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.
Byron Buxton is set to begin his rehab stint in Triple-A St. Paul with the hopes of returning to the Big League club this weekend. Buxton has been seen running at 100 percent. If all goes well, he should return to the Twins’ lineup for their weekend series in Minnesota against Michael Brantley and the Houston Astros.
He will look to reclaim the starting job in centerfield for the American League All-Star team and put his name back in the conversation for Most Valuable Player.
Buxton came out the gate throwing harder haymakers than Ali to begin this season. It seemed he had finally put all five tools together as he hit .370 with nine home runs, 17 RBI and five stolen bases in his first 24 games of the year.
In April, he was awarded the AL Player of the Month Award after batting .426 with a .466 On Base Percentage, eight home runs, 14 RBI, 15 Runs Scored and three steals. He also set Twins’ franchise records for March and April in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.
His defensive play in centerfield had him on his way to winning the first Gold Glove of his career. On May 6, Buxton hit a grounder to the shortstop in the late innings of what would end up being a loss to the Texas Rangers.
Buxton has always been a hustler as he has beaten out multiple routine plays throughout his career.
This time as Buxton crossed first base it was apparent something was wrong. He did not return to the game and ended up having a Grade 2 right hip strain, which put him on the Injured List for the last 30 games.
His absence has truly shown how valuable Buxton truly is to Minnesota. Buxton had a Wins Above Replacement rating of 2.7 before his injury, good for third in MLB. Marcus Semien, who won the AL Player of the Month for May, is tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for first in the American League with a WAR of 3.1.
The Twins were sitting in first before Buxton went down and since then are 13-17 and have fallen into last place, 12 games behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central.
Buxton is returning just in time to have his name in conversations to be at this year’s All-Star Game next month in Denver. Fan voting determines the starting lineup for each division while the managers decide on the rest of the rosters.
I believe the fans will handle their business and vote Buxton as the centerfield starter despite him missing time with a few injuries this season.
The All-Star Game is a collection of the greatest talent in the sport, and fans will be cheated if they are not able to see Buxton chase down balls in centerfield while hitting home runs out of the launching pad that is Coors Field.
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.
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins continues to make his case to represent the Birds in the American League All-Star Game and it is getting impossible to refute his claim. It was clear from the season’s first week that Mullins came to ball at an auspicious level and MLBbro.com has been there every step of the way.
With conversations swirling about whether the organization sees him as part of their future or whether he will be made available for more prospects at the trade deadline, Birdland’s center fielder continues to mash out and grab clout, despite languishing on a last-place team.
Mullins is the catalyst to Baltimore’s offense and usually, the driving force on the rare occasion that they win games.
He hit safely in 19 of their first 20 victories and helped them rise from their 14-game losing skid with a six-game hitting streak that led to three consecutive wins prior to Saturday’s home loss to the Cleveland Indians at Camden Yards.
In that 10-4 loss, marked by pitcher John Means’ early exit with shoulder fatigue, Mullins provided more evidence to merit AL all-star consideration.
Mullins went 5-for-5 for the second time in his career Saturday and belted two home runs. He is the only Orioles player with multiple home run games this year and drove in three of the team’s four runs and scored the other. That gave him 70 hits for the season which is Top 3 in all of baseball midway through the weekend. Mullins’ 14 doubles and three triples are leading the team as well.
Baltimore has not been represented by more than one all-star since 2014. If Mullins gets the call this year he would be the first Black Knight from B-more to represent at the Midsummer Classic since MLBbro emeritus Adam Jones capped a four-year run in 2015.
All Betts Are Off For LA Outfielder As Slump Continues
Mookie Betts’ numbers do not resemble those from years past, and his struggles are becoming more noticeable. This season through 45 games, Betts is batting .247 with 44 hits, 18 RBIs, and 27 runs.
Seems like good numbers, right?
Well not if you are familiar with the back of this former MVP’s baseball card.
Betts led the Dodgers to their first World Series Championship in 32 years during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, where he batted .292 with 64 hits, 47 runs, and 39 RBIs in only 55 games.
His success garnered him a second-place finish in the National League MVP race, while also earning him a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award. Don’t forget his elite performance against the Tampa Bay Rays, where he homered to open the series in Game 1 and to close the series in Game 6.
It’s still early in the season, but Betts is moving past the slow start zone into “down year” territory.
Fans point to his new vegan diet as the culprit to his struggles.
For those clamoring for an explanation, blame it on father time.
Betts appeared in 145 or more games in four of his previous five seasons. That’s called wear and tear on the body. Adding insult to injury is just that, injuries!
In April, he missed four games due to back discomfort. Then he took an upper 90s mile per hour fastball to the inside of his elbow, which left him writhing in pain.
Don’t forget about the unfortunate two-ball tag that left men cringing across the globe.
Over the weekend, Betts missed two of three games due to discomfort in his left shoulder, which he later confirmed after telling the media that the injury has been bothering him throughout the month of May, but that is not the reason for his poor performance as sometimes you do not play well.
