The 2021 MLB Draft produced five promising first-round Bros. It was a huge improvement over past drafts and indicated an upswing in the Black talent pipeline that baseball has been trying to resuscitate.
The 2022 Draft was a different beast. And a watershed moment for the MLBbro community. The draft featured a significant amount of Black players taken in the first round. This was not only exciting for Major League Baseball, but it further advanced the new era in which an emphasis has been placed on Black players once again impacting America’s pastime.
Former Cleveland Guardians and New York Yankees legend CC Sabathia is a former MLBbro, one of the last two Black Aces (Black pitchers to win 20 games), along with David Price. The Melanated Mound Marauder is totally enjoying the recent uprising in exposure of Black and brown players, especially with his son Carsten Sabathia about to embark on his college career at Georgia Tech.
CC Sabathia and NBA icon Lebron James have partnered together to produce a two-part docu series that will cover the pre-draft process of some future MLBbros that were drafted in 2022 and one whose future is yet to be determined.
The series will be titled ‘New Wave: Baseball’s Next Generation.’
However, the docu series will follow four of those Black players; Termarr Johnson and Justin Crawford, who are currently in the minor leagues. Also, Jayson Jones and RJ Austin, both of whom elected to go to college. It should be noted that Justin Crawford has MLB pedigree being the son of former All-Star Carl Crawford, and the cousin of MLBbro J.P. Crawford. Not only will it highlight these four stellar young players but it will shed light on a monumental draft.
MLB Diversity Programs Advancing The Game
Major League baseball, to its credit, has been making strides to address the decline of the Black MLB player in the past two decades. Sabathia, along with his wife Amber, wanted to share the stories of these four Black athletes, along with their successes and failures and challenges encountered as they strive towards this ultimate goal in their career paths.
These four players, and their documented stories will help provide an in-depth look at the journey of a Baby Bros trying to break through in a league where less than 7 percent of the rosters have MLBbros.
Seeing these talented ballers go through the steps towards MLB excellence could undoubtedly inspire more representation for young Black kids around the nation. This series will shed light on two players that are on the fast track to stardom, while also showing the different paths that players take on the road to MLB.
Cleveland Guardians starting pitcher Triston McKenzie anchored a pitching gem on Saturday at Progressive Field that turned into a 15-inning marathon, as the Guardians defeated the Tampa Rays 1-0 to win their AL Wildcard series 2-0 and advanced to play the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series.
Picked by many to finish last in the American League Central, 2022 marks the fifth time in seven years that Cleveland has made the playoffs under Terry Francona. Triston, who has been a key part of the Guardians’ success this season, took to the mound Saturday in his playoff debut, looking to close out the Rays.
McKenzie was dominant all day, allowing only two hits and two walks over six innings while striking out eight batters. He didn’t allow his first hit until the fifth inning and collected 13 swing-and-misses.
Former Cleveland Ace CC Sabathia was on hand for McKenzie’s gem and has been extremely supportive of the young stud looking to make his own name in The Land. Triston spoke on their relationship earlier this season.
“It just kind of blew my mind to see how some of the people that came before me really just pay attention to the game now and look at guys like me, or look at guys around the league, and are really invested in their careers,” said McKenzie.
One current player who has also offered support to Mckenzie is Chicago Cubs starter and fellow Black Ace Marcus Stroman. Stro made a bet in January that if Triston could finish the season with over 160 innings pitched and an ERA of 3.70 or lower that he would buy him a Rolex.
Easy money. McKenzie cruised past both numbers, posting a 2.96 ERA over 191.1 innings pitched. Stroman, always a man of his word, made sure Triston got his Rolex.
First Baseman Josh Naylor had a tough day at the plate but was able to contribute in the field. He made two big plays, first an amazing scoop on a Jose Ramirez throw that saved a run & ended the top of the 12th inning, then another to end the 13th.
The Guardians would walk the Rays off in the 15th, with rookie Oscar Gonzalez getting to be the hero after taking former Guardians starting pitcher Corey Kluber deep to end it. The walkoff may have won the game, but it was Mckenzie and the Guardians pitching staff that dominated this series.
In 24 innings, the Cleveland Guardians pitching staff surrendered just one run while striking out 29 Rays. Clinching in two games allows Mckenzie and fellow starter Shane Bieber the opportunity to get their normal rest before facing Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees, who received a bye as the number two seed.
Game one of the American League Division Series is October 11th.
At one time, sports used to be about following the best players on the best teams. From MLBbro legends such as Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr and the list goes on about how they were as Reggie Jackson famously stated, “The straw that stirs the drink”, on winning teams that benefited from their talent and superstar contributions. In other words, players like these put their prospective teams in position to win championships.
But based on these comments by former Yankees pitcher, CC Sabathia, winning is no longer a part of the equation. Despite the fact that Aaron Judge has dominated the baseball diamond and newscycle on baseball’s most iconic team, the New York Yankees, Sabathia still believes that Shohei Ohtani should be AL MVP and not our MLBbro.
Sabathia’s words via CBSSports.com…
“He’s the best player to ever play baseball,” Sabathia said regarding Ohtani. “He’s the MVP every year that he’s healthy. He continues to get better as a pitcher. You have to give him the MVP.”
