BERKELEY – Former Cal shortstop Marcus Semien, who was the Golden Bears’ starting shortstop on David Esquer’s 2011 College World Series squad, has been called up from Double A to the Triple A Charlotte (N.C) Knights for the Chicago White Sox, it was announced Aug. 1 by the organization.
In his first game for the Knights on Thursday, Semien went 2-for-5 with a double in his Class AAA debut. Another former Cal standout from the 2011 squad, right-hander Erik Johnson, a second round pick of the White Sox, was earlier called up to Triple A and is currently 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA and has 21 strikeouts in 18.1 innings (four starts) for the Knights.
Drafted by the White Sox in the sixth round following Cal’s stellar 2011 campaign, Semien has hit .290 with 21 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs, 49 RBI and 20 steals in 393 at-bats for Double A affiliate Birmingham (Ala.) Barons. He was also named last week’s Southern League Player of the Week for July 22-28 when he went 14-for-24 (.583) with a three doubles, a triple, four home runs and 11 RBI.
Additionally, Semien was a 2013 Southern League All-Star, and entered this summer rated by Baseball America and the No. 14 prospect in the White Sox organization. As a junior at Cal, Semien (whose father, Damien, was a wide receiver for the Bears in the early 90s) was a member of the NCAA Houston Regional All-Tournament team and finished that year starting all 61 games, batting .275 with 11 doubles, three triples, five home runs and 35 RBI.
Some other Bears who are excelling in the minor leagues this summer include Tony Renda, Michael Brady and Charlie Cutler.
Renda – a first-team All-American in 2012 and the 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year at Cal – is hitting .295 with 34 doubles, three triples, two home runs, 44 RBI and 22 stolen bases for the Class A Hagerstown (Md.) Suns in the South Atlantic League. He was a second round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2012.
Brady was an infielder for the Bears from 2007-09, but is now an outstanding right-handed reliever for the Double A Jacksonville (Fla.) Suns in the Southern League. He is currently 1-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 37 appearances, and has 17 saves and 43 strikeouts in 40.1 innings.
Cutler, a top catcher and outfielder at Cal from 2007-08, is hitting .327 (69-for-211) for the Double A Altoona (Pa.) Curve with 16 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 26 RBI in 69 games.
Semien, Johnson, Renda, Brady and Cutler are among the 25 former Cal players who played under Esquer and who are currently competing in the minor leagues. Additionally, Esquer has coached 13 players – Xavier Nady, Mike Tonis, John Baker, Conor Jackson, Brian Horwitz, Brandon Morrow, Brennan Boesch, Allen Craig, Josh Satin, Tyson Ross, David Cooper, Brett Jackson and Jeff Kobernus – who have made it to the Big Leagues since Esquer began leading the Bears in 2000.
St. Louis first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig (2003-06) was a 2013 National All-Star this season and in 2011 helped lead the Cardinals to the World Series title. He is batting .318 with 25 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs and 81 RBI this season. Craig’s 127 hits are currently second, and his 81 RBI are third, in the National League.