“They say it’s celestial, it’s all in the stars; Like Tony LaRussa on how you play your Cards” Jay-Z
Grandma, thank you for all you taught me and all the love you gave!!
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My apologies to those of you readers who have missed me in my absence. My plan originally was to take a few weeks off while I went on my first ever trip to Los Angeles. Then when I returned, my family was hit with the loss of our matriarch, my beloved Grandmother. It did not come as a shock, nor a surprise, as after all she was 101 years old. However, it did bring back a lot of memories of growing up, as most of my time was spent with her. It was with my childhood friends, on her block in Flushing, Queens, where my love for Baseball was born. My best friend Tommy Pastore was the ring leader. Every day we would play, regardless of how many people we had. A lot of times we would recruit Chris Stella, who was a year and a half older than us, to give us a pitcher, a catcher, and a hitter. “First Yankees! Second Mets! Third California,” was how we would yell out our teams and choose the line-up. Let us just say the Angels were not the team of choice, and I was the one stuck emulating Rod Carew 99.9% of the time. Then there were the showdowns of a block away, where we would get our local tomboy, Stefanie Mazur (who by the way had a cannon of an arm), to fill out our roster. One sewer cap was home plate, second base was the next sewer down. First base was the tail light on the red station wagon, and third was, of course, the crack on the edge of the sidewalk in front of the Cristino’s. Every day, all summer it was baseball non-stop. I would go home to Grandma’s cooking, and at night would watch my Yankee’s play on WPIX channel 11. Back then we only had seven channels to choose from, but even if we had today’s options I probably still would have chosen to listen to the Scooter, Phil Rizzuto. Those were the best days of my life, and in retrospect I was wrong in what I previously said – in reality my Grandma was my best friend. All this talk of youth makes me think of what has been going on in today’s games. We are almost at the All-Star break, and there has been an absurd amount of rookies making huge impacts for their teams. It is more than I can ever remember, and there seems to be just as many coming around the corner. The other fascinating aspect of this is that the majority are high profile prospects. There is a tremendous youth movement in Major League Baseball, which has excited fans the world over. I am just proud to say I made my Dodger Stadium debut a couple of weeks before Yasiel Puig took over Los Angeles. Amazingly, going 2-5 for him is a bad day! Then there is Shelby Miller, who has blended in so well in St. Louis, it is almost hard to remember he is a first year player. Zack Wheeler, Kevin Gausman, Nolan Arenado, Evan Gattis, Jedd Gyorko, the aforementioned Puig, and my personal favorite, Jose Fernandez, to name a few. For fantasy owners, the surprise has not been getting production from these guys, rather the consistency of that production. When Mike Trout and Bryce Harper burst onto the scene, waaaaaay back to last year, it was how seasoned they looked that amazed everyone. There were not any nervous rookie jitters or prolonged slumps. They were here, they were ready, and they knew it. Apparently they were not alone. So who can we look to for the next wave of superstars? The guys who five years from now will make up every pick in the first round of your fantasy draft, yet will be ready to produce from day one; The guys who will without question be up in the show this season or next, who you may still be able to get now before it is too late.
Can’t Miss Guys
Jonathan Singleton, HOU 1B: A 50 game suspension did not slow his progress down, and the Astros need to see what they have for the future.
Nick Castellanos, DET OF/3B: He switched positions to the outfield to help get around Miggy and into the bigs. He will get plenty of pitches in a deep Tigers line up, and will not miss many.
Taijuan Walker, SEA SP: The most heralded of a young and improved Mariners rotation, he has been getting better at every level, and will provide excitement for the Seattle fan base.
Xander Bogaerts, BOS SS: Boston finally has its heir apparent to Nomar. He is young but he is the real deal.
Brad Miller, SEA SS: While some Mariners middle infielders have been highly touted, none have produced; Miller will. He will have comparable numbers to Gyorko.
Will Get the Call But May Be Too Soon
Cesar Puello, NYM OF: I do not believe his tools are genetically influenced, but that they are legit. The best outfielder in the Mets system, including the majors, a weak line up may affect his approach at the plate.
Jake Marisnick, MIA OF: He will be one of the Marlins’ everyday outfielders next year, and may get to show that talent this season, but lingering hand injuries may slow him down this year.
Anthony Ranaudo, BOS SP: A 6’7” man-child, who has an arsenal that has been too much for anyone he has faced. He’ll be in the Boston bullpen for playoff run – kind of like Trevor Rosenthal last year.
Billy Hamilton, CIN SS/OF: His numbers in the minors this year are not a good representation of his talent; he has nothing left to prove and needs more of a challenge. His only consistent tool is speed, and he will have to prove he can get on base.
Bruce Rondon, DET RP: There is no question he has the perfect make up to be a shut down closer, he just has yet to fine tune his control. He has improved in the minors, but may not be able to handle the Tigers’ championship expectations.
Probably Not This Year, But Worth Taking Anyway
Miguel Sano, MIN 3B: Already the star of a movie with a soon to be released sequel, he is a highly charismatic superstar in bloom. He may not make the leap from Single A to the Majors this year, but it is still possible.
Rafael Montero, NYM SP: With all of the hype surrounding Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, he has quietly been the best of the trio. Already having called up Wheeler, the Mets may keep him waiting just a little longer.
Jameson Taillon, PIT SP: While Gerrit Cole is a tremendous talent, Taillon is the young Pirate starter you want if you could only pick one. He has a tremendous curveball, that will get major league hitters out.
Yordano Ventura, KC SP: This diminutive flamethrower has been forcing his way up the Royals ladder. Originally thought to be a reliever, he is proving that he belongs in the Royals’ rotation plans.
Javier Baez, CHC SS: He made a quick impression in spring training, and is following that up in the minors this season. GM Theo Epstein wants to put his stamp on the Cubs, and Baez is his future. Starlin Castro’s poor play has been helping his case as well.
If you would like to add to this list, or comment on someone mentioned, please feel free to share your thoughts. I can also be found on Twitter @PeoplezPen