Indian Hills Community College had four of its former players in minor league baseball in 2019. The list includes three position players and one pitcher. Here is a rundown of how those ex-Falcons performed:
Jacob Rhinesmith, Hagerstown Suns, Washington Nationals
Rhinesmith enjoyed a solid season in his first full year of professional baseball. He led his Hagerstown team in eight different offensive categories, topping the Suns in at-bats (489), runs (72), hits (129), doubles (33), home runs (10), RBIs (67), total bases (198) and walks (60). In the South Atlantic League, Rhinesmith ranked among the top 10 in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, homers, RBIs and walks. He led the league in games and tied for third with his 33 doubles. Rhinesmith played one year at Western Kentucky after his two seasons with the Falcons. He was drafted in the 18th round of the 2018 MLB Draft and played that summer for Auburn in the New York-Penn League.
Joel Booker, Birmingham Barons, Chicago White Sox
Booker got a taste of Triple-A baseball in 2019 less than a month into the season, getting promoted to the Charlotte Knights in the International League following a sizzling start at Double-A Birmingham. Booker played in 26 games at Charlotte before he was reassigned to Birmingham in June. For the year, the former IHCC All-American hit .245 with four homers and 36 RBIs. He swiped 19 bases, scored 45 runs and had 13 doubles. Booker has played in over 400 games in the minors since he signed with the White Sox, after he was a 22nd round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He has a batting average of .275 in the pros with 109 stolen bases and has was an All-Star in 2016, ‘17 and ‘18.
Olivier Basabe, Lake Elsinore Storm, San Diego Padres
After moving between short-season and full-season Class-A teams in 2018, Olivier Basabe spent the past summer playing for the Padres’ Advanced-A team in the California League. The infielder, drafted in the 8th round by the Padres in 2017, batted .233 for Lake Elsinore in 2019, hitting seven home runs and driving in 51 runs in 116 games. He also slammed 17 doubles and three triples and scored 40 runs. Basabe has advanced one level in each of the four teams he’s played with so far in his pro career, which means a stint in Double-A should be a goal for next year.
Nick Green, Trenton Thunder, New York Yankees
It was quite a year for Nick Green, who began 2019 as a Rule 5 draftee of the Arizona Diamondbacks, for whom he pitched in spring training after the D-backs claimed him from the Yankees. He returned to the Yankees organization near the end of March and went on the injured list a month later with a shoulder injury. After a rehab assignment with Staten Island he pitched in 15 games for Trenton in the Double-A Eastern League, starting 13 of them. He was 3-4 for the Thunder over 69 innings pitched. Following one year at Indian Hills Green was taken by Texas in the 7th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He was traded to the Yankees in 2016 and has a career record of 29-31 and a 4.51 ERA in six seasons in the pros.
There are also at least five other former Falcons who played and/or coached at IHCC who are still in major league baseball. They include:
Rick Mathews – Special Assistant to Scouting for the Colorado Rockies
Bill “Chief” Gayton – Major League Baseball Scout for the Arizona Diamonbacks
Jonathan Mathews – Hitting Coach for Ft. Wayne, the San Diego Padres Class-A team in the Midwest League
Ramon Vazquez – Coach for the Boston Red Sox
Mark Conner – Director of Amateur Scouting for the San Diego Padres
Also, after 15 years, more than 1,700 games and 6,384 at bats in professional baseball, ex-IHCC Falcon Irving Falu retired in 2019. Falu has started a baseball academy for youth in his home country of Puerto Rico.