Widener Earns First MLB Call-Up; Seven Gamecocks Dot Opening Day Rosters
Taylor Widener becomes the 52nd Gamecock to make the Major Leagues.
The University of South Carolina will have seven alumni on Opening Day rosters as Major League Baseball will start the season tonight (Thursday, July 23) with the New York Yankees at the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
All seven players will start their season on Friday night. The 30 teams are playing a 60-game season with 10 games apiece against divisional foes and five games apiece against divisional team in the other league (AL East vs. NL East, etc.).
The list is highlighted by Taylor Widener (2014-16), who earns his first call to the majors as he made the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 30-man roster and will start the 2020 season in the bullpen. Widener and the D-Backs are at San Diego on Friday night. The Aiken, S.C., native was 4-2 with a 4.20 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 55.2 innings pitched his senior season in 2016. He had nine saves as a sophomore in 2015 and was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List. As a professional, Widener was named Arizona’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018.
Widener becomes the 52nd Gamecock to reach the Major Leagues.
Here are the other six Gamecocks who will dot rosters starting Friday night.
- Jackie Bradley Jr. (Boston Red Sox) Bradley will start his eighth year with the Red Sox Friday night against the Baltimore Orioles. He hit .387 in the combined Spring Training/Summer Camp with two doubles, two home runs and five RBI. Bradley is expected to be the starter in center field on Friday night.
- Grayson Greiner (Detroit Tigers) Greiner starts his third season with the Tigers on Friday at the Cincinnati Reds. He will platoon with Austin Romine this season behind the plate. He played in 58 games last season and had five home runs with 19 RBI.
- Whit Merrifield (Kansas City Royals) The 2019 All-Star will begin his season on Friday night at the Cleveland Indians. Merrifield had a pair of doubles, a triple and a home run in the combined Spring Training/Summer Camp. He is expected to lead off and play second base on Friday night.
- Justin Smoak (Milwaukee Brewers) Smoak begins his first season with the Brewers on Friday night at the Chicago Cubs. Smoak, an 11-year veteran in the league, comes over to Milwaukee after five years with the Toronto Blue Jays. Smoak should see a lot of time at first base for the Brewers in 2020.
- Christian Walker (Arizona Diamondbacks) Walker begins his fourth season with the Diamondbacks Friday night at the San Diego Padres. Walker hit .263 in Spring Training/Summer Camp with a double, a triple and a pair of RBI. Walker should start at first base for the Diamondbacks on Friday.
- Tyler Webb (St. Louis Cardinals) Webb starts his second full season with the Cardinals Friday night at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Webb had nine strikeouts in six innings this Spring Training/Summer Camp in six appearances on the mound. Webb will be a lefty bullpen arm for the Cardinals in 2020.
Also, Jordan Montgomery is not on the Opening Day roster for the New York Yankees but will be added in the next couple of days and should be in the rotation. The Yankees optioned Montgomery to the Alternate Training site to add a bullpen arm for the first couple of games.
There also are four Gamecocks that will be working out in the Alternate Training site of the organization.
- Wil Crowe (Washington Nationals)
- Tyler Johnson (Chicago White Sox)
- Clarke Schmidt (New York Yankees)
- Max Schrock (St. Louis Cardinals)
Schmidt earned the James P. Dawson Award, given to the Yankees’ outstanding rookie in training camp, on Tuesday (July 21).