was first in the batter’s box.
Fifteen years ago, at the dawn of a local youth baseball renaissance, Great Bridge’s Cuddyer was the ninth pick in the Major League Baseball draft.
It took Cuddyer, drafted by the Minnesota Twins jerseys, only four years to reach the big leagues. On Sept. 23, 2001, in a 4 2 home loss to the Cleveland Indians jerseys, the 22 year old started as the Twins jerseys’ designated hitter. He walked his first time to the plate, struck out swinging in his first “official” at bat against lefthander Chuck Finley, but then recorded his first major league hit to lead off the seventh inning a double to right field off Finley.
Now with 1,199 hits on his baseball card, the dean of homegrown big league talent is a 33 year old outfielder/first baseman for the Colorado Rockies jerseys. Cuddyer shopped the free agency market for the first time last winter and, despite his profile as a fan favorite and a clubhouse leader in Minnesota, accepted a three year, $31.5 million deal to move to Colorado.
The players who followed Cuddyer’s blazed path into the major leagues from the same South Hampton Roads fields are in or approaching mid career as well. It’s a good time to step back and take note of the wealth of riches turned out.
One was the first pick in the draft: Great Bridge’s cheap Justin Upton jersey in 2005. One was the fourth pick: Virginia Beach’s in ’05. One was never drafted: Deep Creek High’s Clay Rapada, a Yankees jerseys reliever.
Within that range, there’s only an iconic New York Met: Chesapeake’s cheap David Wright jersey, one of baseball’s biggest hitting and biggest missing sluggers: Virginia Beach’s cheap Mark Reynolds jersey, and a Virginia Beach pitcher who won 16 games at age 24 in 2011: .
Oh, and there are more. Upton and Wright.
After eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays jerseys, Upton, a centerfielder, will be one of the prizes on the free agent market that opens for signings this weekend.
As for Wright, the Mets jerseys are expected to pick up his $16 million option for 2013, then work to wrap up their third baseman for most, if not the rest, of his career with an extension that would keep Wright from testing free agency. Negotiations will be closely watched, even more so because the cross town, huge spending Yankees jerseys suddenly appear to have a third base crisis with the fading Alex Rodriguez.
It’s remarkable to think what has spawned from Cuddyer’s entry into pro baseball as an 18 year old in 1997 wealth, records, sterling reputations, MVP votes, Gold Gloves, All Star games, World Series appearances. And still, the promise of another decade or more before this landmark wave of local talent finally dissipates.
Here’s a look at where South Hampton Roads big leaguers are in their careers. and where they might be going:
LHP Cincinnati Reds jerseys
2013 salary TBD; free agent eligible 2014
The 13th pick in the ’04 draft out of William and Mary, the Ocean Lakes High grad has made 258 relief appearances in six big league seasons. Injuries have bedeviled him, however: He missed the ’09 season because of Tommy John surgery mlb jerseys from china on his left elbow, and made only 14 appearances this year because of leg and back ailments. Bray has a 3.74 career ERA and has struck out 188 in 1971?3 innings. He hit .260, 11 points below his career average, but gave the Rockies jerseys consistent power (16 HRs, 30 doubles) and run production (58 RBIs) while healthy. He led the Diamondbacks jerseys with 222 innings pitched in his 16 win 2011 season. But Hudson’s 2012 season ended in June when it was determined he would need reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. The typical recovery period from so called Tommy John surgery is a full year. Hudson, who earned $504,000 this season, isn’t eligible for contract arbitration until 2014 because of his limited big league service time.