Tag Archives: Indiana Travelers

Righty Albright heading into third season in Diamondbacks system

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Luke Albright is preparing for his third professional baseball season.
The right-handed pitcher from Fishers, Ind., is honing his offerings while participating in spring training at the Arizona Diamondbacks complex — Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Albright spent most of his time following the 2022 campaign in Fishers and worked out five days a week at PRP Baseball at Mojo Up Sports Complex in Noblesville.
“It was pretty much full-go most of the off-season,” says Albright. Fridays featured “live ABs” and “high-intent bullpens.”
He reported to instructional league in Arizona Jan. 15, went home for a week and came back for early spring camp.
Albright, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 230 pounds, throws a four-seam baseball, curveball, slider and change-up from a high three-quarter arm slot.
Early this spring, his fastball has been clocked around 93 to 95 mph. It touched 95 mph during the 2022 season.
“I’ve made some adjustments in the off-season and it’s gotten a little better,” says Albright.
His curve is of the 11-to-5 or 12-to-6 variety.
The cutter/slider is “short, late and tight, just barely misses bats and gets a lot of strikeouts.”
There is true arm-side fade to the change-up.
Albright has been working on adding a “gyro” slider to the mix.
“We’re tinkering with it and seeing where it’s going to play,” says Albright.
Albright was selected in the sixth round of the 2021 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Diamondbacks after three seasons at Kent (Ohio) State University, where Jeff Duncan is head coach.
With veteran pitching coach Mike Birkbeck guiding him, Albright made 33 mound appearances (21 as a starter) and went 12-7 with two saves and a 2.98 earned run average. In 157 innings, he struck out 178 and walked 71.
“As a freshman I had good stuff,” says Albright. “I just didn’t use it effectively. (Birkbeck) got me to be myself and not try to do too much.
“Over time, we developed a curveball and change-up and added a slider.”
In his 25th season, Birkbeck has worked with 53 student-athletes who have been drafted or signed into professional baseball, including 2011 first-rounder Andrew Chafin and 2016 first-rounder and National Player and Pitcher of the Year Eric Lauer.
In 2021, Albright was named second-team all-Mid-American Conference and was MAC Pitcher of the Week after holding No. 2 Mississippi State to one hit over six innings. He set a career-best 13 strikeouts against Ohio. He whiffed 10 or more three times during the 2020 season.
Albright pitched sparingly during the summer of 2018 before going to Kent State. He did go to South Bend for the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series.
He was with the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Keene (N.H.) Swamp Bats in the summer of 2019 and split the summer of 2020 between the College Summer League at Grand Park and the Northwoods League’s St. Cloud (Minn.) Rox.
Since Albright logged 82 innings at Kent State in 2021, he hurled just 23 1/3 innings over six starts at Low Class-A Visalia (Calif.) that summer, going 2-0 with a 3.47 ERA, 22 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Albright spent the 2022 season at High Class-A Hillsboro (Ore.). The righty made 26 starts and went 6-10 with a 5.49 ERA. In 123 innings, he fanned 130 and walked 56.
Albright grew up in Fishers and played travel ball for the Indiana Mustangs and Indiana Travelers.
His pitching instructor before and during high school was Mike Farrell.
“He helped bridge that gap from high school to how it would be in college,” says Albright of Farrell. “He told me what you need to do and what you need to learn.
“(Birkbeck and Farrell) are two of the most impactful people I’ve met in my baseball career,” says Albright. “They are a tremendous help.”
Going into his sophomore year is where Albright saw himself more as a pitcher and less as a hitter.
“My hitting skills diminished, but pitching really took off for me,” says Albright. “I saw it could lead to college. At the time that’s all I wanted.”
In three varsity seasons at Fishers High School, Albright won 16 games and posted a 2.69 ERA over 143 innings.
He fanned 91 as a senior and helped the Matt Cherry-coached Tigers to dogpile with a 2018 IHSAA Class 4A state championship.
Albright was the winning pitcher and Grant Richardson picked up the save in the title game. Richardson went on to Indiana University and is now an infielder in the New York Yankees organization.
“We weren’t very good my sophomore year (at Fishers),” says Albright. “We had a great team junior year and fell a little short in the (Lafayette Jeff) Regional.
“Senior year I got to enjoy what it was like to win the state championship.”
Luke, who turned 23 in December, is the oldest of Mark and Amy Albright’s two sons. Brock Albright is now a junior in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington.
By going back to Kent State after his first pro season and taking online classes, Luke Albright earned his Business degree this past winter and is a few classes shy of a Marketing degree.

