Hank Aaron Invitational Is A Summertime Sample Of Baseball’s Black Excellence | Future MLBbros Will Be At Jackie Robinson Training Complex

Hank Aaron Invitational Is A Summertime Sample Of Baseball’s Black Excellence | Future MLBbros Will Be At Jackie Robinson Training Complex

Deion Sanders made some comments this week about why Blacks and baseball don’t seem to mix anymore like they once did. There’s a disconnect. Many of his points were valid, from high costs pricing certain minority families out of the sport to a low number of Black fathers passing the game on. While all of that is certainly true, MLB’s Diversity Team has been making incremental but successful efforts to increase Black participation in baseball at the grassroots and professional levels.

The Hank Aaron Invitational is one of these developmental programs that identify and encourage Black participation up the ladder.


Michael “The Professional” Brantley’s Calming Influence Makes the Houston Astros A Family Culture

Michael “The Professional” Brantley’s Calming Influence Makes the Houston Astros A Family Culture

One of the more overused cliches not only in baseball, but all professional sports is teams talking about establishing a strong culture and a family atmosphere. While it’s a sexy soundbite for every MLB team during spring training, only the championship contenders understand how to build one and ride it to the top of the standings.

The Houston Astros are one of those teams that understand this concept to the point that they are sitting comfortably at the top of the AL West.


While the Astros’ manager has set the overall tone of the ball club, it has been MLBbro, Michael Brantley that has provided the veteran leadership that has trickled down to the young players on the roster.

Brantley is riding a nine-game hitting streak. During this period, he has slashed .400/.475/.543 with a home run and 5 RBI.


Our MLBbro is offensively playing the game in an old school manner, sacrificing himself by driving in runs and putting the ball in play on groundouts. 

But moments like this show Michael Brantley’s effect on the Astros.


How many times have you seen a player jokingly chase down a teammate after a home run? But it’s an occurrence that comes with having fun and keeping things light during a very long baseball season.

After Yordan Alvarez hits a two-run homer against the Seattle Mariners, he speeds out of a normal home run trot to chase down our MLBbro to home plate. 

But that’s the story of Michael Brantley this season. 

The 14th year veteran was not on the 2017 World Series roster, but you would never know it with all of the respect he has earned since joining the team in 2019. With the losses of Carlos Correa and fellow MLBbro, George Springer, it seems that Houston hasn’t lost a step in their contention to get back to the World Series. 

The Astros two World Series runs in the last four seasons can be attributed to the team’s attention to detail and hustle. Nothing was more evident than last month when the Astros were playing the Detroit Tigers with a winning streak on the line. 



Brantley not only hits a rope down the right field with his team trailing 2-1, he has the presence of mind to get to third base when the throw goes home. 

Brantley spoke to Paper City Magazine about his effort after the game.

“Oh absolutely,” Brantley says when he thinks he has a chance at a triple when he hits the ball. “Put your head down and keep going. I know Jose’s at first and he can run very well. My job’s to get to third base with one out.

“And obviously a lot of things can happen from there.”

Brantley has always been a .300 hitter, but our MLBbro’s mental aspect of the game is slowly getting the recognition that it deserves. 



For the Astros’ to continue to thrive in the post George Springer and Carlos Correra era, they will need Brantley to continue to mentor players to their highest level much like he did Springer before he left to go to Toronto. 



Brantley’s newest mentees, Kyle Tucker, the aforementioned Yordan Alvarez and Jeremy Pena are the new blood of the franchise and their growth is buoyed by our MLBbro’s ability to show them how to perform in big time moments.

But don’t get fooled by the “mentor” moniker believing that Brantley is not a major part of the Astros offense. He has stayed healthy and has put together a streak of .300 seasons since 2014 when he played 100 games or more in a season.

Our Mlbbro, Michael Brantley has kept the American League’s most winning team the last few seasons relevant by being the heart and soul of the team starting in the dugout up through the front office. 

“All Of A Sudden…He Gets Bigger And Stronger” | MLBbro Pitcher Taj Bradley Has Sights Set On Being Next Tampa Bay Rays Great

“All Of A Sudden…He Gets Bigger And Stronger” | MLBbro Pitcher Taj Bradley Has Sights Set On Being Next Tampa Bay Rays Great

The Tampa Bay Rays drafted right-hand pitcher Taj Bradley in the fifth-round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of well-known Redan High School in Stone Mountain, GA.

The belief was at some point in the near future he could be a top-end starter or maybe even the ace of the Rays staff.

But it was going to require some patience with the rangy 17-year-old, who spent his first two years in Rookie ball. In 2021 after some Rays brass began to question the pick Bradley, soared and proved he was worthy of the hype that preceded him.


Bradley Struggled Early: Position Change Played A Role

Bradley was more interested in playing the outfield until his senior year in high school. But he’d shown enough in spot duty on the mound that had MLB clamoring. However, Bradley’s first appearance in the minors wasn’t impressive. In fact, his first minor league field coordinator Michael Johns had this to say.

