Former Norse make 40-man MLB roster

Two former Norse will join pitchers and catchers as they report to their respected organizations for Major League Baseball Spring Training.

NKU alumni Nathan Jones and Josh Lueke were added to the 40-man rosters of their Major League Baseball clubs. The Chicago White Sox added Jones to their 40-man squad, while Lueke was added to the Seattle Mariners’ expanded roster.

Jones pitched for the Norse for three years before being selected by the White Sox in the fifth round of the 2007 MLB Draft. Jones had a 6-5 record with two saves and a 3.81 ERA in 82 2/3 innings pitched during his collegiate career.

He started his career in the minors with the role as a starting pitcher for his first two seasons. After struggling as a starter, he was moved to the bullpen for the 2009 season. He posted a 3.31 ERA in 68 innings pitched.

He moved back to the starting rotation in 2010, and with the White Sox’ Advanced-A team Winston Salem, he put together an 11-6 record with a 4.08 ERA in 28 starts.

According to the White Sox’s blog, South Side Sox, Jones is the 26th best prospect in the White Sox’s farm system.

Lueke joined the Norse for the 2007 season after transferring from St. Catharine. He went 3-6 with a 4.32 ERA in 10 starts. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 16th round of the 2007 draft. Lueke was converted into a closer in the professional ranks.

Lueke began the 2010 season in Texas system playing Class-A ball for the Hickory Crawdads. He was called up to the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders.

Lueke was sent to Seattle in July as part of the trade that sent the 2008 AL Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to the Rangers.

When Lueke arrived in the Rangers organization, he stayed at the Double-A level and went to the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. After a strong showing for West Tennessee, he was promoted to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, where he finished the season.

For the four different teams, Lueke complied a 1.86 ERA with a record 5-2 in 63 innings. He also added 17 saves.

According to the Mariner’s blog, Pro Ball NW, Lueke has the best blend of late-inning stuff, and is the most polished among relief prospects.

Due to being on the 40-man roster, both players are eligible to join their respective Major League clubs at any time during the 2011 season. If either one does so, he would be just the third Norse alumnus to play in the Major Leagues.

“It’s really nice for the program,” said Norse head baseball coach Todd Asalon. “Every kid wants to play in the majors, so when they see they have a chance, it is good.”

The other two were relief pitchers Chris Hook and Scott Wiggins. A Norse from 1987 to 1989, Hook played the 1995 and 1996 season with the San Francisco Giants, going 5-2 with a 5.89 ERA in 55 relief appearances. Wiggins played at NKU from 1995 to 1997, and was a September call-up for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2002, making three relief appearances.

Story by John Minor