Jeff Samardzija turned in a pair of outstanding starts to get back on track at the end of the first half of the MLB season for the Chicago White Sox.

Program Alums Continue To Impress

July 15, 2015

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – As the 2015 professional baseball season hits its midpoint, it’s time to take a look back at some of the impressive first-half performances from former University of Notre Dame diamond standouts. During the opening months of the season, the Irish have had five Major Leaguers on active rosters and eight minor leaguers working towards their MLB shot.

Highlighting the MLB season thus far is A.J. Pollock’s spectacular campaign that resulted in his first appearance in the MLB All-Star Game.

In the minors, Trey Mancini has been lighting up Double-A after receiving the call-up in mid-June, and Cole Johnson is in Triple-A with the Rochester Red Wings after earning a promotion in mid-June.

At the managerial level, two former Irish connections took over organizations in 2015, as Craig Counsell (ND player, 1989-92) was tasked with leading the Milwaukee Brewers and Pat Murphy (ND coach, 1988-94) was placed in control of the San Diego Padres on an interim basis.

Counsell took over for fired manager Ron Roenicke May 4 and has led Milwaukee to a 31-34 record after the team started the year 7-18. The Brewers are 38-52 overall and in last place in the National League’s Central Division. Counsell signed a multi-year contract upon agreeing to become the Brewers’ manager in May.

Murphy, who coached Counsell during all four years the latter was at Notre Dame, was tabbed the interim manager June 17 after Bud Black was fired with a 32-33 record. The Padres are 9-16 under Murphy and sit in fourth place in the N.L.’s West Division (41-49).

The mentor and the pupil will face off for two series during the second half of the season. San Diego comes to Milwaukee for a four-game slate August 3-6 before the Brewers return the favor September 29-October 1 for a three-game series.

Below are some of the highlights of the 2015 season’s first half:


– His first appearance in the MLB All-Star Game highlighted the opening half of former Domer A.J. Pollock’s fourth season in the league ââ’¬¦ the Hebron, Connecticut native entered in the seventh inning of the midsummer classic July 14 and recorded one out in the field before tallying an at-bat ââ’¬¦ he was selected for the game by his fellow baseball players following an outstanding first half of 2015 that saw Pollock boast a split of .299/.350/.464 while totaling career highs in homers (11), RBI (42) and stolen bases (19) to go along with 18 doubles, two triples, 27 walks and 58 runs scored ââ’¬¦ Pollock played at Notre Dame from 2007-09 and was the 17th overall selection in the 2009 MLB Draft.

– After getting traded from the Oakland A’s to the Chicago White Sox in the offseason, former Notre Dame two-sport star Jeff Samardzija has shown improvement throughout the season ââ’¬¦ he boasts a 6-4 record with a 4.02 ERA in 18 starts and 125.1 innings of work ââ’¬¦ Samardzija has 102 strikeouts to just 23 walks in 2015 ââ’¬¦ in his last two starts, the Valparaiso, Indiana product has allowed one earned run, seven hits and three walks over 16.2 innings of work including tossing a complete-game shutout in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays ââ’¬¦ after playing football for four years at Notre Dame and baseball for three, Samardzija was drafted 149th overall (5th Round) in the 2006 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs.

David Phelps heard his name announced in a trade in December that sent him from the New York Yankees to the Miami Marlins ââ’¬¦ in 2015, Phelps is 4-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 18 appearances (14 starts) and 88.2 innings of work ââ’¬¦ he has struck out 60 and walked 23 ââ’¬¦ his last three appearances (10.1 IP) have seen him allow just one earned run while scattering five hits and two walks (7 SO’s) ââ’¬¦ Phelps spent three years at Notre Dame from 2006-08 before being selected 440th overall (14th Round) in the 2008 MLB Draft by the Yankees.

– After bouncing around from team to team over the last couple of years, Jeff Manship has found success in Cleveland ââ’¬¦ in five appearances (8.0 IP), Manship has a 1.13 ERA ââ’¬¦ opponents are hitting just .083 and he has six strikeouts compared to two walks ââ’¬¦ Manship played at Notre Dame for three years (2005-06) and was the 426th pick (14th Round) in 2006 by the Minnesota Twins.

– A seven-year veteran, John Axford is having a bounce-back 2015 season for the Colorado Rockies ââ’¬¦ after totaling just 20 saves since posting 35 in 2012, Axford has 16 in 17 opportunities this year ââ’¬¦ he boasts a 1-2 record and 2.36 ERA in 29 games (26.2 IP) ââ’¬¦ Axford played three years at Notre Dame (2002-04) before wrapping up his career at Canisius ââ’¬¦ he was drafted in 2005 by the Cincinnati Reds with the 1,259th pick (42nd Round).


