After ten seasons of professional ball, 2,300 at-bats in the Minor Leagues, three organizations, and independent ball, outfielder Dillon Thomas finally got the call that the Seattle Mariners were picking up his contract from Triple-A Tacoma ahead of Tuesday’s matchup vs. the Detroit Tigers.
Thomas didn’t waste any time flashing the stellar defense that he’s displayed throughout his decade in the minors, robbing MLBbro Niko Goodrum of a potential extra base hit in his Big league debut on Wednesday night.
The 28-year-old was filled with emotions as he described his big-league call-up to the media, prior to the game.
He told reporters, “My daughter was playing with her Barbies on the hotel floor, and I just looked at her and a wave of emotions came over me. My girlfriend woke up as she heard me on the phone. I looked at her, we both started crying, and my daughter came up to me and asked, ‘Daddy, what’s wrong?’ I was like ‘daddies going to the big leagues,’ and she got excited and said, ‘Daddy’s a big leaguer.'”
Holding back tears, he added, “My parents were the first call. That’s a moment I thought about for years, and I wanted to share that moment with them. To have them and all my family here is truly a blessing, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”
He played with that same passion in his debut as he manned the Mariners outfield with fellow MLB bro Taylor Trammell.
Before the life-changing call-up, Thomas was raking.
In 80 at-bats, Thomas accounted for 19 runs batted in, six homers, five doubles, and four bases on balls to average .338 with a .459 on-base percentage, a .625 slugging percentage, and an OPS of 1.084 with the Triple-A affiliate Tacoma Rainiers.
Dillon Thomas got the call to play for the Mariners after 10 seasons and over 2,300 AB in the minors!
Thomas was selected in the fourth round (138th overall) by the Colorado Rockies during the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Westbury Christian School (TX), where he spent six seasons in the team’s farm system.
The super athlete had stints with the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2018-2019 season and the Oakland Athletics during the pandemic shortened season before ultimately signing with the Mariners as a minor league free agent on January 14.
How bad do you want it? How long will you follow the rainbow before you reach that pot of gold?
During this long and arduous journey, Thomas’s dedication, hard work, patience, and sacrifices proved that his hunger for greatness was more potent than the negativity he received from all the naysayers who told him to give up on his dreams.
The man is living proof of the saying “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.”
Wednesday night was a great start. Everyone should embrace this Black Knight’s story.
J.P. Crawford’s vibes at the plate have been immaculate as he is posting the best hitting numbers of his career through the first few months of the season. He’s especially been a killer at the plate to begin the month of June, showing he can be as effective in the batter’s box as he is on defense with his Gold Glove.
In a season that has been filled with injuries and multiple lineup shuffles for the Seattle Mariners, there has been one constant. Crawford, the starting shortstop, has been a mainstay in Seattle’s lineup appearing in all but one game this season. He has batted leadoff, fifth and seventh, but has not waivered at the plate.
He entered Sunday’s game batting .257 with 19 RBI and three home runs, which have all come within the last month; two of which came last week in games against the Texa Rangers and Los Angeles Angels.
Friday night’s blast against the Angels goes down as the longest home run of Crawford’s short career. On just the second pitch of the game, he sent Angels’ two-way player Shohei Ohtani’s 92mph fastball 430 feet to the right field bleachers.
Crawford came into this season with a few more pounds to help improve his power, although it didn’t show much during the first part of the season. Another improvement he made is seen in his numbers when facing left-handed pitching.
This season, Crawford is batting .328 with six doubles against lefties. To put that into perspective, in the Covid-shortened 2020 season, he hit .242 and in 2019 he only had an average of .160.
The month of June is looking like it will be a prosperous one for Crawford. Entering Sunday, he had a .368 batting average, three doubles, three runs, three RBI and a home run through the first five games.
His defense hasn’t faltered much this year despite the improvements seen on offense. He leads all Major Leaguers in double plays turned with 38 and his Range Factor has him tied for second.
There is still no timetable on when last season’s American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis will be back after his meniscus injury. Hence, Crawford needs to continue to be a consistent part of a young Mariners team that is growing each day.
Seattle will travel to Detroit this week for a three-game series against Baddoo Mania and the Tigers.
Always remember that in many instances — pitching, for example — quality trumps quantity. Justin Dunn’s pitching performance for the Seattle Mariners this season is a prime example of such an instance.
With his victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night, Dunn extended his American League-leading streak of 15 straight starts of allowing three or fewer runs.
