July 25, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Former Notre Dame pitcher and football All-American Jeff Samardzija was called up from Triple-A Iowa Friday to join the Chicago Cubs for their weekend series against the Florida Marlins. He will become the fifth former Irish baseball player to suit up for a Major League club this season.
Samardzija opened the season in Double-A with the Tennessee Smokies. He went 3-5 with a 4.86 earned-run average in 16 appearances, 15 starts. Samardzija surrendered 71 hits and totaled 44 strikeouts with 42 walks in 76.0 innings pitched.
After his promotion to the Triple-A affiliate of the Cubs (Iowa), Samardzija went 4-1 with a 3.13 earned-run average in six starts. He worked at least 6.0 innings in each of his outings and did not allow more than four earned runs. Samardzija yielded 32 hits and punched out 40 with just 16 free passes in 37.1 innings.
Over his last three starts, Samardzija went 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA and struck out 25 (just five walks). In his most recent outing, he limited Nashville to only one earned run on two hits over 6.0 innings. Samardzija fanned nine for the second straight game and walked just one.
Samardzija was Chicago's fifth round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He then made seven starts between Single-A Boise and Single-A Peoria, posting a 2.70 combined ERA (9 ER/30.0 IP) and was named the Cubs' fourth-best prospect by Baseball America at season's end. In 2007 (his first full season of pro ball), Samardzija posted a 6-11 record and 4.57 ERA in stops at Single-A Daytona and Tennessee.
A standout student-athlete at Notre Dame, Samardzija went 8-2 with a 4.33 ERA (47 ER/97.2 IP) in 15 starts for the Fighting Irish in 2006. He closed out that season with three straight outings of 8.0 or more innings while striking out 61 and walking 37 on the season. He allowed just three home runs in 97.2 innings of work and was named first team all-BIG EAST.
Samardzija went 21-6 with a 3.82 ERA (102 ER/240.1 IP) in 50 career games (31 starts) for Notre Dame. Just 12 pitchers in the 114-year history of Notre Dame baseball have won more games in their careers than Samardzija (each with 22-plus wins). Overall, he surrendered just 11 home runs in his 240.1 innings of work and struck out 159 while walking 84.
The Valparaiso, Ind., native was also a star wide receiver on the Notre Dame football team. He led the football team with 78 receptions and 1,017 receiving yards in 2006, his senior season, and was named first team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America. In 2005, he set Notre Dame single-season records for yards receiving (1,249) and touchdown catches (15).
Samardzija joins current big leaguers Craig Counsell (Milwaukee Brewers), Aaron Heilman (New York Mets) and Brad Lidge (Philidelphia Phillies). Matt Macri also made his MLB debut earlier this season for the Minnesota Twins.