Story by Gage Johnson, Contributing writer
In Racer history, there have only been five players who went on to play Major League Baseball. Three former Murray State baseball players took a step closer to that goal by signing Frontier League contracts over the summer.
The Frontier League is a professional baseball organization that is not directly affiliated with the MLB or Minor League Baseball.
The league, founded in 1993, was created to give towns that have no Major League Baseball affiliate a major league atmosphere in their own backyard. Since the league’s inception, it has grown to 12 teams and is separated into an East and West Division.
The teams start play in May, and the top two teams from each division take part in the playoffs in September.
Players must be at least 18 years of age, and make anywhere from $600 to $1,600 a month during the season while staying with a host family.
32 players have gone on to play in the Major Leagues and definitely received better paydays.
Murray State alumni Chad Gendron, Jack Hranec, and John Lollar reached an agreement with Frontier League teams this summer.
Gendron and Hranec signed with the Gateway Grizzlies out of Sauget, Illinois, while Lollar signed with the Southern Illinois Miners of Marion, Illinois.
All three fared well in their time at Murray State. Gendron was a two-year relief pitcher for the Racers after transferring from Heartland Community College. During his senior year in 2017, Gendron tied the single-season saves record at Murray State with eight.
Hranec was a two-year first baseman/pitcher at Murray State after transferring from Lincoln Trail Community College. In 2017, the senior led the Racers with a .717 slugging percentage, while also putting up a .349 batting average. Hranec also mashed 16 home runs that year, tying the Murray State single season record.
Lollar was a four-year relief pitcher for the Racers. During his four years, Lollar was a key relief pitcher, making 78 appearances, the second most in Murray State history. Lollar said his time with the Racers has benefitted his career in the Frontier League.
“I feel Murray State prepared me well to pitch in the Frontier League,” Lollar said. “The hitters in the OVC are some of the best mid-major hitters in the country, and it’s a very offensive league, so the better hitters in the league prepared me well for professional baseball.”
So far, during the nearly finished Frontier League season, Gendron has appeared in eight games, hoisting a 3.48 ERA over 10.1 innings. Fellow teammate Hranec has become mainly a position player, playing in 49 games. Over those 49 games, Hranec hit four home runs and had a .215 batting average. John Lollar has appeared in 8 games out of the bullpen for the Miners while having a 6.35 ERA over 11.1 innings. He hopes that his time with the Miners will propel him to bigger opportunities.
“My main goal is to get picked up by an affiliated team and eventually make it to the big leagues,” Lollar said. “The Frontier League provided me with a chance to keep playing and the chance to get better at a high level.”
With the season wrapping up, the three Murray State alumni will look to do the same as Lollar–continue working to achieve their respective Major League dreams.