Pitching is just different in 2021. Black in the day, pitchers were expected to throw longer into games than we see now. Rarely do we see a complete game thrown, let alone a starter even reach the seven or eight-inning mark.
With managers having the option of going to four or more guys in their bullpen who can throw 95 mph and above with dirty movement, the role of the starting pitcher now is to keep his team in a position to win, rather than go deep into games.
Throughout this season, and even extending into last, Dunn has been one of the best in baseball at getting this done.
Since August 23, 2020, Dunn has been stingy, allowing three or fewer runs in his last 15 starts. Particularly, he has been heating up over his last three starts, and this could be the best stretch of his young career.
Dunn, from Queens New York, has never been the biggest, hardest-throwing, or most intimidating pitcher, so he’d dealt with people doubting him and knocking him for not measuring up to the metrics. Those funny numbers that, falsely determine who has the goods, while overlooking things such as natural talent and heart.
In his last start this past weekend, Dunn went 5.2 innings, striking out eight and allowing one run in a 3-2 victory aided by MLBbro shortstop J.P. Crawford’s second home run of the season. Dunn’s stat line was very similar just two starts ago when he struck out a career-high nine in a loss to the Detroit Tigers. In his last three games, Dunn has an ERA of 2.20 and a WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of 0.92.
Dunn’s beginning to find his All-Star stride on the mound. He was drafted by the New York Mets in the first round of the 2016 draft after posting a 2.06 ERA in his junior season at Boston College.
Going into the 2018 season, Dunn was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Mets farm system.
Later that year, he was involved in a trade that sent him to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for one of the best second baseman of our generation in Robinson Cano (who was aging at the time) and closer Edwin Diaz. Justin made his MLB debut on September 12, 2019, against the Cincinnati Reds.
Dunn recorded a 4.34 ERA in 10 starts during the Covid l9-shortened 2020 season.
The kid they used to count out is currently putting together a quality resume for 2021. He has a 3.18 ERA and has struck out 45 batters this year.
Opponents have not been able to make solid contact on him either. His .168 batting average against is good for the second-lowest in the American League behind the White Sox’s Carlos Rodon.
Dunn and MLBbro rotation partner Justus Sheffield are one of two rotations in baseball that feature two black starters. The other rotation resides in Flushing, Queens and consists of Black Knights Marcus Stroman and Taijun Walker.
Sheffield got the job done for the Mariners Friday night as he was awarded the win after going five innings allowing just two runs on six hits.
Dunn’s current streak of 15 straight starts, allowing three or fewer runs is good for the fourth-longest such streak in Mariners’ history trailing Seattle legend Felix Hernandez, Roenis Elías and Erik Bedard.
Dunn’s next start is Friday in Los Angeles as he and High Five member Kyle Lewis take on Justin Upton and the Angels.
The veteran infielder will add to the Cubs’ depth chart following infielder Nico Hoerner’s left hamstring strain during Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team announced they were placing Hoerner on the 10-day injured list and picking up outfielder Rafael Ortega from their AA affiliate.
Strange-Gordon appeared in 33 games with the Seattle Mariners in 2020 and batted career lows of .200/.268/.213.
In February, the 33-year-old briefly signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds but wasn’t able to land an Opening Day roster spot. He will provide both speed and versatility to the Cubs, having played second base, shortstop, and center field in past seasons.
Over his 10-year career in the majors, Strange-Gordon certainly left his mark. Perhaps his most impressive run was from 2014 with the Los Angeles Dodgers through 2015 with the Miami Marlins, where he earned two All-Star appearances, a Golden Glove and a Silver Slugger Award while leading the league in steals both years (64 and 58, respectively), in triples (12) in 2014, and in batting average (.333), hits (205), and steals caught (20) in 2015.
He also had a strong showing in 2017 with the Marlins, leading the league once again in steals (60) and steals caught (16).
With this signing, the Cubs are not only adding a veteran on-field contributor but a proven leader off the field as well.
He is a four-time nominee of the Roberto Clemente Award, the honor bestowed upon the player who best represents the game through their exceptional character, philanthropy, and community involvement.
He is also on the advisory board of The Players Alliance, a group of over 100 current and former Black baseball players whose mission, in their words, is “building equitable systems in order to change the trajectory of diversity throughout baseball.”
As with any minor league deal, Strange-Gordon will have to earn his opportunity with the big league club, but the Cubs may have just gotten themselves a steal.