MLB Mormon Update 2012

Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury

I’m late preparing this information for 2012, but since I’m going tonight to a game for the first time this year, I thought I’d better get this information together and post it. After a good year last year that saw two Mormons in baseball’s All-Star game and at one point perhaps 13 active players who are Mormon, the prospects for this year look promising, but not at the level of 2010.

The two Mormons who made last year’s All-Star teams (both apparently inactive) are still the best of those on the field. Roy Halladay continues his fantastic pitching performances, which lowered his ERA last year (although he didn’t pitch any no-hitters, unlike in 2010, when he managed a perfect game during the season and a no-hitter in the post-season). And Halladay continues his dominance so far this year—his ERA as of this morning was just 0.60!

Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury also had a stellar season last year, hitting .321, his best full-season average so far. Unlike Halladay, however, he’s had a slow start, hitting just .130 over 6 games. Still, it is reasonable to expect a great season from Ellsbury as he works his way back to his potential.

Some shifting occurred  among these players. In one of the more unusual, the Baltimore Orioles traded their pitching ace Jeremy Guthrie (a returned LDS missionary) to the Colorado Rockies for Matt Lindstrom, a relief pitcher (and also a returned missionary). While I think that trading one Mormon for another may have happened before, I doubt that it is very common. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the first time one returned missionary was traded for another, though!

If you follow baseball, (and maybe even if you don’t) you may find it interesting to know which players you see are Mormon, and who might make it to the Majors this year. The team you follow may include a Mormon player you don’t know about, or you might like to know about the Mormon players on visiting teams.

My own lists of Mormons who have played in the Majors include about 75 Mormons (including inactive LDS Church members and others with Mormon heritage) who have played in the majors. This is my fourth compilation of those Mormons who are actively playing in both the Major Leagues and in the Minor Leagues. I’ve managed to find a lot of additional information, especially on Mormons playing in the Minors, and I’m indebted to many readers and commentators here on Times and Seasons, who have provided valuable information expanding my lists.

[I don’t claim my information is complete or absolutely accurate. Some of it comes from information I collected years ago, and some comes from personal information that I’ve not yet been able to verify in documentation. Any clarification or additional information would be very useful.]

So, here is a quick guide to the Mormons on major league rosters, or who are listed as being on minor league teams at this time, and therefore may be brought up to the majors during the year or in future years:

Current Roster Players:

  • John Buck — starting catcher — Miami Marlins
  • Jacoby Ellsbury — starting outfielder — Boston Red Sox
  • Kyle Farnsworth — closer — Tampa Bay Rays
  • Jeremy Guthrie — starting pitcher (right handed) — Colorado Rockies
  • Roy Halladay— starting pitcher (right handed) — Philadelphia Phillies
  • Elliot Johnson — infielder — Tampa Bay Rays
  • Josh Johnson — starting pitcher (right handed) – Miami Marlins
  • Matt Lindstrom — right handed bullpen pitcher – Baltimore Orioles
  • Brandon Lyon — right handed bullpen pitcher — Houston Astros
  • Mitch Maier— backup outfielder — Kansas City Royals

Minor League Players who may make the majors:

  • Tyson Brummett — right handed closer — Philadelphia Phillies organization (currently with the Reading PA Phillies of the Eastern League – AA)
  • Matt Carson — left field — Minnesota Twins organization (currently with the Rochester NY Red Wings of the International League – AAA)
  • Taylor Cole — right handed starting pitcher — Toronto Blue Jays organization (currently with the Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest League – A)
  • Brandon Duckworth — right handed bullpen pitcher — Boston Red Sox organization (currently with the Pawtucket RI Red Sox of the International League – AAA)
  • Willie Mays Eyre — pitcher — Baltimore Orioles organization (currently with the Norfolk VA Tides of the International League – AAA)
  • Bryce Harper — left field — Washington Nationals organization (currently with the Syracuse NY Chiefs of the International League – AAA)
  • Blaine Howell —left handed bullpen pitcher — Cincinnati Reds organization (status unknown, was with Dayton Dragons)
  • Kyle Hurst — right handed bullpen pitcher — Los Angeles Angels organization (status unknown, was with Arkansas Travelers)
  • Cale Iorg — Shortstop — Detroit Tigers organization (currently with the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League – AAA)
  • Marcus Littlewood — Shortstop — Seattle Mariners organization (currently with the Everett WA AquaSox of the Northwest League – A)
  • Matthew Neil — pitcher — Miami Marlins organization (currently with the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Florida State League – A)
  • Adam Rosales — Shortstop — Oakland A’s organization (currently with the Sacramento River Cats of the Pacific Coast League – AAA)
  • Chris Shelton — first base — New York Mets organization (status unknown, was with the Buffalo NY Bisons of the International League – AAA)
  • Egan Smith — left handed bullpen pitcher — Toronto Blue Jays organization (currently with the Dunedin FL Blue Jays of the Florida State League – A)
  • Jordan Smith — right handed bullpen pitcher — Cinncinnati Reds (on 15-day DL, likely will be assigned to the Louisville Bats of the International League – AAA)
  • Jordan Whatcott —right handed bullpen pitcher — Philadelphia Phillies organization (currently with Clearwater Threshers of the Florida State League – A)

