Two of New Jersey’s own Shine at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The state of New Jersey is known for a lot of things; beaches, boardwalks, good pizza and gas attendants for example, but the east coast state is now known for something else as well: successful Major League Baseball players.
On Monday night, Major League Baseball hosted its 31st annual Home Run Derby, except this one was different. For the first time ever there was a four minute timer, a head to head bracket and every swing not a home run was not an out.
In the Derby there were eight competitors paired up, one of them Cincinnati Reds third baseman, Toms River, New Jersey native, and former Rutgers Scarlet Knight, Todd Frazier. Frazier, 29 was hitting in his home ball park in Cincinnati and it definitely showed. Frazier hit 14 home runs in round one, one more than his opponent Texas Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder. In round two the slugger defeated Toronto Blue Jays Josh Donaldson and then went on to hit 15 homers in the final to defeat Los Angeles Dodgers rookie star, Joc Pederson to take the championship.
In three consecutive rounds, Frazier would find himself trailing in the final minute first against two-time Derby champ Fielder, then again against Donaldson, then one more time in the final against Pederson.
Frazier was the hero in Cincinnati, but is also a hero in his hometown of Toms River. Frazier was a member of the 1998 Toms River East American Little league World Series championship team and played his high school ball at Toms River High School South. As a senior, Frazier batted .521 and was named the Shore Conference Player of the Year.
Frazier then played collegiate baseball at Rutgers University in New Jersey. In three seasons, Frazier hit nearly .350 and was named the Big East player of the year in 2007.
Frazier was drafted 34th overall by the Reds in the 2007 MLB Draft, eight years later, the third baseman from Toms River had everyone at The Great American Ballpark on their feet as he crushed a 400-foot homer over the left field wall to win the Home Run Derby.
Another superstar from New Jersey is Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder Mike Trout. Trout was born in Vineland, New Jersey and is arguably the best player in Major League Baseball. The American League Most Valuable Player in 2014, Trout has been a four-time All-Star since becoming a regular player in 2012, the same year he unanimously won the AL Rookie of the Year award.
On Tuesday night, Trout became the first player since 1989 to hit a leadoff home run in the All-Star game. With the leadoff homer, Trout also beat out a potential double-play ball in the fifth inning and later scored on a Prince Fielder single. Trout’s hustle on a simple groundball in an exhibition game goes a long way with players and fans alike, and is one of the main reasons he is considered by many the best player in the world.
Trout made history again on Tuesday as he was named the All-Star games Most Valuable Player award for the second year in a row, a feat that has never been accomplished.
Trout has solidified himself as the face of Major League Baseball, but feels that Frazier and his success is great for the state of New Jersey.
“We’re always trying to put Jersey on the map, obviously,” Trout said. “I’m pretty good friends with him. Talk to him all the time. Mess around with him. Just knowing that there’s some players on the East Coast that can make some impact.”
Before being drafted by the Angels, Trout played high school baseball at Millville, and set the New Jersey state high school home run record with 18 long balls in one season. Trout played travel ball with Tri-State Arsenal, one of the premier travel programs in the northeast. Trout was drafted 25th overall in 2009.
Trout and Frazier have certainly put New Jersey on the map and have had huge impacts on baseball fans of all ages who live in the Garden State.
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