Former BYU baseball players return to Provo to train for minors

Taylor Cole, a BYU grad in the Toronto Blue Jays organization practices his pitching. Cole still works out with BYU in preparation for spring training. (Natalie Stoker)

Three former BYU baseball players return to Provo each winter to train in hopes of moving up in the minor leagues and eventually reaching the majors. Outfielder Jacob Hannemann, third baseman Adam Law and pitcher Taylor Cole have promising outlooks for the upcoming 2016 season.

The Chicago Cubs drafted Hannemann with the 75th pick in the 2013 MLB Draft after he recorded a .344 batting average for BYU in 2013.

“It was pretty sweet,” Hannemann said. “I didn’t think I was going to be that high. It was pretty cool hearing my name and getting that call.”

Minor League Baseball consists of six levels, each its own league designed to help players develop and prepare them for the major league. Hannemann made his way through four levels of the Cubs’ farm system and now plays Double-A baseball for the Tennessee Smokies.

Hannemann’s coaches are impressed with his defense, but are looking for improvement in his offense.

“I need to come around and hit with the bat more,” Hannemann said. “That’ll come with time and experience.”

The daily grind of professional baseball is tough, but it’s something Hannemann has always dreamed of.

“Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to play in the major leagues,” Hannemann said. “I’ve made it to professional baseball and now it’s the next step to get there.”

Adam Law posted a career .306 batting average for BYU from 2009 and 2012–2013. The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Law in the 12th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

“I remember when the phone call came, and I was ecstatic,” Law said. “It was a dream come true.”

Law’s father, Vance, and grandfather, Vernon, both had successful major league careers and Law hopes to follow in their footsteps. He currently plays Double-A baseball for the Tulsa Drillers, but Vernon suspects he won’t be there for long.

“I think Adam is probably better than (his dad and I) were,” Vernon said. “I think he’ll end up at least in Triple-A this year and then the next step is going to the big leagues. He’ll do well.”

Law has a .291 career batting average and a unique dream. L.A. Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully called games for both Vance and Vernon. Now Adam hopes Scully will call one of his own.

“The ultimate dream is to play in the major leagues,” Law said. “But for (Scully) to call a game I’m in, as a third generation player, that’s one dream I have too.”

Starting pitcher Taylor Cole had an ERA of 2.99 for the Cougars in 2011 and was drafted three times, most recently by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 29th round after returning home from his mission in Toronto, Canada.

“I’m grateful that I have a chance to do what I love for a living,” Cole said. “I get to pursue a dream. It’s up to me now.”

Cole has a 3.58 career ERA with 494 strikeouts and last played for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. The Blue Jays recently invited Cole to spring training, which he will report to Feb. 21.

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Cole said. “It’s something I’ve worked for my whole life, and I’m ready to showcase what I got.”

The club will make cuts throughout spring training, sending those players back down to the minor leagues. Cole hopes to be on the starting roster on opening day, helping the Blue Jays make another postseason run.

“Toronto is like a second home to me,” Cole said. “To go back and be a major leaguer where I served my mission would be really cool.”

If there is one thing that is certain, it’s that baseball isn’t certain. But for Hannemann, Law and Cole, it’s all about making the most of the opportunity.

“It all starts with getting that first call up and then going from there,” Cole said.

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