Valparaiso University’s Jon Gulbransen has signed a minor league contract with the Great Falls Voyagers and becomes the fourth former Crusader to be actively playing professional baseball.
Gulbransen joined the Chicago White Sox Rookie League team over the weekend, but did not pitch in Monday night’s season opener. Valpo’s all-time innings pitched leader, the left-hander finished his Crusader career with 18 victories and 264 strikeouts, ranking fourth and third respectively on the all-time charts.
“I’m excited he’s getting this opportunity,” Valpo head coach Tracy Woodson said. “He gave us four solid years, was never hurt, and I think he should at least get the chance to continue his career. I’m happy for him.”
Kyle Gaedele, a sixth round draft pick by the San Diego Padres, signed a professional contract and opened the Class A season with the Eugene Emeralds. He has started all four games in the outfield and has a triple, three runs batted in, two walks, and three runs scored already this season. On Monday evening, he grounded out against former teammate Bryce Shafer, who is pitching for the Boise Hawks in the Chicago Cubs organization.
Shafer made his Class A Boise debut on Monday against Gaedele’s team, working the final 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one hit and striking out one. Shafer, who concluded his Valpo career in 2010, started the season at Class A Peoria where he was 0-3 with a 2.79 ERA in 17 appearances out of the bullpen. He struck out 24 in 29 innings of work.
Another 2010 Valpo product, Bo McClendon, made his debut with the Class A Connecticut Tigers on Monday night. He pinch hit and played leftfield, before recording a ninth inning single to finish the night 1-for-2. A member of the Detroit Tigers organization, he played for the Gulf Coast League Tigers last year in the Rookie League.
“It’s exciting for us as a program to have four former players all playing professionally at the same time,” Woodson said. “We look forward to following their continued success as they hopefully climb the ladder in the minor leagues.”