60-man player pools.

Adam Frazier, a native of Bishop, Georgia, is expected to serve as the Pirate’s starting second baseman and occasional designated hitter. He recorded a career-high 154 hits 80 runs scored in 554 plate appearances a year ago. As a Bulldog, Frazier recorded 224 hits and owned a .348 average in 173 career games. He was also the 2012 SEC Tournament MVP and was a two-time SEC All-Tournament Selection. The Pirates took him with the 179th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Kendall Graveman is looking for a career restart after joining the Mariners on a one-year prove-it deal. Injuries have derailed Graveman’s career. He hasn’t pitched since May 2018 when he was with Oakland. He had hopes of getting a September call-up last season with the Chicago Cubs after spending the year rehabbing from surgery, but the call never came. His best year came in 2016 when the Alexander City, Alabama, native recorded 10 wins with a 4.11 ERA. As a Bulldog, Graveman owned a career record of 19-13 with a 3.69 ERA. He struck out 187 batters in 310 innings pitched. He was drafted by the Blue Jays with the 235th pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Jonathan Holder is beginning his fifth season as a member of the New York Yankees bullpen. The Gulfport, Mississippi, native made 34 appearances for New York in 2019 and owned a 10.02 strikeouts per nine innings average after striking out 46 batters in 41 13 innings. Holder recorded 37 saves in his three years at Mississippi State, including an SEC single-season saves record 21 saves in 2013. He was drafted in the sixth round (182nd overall) of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Yankees.

Dakota Hudson is entering his third season in the big leagues. He compiled the third-most wins by an NL pitcher in 2019 after earning 16 wins in 33 games (32 starts). He went 16-7 with a 3.35 ERA on the year. He will likely be the Cardinal’s No. 3 pitcher in the rotation. At Mississippi State, the Dunlap, Tennessee, native appeared in 40 games with 22 starts. He earned an 11-8 record with a 3.00 ERA. He struck out 151 batters in 147 innings pitched. The Cardinals took Hudson No. 34 overall in the 2016 MLB Draft.

Mitch Moreland is entering his 11th year in the big leagues. He has compiled 932 hits and 166 home runs on a career .251 batting average. In 2018, Moreland batted .245 with 99 hits, 68 RBIs, 57 runs and 15 home runs on his way to earning an All-Star bid and winning a World Series ring. A year ago, he was hottest hitter in the Red Sox lineup during the month of April. He hit five homers and knocked in 12 runs in the team’s first 13 games, but he was hampered by a pair of injuries, resulting in just 91 games played on the year. Healthy again, Moreland will look to extend streak of six straight seasons of at least 15 home runs. As a Bulldog, the Amory, Mississippi, native hit .343 with 10 home runs his junior season and went 2–0 on the mound with a 3.46 ERA. The Texas Rangers then took Moreland in the 17th round of the 2007 MLB draft.

Hunter Renfroe joins in Tampa Bay Rays for the 2020 season after an offseason trade sent him from San Diego to Tampa Bay. Entering his fifth season in the majors, Renfroe is coming off a year where he recorded a career-best 33 home runs to lead all San Diego Padres hitters. He also recorded 95 hits, 64 RBIs and 64 runs on a .216 batting average. In his career. the Crystal Springs, Mississippi, native has compiled 311 hits, 204 RBIs, 176 runs and 89 homers. At State, Renfroe hit .294 in 140 career games over his three seasons. He hit 20 home runs while driving in 92 runs and scoring 84 times. The Padres took Renfroe with the No. 13 pick in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Chris Stratton, a native of Tupelo, Mississippi, appeared in 35 games in 2019 (7 with the Angels, 28 with the Pirates), including five starts. He earned a 1-3 record with a 5.57 ERA. Stratton owns one double-digit victory season in his career from 2018 when he went 10-10 in 28 appearances. In his career, he has struck out 238 batters in 289 23 innings pitched. At Mississippi State, Stratton was SEC Pitcher of the Year in 2012, going 11-2 with a 2.39 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 109 innings pitched for the Bulldogs. He also won the C Spire Ferriss Trophy as Mississippi’s top collegiate baseball player. The San Francisco Giants took Stratton with the with the 20th overall selection in the 2012 MLB Draft.

Brandon Woodruff is tabbed as the Brewers’ Opening Day starter on the mound for Friday’s game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. This is Woodruff’s first Opening Day start in his career. The Wheeler, Mississippi, native put together an All-Star campaign in his first full season as a starter at the major league level in 2019, earning an 11-3 record with a 3.62 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 143 strikeouts in 121 23 innings. As a Bulldog, Woodruff went 3-6 with a 4.70 ERA in 34 career appearances (18 starts). He was drafted 326th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB Draft.

Four former Bulldogs, Nate Lowe (Tampa Bay Rays), Jack Kruger (Los Angeles Angels), Brent Rooker (Minnesota Twins) and Ethan Small (Milwaukee Brewers) are all among the players pool for their respective organizations. Lowe was a member of the Rays’ active roster in 2019, while Kruger, Rooker and Small and have the opportunity to make their big league debuts in 2020.