Free Agents:

  • Mitch Talbot — starting pitcher (right handed) — was with Cleveland Indians, currently playing for the Samsung Lions in Korea.

Players who may be Mormon:

  • Rick Anton – pitcher – LA Dodgers organization
  • Eric Byrnes — left field — Seattle Mariners
  • Derek Cone — Los Angeles Dodgers organization
  • Tyler Hanks — pitcher — Washington Nationals organization
  • Kam Mickolio — pitcher — Arizona Diamondbacks organization (apparently not Mormon, but I don’t have evidence either way)
  • Stephen Parker — third base — Oakland Athletics organization
  • Brad Thompson — pitcher — Houston Astros organization
  • Other remote possibilities: Jay Brossman, Brian Budrow, Tyler Chism, Derek Christensen, Dallas Christison, Stephen Fife, Steve Hirschfeld, Zachary Jones, Ryan Khoury, Cole Miles, A. J. Murray, Jordan Taylor Pratt, Tanner Robles, Braeden Schlehuber, Justin Smith, Matt Spring


  • Jacoby Ellsbury and Roy Halladay remain the strongest of the Mormon players.
  • As far as I can tell, no Mormon players had their debut in the Majors last year.
  • Many of these players have served LDS missions, including (at least) Jeremy Guthrie, Matt Lindstrom, Blaine Howell, Kyle Hurst and Cale Iorg.
  • Garrett Nash (Oregon State), Rob Folsom (Oregon State) are both players in college or post high school that could be drafted.
  • Jacob Borup, Bobby Crosby, Aaron Jensen, Mitch Jones, Jon Nelson, Mark Pawelek, Curtis Petersen, Jared Price and Kent Walton have apparently retired or otherwise left baseball.

Enjoy the season!!

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56 comments for “MLB Mormon Update 2012

  1. I’m curious about “how Mormon” Bryce Harper is. I’ve read reports that he attended early morning seminary. If he is very active, he might very well become the most famous active Mormon ballplayer ever, no? Harmon Killebrew was not active, as I understand it.

  2. **tangent** I was expecting someone (Kent) to link something on the side bar about the basketball phenom in Chicago who is active LDS and just won a national award. Can’t remember the name for sure (Jabari ???) but they had a write up about him the NY Times.

  3. MC (1), I’ve heard, but haven’t been able to confirm, that Harper is active. However, many news reports don’t exactly make him out to be a nice guy. I half suspect that one of the reasons that Harper hasn’t made it to the majors yet is that the team is waiting for him to get over his entitled attitude.

  4. Blake (2), this isn’t about popularity or fame. My only selection criteria is whether or not the person is Mormon or of Mormon heritage and whether or not they are playing professional baseball (or are a possible draftee).

    No fame required.

    Diane (3), that is right. It doesn’t matter whether he is active or not.

  5. “However, many news reports don’t exactly make him out to be a nice guy.”

    Right, and they rarely mention him being Mormon, whereas every article about Jabari Parker seems to mention it. I don’t know if that’s because Jabari is more obviously active, or due the man-bites dog aspect of a young black basketball star who is an active Mormon.

    “Roy Holiday is not active, but, this really doesn’t matter does it?”