Luke Albright. (Hillsboro Hops Photo)
Luke Albright. (Arizona Diamondbacks Photo)
Luke Albright. (Arizona Diamondbacks Photo)
Luke Albright. (Arizona Diamondbacks Photo)
Luke Albright. (Arizona Diamondbacks Photo)
Luke Albright. (Kent State University Photo)
Luke Albright. (Kent State University Photo)
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Shelbyville alum Lux producing for Duke Blue Devils

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Damon Lux has made his way to everyday player in his senior season at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
A 2018 graduate of Shelbyville (Ind.) High School, Lux has been starting for the Blue Devils baseball team in center field and batting anywhere from No. 4 to No. 6 in the batting order through the first eight games of the 2022 season.
Heading into a March 4-6 home series against Bucknell, Lux has driven in seven runs in 30 at-bats with five coming in a Feb. 19 game against Virginia Military Institute (the righty swinger went 2-of-3 with three-run home run).
“I like that I get a lot of chances to score some guys,” says Lux of hitting in the middle of the order for the Atlantic Coast Conference squad. “I consider myself to be an RBI hitter.”
Lux, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder, finds himself really bearing down in those situations.
“It’s made me focus to be a much tougher out and putting the ball in play whenever there’s guys in scoring position,” says Lux. “It’s having great plate discipline, not swinging on pitches out of the zone and fouling off pitches.
“I still have a lot of work to do.”
Coming into this season, Lux had played in 42 games with his lone start coming as a designated hitter in a 2021 game against Liberty.
Lux was a center fielder for much of his time in high school and travel ball. He prefers the middle of the outfield to the corners.
“I like playing center,” says Lux. “I have a lot of room to roam and move. It makes it easier to get good reads on balls. (In in left field or right field) you have to worry about the wall.
“Some of the farthest throws on the baseball field (come from center field). I’d like to think I have a pretty solid arm.”
Lux has spent his whole Duke career with head coach Chris Pollard, associate head coach Josh Jordan and assistant/hitting coach Jason Stein.
“I really enjoy playing for Coach Pollard,” says Lux. “We’ve developed a really good relationship the last four years. We can trust each other. We can lay it out on the table. We can talk about anything.
“Coach Jordan and I have built a relationship over the last four years as well. He was tough starting out. When I was a freshman, he picked on me and gave me some tougher skin.
“I like how Coach Stein is kind of a players’ coach. He lets players have the freedom to personalize their swings and approach at the plate. He doesn’t micro-manage.”
Lux spent the past three summer in collegiate wood bat leagues. He was with the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Growlers of the Northwoods League in 2021, the Local Legends of the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., in 2020 and the Bismarck (N.D.) Larks of the Northwoods League in 2019.
Duke has been feeding players to the Growlers, including Lux’s roommate Jake Topolski.
“I enjoyed (Kalamazoo) Coach (Cody) Piechocki,” says Lux. “He knows a lot about the game.”
Lux is a Sociology major who is also working toward a certificate in Markets and Management Studies and is due to graduate from Duke in May.
“What I enjoy most about Sociology is the broadness of topics we discuss in class — from from how we interact in society to the medical field to anything in-between,” says Lux. “It’s to be determined if I will go for a fifth year. I would definitely love the opportunity (to play pro ball).”
Unless that chance comes this summer, Lux expects to pursue an internship while preparing for “the real world.”
Lux came into the world in Indianapolis and grew up in Shelbyville with a brief move to Illinois and back. He played in the Shelby County Babe Ruth League then travel ball with the Indiana Bandits, Indiana Travelers and then the Indiana Bulls from 14U to 17U. His 17U head coach was Sean Laird.
“He was extremely energetic and passionate about the game,” says Lux of Laird.
Lux was a four-year varsity player at Shelbyville High. Scott Hughes led the Golden Bears his first three years and Royce Carlton was head coach his senior year.
Hughes was Lux’s Biology teacher in eighth grade.
“He’s an overall great guy and easy person to talk to,” says Lux of Hughes. “He’s a mentor who helped me with anything I needed.
“Coach Carlton was very passionate about the team and winning, which I admired. I loved his energy.”
On the football field — in a program led by Patrick Parks — Lux was a wide receiver for three seasons then a running back as a senior. Combined receiving and rushing, he had more than 4,000 yards 2014 to 2017.
“(Parks) was very knowledgeable about the game of football and how to make guys stronger and better athletes,” says Lux. “He was a game. He knew what he was doing.
“He helped me hit the ground running when I got into high school and started playing football. I’ll be grateful for that the rest of my life.”
Lux played basketball as a freshman and sophomore then decided to focus more time on developing in baseball.
Damon (22) is the middle child of Jared and Leigh Lux between sisters Anastasia (24) and Alex (19).

