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Cavaliers in the MLB: Checking in on All the Former Hoos in the Pros

See how each former UVA baseball player in the MLB is doing in the 2022 season
Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Chris Taylor (3) runs after hitting a double against the New York Mets during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium.

Chris Taylor - Los Angeles Dodgers

Let’s take a look at the former Virginia Cavaliers playing in the MLB this season and how their professional careers are going (in order of when they attended UVA). Statistics are as of June 28th.

Sean Doolittle (2005-2007)

Draft pick: 41st overall by the Oakland Athletics in 2007

MLB debut: June 5th, 2012

Sean Doolittle has played 11 seasons in the MLB so far. After being drafted by the Oakland Athletics, he played five complete seasons there before being traded in the middle of the sixth season to the Washington Nationals. With the Nationals, Doolittle pitched from 2017-2020 and was a part of the 2019 World Series Championship team. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 2021, but joined the Seattle Mariners later in the season after the team claimed him off of waivers. Finally, in 2022, Doolittle signed a one-year deal with Nationals, but he has been limited to just 5.1 innings pitched as he has been on the IL since late April with a sprained elbow.

In his career, Doolittle has appeared in 463 games and holds a 26-24 record with a 3.20 ERA. He has 112 career saves in 138 opportunities, good for a 81.2% save percentage. He has 522 career strikeouts compared to 103 career walks, and has a 1.01 WHIP. Known for his high fastball, Doolittle has thrown his fastball over 80% of the time in his career.

Doolittle is a two-time All-Star, earning spots in 2014 in the American League and 2018 in the National League. He was also the NL Reliever of the Month in September of 2017. In 2018, Doolittle received the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award, given to someone who embodies the spirit of Bob Feller, who gave up his MLB career to enlist after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Widely known for his philanthropic efforts, this recognition was a significant moment for Doolittle. 

Phil Gosselin (2008-2010)

Draft pick: 164th overall by the Atlanta Braves in 2010

MLB debut: August 16th, 2013

Phil Gosselin has played for seven different teams in his ten-year MLB career. Gosselin has played for the Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, and Los Angeles Angels at some point, often for just a short period of time as he has also spent time in the minor leagues for different organizations.

In 2019, Gosselin declared free agency and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was mostly a pinch hitter and occasional starter for the Phillies during the 2019 and 2020 seasons. In 2021, he joined the Los Angeles Angels and played in 104 games that season, the most usage since he played in 122 games in 2016. He was non-tendered at the end of the season, signed a minor league contract with the Braves in 2022, and was brought up to the majors on June 14th.

Gosselin has a .277 career batting average in the minor leagues across 3,050 at-bats. In the majors, he has 1,044 career at-bats and has hit .261 with a .673 OPS, 133 runs, and 101 RBI. While he is primarily a second baseman, Gosselin has also played first base, third base, shortstop, left field, and right field in his career, so he has moved around both the field and the country in his career. He holds a .981 career fielding percentage.

Chris Taylor (2010-2012)

Draft pick: 161st overall by the Seattle Mariners in 2012

MLB debut: July 24th, 2014

In Chris Taylor’s nine year career, he has proven himself as the ultimate utility player. He has played six different positions at the highest level, and has logged over 700 innings at four of those positions. In order from his most experience to least, Taylor has played shortstop, left field, center field, second base, third base, and right field.

This utility has come in handy throughout his career. Taylor became an everyday player with the Seattle Mariners at the end of the 2014 season. An injury in 2015 led him to spending most of the 2015 and 2016 seasons in the minors, and he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016. While Taylor didn’t make the official roster at the end of spring training in 2017, he was called up in mid-April, which became the start of his extremely successful tenure with the Dodgers.

Taylor played in over 120 games in each of the seasons between 2017 and 2019, as manager Dave Roberts could start him in any of his six positions. He played five positions in 2017, four in 2018, and six in 2019, while putting up solid hitting numbers on one of the best teams in baseball. He was CO-MVP of the 2017 NLCS along with Justin Turner after hitting .316 in the series with two home runs and five runs scored.

In 2020, Taylor signed a two-year contract extension with the Dodgers. He played in 56 of the 60 total games in the shortened season, and became a World Series champion as the Dodgers brought home the trophy. He earned an NL All-Star spot in 2021 as he continued to rise in fame, and then after the 2021 season, he re-signed with the Dodgers on a four-year, $60 million contract.

With 2,637 career major league at-bats, Taylor has hit .260 with 85 career home runs, 407 runs, 336 RBI, 64 stolen bases, and a .777 OPS. He also boasts a .968 career fielding percentage, which is impressive considering how much he has moved around the field.

Josh Sborz (2013-2015)

Draft pick: 74th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015

MLB debut: June 20th, 2019

Josh Sborz pitched in the minor leagues for four seasons before getting his shot in the majors in 2019, appearing in seven games. After mostly working at the alternate training site during the 2020 season, Sborz was traded to the Texas Rangers in 2021. He had a solid year with a 4-3 record and a 3.97 ERA in 63 appearances in relief and 59 total innings.

In 2022, Sborz went to the 10-day IL just a few weeks into the season after making the opening day roster. Since his recovery, he has come back to join the Texas Rangers for brief stints and then returned to the Triple A affiliate after struggling with his command. Most recently, he was called up on June 26th and pitched a scoreless inning against the Nationals the same day, registering three strikeouts. In his career he has a 4.90 ERA in 82.2 innings.

