PISCATAWAY, NJ – The 2004 baseball season got underway recently with 10 former Rutgers University standouts currently active in professional baseball. The group is headlined by Eric Young, who signed during the off-season with the Texas Rangers, and includes two others – Pete Zoccolillo and David DeJesus – who are playing at the AAA level. Two of RU’s most prominent prospects, Bobby Brownlie and Val Majewski, kicked off the season with great opening-night efforts.
Brownlie, making his AA debut as a member of the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (Chicago Cubs), allowed just three hits and one run in five innings on Thursday vs. the Birmingham Barons, striking out seven. Majewski drilled a pair of two-run home runs and drove in four runs in the Bowie Baysox’s 5-4 win over the Harrisburg Senators. Bowie is the Class AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.
Now in his 12th major league season, Young hit .260 with a career-high 15 home runs in 109 games with Milwaukee last season before finishing the year as a member of the San Francisco Giants. During the offseason, Young signed with Texas and collected four hits in seven at bats through his first two games thus far. Zoccolillo and DeJesus each earned September promotions to the major leagues last season – Zoccolillo with the Brewers and DeJesus with the Kansas City Royals – and begin 2004 at the AAA level. Zoccolillo is a member of the Oklahoma Red Hawks (Rangers), while DeJesus is with Omaha (KC Royals).
Darren Fenster, an All-American in 2000, returns to the Class A Wilmington Blue Rocks, while Jason Bergmann returns to the Savannah Sand Gnats (Montreal Expos) of the South Atlantic League. Buddy Gallagher, who missed most of last season following arm surgery, begins 2004 with the Class A Visalia Oaks (Colorado Rockies), while Billy McCarthy returns to the Class AA Greenville Braves (Atlanta Braves). The lone draft pick in 2003, Vinny Esposito, remains in extended spring training and has yet to be assigned, while Eric Brown remains inactive following off-season arm surgery.