Major League via Jersey: 2018 MLB players born in NJ
A true Spring milestone is nearly upon us, Opening Day (for baseball newbies, it's this Thursday)! After all that snow and bleak winter weather here in NJ, I'm thinking we could ALL celebrate the idea of baseball and all things warmer getting started up.
Here's my seasonal disclaimer: I became a (casual) baseball fan through marriage. I am soooo not about stats, and more about the experience and traditions of visiting ballparks and instilling a love of the game among our young daughters. But I find that I love rooting for our Jersey-born pros. Many who grew up here also take the time to give back to their communities.
I've put together a completely non-technical roundup of MLB pros heading into the 2018-2019 season, who have Garden State ties:
1. Mike Trout, #27 with the Angels (Cumberland County)
Trout is a center fielder with the Anaheim Angels and a superstar among NJ born athletes. The Millville native also is an Eagles fan who's been thoroughly enjoying his baseball off-season!
2. Todd Frazier, #21 with the Mets (Ocean County)
Ocean County native Todd Frazier now is a third baseman for the New York Mets! He has a storied history with Toms River Little League and is steadfast in his NJ pride, as he's raising his family in his hometown. After seasons in Cincinnati and Chicago, Jersey fans were happy to be 'near' his one season with the Yankees. Now, they're primed to trek to Citi Field, for home games in Queens.
3. Alex Reyes, #29 with the Cardinals (Union County)
Reyes is a pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals, back after Tommy John surgery last year. He was born and raised in Elizabeth.
4. Rick Porcello, #22 with the Red Sox (Morris County)
Porcello is a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. The Morristown native has baseball in his blood (his grandfather was NJ pro Sam Dente) and has been big on giving back in Jersey. He donated a new field to his high school, Seton Hall Prep.
5. Brad Brach, #35 with the Orioles (Monmouth County)
Brach is a relief pitcher with the Baltimore Orioles. The Freehold native shared a nice moment on-camera with his High School coach, a few seasons ago. When it comes to NJ's best slice, he casts his vote for Federici's pizza.
6. Anthony DeSclafani, #28 with the Reds (Monmouth County)
DeSclafani is a pitcher with the Cincinatti Reds. He grew up in Howell and graduated from Colts Neck High School. DeSclafani missed last year’s entire season with an elbow injury. A couple weeks ago, he faced a new injury setback.
7. Charlie Morton, #50 with the Astros (Hunterdon County)
Morton is a pitcher coming off his World Series win with the Houston Astros last year. He was born in Flemington, though his high school years were spent in Connecticut.
8. Jason Heyward, #22 with the Cubs (Bergen County)
Heyward is an outfielder who got his pro start with the Braves. Though he didn’t spend too much time in NJ, the five-time Gold Glove Award winner was born in Ridgewood.
9. Rob Segedin, #25 with the Dodgers (Bergen County)
Born and raised in Old Tappan, Segedin played ball for Northern Valley Regional High School. He dealt with some injuries last season, but has been enjoying having his family at spring training in Phoenix.
10. Tommy La Stella, #2 with the Cubs (Bergen County)
La Stella went to Saint Joseph Regional High School in Montvale. He broke into the big leagues in 2014. He sparked a prank war this Spring, parking in spots for the Cubs' GM and team President. But they got him back (big-time) with a fake dating video while sending him to their Triple-A affiliate in Iowa.
11. Matt Szczur, #23 with the Padres (Cape May County)
Matt Szczur is an outfielder with San Diego. The Villanova grad still has deep roots in Cape May and seems to enjoy getting back on the water, with family in the off-season. He's facing a bit of an uncertain start to the season with the Padres.
12. Jimmy Yacabonis, #31 with the Orioles (Monmouth County)
Yacabonis broke into the big leagues last summer with the Baltimore Orioles. He was born in Elizabeth and played ball at Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) in Lincroft. A week before Opening Day, he was sent to the team's Triple-A affiliate in Virginia. Orioles manager Buck Showalter noted, "Yac's going to take some extended innings."
13. Artie Lewicki, #57 with the Tigers (Bergen County)
Lewicki had his MLB debut last year in Detroit. The Wycoff native is another alum of Saint Joseph Regional High School in Montvale. He's starting off the season at the Tigers' Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, Ohio.
14. Mark Zagunis, #20 with the Cubs (Burlington County)
Zagunis is another south Jersey slugger, born in Willingboro. He played while attending Holy Cross High School in Delran. He's starting out the season at the Cubs' Triple-A affliate in Iowa.
15. Hector Santiago (Essex County)
The Newark-raised pitcher has given back to the city's little league program since his debut in the Majors. Santiago got his start in Chicago and also has pitched for the Angels and Twins. The Bloomfield Tech High School grad is starting 2018 in a Minor League contract with the White Sox.
Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee. A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.
Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook as ProudJersey.