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Baseball: Sanders awarded chance

Dan McDonald

The first member of the University of Louisiana’s 2006 baseball squad to sign a pro contract may have surprised a lot of fans.
After all, Brandt Sanders’ senior season was a roller coaster one that left him with an 0-4 pitching record and a 4.78 ERA.

But the Cleveland Indians saw potential in Sanders’ left arm, and signed him to a free-agent contract this week as one of nine non-drafted signees. The southpaw from Patterson and former standout at Central Catholic will report to the Burlington, N.C., Indians rookie club in the Appalachian League.

Burlington opens its rookie-league season next Wednesday, June 21, at Danville, beginning a 68-game schedule.
Sanders pitched in 18 games for the Cajuns this season, all but one in relief, and allowed 30 hits and 14 earned runs in 26 innings. He walked 10 and fanned 28 in those innings.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder will likely have a couple of familiar faces on the Burlington squad. The Indians drafted Arkansas State second baseman Brett Kinning in the 37th round of last week’s first-year draft, and also signed Western Kentucky outfielder Corteze Armstrong to a free-agent contract.

Sanders is the only UL player who has completed his eligibility to lock down his immediate baseball plans. Several players who have eligibility remaining are taking part in summer collegiate leagues across the country. Among them:

Infielders Jefferies Tatford and Devery Van De Keere have helped their North Adams (Mass.) SteepleCats squad to a 4-0 start in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Van De Keere, who led the Cajuns in hitting this season and ranked in the top 10 in the Sun Belt Conference, his hitting .400 through four games and has an .800 slugging percentage in the wooden-bat league. Tatford, a product of St. Thomas More, has one hit in four games for an .077 start, but his hit was a double, and he’s perfect through four games and 42 chances at first base.

Catcher Jonathan Lucroy laced a bases-loaded triple Wednesday night in leading the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs to a 9-1 win over the Orlando Hammers in the Florida Collegiate Summer League. The six-team wooden-bat league is in its third year of play. Lucroy is currently hitting .250 with four RBI through three games and the Diamond Dawgs are 2-1.

Infielder Grant Derouen and redshirted outfielder Dustin Miller are part of a Covington (Va.) Lumberjacks team that leads the Shenandoah Valley League with an 8-2 record. Derouen leads the Lumberjacks and ranks 10th in the league overall in hitting at .353 with four doubles, seven RBI, five walks and only three strikeouts in 10 games. Miller is hitting .118 through 10 games. UL designated hitter Scott Hawkins was going to join Derouen and Miller in Covington, but chose to finish his rehabilitation from an earlier shoulder injury in Lafayette and is attending summer school.

Infielder Matt Hicks is tied for third on the Plano Blue Sox in hitting with a .273 average for the Texas Collegiate League squad that stands 3-4 this season. In six games, Hicks is tied for the league lead in doubles with three, and has four runs and four RBI in six games.

Infielder Geoff Craig had played in all 11 games for the New Bern (N.C.) River Rats in the Coastal Plain League, before two nights of the league’s schedule were washed out by heavy rains from tropical storm Alberto. Craig is hitting .125 with two runs batted in but has 11 strikeouts while going 3-for-24 at the plate for the 3-8 River Rats squad.

Originally published June 16, 2006