One of the best things about sports is if you have talent, you will be found. This has been the case early on in the Major League Baseball season unknown prospects taking the major leagues by storm helping their teams get off to solid starts. Many of these guys are journeyman and are easy to root for because of their tenacious attitudes not giving up on their dreams. Three guys that have stood out on this young season are Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, Houston Astros first baseman Tyler White and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker.
The Colorado Rockies had a bit of a tumultuous off-season involving shortstop José Reyes, who was arrested on domestic violence charges and was placed on administrative leave until the issue is resolved. Thus opening up an opportunity for Trevor story. Story was selected 45th overall in the 2011 draft out of high school.
Troy Tulowitzki blocked his path to the show, but when the Rockies decided to start a semi-rebuild they dealt Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline last season. Couple that with Reyes’s legal troubles opportunity came knocking for Story. Story took the opportunity by the horns with an historic beginning to his career.
He is the first major leaguer in history to hit seven home runs in his first week creating the best first impression possible. Many Rockies fans are saying Tulo-who and at just 23 years of age, it looks like shortstop is taking care of for the Rockies for the foreseeable future.
Story has come back down to earth a little bit since the scorching hot beginning as expected as the scouting report begins to form on a hitter. That being said, he is still hitting .292 with seven home runs and 13 RBIs in his first 11 games in the show. He has turned a potential concern into a strength early on in 2016.
He has lengthened a pretty formidable lineup already and they play in a hitter friendly ballpark at altitude in Denver. If they are able to pitch any they could be knocking on the door of a playoff spot this year. That’s the great thing about baseball bringing up one young guy can rejuvenate a franchise and give a renewed sense of hope that they can make some noise in late September!
The Houston Astros have been looking for an answer at first base for a while now since Lance Berkman. I think they found it in the unlikeliest of players first baseman Tyler White a 33rd round selection in the 2013 draft out of Western Carolina where he walked on. He was kind of swept under the rug because the Astros have so many top-flight prospects that have quickly become household names in Major League Baseball. White was given the opportunity in spring training to win the job and he has done that and more. In his first 11 big league games he’s hitting a robust .412 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.
This is a bad sign for the rest of major league baseball because if the Astros are able to get this type of production out of a 33rd round pick in addition to their superstars the Astros will be a perennial contender year and year out. The Astros fan base was very patient through several difficult years and now they’re seeing what can happen with great scouting and development and great positions in the draft.
Tyler White is the prime example of what can happen if you just give a guy an opportunity to showcase his skills. It also shows it doesn’t matter if you’re the first pick in the draft or the last if you perform you will get a chance to prove yourself at the highest level of competition.
White is proving all the doubters wrong and making the colleges and major league teams that passed on him say what if and at age 25 he has plenty left in the tank and in the American League he can DH from time to time to preserve his body. An amazing story that continues to get better and better for him, his family and the Astros.
The big concern for the St. Louis Cardinals coming into spring training was how they were going to replace outfielder Jason Heyward, who opted to sign with the Chicago Cubs this off-season. The answer has come from an unexpected place in 28-year-old rookie Jeremy Hazelbaker a guy who spent seven seasons in the minor leagues over 1000 games just waiting for that chance to prove himself. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Red Sox in 2009 and eventually found his way to the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
He made the club as a spring training primarily as a bench player initially, but in the first two weeks he has forced his way into the everyday lineup for the Cardinals. He has showcased all of his tools hitting .419 with three home runs and seven RBIs he also has blazing speed and an above average arm in the outfield. His emergence has made the Cardinals forget about Jason Heyward a little quicker than anticipated.
He is the classic journeyman that comes out of nowhere and quickly becomes a pain for opposing teams to face. He’s like a Swiss Army knife pesky and annoying on the base paths in the batter’s box and has a pretty good arm that opponents have to prepare for. The St. Louis Cardinals had a knack for finding cast-offs from other organizations and turning them into solid major-league players for a long time Hazelbaker looks to be another example of that.
He’s been really exciting to watch I don’t think he will slump very much because of his foot speed, making them a threat for a long time to come. He just shows if you have the right attitude and believe in yourself your dream can come true.
Major league baseball’s first few weeks have had so many storylines these three guys have been at the top of the list. These are my favorite feel-good stories to start the year because it wasn’t just handed to them. They’ve had to go through the grind and uncertainty of life of a baseball player and just shown tenacity and hard work can pay off! Three guys we all can learn from when faced with adversity in all walks of life not just sports. I hope they all continue to have success because they are fun to watch!