One of the challenges of trying to cover former Valley Leaguers when they return to college, given the transfer rules these days, is actually finding where guys land. (I don’t mind the transfer rules, mind you- I actually think players should have more freedom to transfer rather than less. But I digress.)
So this morning I popped over to New Mexico State’s baseball page to check in on Chance Hroch, one of the best starters in the Valley League in 2018, when he pitched for the Strasburg Express. He was nowhere to be found! But there is this thing called google, and when I punched in the right combination of letters (and also thanks to his distinctive last name, of course), what popped up but…. Nebraska?!?
And I found this incredible picture:
I mean… if this guy doesn’t need an update, then no one does. Look at that majestic mustache!
So let’s catch up with him a bit. First, Hroch was very good for the Express as a sophomore in 2018. Coming off a season in New Mexico in which he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen, the Express started him in four of his nine total games. He went 2-1, 2.91, with a 1.027 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, and 8.0 K/9 in 37 total innings. ATVL named him the 7th best starter. Express management Matt Neal said this about Hroch: “It didn’t matter the role…he was absurdly flexible and outstanding in every situation we put him in. Starting. Relieving. Clean inning. Coming in with runners on. Didn’t matter, just a reliable arm and consistent athlete.”
He returned to New Mexico State in 2019, now a junior, and in 15 starts that spring, he went 10-1, 2.74, with a 1.31 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, and 7.3 K/9 in 85 1/3 innings pitched. He was starting to get a little buzz about pro ball, which makes sense after a D-I season like that.
And then came Covid. In 2020, Hroch started four games, going 2-1, 4.68, with a 4/20 BB/K ratio, but the season ended early, and the major leagues cut the draft to two rounds. He graduated, and decided to transfer to Nebraska as a grad student. Nebraska’s schedule begins on Friday, so he obviously hasn’t pitched yet in 2021.
So we’ll continue to watch how Hroch pitches this year, and hopefully a major league team will give him a shot at a pro career this summer!