From D2 Baseball to the MLB Postseason

Robert Frey
9 min readOct 26, 2022

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The new postseason format in Major League Baseball (MLB) has given us baseball fans a lot of excitement.

Many baseball fans expected the Astros to represent the American League (AL), but few expected the Philadelphia Phillies to represent the National League (NL). However, the MLB postseason has always been presented with randomness.

Still, the game gives us fans excitement. That excitement does not just stem from the game itself, but the players within it. Specifically, the 11 players who played in Division 2 Baseball (D2) and were/are on a postseason roster.

Yes, Major Leaguers can come from D2. Alex Vesia, who appears on this list, said it best,

“People always say you can’t get to the big leagues from Division II. Yes, you can. I’m proof.”

D2 players can make a big impact for teams throughout the regular season and specifically in this article, the postseason.

Let’s breakdown the eleven players (10 pitchers, 1 batter) from nine schools, six conferences, and six MLB teams. This article will go MLB team by MLB team.

All pro images photo credit goes to MLB.com and all college images go to the respective school.

Toronto Blue Jays

Three (3) players: Anthony Bass (Wayne State (MI)), Tim Mayza (Millersville), Trevor Richards (Drury)

Anthony Bass

Anthony Bass — Blue Jays
Anthony Bass — Wayne State University (2006–2008)

Acquired from the Marlins in advance of the trade deadline, Anthony Bass put up the best season of his 11-year career as a reliever. In 73 appearances across both teams, he threw 70 1/3 innings and had an Earned Run Average (ERA) of 1.54 (Ranked 7th among qualified relievers in 2022).

He appeared in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card (WC) Series against the Seattle Mariners.

Per Wayne State Athletics:

(Bass) Ended his collegiate career ranked third all-time at Wayne State in victories (21), second in strikeout/walk ratio (3.38), tied for third in winning percentage (.700), fourth in strikeouts (206), seventh in starts (33), eighth in innings pitched (213.0), and tied for 10th in complete games (14).

Tim Mayza

Tim Mayza — Blue Jays
Tim Mayza — Millersville Marauders (2011–2013)

Like Bass, Tim Mayza set a career-best in ERA as a reliever in 2022 with a 3.14 ERA in his 5th year in the MLB with the Blue Jays.

He appeared in Game 1 and Game 2 of the AL WC Series against the Mariners.

Over his career with the Marauders, Mayza went 21–9 over 211 and 1/3 innings with a 2.98 ERA. In 2013, he had a 1.55 ERA over 98 and 1/3 innings. Mayza was also elected as a first team All-Region and All-American Third Team by various outlet(s) in that same year.

Trevor Richards

Trevor Richards — Blue Jays
Trevor Richards — Drury (2012–2015)

Trevor Richards appeared in 62 games with 4 starts in 2022. In 64 innings, Richards struck out 82 with a 5.34 ERA.

He appeared in Game 1 of the WC Series against the Mariners.

In his career at Drury, Richards threw 270 2/3 innings with a 2.96 ERA and 230 strikeouts.He was elected all Midwest-Region in his junior season.

St. Louis Cardinals

Two (2) players: Ryan Helsley (Northeastern State) and Miles Mikolas (Nova Southeastern)

Ryan Helsley

Ryan Helsley — St. Louis Cardinals
Ryan Helsley — Northeastern State (2014–2015)

Ryan Helsley had a career year in his 4th season, 1st as the Cardinals closer in 2022, going 9–1 in 64 and 2/3 innings with 19 saves and a 1.25 ERA (4th best among qualified relievers). He also threw the hardest pitch in 2022 at 104.2 miles per hour.

https://www.mlb.com/video/helsley-breaks-pitch-speed-record

He appeared in Game 1 of the NL WC Series against the Phillies.

In his career at Northeastern State, Helsley went 14–8 with a 4.06 ERA and 151 strikeouts over 126 and 1/3 innings. He was an All-Conference Freshman Second Team in 2014 and an All-Conference First Team in 2015.

Miles Mikolas

Miles Mikolas — St. Louis Cardinals
Miles Mikolas — Nova Southeastern (2007–2009)

Miles Mikolas has played 7 seasons in the Major Leagues (2012–2014, 2018–2019,2021-present) and 3 in the Japanese Central League (2015–2017). In 2022, Mikolas was in the rotation for the Cardinals, going 12–13 with a 3.29 ERA over 202 1/3 innings.

He started Game 2 of the NL WC Series against the Phillies.

Per Nova Southeastern Athletics:

“Appearing on the mound early and often for the Sharks, Mikolas recorded the second-most starts in Sunshine State Conference history (32) as part of his 200.2 career innings in three seasons at NSU. Under former head coach and current Director of Athletics Michael Mominey, Mikolas delivered a 15–8 record in 38 appearances, capped off by a 7–2 junior year that included five complete games, a 2.06 ERA and a stellar 10:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio — leading to Daktronics and Rawlings/ABCA All-South Region accolades and a seventh-round (204th overall) selection by the San Diego Padres in the 2009 MLB Draft. In 2019, Mikolas remains NSU’s highest draft pick in program history.”

Seattle Mariners

One (1) player: Matt Festa (East Stroudsburg)

Matt Festa

Matt Festa — Seattle Mariners
Matt Festa — East Stroudsburg (2014–2016)

In his third MLB season as a reliever, Matt Festa threw 54 innings across 53 games with a 4.17 ERA and 64 strikeouts to just 18 walks in 2022.

He appeared in two games in the postseason, going 1 and 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays in Game 2 of the WC Series and throwing 2 scoreless innings in Game 3 of the American League Division Series (ALDS) against the Houston Astros.

