By Jess Westendorf
The Iowa baseball team had an impressive season, clinching titles, going to a NCAA regional, and seeing such teammates as Jake Adams and Mason McCoy head to the draft.
But baseball doesn’t stop just because the season is over, and several Hawkeyes have taken their games to the summer leagues. Not only are veteran players hitting their strides in summer leagues, incoming players are giving fans a taste of what they can do on the diamond.
Sophomore Grant Judkins, a Pella, Iowa, native, is playing for the Loggers in the Northwoods League. Since joining the team, his batting average is .323 (21-for-65).
He has hit 3 home runs for the Loggers with 13 runs, 10 RBIs, and 15 walks. Last season for Iowa, Judkins started 31 games as a DH with 11 runs and 16 RBIs.
Sophomore Justin Jenkins only started six games for Iowa last season, five at third and one at shortstop.
He didn’t make a huge impact offensively for the Hawkeyes, hitting .061 with a single run and 4 RBIs. He did have a 2-run home run as his first college hit against South Florida on Feb. 18.
But he is changing that as he plays for the Quincy Gems in the Prospects League. He is hitting .275 with 3 home runs and 12 RBIs.
These numbers demonstrate the ability he has at the plate, something Iowa should keep an eye on, especially with power hitter Jake Adams leaving the team for the pros.
Sophomore Kyle Crowl is not the only Hawkeye in the Prospects League; sophomore Justin Jenkins plays for Terre Haute, Indiana.
Jenkins a rising sophomore is a Terre Haute native who has made appearances in 41 games but only started six, all in center field.
But his starts show some promising results; he is hitting .327 with 1 home run, with 12 runs, 15 walks, and 6 RBIs.
Junior Robert Neustrom, a Hawkeye outfielder, has made some waves in the Cape Cod league in Massachusetts. The right fielder leads the league in home runs with 3, hitting .286. Midway through the summer, he has scored 9 runs and racked up 16 hits and 11 RBIs.
Neustrom is in a perfect position to become a featured player in the Hawkeye lineup. Last season, he started all 61 games, hitting .310 with 79 hits, 41 runs, and 55 RBIs. The Sioux City native was named second-team All-Big Ten.
Incoming freshman and Hawkeye shortstop Tanner Wetrich isn’t wasting time opening some Hawkeye fans’ eyes.
He plays for the Jefferson City Renegades in the MINK League this summer and leads the league with a .357 BA. His lead is comfortable one; the next guy on the list is hitting .333.
He also has 3 home runs, 14 RBIs, 12 walks, and 17 runs. It will be interesting to see how he finishes this summer and then wonder about a possible spot in Iowa’s lineup.