Since being drafted in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft, three members of the 2014 Nebraska baseball team have signed professional contracts. Senior Zach Hirsch signed with the Milwaukee Brewers, while juniors Pat Kelly (Minnesota Twins) and Aaron Bummer (Chicago White Sox) each decided to forego their senior seasons and sign with their respective teams. Michael Pritchard was the fourth player from the 2014 squad to sign a contract, as he was picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals after not being drafted and signed with the Cardinals on Wednesday morning.
2014 marks the second time in Darin Erstad’s three-year tenure as head coach that the Huskers have lost a pair of juniors to the draft. Following the 2012 season, both Travis Huber and Richard Stock passed on their senior seasons.
“We are very excited for Zach, Michael, Pat and Aaron, to purse their dreams of being a Major League Baseball player,” Erstad said. “I can’t thank each of them enough for helping put Nebraska baseball back on the map and for helping cement our culture at Nebraska for years to come.”
Kelly was the first member of the 2014 team to get picked in the draft, going in the 12th round to the Twins. He was a three-time All-Big Ten performer and two-time first-team selection during his three seasons at Nebraska.
Kelly led the Huskers in hits each of the past two seasons and ended his career ranked 20th in school history with 212 career hits. Defensively, Kelly posted a .990 fielding percentage in 2014, as he committed just three errors, and he leaves Nebraska ranked seventh in school history with 468 assists.
Selected in the 19th round by the White Sox, Bummer worked as a reliever during his freshman season in 2012 and started in the bullpen as a sophomore before joining NU’s weekend rotation during Big Ten play in 2013. The 6-2 lefty worked exclusively as a starter in 2014, throwing 89.0 innings over 15 starts. He led the Huskers in 2014 in strikeouts with 56, including a team-best 16 strikeouts looking.
During his three years in Lincoln, Bummer posted an 11-6 record with a 3.06 ERA. He also tossed his first career complete game during the 2014 season, as he capped a series sweep of Ohio State at Hawks Field. The 2014 Draft marked the second time Bummer has been selected, as he was a 31st-round pick by the New York Yankees in 2011 out of high school, but instead chose to come to Nebraska.
After working as a starter during his sophomore season in 2012, Hirsch made the move to the bullpen in 2013 and was one of the top relief arms in the country in 2014. A third-team All-Big Ten selection in 2014, Hirsch was also one of 50 relievers nationally to be named to the Midseason Stopper-of-the-Year List. For his work in 2014, Hirsch was picked in the 19th round by Milwaukee.
Hirsch led the Huskers with a 1.72 ERA in 2014 and held opposing batters to a .193 average. The 6-4 lefty’s ERA is the second-lowest single-season ERA in school history, topped only by Bill McGuire’s 1.29 ERA in 1984. Hirsch’s 31 appearances in 2014 were the most by a Husker since Brett Jensen made 33 appearances in 2005.
A three-time All-Big Ten performer and 2012 All-American, Pritchard ended his four-year Husker career ranked fifth in school history with 251 career hits. A career .339 hitter, Pritchard’s 45 career doubles are tied for 10th in NU history.
A native of Omaha, Pritchard was selected to the 2014 NCAA Stillwater Regional All-Tournament team and was a first-team All-Big Ten pick for the second time in his career in 2014 after being a first-team selection in 2012. Pritchard earned second-team honors in 2013.
One of the most prolific hitters in Husker history, Pritchard strung together a 25-game hitting streak in 2012 to tie for the third-longest streak in school history. He added a 20-game hitting streak in 2013 to become the first player in school history with a pair of 20+ game hitting streaks. He also put together a 57-game on base streak that spanned the final 42 games of the 2013 season to the first 15 games of the 2014 season.