TERRE HAUTE —
Staying humble has never been a problem for Brady Shoemaker.
But a torn labrum and surgically repaired biceps tendon kept the former Northview and Indiana State standout off the baseball diamond all of the 2013 season. The long rehab process didn’t have an effect on his determination to succeed. He also spent the time off helping young players around his hometown improve their skills.
“Still working to get it stronger,” Shoemaker said. “It is something that I will have to keep an eye on and make sure I’m doing extra work to keep it strong and healthy the rest of my career,” Shoemaker said. “I am almost 13 months out of surgery. I was told it was a process that could take any where from 12-15 months or longer. It was difficult playing baseball every summer of my entire life and dreaming of playing professsionally and then having to sit a year out.”
Shoemaker has wasted no time getting back to doing what he does best, hitting the baseball.
Now with the Jacksonville Suns of the Double-A Southern League, Shoemaker has a fresh start in the Florida Marlins organization.
Shoemaker ranks fourth in the Southern League in hitting with a .343 batting average. Shoemaker batted third for the Suns on Friday night and went 2 for 4. He’s got 16 walks to 11 strikeouts, producing a .470 on-base percentage, but he’s hitting for his usual power as well with five doubles and two homers.
“When I got to spring training I wanted to be ready,” Shoemaker said. “The Marlins are a great organization and took a chance on me by selecting me in the Rule-5 Draft. I’m going to do the best that I can do and at the end of the day I’ll be happy with whatever the outcome is,” Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker, who had reached as high as getting a taste of Triple-A during his time with the White Sox, is now playing the occasional first base in addition to left field.
“I have hit anywhere from 2-6 in the lineup. I just want to have the chance to play and take advantage of the time I'm getting and hopefully I can make the most of the opportunity the Marlins have given me. Last year really taught me to appreciate every day I had the chance to play baseball,” Shoemaker added.
• Joe Thatcher continues to contend for the honor as one of the best left-handed relief pitchers in all of baseball. He’s allowed just one earned run in 10 appearances so far, striking out seven in 81⁄3 innings for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
• Speaking of Diamondbacks’ relievers, Marshall, Ill., native and Rose-Hulman All-American Derek Eitel may be knocking on the door of the big leagues before long.
The right-hander has 16 strikeouts through 101⁄3 innings of relief for the Triple-A Reno Aces.
Eitel has 12 strikeouts with runners on base, proving to be a go-to guy to get the Aces out of trouble late in the game.
“Biggest thing is I’m throwing a lot of quality strikes and pitching inside effectively,” Eitel said Friday night. “Then, once I’m ahead in counts my curveball, splitter and cutter are all putaway pitches so I have options depending on how I’ve set up the hitter.”
• Former Indiana State catcher Nevin Ashley had the chance to start the season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he is teammates with former Sycamore great Clint Barmes.
Barmes played his high school ball at Vincennes Lincoln, while Ashley starred at nearby North Knox.
• Jeremy Lucas is of to a strong start with the Carolina Mudcats, the Advanced Class A team of the Cleveland Indians.
The former West Vigo and ISU catcher was hitting .309 with four doubles, two triples, two home runs and 13 RBI in 18 games.
• Terre Haute North product Josh Phegley is hitting .288 with Triple-A Charlotte.
• Terre Haute South product Koby Kraemer is awaiting assignment with the Toronto Blue Jays, who released Brandon Dorsett during the offseason.
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