Wednesday, June 15, 2016
KEEPING AN EYE ON THE FUTURE: JUNE 2016
The MLB 2016 draft is in the books and three players either from our area or who are headed to our tri-state area teams are of the lucky ones who have made it to "The Show". Early in my media career, I wrote and directed a documentary entitled, "Chasing A Dream," which depicted the arduous journey of little leaguer to minor leaguer to major leaguer. With interviews with former Boston Red Sox GM Lou Gorman, ESPN analyst icon Peter Gammons, Manager Clint Hurdle and a multitude of ball players and managers representing little leagues, high school, minor and major league clubs, the message was consistent, "the road to the majors is a difficult one."
According to Chasing the Dream website, which we featured back in March when we began this column on BYB, "Approximately 1 in every 200 high school baseball players or .05% will be drafted by a major league team into the minor leagues." So my excitement is even more elevated when I learned that Blake Rutherford, who we featured in that piece in March, signed a deal with the New York Yankees, Jason Groome from Barnegat, NJ went 12th overall to the Boston Red Sox and Nolan Jones from Holy Ghost High School in Bensalem, PA was drafted by the Cleveland Indians.
Blake Rutherford is a 6'2" 190 pound high school senior from Simi Valley, CA who has committed to UCLA this fall. According to scouts reviewing his performance at last year's Perfect Game All American tournament, Rutherford "showed crazy power at PG AA. Runs very well. Superstar potential." According to his high school coach, Frank Mutz, Rutherford is a very disciplined, and mature player for his age. "His baseball IQ is very high, and he understands the game. He’s a team player. It’s not about him, it’s not about his stats. It’s about what’s he going to do this at-bat to help the ballclub win." Although the Yankees' track record with signing high school outfielders is not impressive (the last kid we drafted that young was Slade Heathcott who has since been released despite some star-like performances up in the majors), Rutherford appears to have a bright future in pinstripes.
Breakfast at the diner this weekend had me scanning the news wires for information on 12th overall pick Jason Groome from down the SHORE! "Groome was rated by Baseball America in May as the third-best draft prospect this year, and the highest-ranked high school left-hander available. BA praised Groome for his fastball, which sits from 90-94 and has reached 97, and said, "Physically, Groome is as gifted as any player in the class." Wow! And we lost him to the Sox. Keep an eye out for this guy, pitching against us in the big leagues.
Finally, with my own son playing high school baseball and going on to Syracuse University to play ball for its only baseball team (club), I am partial to kids who play for the privates. From Bensalem's Holy Ghost High School just outside of Philadelphia, Nolan Jones went 55th overall. As the Philadelphia Inquirer posted this weekend, "A steadily rising shortstop with natural hitting power and arm strength, Jones was selected in the second round of Major League Baseball's amateur draft by the Cleveland Indians." Jones had an amazing season with Holy Ghost, batting .636 with 26 runs, 24 RBIs, five home runs, five doubles, and two triples while helping the Firebirds go 14-6 overall, claim the Bicentennial Athletic League Independence Division title, and advance to the PIAA District 1 Class 3A semifinals." Again, another loss for us, but Terry Francona and the Indians' gain.
So happy for these kids as they make the leap to the majors with all of the hard work and grit that it took to get there. And now they have to dig deeper to find their way onto the big league team's field. Play hard, guys! We look forward to writing about your successes!
--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
BYB Hot Stove Columnist
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