OMAHA, Neb. -- Two more members of the 2009 Creighton baseball team have signed professional contracts. Kirk Clark signed a free-agent deal with the Houston Astros organization, while Jeremy Hauer signed with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in the independent Northern League.
Clark is the third member of the 2009 Bluejay squad to sign with an affiliated team in Minor League Baseball, joining Darin Ruf (Philadelphia organization) and Vicente Cafaro (Texas). Other former Bluejays who are playing in the minors this season include Zach Daeges (Boston), Chris Gradoville (Texas), Pat Venditte (New York Yankees) and Eric Wordekemper (New York Yankees).
A hard-throwing right-hander from Moline, Ill., Clark elected to bypass his senior season to start his professional career with the Astros organization. He has been assigned to the Tri-City ValleyCats in the New York-Penn League (short season A), though he has yet to appear in a game. After transferring in from Iowa Western CC, Clark went 0-2 with two saves and a 4.21 ERA in his only season for Creighton. Clark appeared in 26 games, including two starts, and threw 36.1 innings of work. He struck out 37 and walked 25 men, holding foes to a .261 average. He had been pitching this summer for the Glacier Pilots in the Alaska Baseball League, where he was 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA and two saves in 27.2 innings of work, before impressing scouts with his low-90s fastball.
Hauer has appeared in three games, all in relief, since signing recently with Fargo-Moorhead, a member of the Northern League. Despite an unblemished 0.00 ERA, he is 0-1 in 6.2 innings of work for the RedHawks, allowing just two hits to date. Hauer was 2-6 with a 3.78 ERA as a senior at the top of the Bluejay rotation, when he appeared in 20 games, including 14 starts. He led CU with 81 innings pitched and 63 strikeouts. As a junior, Hauer was named MVC Newcomer of the Year after going 8-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 84 innings of action. He closed his career with a 10-8 record and 3.55 ERA in 165 innings of work in two years with the Jays after transferring in from Indian Hills CC.
Daeges is currently on the roster for the Pawtucket (AAA) Red Sox in the Boston organization. He hit .172 in nine games early on, but has been sidelined since April 20th with an ankle injury. When healthy in previous seasons, the former sixth-round draft pick from Creighton has torn the cover off the baseball with his hitting ability. He ranked second in the Eastern League last season in doubles (34) and on-base percentage (.412), third with 72 walks and fifth with a .307 batting average while being named to the All-Star Game. In 2007 Daeges led the California League with 124 runs, 113 RBI, 170 hits, 81 extra-base hits, 82 walks, 298 total bases and a league-record-tying 55 doubles. He led all Red Sox farmhands in RBI and was named MLB.com's Class A Advanced Offensive Player of the Year. Daeges began his professional career in 2006 with the Lowell Spinners in the New York-Penn League, where he finished second in the league with a .402 on-base percentage and was named a Mid-Season All-Star. Last winter Baseball America ranked his strike-zone discipline as the best in Boston's farm system.
Gradoville is playing catcher with the Frisco RoughRiders (AA) in Rangers organization. He is hitting .200 in 36 games and owns 10 RBI to date. Last season Gradoville hit .309 in 71 games with Bakersfield at the Class A level, amassing 20 doubles and 26 RBI while picking up California League Player of the Week honors for the week of Aug. 18, 2008.
Ruf, who also won a Gold Glove this past season at Creighton, was a 20th-round draft pick by Philadelphia in June. He started his professional career playing in the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) for the Phillies team, where he hit .326 in 20 games before being promoted to Williamsport in the New York-Penn League (short season A). With the Crosscutters, Ruf is hitting .292 in seven games, including his first professional home run last night. Ruf played in all 227 games after arriving on campus at Creighton and ranks among the school's top-five players all-time in RBI, total bases, hits, sacrifice flies and putouts. He was also named an ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Third-Team Academic All-American for his work in the classroom.
Venditte remains professional baseball's only ambidextrous pitcher but has proven to be anything but a sideshow, dominating foes on the mound just like he did at Creighton. In June he was named a South Atlantic League (Low A) All-Star after going 2-2 with a league-best 20 saves and a 1.47 ERA in 28 appearances with the Charleston (SC) Yankees. In 30.2 innings of work, he owned 40 strikeouts against just two walks. Since being promoted to Tampa (High A), Venditte is 1-0 with one save and a 2.76 ERA in 16.1 innings of work. He has struck out 21 men and walked just four with Tampa. For the year, his combined numbers have him with a 3-2 mark, 1.91 ERA and 21 saves in 47 innings of work, which includes 61 strikeouts and just six walks. Last season, Venditte's first at the professional level, saw the switch-pitcher be named MLB.com's Short-Season Relief Pitcher of the Year after going 1-0 with a 0.83 ERA and converting all 23 save opportunities. Recently featured by ESPN The Magazine and the CBS Evening News, Venditte is scheduled to be featured in a piece to air on ESPN's E:60 in the near future.
Wordekemper, a right-handed pitcher, has spent time with both Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (AAA) and Trenton (AA) this season, also in the Yankees organization. In seven games with Scranton he is 2-0 with a 5.06 ERA and one save in 10.2 innings of work. In 21 games with Trenton, he owns a 1.59 ERA with one save, though he has yet to record a decision. Wordekemper is currently with Trenton. Last season Wordekemper went a combined 3-2 with a 4.15 ERA and six saves while splitting time between Tampa (A) and Trenton (AA). His best professional campaign was in 2007, when he went 2-0 with 33 saves and 0.57 ERA in 43 relief appearances en route to earning Florida State League Most Valuable Pitcher accolades.
With the addition of Clark, Creighton has now had 80 men on record to play in the minors. Nineteen of those men reached the Majors, most notably Alan Benes, Scott Servais, Dennis Rasmussen and Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.
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