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Former Baseball: Ex-Cajun Conrad off to hot start in minors

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, April 28, 2015


 Baseball Fan Day

Jace Conrad, former UL second baseman and a current member of the Tampa Bay Rays organization, signs autographs for fans during UL baseball fan day at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field in Lafayette, LA, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015.(Photo: Paul Kieu, The Advertiser)



After going 58-10, winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, advancing to an NCAA Super Regional and coming up one win over Ole Miss of advancing to the NCAA College World Series, the UL baseball team was hit hard by losses to pro ball.

A few former Ragin’ Cajuns from that club have opened their second minor-league seasons, and off to the hottest start among them in his first season at the Class A level is ex-Cajuns second baseman Jace Conrad.

The Lafayette High product is hitting a team-leading .339 with two home runs, a team-high seven stolen bases and a team-leading nine RBIs for the Tampa Bay Rays-affiliated Bowling Green (Ky.) Hot Rods of the Class A Midwest League.

Conrad, riding a nine-game hitting streak through Monday, hit .265 and was a midseason All-Star last season for Hudson Valley of the Class A Short New York-Penn League.

Conrad is also winning over the fans in Kentucky.

Jay Parrish, a fan in Bowling Green, posted this on Facebook:

Any fan, behind the scenes worker, owner, coach, player or any one affiliated with the Bowling Green Hot Rods should be extra proud of Jace Conrad. Last night for brief moments while on deck he took a few seconds and made a 2yr old the happiest child in the world. My parents and I from the start of the game were trying to get my son to go ask the bat boy for a ball. He would ask, but get nowhere near close enough for the young man to hear. My son has a little bit of a shy side, sometimes. During Jace’s 1st on deck appearance he heard us telling my son to go ask. After a few good practice swings, he asked the bat boy for a ball, and handed to my son… Jace’s next on deck appearance he turned, smiled and waved at my son… Jace’s 3rd on deck appearance was the one that made my night more then my sons. Jace … bent down close to my son through the fence and told him, "I about to get a hit, and its for you, ok buddy?" Turned and headed to bat. And what did he do? Sure enough got a hit and snuck into second… Thank you Jace Conrad for a night my family and I will never forget.

Other former Cajuns

Catching up with UL’s other 2014-team members playing as pros (all 2015 stats through Monday):

Catcher Michael Strentz is hitting .297 through 11 games for the Los Angeles Angels-affiliated Inland Empire 66ers of the Class A Advanced California League. The Comeaux High product hit .330 for Orem (Utah) of the Pioneer League last season.

Outfielder Caleb Adams is hitting .386 with one home run through 17 games for the Angels affiliated Burlington (Iowa) Bees of the Class A Midwest League. He hit .252 with seven homers for Orem last season.

Pitcher Austin Robichaux is 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA in three starts for Class A Burlington, where for a second straight pro season he is teammates with Adams. The Notre Dame High product was 2-3 with a 4.91 ERA for Orem in 2014.

Four others from UL’s 2014 team who were in the minors last season – pitcher Carson Baranik (Dodgers organization), outfielder Seth Harrison (Giants organization), first baseman Chase Compton (Giants organization) and shortstop/third baseman Ryan Leonards of Notre Dame High (White Sox organization) – have not yet played in 2015.

Harrison, who hit .249 last year in combined Rookie League and Class A Short play, and Leonards, who hit .256 in combined Rookie League and Class A play, both have been dealing with injuries this year.