Badenhop finds success

Detroit Tigers minor league prospect Burke Badenhop may be the next baseball star from BGSU to hit it big in the majors. Badenhop was recently named the Tigers’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

“I was excited,” Badenhop said. “It was a little bit of a surprise, but not something completely out of the blue. I didn’t know they would vote on something so quick, but it was a pleasant surprise.”

Badenhop spent this past season with the West Michigan Whitecaps, a Low Class-A League team of the Tigers. He compiled a 14-3 record in his 27 starts and posted a 2.84 ERA. He also tossed three complete games, which tied for the league lead.

The Perrysburg, native was also instrumental to the Whitecaps playoff run. In two playoff games, he went 1-0 and posted a 2.63 ERA.

“[Being in the playoffs] was pretty sweet,” Badenhop said. “There’s nothing better than getting the ball for Game 1 of the playoffs. It’s great to be the guy they wanted out there.”

Badenhop pitched for the Falcons from 2003-05. During his tenure, he amassed 17 wins and 177 strikeouts in 70 appearances. He showed his ability to be a true student-athlete, being named to the Academic All-America First-Team and the Academic All-MAC First Team as a senior.

After being drafted in the 19th round of the June 2005 draft, he went 6-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 14 starts for the Oneonta Tigers of the short-season Class-A New York Penn League.

He has his sights set on joining the likes of BGSU alumni Orel Hershiser, Roger McDowell, Grant Jackson and Doug Bair, who all went on to become Major League pitchers.

“I’d like to keep progressing and keep learning things and applying them every day,” Badenhop said. “I think that’s kind of what’s allowed me to have success so far.”

Hershiser was a star pitcher for the Dodgers in the prime of his career and won the Cy Young Award and World Series MVP honors in 1988. McDowell was a relief ace for five different teams and is currently a pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves. Jackson pitched for six teams over his 18-year career. Bair was a solid reliever for seven different teams, winning World Series’ with the Cardinals and the Tigers.

Badenhop knows the history of these players and seems to be the next in line destined for stardom.

“[Hershiser] was always known for being really tough,” Badenhop said. “I think that’s the one thing that’s kind of helped me get through and could be my calling card – the guy that’s going to be tough, the guy that’s going to eat up innings and keep you in a ballgame no matter the situation.”

Badenhop’s success also says something about the baseball program at BGSU. Coach Danny Schmitz says that having players like Badenhop who continue to be successful at higher levels is helpful to the team’s recruitment process.

“We’re going to use [Badenhop’s success] during the recruiting process,” Schmitz said. “We’ve had a number of guys that have gotten the opportunity to go to pro ball. That’s a big selling point that it’s a program that can develop young talent.”

But it isn’t just Badenhop’s baseball skills that have his coaches talking. His leadership and work ethic are two of the most important skills he has outside of his pitching skills.

“He was the epitome of what you call a student-athlete,” said pitching coach Tod Brown. “He won the Junior Male Athlete of the Year and he won Senior Male Athlete of the Year. He was always our hardest worker – a guy dedicated to the classroom and baseball.

“He’s a coaches dream. I don’t stay up at night worrying about Burke Badenhop doing the right thing off the field.”

Schmitz also saw Badenhop’s dedication to being a true student-athlete while pitching at BG.

“I thought he had great leadership qualities both on and off the field,” Schmitz said. “He was probably about a 3.8 and a 3.9 student, so he was just outstanding in the classroom.”