For my devoted readers, accidental viewers and StumbleUpon-ers: I’m back after a long hiatus. This past week, I came down with something, plus I took a weekend off to visit Washington DC. I’m back now.
You readers may be familiar with my affiliated BlogTalkRadio podcast show, “The Final Out”, in which I interview baseball prospects and fans, in the case of my last interview subject, famed baseball collector Zack Hample. In the interview, which happened last month, I had mentioned that Zack had caught Mike Trout’s first career home run, and more famously, gave it back to him. Well, Zack found himself in the spotlight this past week once again when he went to see the New York Yankees play the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 18th.
Hample has been known to be on the lookout for players who have yet to hit home runs, and has, on separate occasions, caught milestone balls, one by Blue Jays catcher Mike Nickeas, the other by Trout.
Didi Gregorius, the prospect shortstop acquired by Arizona in the Trevor Bauer deal, found himself face to face with Zack when he lined a Phil Hughes offering into the right field seats of Yankee Stadium. Hample, who was in close proximity to the ball, ended up snagging it. It wasn’t the only ball that he caught though, Hample moved to hte left field seats and caught Francisco Cervelli’s home run that put the game in extras. Here is footage of the two catches, as well as an interview with the Diamondbacks on-field reporter.
Zack, who has gotten at least one baseball in a major league game since September of 1993, has over 6500 baseballs in his collection. Since 2009, he has been snagging balls for charity, and this year, he is being sponsored by BIGS Sunflower seeds, who will be donating $500 for balls that he snags in-game. This season-long mission is called Zack Hample’s BIGS baseball adventure.
In addition to being sponsored by Bigs, Zack has been supplied with enough sunflower seeds to last him a year. Apparently, the flavors are interesting as well, as he’s gotten original, Dill Pickle, Buffalo, and Bacon.
Zack has promised to try and set aside a bag of bacon seeds for when we do meet up, which if he’s not out of New York, will likely be sometime in the summer. Until then, I hope that he continues to succeed in his baseball adventure, and also hope that he continues to catch more first home runs from rookies.
Moving along from Zack, Didi Gregorius is the #63 prospect in the top 100, the #10 shortstop prospect, and the #3 Diamondbacks prospect, behind pitchers Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs. He has a Nomar Garciaparra-like glove and arm, solid speed, solid contact, but very little power; considering he hit his first home run in Yankee Stadium, which is a small park, in Arizona, that probably would have been a double at best.
Didi joins a talented infield which consists of young stars like Paul Goldschmidt, Martin Prado and Cliff Pennington, which should hold together for years to come. If Didi continues to play at the level he’s playing, he has the potential to win some Gold Gloves, a few All-Star selections, and possibly a stolen base title.