“He’s having a better year than last year. I understand everything that Judge is doing,” Sabathia added. “I think it’s going to be incredible to watch him chase down 61 home runs in a Yankees uniform. If it wasn’t for him, they probably wouldn’t be in the playoff picture. This guy (Ohtani) is literally the best player we’ve ever seen.”
No, Ohtani has the advantage of being a two-way player which is almost unprecedented, so therefore captivating. Not since Babe Ruth has a player been a pitcher while being a home run threat the way Shohei has. He hasn’t been the best player all year as Sabathia claims…Aaron Judge has and it’s not even close.
Compare those stats with Ohtani’s .265 batting average with 34 home runs (tied for sixth in the league) and 88 RBI. As you can see, Shohei trails Judge in almost every statistical category at the plate. Furthermore, even though Ohtani has a 12-8 record with a 2.55 ERA (10th lowest in baseball) with 188 strikeouts (ranked 8th), the fact that the Angels are struggling should not factor in the mediocrity of his record. Back in 1972, Steve Carlton won the NL Cy Young with a record of 27-10, an ERA of 1.91 and 310 strikeouts on a Phillies team that finished last in their division by a whopping 37.5 games.
But Judge’s numbers wouldn’t be as impressive if they didn’t tie into a championship situation. Although 57 homers can stand alone as an obvious MVP campaign. Everyone in MLB can play and there has to be one player on each team that has to be the best, no matter how bad the team is.
That’s where these two players are separated.
Superstars will lead their teams to victories no matter what is going on behind the scenes. It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Angels are one of the worst teams in baseball. It’s also no secret that no matter what stats Ohtani produces, the team will continue to struggle mightily to the point that he may leave when his contract is up.
Nothing illustrates this point more than the 14-game losing streak the Angels had earlier this season that got manager Joe Maddon fired. In a period where the entire organization was being criticized for its play on the field and the front office, Ohtani struggled on the mound and the batter’s box with a .192/.333/.383 slash line and a two start ERA of 9.00 while opponents bombed homers at an alarming rate.
Our MLBbro on the other hand, did not allow contract negotiations to derail maybe a historic campaign that is sparking debates that he would be the single season home run king if he breaks the AL home run record of 61 held by Roger Maris. While MLBbro.com founder, Rob Parker broke down his thoughts based on what Barry Bonds had to deal with in his era, MLBbro.com’s very own Manny Brown and Mark Gray weighed in with their opinions…
Debatable | Would 62 Dingers By Aaron Judge Be Greatest Home Run Season Ever?@thesportsgroove and @TheManuelBrown debate the greatest home run seasons in history.
Sports shows do invent subjects to debate about, however this race was over about six weeks ago. If anyone was trying to hang on with advanced stats to make their claim for Ohtani, those discussions died this week when Judge deposited two more home runs in the seats when the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox at Fenway.
When the Boston Red Sox fans rain down MVP chants on a New York Yankees player, that speaks volumes and closes the book on the MVP race this year. That’s history in itself…
MLBbro.com could bring up the fact that Aaron Judge has 57 homers with 123 RBI with an excellent chance of breaking Roger Maris’ record. It could be pointed out that he’s doing it in one of the biggest markets in the country. We could even say the Yankees would be irrelevant without Judge and his offensive mastery this season.
But what makes this MVP race a landslide for Judge over Ohtani is the basic theme of this report…team wins. Something our MLBbro understands.
Former Yankees legend CC Sabathia accomplished a lot as a pitcher. The physically imposing 6-foot-6, flamethrowing lefty won the 2007 AL Cy Young Award, and a World Series with the Bronx Bombers in 2009. Sabathia who was taken 20th overall in the 1998 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians (Guardians), also became the 17th pitcher in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts.
He’s also the third lefty to ever reach the mark. CC finished his career tied with the great Bob Gibson in wins by a Black pitcher with (251), only trailing Ferguson Jenkins.
Now in retirement CC is guiding his son, Carsten, a 6-foot-4 and 240-pound slugger who’s headed to Georgia Tech. The power-hitting first baseman has displayed tremendous pop from both sides of the plate, and that unique trait got him some looks in last week’s MLB Draft. Carsten projects as a first baseman in the mold of former Phillies great Ryan Howard.
When he committed to the “Rambling Wreck,” in February, Carsten had this to say: “I’m about to go where my granny’s gonna be my biggest fan.” Carsten’s grandmother lives near the Atlanta institution.
Carsten Goes Off The Grid: Not A Pitcher Like Dad
While most MLB father-son duos are usually hitters or position players, CC and Carsten are polar opposites with dad being a pitcher and Carsten being a slugging infielder. But that isn’t the only difference, as Carsten is much more mobile and agile than his hulking dad.
That skillset made him one of the top 400 prospects in this year’s MLB Draft. While he wasn’t drafted, he’s headed to Georgia Tech where he’ll continue to develop as a hitter and overall player.
Carsten Was A Coveted Recruit: Why Did GT Win Out?
While Carsten chose GT to continue his baseball career, he was a highly sought-after recruit with offers from Harvard, UCLA and Wake Forest to name a few. Following his commitment, in an interview with Northjersey.com he explained why the Yellow Jackets were the right fit for him, beyond being near his grandmother.
“Since Day 1, the first time I came in contact with them, they were all about family, and the culture, and the culture of winning that it takes to play at Georgia Tech. And once I started to get into conversations, not just about baseball, but about family, life, and things outside the white lines, I fell in love.”