MLB Opening Day: A Club Baseball Showcase
LeagueApps is fortunate to partner with some of the most successful youth baseball organizations in the country. Which got us thinking, “which club & travel organizations have the best alumni taking to the diamond on Opening Day this year?”
Narrowing down our list to the best pitching-hitting alumni combos proved to be a daunting challenge. For every power pitcher from the Pacific Coast Highway (Stephen Strasburg) there seemingly was a crafty lefty with I-95 roots (Chris Sale). The growth of the game has done away with regional hotbeds, and put the national back in the national pastime.
In the end, our hard work paid off and we identified the eight most impressive club programs with alumni taking the mound and digging into the batter’s box this Opening Day.
Chris Archer (Pittsburgh Pirates, SP)
Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco Giants, SP)
Kyle Seager (Seattle Mariners, 3B)
Corey Seager (Los Angeles Dodgers, SS)
Wil Myers (San Diego Padres, OF/1B/3B)
The Dirtbags have an embarrassment of riches in the Bigs. Archer and Bumgarner have combined for six All-Star appearances. Not to be outdone, the Seager brothers and Will Myers have all made All-Star appearances of their own. When it comes to teams utilizing LeagueApps, the Dirtbags reign supreme.
Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox, SP)
Jonathan Lucroy (Los Angeles Angels, C)
Our first pitcher-catcher combo on the rundown features a pair of All-Stars. Sale, fresh off a World Series title, holds, quite possibly, the most impressive MLB record for pitchers. He recorded 1,500 career strikeouts faster than any pitcher in the history of the game. Jonathan Lucroy may not be able to hold a candle to stats like that, but the veteran backstop remains sought after, evidenced by the multi-million dollar deal he signed with the Angels this past December.
Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals, SP)
Bryce Harper (Philadelphia Phillies, RF)
These two former number one overall draft picks used to call each other teammates. Today they’re NL East rivals. These superstars have piled up nine All-Star game appearances, a pair of Silver Slugger awards, an NL MVP (Harper) and over $130 million in career earnings. And to think they’re just now entering their primes.
Jack Flaherty (St. Louis Cardinals, SP)
Aaron Hicks (New York Yankees, CF)
Aaron Hicks broke out in 2018, posting career highs in doubles, triples, HRs, RBIs, and WAR. As the young Yankee outfielder enters his prime, Flaherty is just getting his career off the ground. The towering right-hander’s 10.8 K/9 statistic has folks in St. Louis bullish on the 23-year-old after a promising rookie campaign.
Zach Eflin (Philadelphia Phillies, SP)
Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians, SS)
While the San Diego Show and the Dirtbags may have more impressive statistics in the books, FTB’s duo has the potential to make the biggest splash in 2019. Francisco Lindor is a bonafide AL MVP candidate thanks to his power and prowess on the basepaths. And if Eflin can replicate his breakout June (5-0, 1.76 ERA) he’ll be on his way to his first All-Star Game appearance at the tender age of 24. Oh, the promise of youth.
Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers, SP)
Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians, SP)
Evan Gattis (FA, DH/C/OF)
If young guns aren’t your thing, may we present the Dallas Tigers’ three-pack of savvy vets. Clayton Kershaw is a dominant Fall Classic away from making the argument that he is, in fact, the GOAT. What Mr. Kershaw lacks, a World Series title, Gattis provides. The jack-of-all-trades homered in Game 7 of the ALCS back in 2017, propelling the Astros past the Yankees. They would win the World Series against Kershaw’s Dodgers the following week. And adding a pair of Cy Young awards to the mix via Corey Kluber is just the cherry on top for this club.
Matt Barnes (Boston Red Sox, RP)
George Springer (Houston Astros, OF)
Speaking of alumni-on-alumni battles in the postseason, the CT Blue Jays saw two of its own duke it out last October in the ALCS. Despite appearances by Barnes in every game of the series, Springer only faced him a single time, drawing a walk. Barnes may have lost that battle, but the Red Sox won the war, and subsequently the World Series.
Tyler Beede (San Francisco Giants, SP)
Brandon Lowe (Tampa Bay Rays, 2B)
These two former Canes are a part of the youth movement in SF and Tampa. Brandon Lowe was able to impress last season, despite playing in just 43 games. The Rays offered him a six-year contract extension over the offseason. Beede will need to work his way into the rotation, as he’ll start the season off at Triple-A Sacramento.
Partners’ prospects on the verge: Forrest Whitley-Houston Astros (South Texas Sliders), Justus Sheffield-Seattle Mariners (Knights Baseball TN), Jo Adell-LA Angels (Evoshield Canes), Casey Mize-Detroit Tigers (Team Georgia), Ryan Eades – Minnesota Twins (Louisiana Knights).