On Saturday, former USC outfielder Nick “Chili” Buss became the 109th former Trojan player ever to reach the pinnacle of baseball and earn a promotion to the major leagues.
Buss earned his call-up with the local Los Angeles Dodgers after having an extremely impressive season for the Triple-A affiliate the Albuquerque Isotopes. He appeared in Saturday’s game against the San Francisco Giants as a pinch-hitter for left fielder Carl Crawford in the bottom of the third inning, and his first at-bat resulted in a flyout to center.
The Michigan native remained in the game and notched his first major league hit in the bottom of the fifth inning, singling to right field.
The Trojan alumnus followed that performance up by making the first start of his career on Sunday, going 1-for-4 in a tough 4-3 loss for the Dodgers against their bitter rivals.
Buss was drafted by the Dodgers in the 35th round of the 2006 MLB draft out of San Diego Mesa College but chose instead to play at USC. Two years later, the move paid off, as he was drafted in the eighth round by the Dodgers in 2008, earning himself a heftier signing bonus and improving his chances of making it to the show.
During his time at USC, the left-hander played in 110 games and had a .293 career batting average. He then entered the Dodgers farm system and played five years there before finally earning his major league chance.
His performance with the Isotopes was particularly impressive, as he batted .303 with 17 home runs and 100 RBI in 131 games, which garnered a selection as a member of the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.
“It was very exciting. But surprisingly I felt calm,” Buss told the Los Angeles Times after his debut. “You get so used to stepping into the batter’s box. It was probably a little more nerve-wracking on deck than it is once you step in there. It’s just back to business as usual.”
Buss becomes the second Trojan to be called up to the majors this season, following current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim second baseman Grant Green, who earned his shot earlier in the summer with the Oakland Athletics before being traded to the Angels in July. Green and Buss were teammates for two years in 2007 and 2008.
Buss’ call-up makes him the ninth Trojan currently playing in the majors, an impressive feat for USC, considered to be one of the premier baseball programs in the nation.
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