Jordan Christiansen | Posted: 16 Oct 2018 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Cougars in the Pros: 2018 Recap

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PROVO, Utah - This past season, 11 former BYU baseball players played professional baseball at all levels of the MLB farm system, including pitcher Taylor Cole who made 18 appearances this year in the majors. 

 

Check out the individual player summaries below to read how each alum performed, including Q&As with Maverik Buffo, David Clawson, Jacob Hannemann and Daniel Schneemann about their experiences.

 

Taylor Cole

Years in Pros: 8

Level: MLB

Team: Los Angeles Angels

Year at BYU: 2011

 

The 2018 season marked the best year yet for Taylor Cole, a right-handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. Cole totaled 18 appearances this past year, including two starts, going 4-2 with a 2.75 ERA, 36.0 IP and 39 strikeouts.

 

After playing the first two months of the season with the Salt Lake Bees, the Angels’ AAA affiliate, Cole was called up to the majors in June and saw his first action of the year at Baltimore, pitching three shutout innings with two strikeouts.

 

Cole made his first major league start on August 12 against Oakland and picked up the first win of his MLB career at Texas on Sept. 3. He would go on to earn three more wins in September highlighted by a victory over Oakland on September 28 when Cole pitched 2.1 innings and had a career-high five strikeouts.

 

After playing one season with the Cougars in 2011, Cole was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. He reached AA by 2014 and led the minor leagues with 181 strikeouts that year.

 

After starting the 2017 season in AAA, Cole finally received his call to the majors in August and was thrown into the fire for the first time in a home game against the New York Yankees. Coming on in relief, Cole pitched one inning and earned his first big league strikeout against Aaron Judge on a 3-2 count to end the eighth inning.

 

Cole broke his toe and was placed on the DL to finish the season. After becoming a free agent, he signed with Los Angeles in March.

 

Jaycob Brugman

Years in Pros:  6

Level: Class AAA

Team: Norfolk Tides

Parent Club: Baltimore Orioles

Years at BYU: 2011-13

 

After spending most of his career with the Oakland Athletics’ program, including 48 games in 2017 in the majors, Brugman was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in November 2017. After participating in spring training with the Orioles in February, Brugman has played for Baltimore’s AAA and AA affiliates this year. Brugman finished 2018 with a .250 average, recording 66 hits, 42 runs, 11 doubles, three triples and eight home runs.

 

Last year Brugman made a name for himself with multiple highlight-reel catches during his time with the A’s. The outfielder also batted .266 with 38 hits, 12 runs, two doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI.

 

Jacob Hannemann

Years in Pros: 6

Level: Class AAA

Team: Iowa Cubs

Parent Club: Chicago Cubs

Year at BYU: 2013

 

After playing most of five years with the Chicago Cubs organization after being drafted by the program in 2013, Hannemann was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners in September 2017 and played 11 games in the big leagues. The Cubs picked Hannemann back up before the 2018 campaign and assigned him to their AAA affiliate in Iowa. This year he batted .238 with 89 hits, 44 runs, six home runs and 32 RBI. Hannemann also led the team with 22 stolen bases.

 

He recently took time to answer questions about his experiences:

 

How has the professional baseball life, particularly in the minors, been for you?

Life in the minors is a lot more difficult than I thought. It’s been an adventure though, a love-hate relationship, but I’m grateful for the opportunities. It’s a rollercoaster ride sometimes.

 

It’s nice to have the support from my wife, Shayli, and now my son Jax who was born in January 2017. They are so good when I go on the road for periods of time. There are not a lot of off days, but we make it work as a family thanks to Shayli’s constant support. We definitely have fun, exciting times and are grateful for those moments we will remember.

 

What do you like most about playing professionally? What do you like the least?

Every level you go up it gets a little better! You stay in nicer hotels, have better food, they pack your bags for you, etc. My favorite part is playing at home where I can be with my family and spend time with them before and after days at the park. Obviously playing well and having it come easy almost is nice, too. My least favorite is when I’m struggling and the game seems like a foreign language or a hard math problem I can’t figure out.

 

How did you find out about your call up to the majors?

I found out during the last game of the 2017 minor league season. I was on deck and they pulled me out of the game to tell me the Mariners picked me up and that I was going to the show! It was a little surreal and intimidating sometimes being up with the best players in the world. We had a great time over there, learned a lot and were excited and grateful for the opportunity. I miss playing with them and being up there so it makes me feel more motivated to get back up there! 

 

How has BYU help you succeed in your career?