“I remember when Taj showed up on campus he was 17 years old, and I think he was throwing 86, 87, 88 (MPH). We’re all kinda scratching our heads like, Ooookaaaay.”

That wasn’t enough for the Rays to turn away from, as they stuck with the talented but very raw Bradley. Just like most prospects, especially those who come straight from the high school game, they need time.

Bradley took baby steps in 2018 and 2019, but flourished in 2021, dominating at both Class A Charleston (S.C.) and Bowling Green (KY). In those two spots Bradley went a combined 12-3 while boasting a 1.83 ERA (best in the minors). He struck out 123 batters and walked only 31 in just over 103 innings of work.

That development catapulted Bradley into the Top 100 of three prospect ranking sites, The Athletic, Baseball America and ESPN. They even mentioned he had what it takes to become one of the Rays “great ones.”



Bradley Used 2020 Pandemic Season To Make Changes: Lost 20 Pounds While Maturing Mentally As Well

Prior to the 2020 season, Bradley ate pizza as often as he could and just didn’t have good nutritional habits. He had an epiphany during the canceled 2020 pandemic season. That’s when he put the work in and started getting into better shape

 Johns had this to say about Bradley’s transformation ….

 “All of a sudden, his body just forms and he gets bigger and stronger. He’s just a man on the mound. He just keeps getting better. It’s crazy.

 “Some guys hit a plateau and you’re like, how do we get over that hump? And it’s, like, every week, every month, every year, he just keeps getting better and better. And not just with the (velocity), but with the pitch ability and secondary stuff, and his coachability. Just a tremendous, tremendous kid.”

“Taj Bradley is a stud.”

On top of losing 20 pounds Bradley mentions how he increased the velocity on his fastball and added to his pitching bag.


All of those things are exactly why he’s rated No.70 on MLB Pipeline and is the Rays’ third-highest ranked prospect. With his improved conditioning, delivery and continually growing maturity, Bradley is expected to join the Rays in 2023. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of David Price, “Big Game” James Shields, Blake Snell, and Chris Archer as great Rays hurlers.

MLBbro George Springer Moves Up All-Time Lead Off Home Run List Against MVP Pitching

MLBbro George Springer Moves Up All-Time Lead Off Home Run List Against MVP Pitching

The Toronto Blue Jays have been under the radar this season based on the fact that all eyes have been on their division rivals, the New York Yankees and their hot hitting superstar Aaron Judge. Usually, teams sitting third at 24-20 are not considered the first choice for national broadcast features.

This week was a little bit different when the Blue Jays took on the Los Angeles Angels. The draw for the game was a head-to-head matchup with the top two vote getters for last year’s American League MVP award for the second time in their respective careers. The eventual winner, Shohei Ohtani was on the marquee for the Angels while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. represented the Blue Jays.

But it was MLBbro George Springer, that set the tone for this contest in the first inning and as he has so many times in the past, sparked his team to a much needed 6-3 victory to keep pace with the leaders in the American League East.

Springer’s respect for the reigning AL MVP is evident in his words via the Toronto Star.

“He’s an MVP for a reason,” Springer said of Ohtani, whose ERA jumped from 2.82 to 3.45 after the loss. “He’s always electric. His split is probably the best pitch in the game. He can plus and minus his fastball and he can do so many things. It’s always, I don’t want to say fun to face a guy like that, but it’s always a challenge.” 

That’s a humble quote for a player that made history with this home run. Springer matched Ian Kinsler for fourth place all-time for leadoff home runs in a career with 48. Only Craig Biggio, Alfonso Soriano and the all-time MLBbro icon, Rickey Henderson, rank above him. 


The Blue Jays need even more offensive production from Springer going forward. Toronto’s pitching has been solid this year, but the Blue Jays’ everyday lineup has lacked the consistency needed to compete against the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in the division.

This is an issue that Springer believes can be addressed. 

“It’s a process, it’s not all going to happen overnight,“ said Springer, who finished 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. “It’s going to take multiple games like this to feel right. I think you’re starting to see guys have really good-at-bats. You’re starting to see innings get strung together. We scored three in the third and those were just good at-bats and getting hits with runners in scoring position.

Springers production at the leadoff spot is the best in the business. His combination of power and speed at the top of the Blue Jays lineup is a rare advantage for a team to have. The former World Series MVP’s impact has been particularly evident over the last couple of games dating back to last weekend. Against the Houston Astros, Springer deposited two homers into the seats, including a leadoff 376-foot shot to open the game.



With George Springer passing the career 200-home run mark this season, our MLBbro is still at a peak level to easily move up to the second spot all-time behind Henderson. After the Toronto bats slowed for the last month, it looks like George Springer has collaborated with Vladimir Guererro Jr. to sound the alarm for the offense at least for the last couple of games.