Matt Thaiss (2014-2016)

Draft pick: 16th overall by the Los Angeles Angels in 2016

MLB debut: July 3rd, 2019

Matt Thaiss got his first look at the 2022 MLB season on Tuesday, after being called up on Monday to join the Angels’ roster after a number of suspensions from a weekend game brawl with the Mariners. He has 176 at-bats of experience in the majors and holds a .199 career average. He has been limited to 12 appearances in major league games since he played in 53 in 2019, so we will see if Thaiss will get to stay on the roster as the players return from their suspensions.

Adam Haseley (2015-2017)

Draft pick: 8th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017

MLB debut: June 4th, 2019

Adam Haseley spent just two years in the minors before making his major league debut and then played in 67 games for the Phillies as an outfielder. He played 40 games in 2020, but was limited to just nine games with the Phillies in 2021, missing time due to an injury and for personal reasons. He was traded to the Chicago White Sox before the 2022 season and has spent the majority of the season in the minors, but was called up on June 19th and is 2-8 at the plate since then. Haseley has 340 career at-bats and has hit .262 with a .686 OPS.

Ernie Clement (2015-2017)

Draft pick: 132nd overall by the Cleveland Guardians in 2017

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MLB debut: June 13th, 2021

A member of the 2015 National Championship team, Ernie Clement spent three years in the minors within the Guardians’ organization. He didn’t play in 2020 because the COVID-19 pandemic caused the minor league season to be canceled. In 2021, Clement made his MLB debut and bounced back and forth between the majors and minors in that season. A special day came on August 14th, when Clement hit his first and second career home runs in the same game. In 2022, Clement has played in 43 games so far out of the 71 the Guardians have played.

As another utility player, he has seen time in the majors at six total positions, but primarily at second base, third base, and left field with a .978 career fielding percentage. In an 11-1 loss to the Twins on Tuesday, he even took the mound for an inning for his seventh position on the field. At the plate, Clement has 227 MLB at-bats with a .211 average, .550 OPS, 28 runs and 14 RBI.

Pavin Smith (2015-2017)

Draft pick: 7th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017

MLB debut: September 12th, 2020

Pavin Smith is another member of the 2015 National Championship team, and he was a highly touted prospect after going seventh overall in the draft. He has spent his entire career within the Diamondbacks organization, playing in the minors from 2017-2019 and then the majors from 2020 on. He made his MLB debut late in the 2020 season, had his first hit in the same game, and then his first home run two weeks later.

For the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Smith has played in almost every game for the Diamondbacks. He plays all three outfield positions and first base, but spends most of his time in right field and first base and holds a .992 career fielding percentage.

Pavin has a .250 career batting average and a .709 OPS with 33 doubles, 21 home runs, 84 RBI, and 95 runs in 748 total at-bats. On Sunday, he had a four-hit game, capping a .304 average in his past seven games.

Bennett Sousa (2015-2018)

Draft pick: 288th overall by the Chicago White Sox in 2018

MLB debut: April 8th, 2022

The third professional player of the National Championship team to play in the majors this season, Bennett Sousa made his MLB debut two months ago after three seasons in the minors (excluding the 2020 season). In the different levels of the White Sox organization, the lefty reliever appeared in 106 games with 149.2 innings pitched and a 2.59 ERA. He had 17 saves on 21 chances and had 190 strikeouts to just 40 walks.

In the 2022 season, Sousa has pitched 20.1 innings and holds a 8.41 ERA. He has struggled with command, issuing ten walks, but that happens to a lot of new relievers. While he was optioned back to the Charlotte Knights on June 14th, he could have another chance to prove himself down the stretch of the season.

Daniel Lynch (2016-2018)

Draft pick: 34th overall by the Kansas City Royals in 2018

MLB debut: May 3rd, 2021

Daniel Lynch has worked his way up through the minor league levels to land with the Royals as a starting pitcher. He dominated in the rookie and A level leagues and holds a minor league record of 15-6 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.31 WHIP.

Lynch has a record of 7-13 with the Royals in 28 career starts. He has a 5.33 overall ERA, but has lowered it from 5.69 in 2021 to 4.95 in 2022. His two most recent starts have been great, as he struck out ten and gave up one run in five innings against the Athletics on June 17th, and then had five strikeouts and one earned run in 4 ⅔ innings against the Angels. Lynch was placed on the 15-day IL retroactive to June 23rd with a left index finger blister, but hopefully he will return soon and continue his recent trend.

Jake McCarthy (2016-2018)

Draft pick: 39th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018

MLB debut: August 27th, 2021

Jake McCarthy was named an MiLB All-Star in 2018 after going 39th overall in the draft. He has a .283 average in the minors after playing part or all of four different seasons in the minors. He also has a .847 OPS, 25 home runs, 149 runs, and 128 RBI in 840 at-bats.

After getting the call in late August 2021, McCarthy finished out the season with the Diamondbacks, appearing in 24 games. In 2022, he has bounced between Triple A and the majors, with 79 at-bats with the Diamondbacks and 98 at-bats with their Triple A affiliate, the Reno Aces. McCarthy was with the team for most of April before getting optioned on April 25th. He was recalled and then played with the team from May 20th-June 14th before being optioned again.

McCarthy is in a crowded field of outfielders on the Diamondbacks, including Virginia teammate Pavin Smith, so he has done a lot of traveling this season. While he has been in the majors, he has hit .225 with a .696 OPS in 138 career at-bats. 

Who will be next?

As of now, there are 31 former Cavaliers playing professional baseball at some level in the MLB. While some have yet to make an appearance in the 2022 season, there are several ascending the ranks and a few who are just one phone call away. Alec Bettinger (Milwaukee Brewers) and Tommy Doyle (Colorado Rockies) are both on the 40-man roster and are the most likely candidates to join the 11 Hoos who have played in the majors this season. Hopefully, we will see more former UVA baseball stars make it to the Big Show and represent the Cavaliers at the highest level. 

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