BYU is where I met my wife so I will always be grateful for that! But the baseball and football teams did so much by giving me the opportunity to play and giving me the exposure. They had great coaches who believed in me and gave me multiple shots and opportunities to succeed, especially when I was struggling just coming off a mission.

 

Adam Law

Years in Minors: 6

Level: Class AAA

Team: Tacoma Rainiers

Parent Club: Seattle Mariners

Years at BYU: 2009, 2012-13

 

After advancing up the through the system since being drafted by the Dodgers in 2013, Adam Law reached AAA ball for the first time in 2018, playing 62 games for the Tacoma Rainiers. Law started the season in AA with the Arkansas Travelers before being called up for 10 games in late May and early June.

 

After heading back to the Travelers for 11 games, Law was sent back up to Rainiers where he spent the remaining two months of the season. All told, Law batted .253 with 97 hits, including 24 doubles, in 111 games.

 

KSL.com wrote a story in August about Law’s quest to reach the majors.

 

Brennon Lund

Years in Minors: 3

Level: Class AA

Team: Mobile BayBears

Parent Club: Los Angeles Angels

 

Drafted in 2016, outfielder Brennon Lund has advanced quickly up the Angels’ system and is currently listed as the 17th-best prospect in the organization. This past season, Lund led the BayBears with 106 hits, six triples and 21 stolen bases and second with 20 doubles, 59 RBI and 162 total bases.

 

MiLB.com wrote the following in their roundup of top prospects:

 

“If everything continues to click for Lund, he could be the type of hitter who helps set the table at the top of a lineup. He typically has a solid approach at the plate, making consistent line-drive contact and drawing walks to get on base….He is a very good runner who knows how to steal a base. That speed also serves him well defensively, where he's shown he can handle all three outfield positions.”

 

Kolton Mahoney

Years in Minors: 4

Level: Class AA

Team: Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp

Parent Club: Miami Marlins

 

Now in his fourth year, Kolton Mahoney got his first tastes of AA and AAA ball this season in the Marlins’ system pitching for two of the best-named teams in the minors: the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and the New Orleans Baby Cakes.

 

Mahoney played the majority of the season with Jacksonville and was third on the team with 29 appearances and fifth with 67 strikeouts. The right-hander pitched one game for the Baby Cakes on June 30 before returning to AA.

 

Michael Rucker

Years in Minors: 3

Level: Class AA

Team: Tennessee Smokies

Parent Club: Chicago Cubs

 

Michael Rucker spent the entire 2018 season pitching for the Tennessee Smokies in AA. Rucker led the team with nine wins and 118 strikeouts. His strikeout total and 3.73 ERA were ninth in the Southern League overall.

 

Tabbed as the 13th-best prospect in the Cubs’ farm system, MiLB.com wrote the following about Rucker:

 

Rucker might have the best fastball command in the system, enhancing the effectiveness of a 91-94 mph fastball that reaches 96. He has improved his curveball since turning pro, giving him a solid second pitch. His changeup is more of a work in progress but there are games when it works as well as his curve. After initially looking like he might advance quickly as a bullpen piece, Rucker now is a potential back-of-the-rotation starter. He's not overly physical but keeps his pitch counts down, allowing him to work deep into games. Out of nowhere, he has become one of Chicago's most advanced starting-pitching prospects.

 

Maverik Buffo

Years in Minors: 2

Level: Class A Advanced

Team: Dunedin Blue Jays

Parent Club: Toronto Blue Jays

 

Maverik Buffo started his second year in the minors with the Blue Jays’ Class A affiliate. He saw time in 16 games, including 14 starts, going 9-3 with a 4.25 ERA and 62 strikeouts. In early July, Buffo got the call up to Dunedin Blue Jays where he made 11 starts, going 3-4 with a 6.12 ERA and 48 strikeouts.

 

Buffo answered a few questions about his experiences:

 

What’s the same and what’s different from what you expected the minors to be?

I knew life in the minors wasn't going to be an easy life, but I have enjoyed it so far. The big thing for me is it's a lot more hotels than I expected. But overall I really love it. I'm happy with where I'm at and just trying to make the best of it and just keep chasing my dream.

 

What do you like most about playing professionally? What do you like the least?

My least favorite part is probably the travel part. It’s a lot of time on the bus and I’m too big to fit in the seats so it's kind of rough! My favorite parts are my teammates and my time on the mound and in the field with them. I'm surrounded by some pretty amazing guys; we just are a bunch of kids enjoying a game!

 

How did you find out about your call up to Dunedin?