He told the Los Angeles Times, “I have shown that I can play at those high expectations and live by them. I am not mad at it by any means, as I do not mind expectations. It does not scare me at all.”
Billy Hamilton Showing That His Wheels & Wood Are Still Active
Billy The Slid put on a show this past weekend as he hit home runs in consecutive games to help his Chicago White Sox sweep the Baltimore Orioles.
After flexing his newfound power, the grizzled young veteran displayed his wheels in childlike fashion Tuesday night, with an inside-the-park home run.
However, you word the play, it was still impressive.
The guy has always been the prototypical centerfielder whose speed can cover all sorts of range while also going from base to base in a millisecond. Problem is, he couldn’t reach base.
Baseball insiders have always created the narrative that if Hamilton could figure it out at the plate and get on base more, he would take his current team to the next level and his performance is proving everyone right as the Chicago White Sox are leading the American League Central Division at 33-22.
Hamilton’s resurgence has contributed to his changed persona as he is going from “Billy the blur” to “Billy bats” through two months of play. If he can keep this production up, then those dreams of bringing another World Series Championship to the Southside of Chicago will soon come to fruition.
Roman Quinn Out For The Season With Ruptured Achilles
Philadelphia Phillies Outfielder Roman Quinn will undergo surgery this week on his left Achilles tendon. His expected recovery time ranges from nine to 12 months per source.
It seems the 28-year-old suffered the apparent injury as he was rounding third base. After falling to the ground, he showed the heart of a champion by hopping on one leg to score the tying run on May 29 vs. the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
With a skillset predicated on speed and agility, seeing him go down in that manner is heartbreaking as this is the second time he has suffered an Achilles tear, with the first tear taking place on his right side back in 2013.
His injury history, including both Achilles, reads like a laundry list.
He had a torn quad, a torn ligament in his middle finger, a finger contusion, a strained ligament in his elbow, an oblique strain, a groin strain, a broken toe, and a concussion, to name a few.
The speedy switch hitter through 28 games was averaging .173 with four stolen bases and two RBIs. In 512 career plate appearances, he is batting.228/,306/.355.
While wishing you a speedy recovery, we at MLBbro.com look forward to seeing Quinn back on the diamond in no time.
If there’s one thing that sports can’t live without, it’s an old-fashioned Cinderella story. And if Cinderella watched baseball, she’d love Triston McKenzie.
On Monday, McKenzie earned himself a spot in the Cleveland Indians’ history book after his eight consecutive strikeouts against the Chicago White Sox.
After fanning Jose Abreu to close out the third inning, he had consecutive strikeouts through the fourth and fifth inning before striking out Jake Lamb to start the sixth. His eight strikeouts are a franchise record. The performance surpassed Corey Kluber’s seven straight strikeouts against the White Sox in 2014. In total, McKenzie finished the night with 10 K’s.
Triston McKenzie struck out a franchise-record eight consecutive batters today for the @Indians.
While the numbers are impressive, a good Cinderella story isn’t about numbers. It’s about the story behind the story. On paper, McKenzie’s numbers mean that he wasn’t supposed to come out and make history against the White Sox. While he was supposed to be a breakout star for the Indians this season, he has struggled to do so.
He carried a 5.94 ERA with a 1-3 record going into Monday’s game. Allowing walks had been his kryptonite. The former ranked prospect spent the end of May switching between the Triple-A Columbus Clippers and the Indians. After receiving a call-up in late May to replace the injured Zach Plesac, McKenzie came out strong and pitched five scoreless innings with only one hit against the Detroit Tigers. Nevertheless, he got called back down again before getting the call-up for Monday’s game.
Despite the Indians’ 8-6 loss on Monday, McKenzie displayed enough poise to gather himself after a trying second inning. He allowed four runs in the second inning before throwing strikeout after strikeout as the game progressed.
Ultimately, McKenzie possessed a key intangible that any great pitcher needs. He was able to gather his composure, learn from his mistakes and bounce back, all over the course of one game. Those are talents he will need to reach his ultimate goal of being the next Dwight Gooden (His Dad’s favorite pitcher).
But should that be shocking? The ability to bounce back and leave the past in the past has to be one of his strongest intangibles. His struggles this season come after his 2020 debut season when he pitched in 8 games and posted an ERA of 3.24.
Entering the current season, he was expected to be a starter for the Indians. He had even clinched an Opening Day rotation spot before things seemingly went south for the young pitcher.
While a run in the big leagues isn’t complete without a few growing pains, what the world saw from McKenzie on Monday is that he is capable of making the proper adjustments to be an asset for the Indians.
So now the Indians are left with a tough choice, and McKenzie’s mental strength might have to be stronger now than ever before. While McKenzie’s call-up was supposed to be temporary, maybe he is showing that he’s ready to be a major-league starter. It’s possible that the lingering idea of another call to the minors is enough to mentally prepare him for more historic major league outings.