Jul 09, 2020
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Aaron Judge, winner of the 2012 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby during his time at Fresno State. He looks to make an impact for the Yankees in 2020. (The Collegian Archive)

Former Fresno State players ready for 2020 MLB season

As Major League Baseball returns for a 60-game season in late July, seven former Fresno State baseball players have been selected for summer camps as training for the 2020 season resumes this week.

Under the new rules for the return of major league baseball, teams can have as many as 60 players in their player pools for the season, and of those 60, only 30 will make up the initial Opening Day roster.

When the teams transition into the season, they will be required to reduce their 30-man rosters to 28 players after 14 days and then 26 players following 29 days of play. The leftover players will be on a “taxi squad,” a reserve team located at a separate training site from the team in case of emergency.

Former Bulldogs Aaron Judge (New York Yankees), Jordan Luplow (Cleveland Indians), Justin Wilson (New York Mets), Justin Miller (Toronto Blue Jays), Austin Wynns (Baltimore Orioles), Taylor Ward (Los Angeles Angels) and Jimmy Lambert (Chicago White Sox) were all added to their team’s player pools that were released on Sunday and Monday.

Aaron Judge 

In 2019, the Yankees finished first in the American League (AL) East with a 103-59 record and were two wins away from earning their 41st pennant. One major factor that could have led to the Yankees missing the World Series could have been the absence of slugger Judge.

After battling injuries in 2019, Judge’s season was cut short after appearing in only 102 games. But in 2020, he looks to once again rise as one of the best players in baseball to get the Yankees over the World Series hump.

Entering his fifth season in the majors, Judge has already established himself as one of the best power hitters in baseball. 

Before battling injuries in 2018 and 2019, he entered the league smashing through opposing pitching by hitting 52 home runs in 2017 — leading to an All-Star appearance, AL Rookie of the Year and runner-up in Most Valuable Player voting.

Judge followed 2017 with another All-Star appearance in 2018. For his career, he has a .273 hitter with 110 career home runs, 246 RBIs and a .952 on-base plus slugging (OPS). 

Jordan Luplow

For Clovis native Luplow, he enters his second season with the Cleveland Indians in 2020, following a season where he batted .276 during his 85 appearances. He finished 2019 with 15 home runs, 38 RBIs, 42 runs scored and 31 extra-base hits. 

Justin Wilson

As one of the last two members from the 2008 College World Series “Wonderdogs” team still active in the majors, left-handed reliever Wilson still looks to make an impact in his second season with the New York Mets and his ninth overall.

In 2019, Wilson went 4-2 with four saves and a 2.54 ERA in 45 appearances. While on the mound, he also struck out 44 batters and only allowed 11 earned runs.

Justin Miller

Along with Wilson, reliever Miller is the other player from the 2008 “Wonderdogs” team and is now a member of the Toronto Blue Jays following a short stint with the Washington Nationals in 2019. 

Miller signed a minor league free agent contract with the Blue Jays in December and appeared in six games for them during spring training before the shut down of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In those six appearances, Miller allowed only two hits and one earned run while striking out six and walking one.

Austin Wynns

In Baltimore, Wynns enters his third season as an Oriole after appearing in 28 games in 2019. During his time behind the plate at catcher, Wynns recorded a .984 fielding percentage, while at the plate he hit .214 with 15 hits, five RBIs and scored eight runs.

Taylor Ward

A former first-round pick in 2015 (26th overall), Ward enters his third season with the Los Angeles Angels.

In 2019, Ward spent time between Los Angeles and their minor league affiliate Salt Lake Bees. While with the Bees, he flourished hitting .306 with 27 home runs and 71 RBIs in 106 games.

During his time in Salt Lake, Ward was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team before once again being called up by the Angels. 

Unfortunately for Ward, he was unable to transition his success in Triple-A and during his 20 games with the Angels he hit .190 with eight hits, including three doubles, one home run and four runs.

Jimmy Lambert

Looking to make his major league debut in 2020, Lambert was named to the Chicago White Sox’s 44-man summer camp on Monday.

After being drafted as a fifth-round selection in 2016 (146th overall), Lambert has spent much of his career in the White Sox minor league system, last appearing for the Double-A Birmingham Barons in 2019.

Lambert’s season in 2019 was cut short after suffering a season-ending Tommy John surgery.

In his four minor league seasons, Lambert has amassed a 24-24 record with a 4.07 ERA, and he tossed 342.2 innings in 70 appearances.

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