The University of Dayton baseball program has two former pitchers currently toiling in the major leagues, and there might be a pair of future pros taking the mound for the Flyers this season.
Right-handed starter Cameron Hobson and lefty reliever Burny Mitchem are flashing the big-league potential that Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals and Jerry Blevins of the Oakland Athletics had while they were suiting up at UD.
Few Atlantic 10 teams can roll out that kind of pitching power — or match UD’s strong returning nucleus of potent bats, for that matter — which is why the Flyers are the preseason pick by the coaches to win their second straight regular-season league title.
Coach Tony Vittorio down-played the preseason nod, though he can understand the voters’ rationale.
“Burny Mitchem and Cameron Hobson are possible pretty high draft picks,” he said, “and we have enough guys back from a pretty good offensive team.”
Hobson, a Crawfordsville, Ind., native, was named a freshman All-American last season and the Atlantic 10 rookie of the year after finishing 7-1 with a 3.43 ERA. He set a school record with 83 strikeouts.
Players can turn pro after their third season in college or if they’re 21 before the summer MLB draft.
Though he’s a true sophomore, Hobson’s 21st birthday is April 10.
“Cameron is physically very, very good, but from a mental standpoint, he just refuses to lose,” Vittorio said. “You wish more young people would realize how healthy that was.”
Mitchem, who hails from Farmington, Mich., missed most of his sophomore season in 2009 with a knee injury, but he made the A-10 all-rookie team as a freshman after notching 61 strikeouts in 391/3 innings with a 2.06 ERA.
UD, which set a school record for victories while finishing 38-19, also has some proven position players in infielders Cole Tyrell, who led the team in home runs (12) and RBIs (60); Zach Jacob, who finished second in the conference in hits (79 in 55 games) and runs (56); and Jimmy Roesinger, who batted .406.
The Flyers begin practice Jan. 29 and play their first game Feb. 19 against Army in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Ashley Cattran, a junior from Alter High School, was named A-10 track and field performer of the week after winning the 800-meter run at the Bowling Green Challenge. Cattran won weekly league honors three times last season.