    Oh, come on, Diane, no one’s trying to read inactives out of Mormonism or the Church. To the extent that it is at all interesting that there are Mormons in MLB, it’s because they have something in common with us, and that’s even more true if they are actively practicing the faith. Isn’t the Mormonism of Brandon Flowers (who appears to be at least semiactive in the Church and made an “I’m a Mormon” video) at least a little bit more interesting than the Mormonism of Katherine Heigl (who doesn’t appear to affiliate with the Church at all)?

  6. “I’d vote for Dale Murphy as most famous personally.”

    Oh, sure, he is right now. Harmon Killebrew is more famous, but I don’t think he was active.

    But Bryce Harper is billed as a once-in-a-generation talent. If he fulfills his potential (always a big “if”), he’ll be a hall of famer, which would put him past Dale Murphy.

  7. Well I’m speaking as a Philly sports fan here(were not phanatic over nothing)(and only a sports fan will get the pun I just made)

    I live in a sports town Andy Reid is a Mormon and the Eagles head coach. I’ve gotten to know some of the players who are Mormon, not because of sports, because personally, I don’t like football, but, on another level all together. I even had one of the players offer to teach me basic fundamentals of football but I passed.

    Now, baseball on the other hand, I don’t care if your Mormon, Catholic, Hebrew, Hindu. I just want them to win and have another world series so we can party down Broad Street.

    And, BTW, I have no idea who Brandon Flowers is so, he can’t be that famous.

    And just because Katherine Heigle doesn’t practice anymore doesn’t mean she(or anyone else for that matter) can’t claim their Mormon heritage, especially if they come from pioneer stock

  8. Re: “claiming” one’s Mormon heritage.

    I think this is perhaps a good illustration of what the church is and is not. It’s not Mormon’s church, or Paul’s church, or Peter’s church, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    So, while I think it’s possible for one to claim cultural “Mormonism”, whatever that may be, I think it’s in possible for one to claim to be a Latter-day Saint and not be active. Because it’s only through putting off the natural man through the atonement of Christ that one becomes a Saint.

    In that sense, identifying as “Mormon” could mean you may or may not be active, but identifying as a Latter-day Saint means places you squarely in the, err… latter camp.

    I kind of like the whole rectangle or square distinction… All Latter-day Saints are Mormons, not all Mormons are Latter-day Saints.

  9. I’m going to declare the inactivity discussion off-topic. Let’s stick to baseball and who in baseball is Mormon, regardless of activity — since we really can’t know much about it.

  10. Kent,

    I agree active/inactive is irrelevant to your post.

    I read it about Jabari Parker just last week that he won National Basketball Player of the Year award, joining Lebron James and other notables as the only 2 time winners. He is now eligible for the National Athlete of the Year award. They mentioned his church membership in the article and how he attends Bible study each morning (seminary).

  11. John, thanks for the tip. It looks like Byran is active, last year he played for the GCL Nationals of the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) earning a 0.00 era in 2 innings over 2 games. The dbs don’t say where he is assigned this year — perhaps because the rookie leagues haven’t started yet.

    FWIW, I assume he is Mormon like Bryce, but I don’t yet have any confirmation of it.

  12. I knew there had to be a good reason the Cubs haven’t won a world series in a century – lack of Mormons on the team. I guess they had their chance when they had Kyle Farnsworth, but just missed it.

  13. Perhaps, Frank, except that the following Mormons were on the Cubs:

    1928 — Ray Jacobs
    1937-38 — Newt Kimball
    1957-59 — Elmer Singleton
    1961-63 — Ken Hubbs
    1984-86 — Dennis Eckersley
    1988-89 — Vance Law

  14. Cubs haven’t won a word series because, well, they are the cubs.

    Now, the Phils on the other hand, I love my Shane. Can’t wait for another party down broad street.

    I can’t believe that some misguided Met fan actually walked around South Philly in a Met Jersey. I had to tell him to be careful where he was walking. Bad taste. Don’t walk in somebody’s hometown with another teams logo on your back. Just sayin.

    Sorry, I just can’t help myself. I’ll back away from the computer now, or at the very least, this blog.

