NCAA suspends Ben Wetzler for 20 percent of the season

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Recently, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America reported that the Phillies turned in Oregon State senior Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for inappropriate contact with an agent, which is explicitly forbidden by NCAA bylaws. Most of the commentary since then have focused on the ethics of what the Phillies did and the unfairness of the power NCAA wields over its athletes. Comparatively little attention has been paid to Wetzler himself, who appears to have broken the rules.

Fitt is now reporting that the NCAA has suspended Wetzler for 20 percent of the season, which includes time he has already missed. He will return on March 3.

Oregon State University came out in defense of Wetzler, calling the punishment “too hard given all of the mitigating factors”. More, from Fitt:

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.

Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.

Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.

What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.