I was in our weight room getting a workout in and my pitching coach came in. He told me to come into his office when I was done with my workout and he seemed really mad. So I finished my workout and went in; he was acting like he was all mad and was being sketchy, but then he started laughing and told me to go into the manager’s office. I walked in and they told me they were proud of me and that I had just earned a promotion to Dunedin! Pretty cool experience!

 

How has BYU help you succeed in your career?

BYU coaches were a huge part in my success. They taught me drive and determination and just the want and the will to win. It was a great competitive atmosphere there and I just try to carry that same attitude in everything I do, especially on the field.

 

Colton Shaver

Years in Minors: 2

Level: Class A Advanced

Team: Buies Creek Astros

Parent Club: Houston Astros

 

After competing in the Rookie and Short A levels last year following the draft, third baseman Colton Shaver started 2018 with the Astros’ Class A squad. In 95 games, Shaver batted .223 with 73 hits, 44 runs, 18 doubles, 15 home runs and 34 walks. All told, Shaver was first on the Quad City River Bandits in runs, doubles, home runs and RBI and second on the team in hits and total bases.

 

Shaver’s performance was good enough to get the call up to the Buies Creek Astros in Class A Advanced for 12 games to end the season, helping Buies Creek win the Carolina League title.

 

David Clawson

Years in Minors: 1

Level: Rookie

Team: Orem Owlz

Parent Club: Los Angeles Angels

 

Catcher David Clawson became the third Cougar to join the Angels’ organization after being drafted in the 37th round earlier this year. Clawson jumped in, batting .297 with 19 hits and 13 RBI in 64 games. He was then called up to the Pioneer League where he returned to Utah County to play for the Orem Owlz for the last few weeks of the season. Clawson played in 14 games, picking up nine hits, including two doubles.

 

Clawson talked about his first year playing professionally:

 

How was your first year?

Life in the minors was really fun! I loved it. The Angels hitting philosophy is very advanced and helped me a lot. I got to work with former major leaguer Jose Molina all summer who really helped me develop my catching skills.

 

What do you like most about playing professionally? What do you like the least?

My favorite part was being able to play baseball every single day and to be able to really take time and develop my individual skill set. My least favorite was the Arizona heat – 115 degrees every day.

 

What did you learn from the experience?

I learned a lot from my first professional season. You learn quickly that there is a lot of talent out there. I also learned how to share the gospel with the boys on my team.

 

How did you find out about your call up to Orem?

After a game, the coaches pulled me into their office and told me I had been called up to Orem. It was really quite bittersweet. I absolutely loved my coaches and teammates in the AZL. Not gonna lie, there were a couple tears shed leaving them. It was fun to come back and play in Orem in front of the home crowd.

 

How has BYU help you succeed in your career?

BYU helped me grow and mature and taught me self-discipline. I had a lot of fun and made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. I will never forget my freshman season when we won the West Coast Conference, won the WCC Tournament, and qualified for the NCAA Stanford Regional. It was a very special team and I will always be grateful for those memories.

 

Daniel Schneemann

Years in Minors: 1

Level: Class A

Team: Lake County Captains

Parent Club: Cleveland Indians

 

Drafted in the 33rd round this past year, Daniel Schneemann immediately joined the Indians’ Rookie team where he batted .206 with 28 hits, 30 runs, 22 walks and 14 RBI. The 2017 WCC Defensive Player of the Year was then called up to the Lake County Captains in Class A where he saw time in two games before the season closed.

 

Schneemann reflected on his experiences:

 

What’s the same and what’s different from what you expected the minors to be?

It was very similar to how I thought it was going to be. I talked with a lot of friends of mine that were in the minors the year before, so they kind of prepared me for what it was going to be like. The only difference was that I was playing in the Arizona League and the bus rides aren’t long at all and we don’t play as many games. I think I will get the more real minor league experience this next year.

 

What do you like most about playing professionally? What do you like the least?

Honestly, I didn’t really have any least favorite parts. My favorite was getting to play every day. If you have one bad game you have to get over it quick because you get to play the next day and I liked that.

 

What did you learn from the experience?

The biggest thing I learned was how to control my emotions. You play every single day so you have to learn how to stay even-keeled. If you let bad games get to you it’s going be a long year because you play every single day. Everyone has bad games but the best players move on and stay positive.

 

How has BYU helped you succeed in your career?

Playing baseball at BYU prepared me for every aspect of pro ball. They helped me develop all my tools and learn how to play the game the right way. All my coaches helped me become the best player I could be. I loved playing at BYU and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

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