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Blake Taylor opens MLB season on injured list; Crouse, Sterner, Williams open in AAA
Dana Hills continues to have a foothold in Major League Baseball, and with the first pitches thrown on Opening Day on Thursday, March 30, one Dolphin remains on a big league roster, with three Dana Hills alumni just on the outside in AAA minor league baseball.
Left-handed reliever Blake Taylor (Class of 2013) is once again on the roster for the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros, who raised their 2022 title banner on Thursday. (NOTE: On Thursday afternoon, he was officially placed on the 15-day injured list with a left elbow strain.) While Taylor was an Astro last season, Taylor wasn’t on the postseason roster for Houston’s championship run.
In June of last season, Taylor dealt with some elbow discomfort in his throwing arm and was sent to the 60-day injured list in July. Taylor was assigned to the minors for a rehab assignment in August and finished out the regular season with the AAA Sugar Land Space Cowboys. In 19 appearances with the Astros, Taylor posted a 3.94 ERA in 16 innings pitched with nine strikeouts and 10 walks. In 11 AAA appearances, Taylor had a 5.06 ERA in 10 2/3 innings pitched.
In spring training this season, Taylor didn’t allow a baserunner in two innings over two appearances.
Looking to emulate Taylor and rejoin a major league pitching staff is right-handed hurler Hans Crouse.
Crouse (Class of 2017) tasted the big leagues for two games in 2021 with the Philadelphia Phillies, throwing seven innings over two starts with a 5.14 ERA and an 0-2 record. While that appearance seemingly had him on track to crack the Phillies roster again in 2022, Crouse made only five starts with the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs due to bicep tendinitis. In those five games, Crouse completed just 12 1/3 innings with a 13.14 ERA.
Crouse has been a highly touted prospect during his time with the Texas Rangers and Phillies organizations, but bone chips while with the Rangers and this bout of tendinitis have slowed his ascent. Crouse, listed as the No. 25 prospect for the Phillies by MLB, will begin the season in AAA, with a shot to return to Philadelphia if his crispness returns.
Another Dolphin on the edge of the major leagues is utility player Luke Williams in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Williams (Class of 2015) has bounced between MLB and AAA since making his big-league debut with the Phillies in 2021, playing 137 major league games with three teams over the past two seasons. Williams was traded to the San Francisco Giants ahead of the 2022 season and traded to the Miami Marlins in June.
After last season, Williams was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers and eventually signed a minor league deal in February. Williams, who hit a home run against the Angels in Anaheim to close spring training on Monday, March 27, opens 2023 with the AAA Oklahoma City Dodgers.
Finally, right-handed thrower Justin Sterner (Class of 2015) has quickly worked up the ranks in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. In just his second year in the minors out of BYU, Sterner has already moved up to the AAA Durham Bulls and made six appearances last season. In 38 minor league appearances last season, Sterner posted a 3.94 ERA over 48 innings pitched.
Sterner will open 2023 back in AAA with the Durham Bulls.
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