From a division champion, to an All-Star Game appearance and an MLB debut, the 2022 season brought out the best in these former Hokies.
OF • Detroit Tigers • Virginia Tech (2019)
Splitting time in Double-A (Erie) and Triple-A (Toledo), Kerry Carpenter received the words every minor league athlete wants to hear when he was called up to the Detroit Tigers to make his MLB debut on Aug. 10 at Comerica Park against Cleveland. At the time of his promotion, the No. 22 prospect in Detroit’s system was leading all levels of Minor League Baseball with 30 combined home runs, having batted .331 and slugged .644 (1.064 OPS) during his 35-game stretch in Triple-A.
Carpenter’s bat came around during his first MLB road trip as he combined to swing 6-for-12 with a double and two home runs. He recorded his first career hit on Aug. 13 at Chicago (A.L.) two days before launching his first career homer at Cleveland – part of his 3-for-4 night that featured a double and three runs scored.
Wetting his feet, Carpenter batted .273 and slugged .523 (.863 OPS) during his first month with the Tigers, doubling twice during another Detroit win on Aug. 28 at Texas. Despite a quieter September, he finished with a .252 batting average across his first 31 MLB appearances, driving four doubles, one triple and six home runs around the yard to the tune of 10 RBIs and 16 runs scored.
Carpenter ended the year on the 10-day injured list while suffering a left lumbar spine strain. He is slated to be ready and available to compete for a 2023 Opening Day roster spot during spring training.
P • Arizona Diamondbacks • Virginia Tech (2010-13)
From the desert to the red carpet, year five was remarkably Joe Mantiply’s best MLB season as the 31-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander earned his first career All-Star Game selection in July, representing the National League. Mantiply’s invitation to the Midsummer Classic was deserved; he led Arizona’s bullpen during the first half of the season in fewest walks allowed per nine innings (0.49) with his sub-1.00 WHIP (0.95), ranking second on his squad in ERA (2.21).
By season’s end, Mantiply led the Diamondbacks’ staff with 69 relief appearances, toeing a 2.85 ERA across 60 innings pitched – recording 61 strikeouts and issuing six walks. Including his Opening Day win against San Diego, he allowed one run to score across his first 29 appearances of the season, carrying his 0.45 ERA into the month of June.
On April 23, Mantiply earned his first career MLB save, stamping the final three outs of Arizona’s 5-2 win against New York (N.L.). Ten days later, he collected his second of two saves this season, ultimately finishing nine games for the Diamondbacks.
Mantiply was rumored to be on the trading block before the MLB Trade Deadline in August, but no decision to deal him panned out. He is under Arizona’s control through the end of the 2026 season.
P • St. Louis Cardinals • Virginia Tech (2015-17)
After making his MLB debut with the Los Angeles Angels during the 2021 season, Packy Naughton found his new home with the St. Louis Cardinals organization this offseason, having been claimed off waivers in March.
Beginning the regular season in Triple-A (Memphis), Naughton popped up for his St. Louis debut on April 26 against New York (N.L.), dealing four outs of scoreless relief work. Traveling up and down, he made three starts for the Cardinals – his longest lasting three and one-third innings against Baltimore – before his stay with the pro club became more permanent by late June.
In July, Naughton turned in a 2.89 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP across nine appearances, keeping St. Louis in prime contention for the NL Central division crown. On July 7 at Atlanta, he earned his first career MLB save, protecting the Cardinals’ 3-2 lead during the bottom of the 11th inning.
For the season, Naughton registered 31 strikeouts across 32 innings pitched, making 26 regular season appearances for the NL Central champions while finishing with a 4.78 ERA. He was chosen to the St. Louis postseason roster for the National League Wild Card Series, though did not appear against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Naughton is under St. Louis control through 2024.
OF • Oakland Athletics • Virginia Tech (2011-13)
Chad Pinder’s 2022 season marked his seventh MLB campaign and the possible end to his 10-year tenure with the Oakland Athletics organization, which drafted him at No. 71 overall during the 2013 MLB Draft. After signing a one-year, $2.275 million contract last November, he played in 111 games – his second most during a single season with Oakland – setting career highs in both hits (85) and at-bats (361).
A corner outfielder by trade, Pinder combined to make 74 starts in left and right field, batting .235 while accounting for 18 doubles, 12 home runs and 42 RBIs – production on par with his career averages. On May 18, he made his first career pitching appearance when he was asked to toss the final inning of the Athletics’ runaway, 14-4 loss to Minnesota. By July, Pinder was enjoying the best offensive month of his season, batting .283 and slugging .567 (.869 OPS) with five doubles, four home runs and 17 RBIs across 17 appearances.
Pinder (age 30) expressed interest in re-signing with Oakland for the 2023 season, though the Athletics may be on the verge of rebuilding after their 60-102 season – the club’s worst record during Pinder’s seven seasons on the roster.