  15. Kent,

    I’m not sure how old you are, but, the last time the Mets won the world series was in 69. Tom Seaver was the pitcher and I was five years old, a mere babe.

    Now the Phils on the other hand not only have they won a world series, but have been Division Champs for the past several years.

    And besides that anyone who follows the Phillies knows the play like crap at the beginning of the series and then get red hot in June.

    Game on Buddy( About what I said about stepping away from the blog, I’m a woman, and its a women’s prerogative to change her mind)

  16. Diane, perhaps you were on a mission in 1986 when the Mets won their most recent WS, not 1969. As a fellow Phils fan, I cannot imagine any sane person with even an ounce of taste wanting to party on Broad street with the mouth breathing, knuckl dragging South Philly vermin that celebrates on Broad Street. I was there for games 5a and 5b in the 08 WS and walked down Broad Street afterwards to get to my car, and those people are hardly anything to be proud of. In fact, those fans dont need a WS championship to be obnoxious, vulgar and embarrasing. I respectfully suggest you back away from the computer before you write more stupid things about Phils fans. The locals who hang out and live near Citizens Bank are repulsive.

  17. RBC

    Lets not lump the whole city with a few bums, because the same could be said for real fans of base ball in any major league city,

    And if you want to talk about bullies, lets switch gears for a minute and talk about the Pittsburgh penguins. seriously, hair pulling from grown men I thought only girls pulled other people’s hair, not men

    And I never served a mission, but totally forgot about Mets winning in 86. Besides that I have a friend who works the for the Phillies as an usher and she told me something that a Met fan told her that I can’t write here because it wouldn’t make it pass the moderator.( This was a male fan, and my friend is a woman)

    But, I will say that Philadelphia is a sports fans city dream. We live and die for our teams. Even the sports writers comment on the fans knowledge about the teams and how much they know about the stats.

    Now, one thing I wont stand for and neither will most people who are true fans are managers who specifically tell their players to target other players to hurt them and take them out for season. Bad taste.

    And here is why I want another world series, The second, Hamel pitched the last pitch And I do mean the second after the last pitch. Everyone streamed out of their houses in jubilation. It was pure joy. And pure jubilation People were hugging one another. I have never seen anything like it, before or since. The Parade down Broad Street and the party at Citizens’ Bank park was the experience of a lifetime and I was proud to be a part of it.

    And just to give some background information, I grew up in NYC during the heyday of Mr October, and Bucky Dent, and Billy Martin calling George Steibrenner a liar. However, when the Yankees did win, it wasn’t the same kind of jubilation. It was very different.

    It was different because the Yankees won because they had the money to spend on quality players and quality coaching. It was almost expected. The Phills didn’t have this kind of money until very recently

    And, RBC, I’m sorry your team didn’t win in 08, I think you would feel differently if they had. And btw its not cool to label a total group of people you know nothing about based on a few as u pit it knuckle heads. The people that live in the area you are speaking about are hardworking Blue collar working class people.

  18. Wow, Diane, your memory is fading. Hamels didn’t pitch in game 5b of the 08 WS. He won the game but it was delayed in the middle for two days because of the rain. When the game resumed Madson, Romero and Lidge finished up Cole’s gem, but he didn’t come close to throwing the last pitch. So,when the Phils finally won and the Philly blue collar men stopped beating their wives, and touched up their “chinstrap” beards, downed sevral beers and went out to the streets to clebrate, they made quite a spectacle to celebrate Lidge’s last pitch and his amazing season as a closer. Being blue collar is no excuse for their behavior, neither is the fact there are bums in other MLB venues. From your defense of Phils fans, I’m guessing you’ve never plumbed the depths of Eagles or Flyers fans. They make Phils fans look like Mormon missionaries. What’s so hard about conceding the obvious that Philly sports fans are among the worst in pro sports? The teams are good, but the fans are pathetic. The same drooling slobs who celebrated on Broad St. and Cottman Ave were the same baseball geniuses who wanted Charlie Emanuel fired earlier in that same season, or Chaaaaalie as those geniuses pronounce his name.

  19. Diane (26): “totally forgot about Mets winning in 86”

    Trust me, Diane, no one here in NYC has forgotten. Not even us Yankees fans.

  20. I should probably steer us back from this tangent. Lets not digress into fan behavior and what team was more celebrated.