In his career at East Stroudsburg, Festa went 23–7 over 212 innings with a 3.52 ERA and 215 strikeouts to just 53 walks. He was also selected as a the All-Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year, First Team All-Region Selection, and as high as a Second Team All-American in 2016.

Festa also pitched two years at another D2 school, Dominican College (NY) from 2012–2013.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Two (2) players: Tommy Kahnle (Lynn), Alex Vesia (Cal State East Bay)

Tommy Kahnle

Tommy Kahnle — Dodgers
Tommy Kahnle — Lynn (2007–2010)

The Dodgers became the 4th MLB team to employ Tommy Kahnle in his 8-year career, who in 13 games as a reliever threw 12 and 2/3 innings with a 2.84 ERA in 2022.

He appeared in 3 of the 4 games in the NLDS against the San Diego Padres, most notably Game 2, where he struck out all 3 of the batters he faced.

In total, Kanhle threw 2 innings and struck out 4 this postseason.

In 2009, he went 7–4 over 79 and 1/3 innings with a 4.54 ERA en route to a National Championship with Lynn. He also threw a no-hitter.

Alex Vesia

Alex Vesia — Los Angeles Dodgers
Alex Vesia — Cal State East Bay (2015–2018)

In his third season (second with the Dodgers), Alex Vesia had a career year, going 5–0 with a 2.15 ERA across 54 and 1/3 innings as a reliever in 2022 (Top 25 in ERA amongst qualified relievers).

Like his teammate Kahnle, Vesia appeared in 3 of the 4 NLDS games against the Padres, most notably in a Game 1 win, where he went 1 and 2/3 innings, striking out 3 batters.

In total, he went 2 and 2/3 innings, gave up 0 runs, and struck out 4 batters.

In Vesia’s career at Cal State East Bay, he threw 313 and 2/3 innings over 4 years, going 24–17 with a 3.01 ERA.

In 2018, Vesia’s senior season, he went 8–2 over 78 and 1/3 innings with a 1.94 ERA.

New York Yankees

One (1) player: Lou Trivino (Slippery Rock)

Lou Trivino

Lou Trivino — New York Yankees
Lou Trivino — Slippery Rock (2011–2013)

Acquired from the Oakland Athletics prior to the trade deadline, Lou Trivino was masterful for the Yankees in 2022. In 21 and 2/3 innings across 25 games as a reliever, Trivino had a 1.66 ERA for New York.

Across the ALDS and ALCS, Trivino appeared in 4 games, most notably his 2-inning, 1 hit, 0 run appearance in Game 3 in the ALCS against the Houston Astros.

Overall, Trivino threw 3 and 2/3 innings, gave up 2 hits, 0 runs, and struck out 4 batters this postseason.

In his career at Slippery Rock, Trivino went 19–8 over 206 innings with a 1.95 ERA and 227 strikeouts. He was a 3-time All-Conference Pitcher (2 First Team, 1 Second Team) and a 2-time All-Region Pitcher. He holds the record for single-season strikeouts (92) and career strikeouts (227) at Slippery Rock.

Houston Astros

Two (2) players: Hunter Brown (Wayne State (MI)), Chas McCormick (Millersville)

Hunter Brown

Hunter Brown — Houston Astros
Hunter Brown — Wayne State University (2017–2019)

The most recent D2 baseball player to play in the 2022 postseason, Hunter Brown made his major league debut on September 5th, where he threw six scoreless innings against the Texas Rangers en route to his first big league win.

Overall this season, Brown made seven appearances (two starts) in 20 and 1/3 innings with a 0.89 ERA.

In the postseason so far, Brown has pitched three scoreless outings, two against the Mariners in the ALDS and one against the Yankees in the ALCS. His best outing was Game 3 of the ALDS, where he went 2 scoreless innings.

In Brown’s career at Wayne State, he went 14–3 with a 3.33 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 159 and 2/3 innings. Brown also was a First Team All-American and First Team Academic All-American as well as the Midwest Region Pitcher of the Year in 2019.

Chas McCormick

Chas McCormick — Houston Astros
Chas McCormick — Millersville (2014–2017)

The only hitter on this list, Chas McCormick is in his second season with the Astros. Over 359 at-bats, McCormick hit .245 with 14 Home Runs (HR) and 44 Runs Batted In (RBI) in 2022.

So far this postseason, McCormick is hitting .250 with 2 HR and 3 RBI over 20 at-bats.

His two-run go-ahead home run off Gerrit Cole was the difference maker in Game 3 of the ALCS.

In his career at Millersville, McCormick hit .373 with 17 HR and 186 RBI in 821 at-bats. He hit .412 in 2016, where the Marauders were the national runner-up.

McCormick was selected four times as an all-conference selection, three-time all Atlantic-Region selection, once as a PSAC Eastern Divsion Athlete of the Year.

McCormick holds the career record at Millersville for hits, runs, and RBI.

By the Numbers:

D2 Postseason Players By School:

(2): Millersville, Wayne State (MI)

(1): Cal State East Bay, Drury, East Stroudsburg, Lynn, Northeastern State, Nova Southeastern, Slippery Rock

D2 Postseason Players By Conference:

(4): Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC)

(2): Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), Sunshine State Conference (SSC)

(1): Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC), Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA), PacWest

Additional Notes:

There were two (2) former D2 vs former D2 matchups this postseason:

Matt Festa (East Stroudsburg) vs. Chas McCormick (Millersville)

Lou Trivino (Slippery Rock) vs. Chas McCormick (Millersville)

Although the Phillies have had zero D2 players on their postseason roster so far, two former D2 players will receive a World Series ring should the Phillies win with their regular season contributions: Tyler Cyr (Embry-Riddle, NAIA at the time, but a D2 school now), Bubby Rossman (Cal State Dominguez Hills).

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