by Ed Beach
Former Drury Panthers pitcher Sterling Sharp was named to the Miami Marlins opening day roster and could make his major league debut this weekend. Sharp, who played for Drury in 2016, will become the second player in the modern era of the DU program to reach the major league level. Trevor Richards, now in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, reached the big leagues with Miami in 2018.
A native of Farmington, Michigan, Sharp appeared in 18 games for Drury in 2016 while making six starts. He went 2-5 with a 5.90 earned run average and recorded 43 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. He was drafted out of high school in the 30th round by Atlanta but opted to attend Darton State Community College, then Eastern Michigan University before transferring to Drury for his junior season.
“Sterling had an opportunity to showcase his stuff in front of scouts while he was here,” said Drury head coach baseball coach Scott Nasby. “He became more of a sinkerballer after he left us, but when he was here, he could throw 94 (miles-an-hour) – that’s something you don’t see very often at Division II. His athleticism was off-the-charts, and he brought a confidence to the mound that a lot of our guys picked up on and learned from.
“For our program to have two active players in Major League Baseball, both being in their mid-20’s, is something that a lot of (Division I) Power-Five schools can’t even say.”
The Washington Nationals took Sharp in the 22nd round of the 2016 MLB draft, and in four minor league seasons at the Single-A and Double-A levels, had a combined record of 25-21 with a 3.71 ERA. He appeared in 75 games with 69 starts and has struck out 290 against only 95 walks in 378.1 innings.
Following the 2019 season, Sharp was selected by the Miami Marlins and was the third player taken overall in the MLB Rule 5 Draft. 2020 will be his first season with Miami.
Sharp will join former Drury pitcher Trevor Richards in the majors. Richards is currently on the 40-man roster of the Tampa Bay Rays and has spent most of the last two seasons in the big leagues. Undrafted out of Drury in 2015, Richards signed with the Marlins as a free agent in 2016 and made his major league debut two years later. Miami traded Richards to the Rays in a four-player transaction on July 31 last season. He has appeared in 55 major league games and has recorded 257 strikeouts in 261.2 innings.
Since the Drury baseball program was revived 13 years ago, three Panthers have been selected in the Major League Baseball draft, and four have played on MLB affiliated teams. Along with Sharp, Will Landsheft was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2014, and Nic Perkins was a 2017 draft pick of the Washington Nationals.
Several other Drury student-athletes have also played in Major League Baseball, including Bill Virdon, who spent 13 seasons playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates and was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1955. Drury graduates Ron Kanehl (New York Mets 1962-64), and Roy Smalley, Jr. (Chicago Cubs 1948-53, Milwaukee Braves 1954, and Philadelphia Phillies 1955-58) also reached the big leagues.