    Anyone have anything to add about Mormon players? (without questioning their activity in the church).

  21. Thanks Kent for putting this list together. A couple of years ago I had tickets to an Orioles-Blue Jays game where Halladay and Guthrie were the starting pitchers, but something came up and I wasn’t able to make the game. I’ve seen Halladay pitch a couple times here in Philly and he’s astonishingly good. I’m hoping he gets to 300 wins in a Phils uniform.

  22. “Anyone have anything to add about Mormon players?”

    When I was on my mission, I saw Danny Ainge go 0 for 3 in Yankee Stadium.

  23. Well for me the most famous player would be Wally Joyner. Loved watching him play for the Angels.

  24. Are there or have there been any Mormon coaches/managers or GMs in MLB? I can’t think of any at the moment.

  25. rbc: IIRC both of the Iorg brothers coached in the minors in some capacity, but I’m not aware of anyone who coached in the majors.

    Left Field: COOL!!!

  26. Cubs 2nd baseman, Darwin Barney, is LDS… at least he was when I was his home teacher when he was in high school.

  27. I’m keeping an active eye on Cale Iorg (Toledo Mudhens, in the Detroit Tiger’s organization). He probably won’t get the call up this year, but there’s a possibility, depending on how some of our players shake out (though Jhonny Peralta is a pretty solid SS right now). It all depends on what the Tigers do with Brandon Inge.

    I have a friend who kinda sorta knows him, and said that if he gets called up to the show, that she was going to convince him to come out to my area of Michigan to live (there’s a very good chance he might, as we’ve got a lot of professional athletes in our area).

  28. Wow, Bruce. Thanks for the tip of the year! I’ll definitely add him to the list.

    Barney is a recent major leaguer, making his debut in the big show August 12, 2010.

  29. Yep. His second game was also 1 for 3 with a crucial catch and throw.

    If he keeps this performance up, he won’t be sent back down.

    His third game just started …

  30. Kate, you need to give some source information. How do you know?

    And what do you mean by “Mormon”? Were they Mormon and have left the Church?

  31. I know personally that Matt Carson is NOT. Although he attended BYU, he is not a member.

  32. Kent,
    Clayton Mortensen of the Red Sox is mormon. Grew up in Rexburg Idaho and played at Madison HS (same as Matt Lindstrom). His father is an eye doctor here in Rexburg.

  33. Please, people, give source information! Do you know them personally? Are you in their ward? I try to check each of these out, but most of the time I can’t find anything to confirm what you claim. Most newspaper articles, blog posts and websites simply don’t say what the person’s religion is.

    I can’t just rely on your word if you don’t tell me how you know this is true.

  34. Tonight Dodger pitcher Stephen Fife makes his major league debut against the Phillies. Not sure if he’s LDS, but he’s out of Idaho and pitched for the University of Utah. He’s facing Roy Halladay. A mormon vs. a mormon on the mound. Is this a first? Probably not, Guthrie and Halladay probably faced each other head to head sometime before.

  35. wow ! I guess it is not easy if someone does not openly say they are LDS to determine whether or not they are..and visa versa, i could just claim to be LDS without ever being baptized, who would be the wiser ? that could be a difficult list to build then for Kent. I understand that it is not terribly important if they are active but would be nice to have a note about it in the list

  36. EvanB, I have Stephen Fife on my “maybe” list.

    I just took another look at the possibility, and it doesn’t seem likely that he is Mormon (confusing the search is an Idaho psychologist or therapist with the same name who IS Mormon). I did track down his (relatively abandoned) facebook page, which doesn’t mention Mormonism at all — meaning if he is Mormon he is likely not active.

    I’m afraid this will take someone from Boise or someone who knows him personally to tell for sure. Until then, I would assume that he is not Mormon.

  37. I know Kam mickilio is not a Mormon. I played with him at eastern. Also Dallas christinson. Hirshfeld is from Moab Utah but I don’t think he is mormon. Played against him in high school and college and I don’t think he is

  38. Golden Eagle, thanks for the input. These players are all in the “maybe” category because I have this kind of information hasn’t been verified. It sounds like your information about Mickilio is from knowing him personally, but the rest sounds second hand, is that correct?

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