Damon Lux homers for Kalamazoo (Mich.) Growlers.
Damon Lux (Duke University Photo)
Damon Lux (Duke University Photo)
Damon Lux (Duke University Photo)
Damon Lux (Duke University Photo)
Damon Lux (Duke University Photo)
Damon Lux (Duke University Photo)
Damon Lux (Duke University Photo)

Indiana U.’s Tucker gets summer ball opportunities on two fronts

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Some college baseball players did not get to have a summer season in 2020.

Indiana University’s Braydon Tucker pitched in two different leagues. The right-handed pitcher from Brazil, Ind., was in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., then accepted the invitation to hurl in the Coastal Plain League.

The 12-team Grand Park league sprung up when other circuits opted out because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Used mostly as a Tuesday starter (most CSL games were played on Mondays and Tuesdays with training at Pro X Athlete Development Wednesday through Friday), Tucker drove weekdays from Brazil to Grand Park to train or play for the Tropics, a team featuring Josh Galvan as manager and Ryan Cheek as an assistant coach.

As that season wound down, IU pitching coach Justin Parker let Tucker know about an opportunity with the Macon (Ga.) Bacon and the righty took it.

The Bacon, with Jimmy Turk as manager and Josh Teichroew as pitching coach, operated as part of a three-team pod with the Savannah (Ga.) Bananas and Lexington County (S.C.) Blow Fish. Macon teammates included Indiana pitchers Ty Bothwell, Matt Litwicki, Connor Manous and Braden Scott.

Used mostly as a starter with some relief work on scheduled “bullpen” days, Tucker made one trip to Columbia, S.C. He made five mound appearances (three starts) with an 0-0 record, 4.97 earned run average, 14 strikeouts and seven walks in 12 2/3 innings.

His summer four-seam fastball was thrown at 90 to 93 mph, occasionally touching 94. That’s up from 89 to 92 and touching 93 in the spring and 89 to 91 and touching 92 as a freshman in 2019.

Thrown from a three-quarter arm angle like all his pitches, Tucker’s fastball is thrown with a split-finger grip and has sinking action. 

His slider moves from 1-to-7 or 2-to-8 on the clock face, meaning the movement (both horizontal and vertical) is in to the left-handed batter and away from a righty.

He throws a “circle” change-up.

He’s working to add two other pitchers to his selection — a curveball an cutter (cut fastball). 

