April 29, 2005
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
Several former UC Santa Barbara baseball players are off to outstanding starts in their 2005 minor league seasons.
Leading the way among ex-Gauchos are a pair of outfielders who teamed together on UCSB's 2001 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and several other members of that same team.
Jared Schumaker, the starting center fielder for the 2001 Gauchos, is a starting outfielder for the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. He is among his team's leaders in virtually every offensive category. Schumaker is hitting .399, with team-highs of 23 hits, 14 runs scored, and 36 total bases. In addition, he has belted three home runs and four doubles. He has also stolen three bases.
The other former outfielder from the 2001 team, Ryan Spilborghs, is in the Colorado Rockies organization. He is the top player on the Double-A Tulsa Drillers. Spilborghs, who finished his UCSB career in 2002, holds the Gaucho record for hitting in consecutive games at 35. He is batting a team-high .381 for Tulsa, with team-highs of 24 hits, 14 runs scored, eight doubles, and 36 total bases. Spilborghs, a product of Santa Barbara High School, also has a pair of triples, and he is second on the team with 13 RBI.
Jeff Bannon, the starting shortstop for UCSB in 2001, is playing for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. In 17 games, Bannon has hit .323, with six doubles, four home runs, 21 hits, and 10 RBI. He also leads his team with 39 total bases. Bannon is playing at second base, shortstop and third base for the Lookouts.
Right-handed pitcher Jim Bullard, who was a weekend starter for the 2001 Gauchos, is playing for the Birmingham Barons, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. He has made four starts this far in 2005, and he is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 16.2 innings of work. Bullard has posted 12 strikeouts, and he has limited opponents to a .200 batting average.
Matt Vasquez a part-time starting pitcher on the 2001 team, and a full-time starting pitcher in 2002 and 2003, is in the starting rotation for the Lakeland Tigers, the Single-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Vasquez has made four starts, posting a 3-0 record and a 2.52 ERA. Another Santa Barbara High School product, Vasquez has recorded a complete game shutout. He has hurled 25.0 innings with nine strikeouts and a .247 opponents batting average.
Tyler Von Schell, the starting first baseman for the 2001 Gauchos, and James Garcia, who was a third-team All-American as a the team's top starting pitcher in 2001, are teammates on the Norwich Navigators, a Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Von Schell has played in 20 games, scoring 13 runs and belting four home runs. He also has 11 RBI. Garcia has made four starts and has a 1-3 record and a 7.43 ERA.
Infielder Nate Sutton, a reserve in 2001, and a starter in 2002, 2003, and 2004, is playing for the Cedar Rapid Kernels, a Single-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. In 10 games, he has hit .189.
Finally, Justin Lehr, a catcher for the Gauchos from 1996-98, is a relief pitcher at the Triple-A level for Milwaukee. In seven appearances, Lehr has gone 1-1 with one save, and a 7.71 ERA.