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Eli Professionals Back to Work

Brandon Josselyn (Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Brandon Josselyn (Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With the 2010 Major League Baseball season upon us, four former Yale baseball players will continue their professional careers this spring. Craig Breslow ’02 has begun his fifth season on a Major League roster, suiting up for the Oakland Athletics in 2010. Ryan Lavarnway is climbing the ladder in the Red Sox farm system from Class A Greenville to the Class A Advanced Salem (Va.) Red Sox of the Carolina League, and hurlers Brandon Josselyn ’09 and Brian Irving ’08 will begin 2010 in Class A with the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings (Seattle Mariners) and Augusta (Ga.) GreenJackets (San Francisco Giants), respectively.

Breslow, a left-handed reliever, has become an established Major League player, finishing second in the American League with 77 appearances out of the bullpen for the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s last season. The former captain of the Bulldogs went 8-7 with a 3.36 earned run average. He has already made two appearances for Oakland, allowing one hit in one inning of work.

Lavarnway, a catcher and designated hitter, is slated to make his Carolina League debut today as the Salem Red Sox challenge the Potomac Nationals. One of the top hitters in the 145-year history of Yale baseball, Lavarnway swatted a Greenville Drive franchise-record 36 doubles in 2009 and tied the club home run mark with 21 roundtrippers. Both numbers represented the third-most overall in the South Atlantic League last season. The 2007 NCAA Batting Champion (.467) also set Greenville records for a right-handed batter with 87 runs batted in, the second-most RBI in the league in 2009, and 218 total bases. Lavarnway batted .285 in the regular season and ranks among the all-time leaders for the Drive with a .540 slugging percentage. The owner of a Yale and Ivy League record 23-game hitting streak, Lavarnway hit safely in 14 consecutive games for the Drive in May. Thanks in large part to Lavarnway’s big bat, the Drive continued into the postseason against the top-seeded Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies).

2009 Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Brandon Josselyn, who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in June, was called up from the Appalachian Rookie League after just eight appearances with the Pulaski (Va.) Mariners, and quickly became one of the most reliable arms in the bullpen for the Class-A Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings. Though his split season did not allow him to qualify as an official “league leader”, Josselyn was among the best in the Midwest League with a miniscule 0.75 earned run average in 24 innings of work. The righty hurler surrendered just two earned runs in that time while amassing 18 strikeouts and three saves. Batters managed a paltry .177 batting average against Josselyn. He will contend for the closer role in his first full professional season as the LumberKings begin their season today against the Peoria Chiefs (Chicago Cubs).

Brian Irving ’08, a member of the San Francisco Giants organization, completed his first full season in 2009 in the Arizona Rookie League. The ace of the 2008 Yale staff has blown away opposing hitters, piling up 37 strikeouts in 22.2 innings of work. In his final appearance of the season, Irving struck out six batters in 2.1 innings on the hill to improve his record in the AZL to 4-1. He finished 2009 with a 1.19 ERA and a .169 opponents’ batting average. Irving will work out the bullpen as the GreenJackets open their season today against the Greensboro (N.C.) Grasshoppers (Florida Marlins).

“These players have all worked incredibly hard to get where they are today,” said John Stuper, Yale’s Mazzuto Family Head Coach for Baseball. “They are a great source of pride for me and for our program and University.”

Breslow, Lavarnway, Josselyn and Irving represent four of the 26 Yale baseball players to be drafted or sign professional contracts during Stuper's 18-year career in the dugout at Yale Field. At least one Bulldog has been drafted in each of the last five seasons.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity