Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I Love Baseball

I love baseball. My dad and I have half-season (35 games) tickets to the Hagerstown Suns.  With our package, I selected all the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday games. We can't get to all the home games, but when we miss a game, we can trade our tickets in for tickets for the other games.

My dad, fellow baseball fan

The Suns are an affiliate of the Washington Nationals. So, we've also become Nationals fans, since that's where Suns players will end up, unless they are traded or end their careers prematurely. In reality, most of the Suns players will never play major league ball. Most play to fill out the roster. There are some big league prospects. Sometimes, prospects never materialize and sometimes the roster players become prospects.

The Suns are a low-A team, meaning there are several more steps to the big leagues:  Potomac (high-A), Harrisburg (double-A), and Syracuse (triple-A).  Below the Suns, there is Auburn, a short-season single A league and a couple of rookie leagues. Most of the players start below the Suns. Bryce Harper started with the Suns and played a half season here. He played well, but you could tell he didn't like playing in lowly Hagerstown. Oh well, we enjoyed watching him. We saw him learn his way around the outfield and hit his first pro grand slam.

Victor Robles:  future major leaguer?

Besides Bryce Harper, we've had the pleasure of watching some of the National's other top prospects, many of whom are still working themselves through the National's system or are playing for other major league teams. Michael Taylor, a current outfielder with the Washington Nationals, played for the Suns several years ago. The Nationals' #1 prospect and #1 prospect in the majors (top 100) is Lucas Giolito. He played for the Suns in 2014, after coming off Tommy John surgery. He posted a 10-2 record and was awesome to watch. He's still in Harrisburg. The Nats aren't rushing him. The Nat's current #3 prospect (#58 of top 100) is Sun's center fielder, Victor Robles. The Dominican has an awesome slash line and makes some good plays in the outfield.

Ripken, Jr.  Chip off the old block?

This  year's Hagerstown Suns boast three sons of former Major league players. Ryan Ripken (1B) is hall-of-famer Cal Ripken's son. Mariano Rivera III is the son of future Yankee hall-of-famer Mariana Rivera Jr. Cody Dent is Bucky Dent's son.  Bucky Dent played shortstop for the New York Yankees. Among the three, Rivera seems to have the most potential. So far, we've only seen him pitch once. LIke his dad, he's a relief pitcher. Ripken knocks runs in, but has a sub-200 batting average. Dent seems to be stuck at single-A. I think it's his third year in Hagerstown.

So far, the Suns are 28-17 and tied for first place. They've got a number of players hitting over 300. RBIs are spread around. They've got a few guys who can steal bases. It's hard to keep up with the pitchers because there are so many of them, more than half the roster. Despite the Sun's good record, we haven't seen many good games yet. As the season progresses, I'm sure that will change.

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