– The prospect closest to making a move to MLB might be former Irish starter and team co-captain Cole Johnson ââ’¬¦ after beginning the year in the Southern League with the Chattanooga Lookouts and posting a 3.18 ERA in 18 games (28.1 IP), Johnson earned a promotion to the Rochester Red Wings of the International League (Triple-A) midway through the year ââ’¬¦ so far in Triple-A the Hudson, Ohio native has a 3.18 ERA in seven appearances (11.1 IP) for the Red Wings ââ’¬¦ after playing four years with the Irish (2008-11), Johnson went in the 44th round of the 2011 MLB Draft to the Twins.

– A breakout star to watch in the coming months, Trey Mancini has found his stride in Double-A since being called up earlier this season ââ’¬¦ after posting a solid split of .314/.341/.527 with 14 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 32 RBI and 28 runs scored in 52 games at A Advanced for the Fredrick Keys, the Winter Haven, Florida native earned a promotion to Double-A and the Bowie Baysox ââ’¬¦ in 32 games for Bowie, Mancini has been simply outstanding, posting a split of .341/.366/.577 with nine doubles, a triple, six homers, 21 RBI and 21 runs scored in 32 games ââ’¬¦ Mancini earned Carolina League Player of the Month honors for Frederick in May before tallying Eastern League Player of the Week accolades for Bowie June 22 ââ’¬¦ Mancini played three years for the Irish (2011-13) before going in the eighth round of the 2013 MLB Draft to the Baltimore Orioles ââ’¬¦ he is the Orioles 23rd ranked prospect according to MLB.

– Former Irish closer Dan Slania has 13 saves in 16 opportunities for the San Jose Giants ââ’¬¦ he is 3-4 with a 2.45 ERA in 37 appearances and 44.0 innings of work ââ’¬¦ he has a career-high 54 strikeouts to just nine walks ââ’¬¦ Slania played three seasons at Notre Dame (2011-13) before being drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Giants.

– 2013 New York Yankees first round pick (26th Overall) Eric Jagielo has battled injuries throughout his three-year career and is currently on the disabled list with a knee injury ââ’¬¦ before the injury Jagielo was having a breakthrough 2015 campaign, boasting a split of .284/.347/.495 with 16 doubles, two triples, nine homers, 35 RBI, 18 walks and 36 runs scored in 58 games with the Trenton Thunder of Double-A ââ’¬¦ despite the injury Jagielo was named an Eastern League All-Star and is the organization’s eighth best prospect according to MLB ââ’¬¦ Jagielo played three years for the Irish (2011-13) before being selected by the Yankees.

– After a tough start to the season in Double-A with the Harrisburg Senators, Brian Dupra is turning his campaign around in A Advanced with the Potomac Nationals ââ’¬¦ the Rochester, New York native is 1-0 with a 1.62 ERA in 12 games (16.2 IP) and is holding opponents to a .130 batting average ââ’¬¦ Dupra played at Notre Dame for three years (2008-11) before going in the seventh round of the 2011 MLB Draft to the Washington Nationals.

2015 Major League Baseball Connections (Not Necessarily Associated With ND Baseball Program)

Craig Counsell – Manager – Milwaukee Brewers

Pat Murphy – Interim Manger – San Diego Padres

John McHale Jr. – Executive Vice President, Administration & Chief Information Officer – MLB

Joe Garagiola Jr. – Senior Vice President of Standards & On-Field Operations – MLB

Brian O’Gara – Vice President, Special Events – MLB

Lawrence J. Dolan – Owner – Cleveland Indians

Michael Crowley – President – Oakland A’s

Paul J. Dolan – Chairman / Chief Executive Officer – Cleveland Indians

John Coppolella – Assistant General Manager / Director of Pro Scouting – Atlanta Braves

2015 MLB PLAYERS (Former ND Players)

#66John Axford – RHP – Colorado Rockies
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#53 – Jeff Manship– RHP – Cleveland Indians
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#41 David Phelps– RHP – Miami Marlins
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#11 A.J. Pollock– CF – Arizona Diamondbacks
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#29 – Jeff Samardzija– RHP – Chicago White Sox
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2015 MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS (Former ND Players)

RHP – Brian Dupra (Nationals)
Potomac Nationals / A Advanced / Carolina League
Harrisburg Senators / AA / Eastern League
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RHP Donnie Hissa (Brewers)
Helena Brewers / Rookie Pioneer League
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C – Joe Hudson (Reds)
Daytona Tortugas / A Advanced / Florida State League
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RHP – Cole Johnson (Twins)
Rochester Red Wings / AAA / International League
Chattanooga Lookouts / AA / Southern League
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3B Eric Jagielo (Yankees)
Trenton Thunder / AA / Eastern League
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1B Trey Mancini (Orioles)
Bowie Baysox / AA / Eastern League
Frederick Keys / A Advanced / Carolina League
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LHP – Steve Sabatino (Cardinals)
Palm Beach Cardinals / A Advanced / Florida State League
GCL Cardinals / Rookie / Gulf Coast League
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RHP Dan Slania (Giants)
San Jose Giants / A (Advanced) / California League
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–Russell Dorn, Assistant Athletics Communications Director