“The curve plays off the slider,” says Tucker. “It is more vertical than horizontal.”

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Tucker was slated to spend most of June and all of July with the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Keene (N.H.) Swamp Bats, but Keene did not get a chance to go after a second straight NECBL when the league elected to cancel the season.

Tucker, who has logged two springs with the Hoosiers (he has started four of his nine games and is a combined 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA, 12 strikeouts and 11walks in 26 1/3 innings) and played in the summer of 2019 with the Prospect League’s Terre Haute (Ind.) Rex. That team was managed by Tyler Wampler. Jeremy Lucas coached pitchers and catchers. The PL did not take the field this summer either.

A 2018 graduate of Northview High School in Brazil, Tucker helped the Craig Trout-coached Knights win an IHSAA Class 3A state championship in his sophomore year. When he was not on the mound during his prep career, he logged time at first base, second base, third base and all over the outfield.

There was an expectation with Trout of hard play and focus.

“He wanted us to have a loose practice and enjoy it, but if we didn’t execute in practice — like somebody missed the cut-off man — it was a waste of time,” says Tucker, using his own words.

Tucker committed to Indiana when Chris Lemonis was head coach. Most of the pursuing was done by former Hoosier assistants Kyle Bunn (pitching coach) and Kyle Cheesebrough (recruiting director). 

Soon after high school graduation, Tucker enrolled in summer school. By the fall, the coaching staff had changed and Jeff Mercer was in charge with Parker as pitching coach.

“I don’t have one single word to described what it’s like to describe working with them,” says Tucker of Mercer, Parker and the rest of the IU staff. “It’s very detailed and developmental. It’s structured to the point that you don’t need down time. You always have something to do.”

Even when pitchers are engaged in throwing bullpens, long toss or some other specific thing, they are expected to do something productive and help their teammates. The same is true for all of the Hoosiers.

Tucker was born in Terre Haute and grew up in New Palestine, Ind., moving to Brazil as he was starting high school. His father (Jim) grew up in Clay County and his mother (Tammy) was raised on the south side of Terre Haute.

Braydon started in T-ball in New Palestine and was 6 when he made an Indiana Bandits 9U travel team. He attended a camp at the old Bandits Yard in Greenfield, Ind., conducted by Harold Gibson (father of Texas Rangers pitcher Kyle Gibson). Jim Tucker retained the information and used it with Braydon.

After playing two more years with the Bandits, there were three summers with the Indiana Prospects (led by Shane Stout and Mark Peters) and one with the Hancock County-based Indiana Travelers (Mark Horsely).

From 13U to 16U, Tucker played for coaches Rick Arnold and Dan Metzinger with the Ironman Baseball out of Louisville. The 17U summer was spent with the Cincinnati Spikes. Trent Hanna was the head coach and was assisted by Aaron Goe, Stephen Rodgers and Joe Janusik.

Jim Tucker is a senior sourcing team leader at GE Aviation in Terre Haute. Tammy Tucker works is at Catalent Pharma Solutions in Bloomington. She had been in quality management at Rolls-Royce in Indianapolis.

Braydon (who turned 21 in July) has two brothers — Dakota (27) and Trey (19). Dakota Tucker played baseball and football at New Palestine then football at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, where he earned a mechanical engineering that he now uses at Ford Motor Company in Detroit. Trey Tucker is a sophomore at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. He played baseball and basketball at Northview.

Braydon Tucker, who is a Sports Marketing & Management major at IU, represented the Knights on the hardwood for three years. Now back at school, he is taking five classes this fall (all on online). Class begins Monday, Aug. 24. Tucker says baseball facilities are not to open until Sept. 17.

Brayden Tucker, a right-handed pitcher and 2018 graduate of Northview High School in Brazil, Ind., has played two baseball seasons at Indiana University. In the summer of 2020, he played in both the College Summer League at Grand Park and in the Coastal Plain League. (Indiana University Photo)