Another baseball bloodline shared the field with Wagner in last week’s series. Nationals shortstop Jake Boone is the son of three-time All-Star Bret Boone and his uncle Aaron is the New York Yankees’ manager. Jake’s grandfather, Bob Boone, and his great-grandfather, Ray Boone, both played Major League Baseball, starting in 1948.
This type of roster influx is unprecedented, brought on by Major League Baseball’s reorganization of the minors and a draft pushed back a month to July.
“Typically what happens is the short-season would get all of these draft guys and that would be the start of their season,” Hernandez said. “But since we don’t have short-season in Tri-City and the draft was later, past the GCL season, it was like, well let’s have a little mini-camp in Florida and just go.”
So, players who laced it up in college less than three months ago are stepping into Low-A baseball now.
“I’ve never dealt with seven new guys in one day,” Hernandez said. “It’s just different. It’s a different team now.”
Besides the seven newcomers from the draft, the Woodpeckers have recently added catcher Yanier Diaz through a trade that sent former Buies Creek Astros outfielder Myles Straw from Houston to Cleveland, and pitchers Carlos Calderon, Carlos Hiraldo, Elian Rodriguez and outfielder Adonis Giron have come to Fayetteville via the Florida Complex League (formerly Gulf Coast League) Astros rookie-level affiliate.
Diaz brings a .314 batting average with five home runs and 50 RBIs from Fayetteville’s fellow Low-A East-member Lynchburg.
Calderon, signed as a free agent in 2018, was 1-0 in five games (two starts) for the FCL Astros this season, striking out 28 in 20.1 innings with a 4.43 ERA.
Hiraldo put up a 0.66 ERA in five appearances with two starts for the FCL Astros this season in 13.2 innings pitched.
Rodriguez, a free agent signed in 2017, struck out 21 in 13.2 innings pitched with a 1-1 record and 3.95 ERA for the FCL Astros this season.
The new guys
Hamilton is the highest-drafted of the new Woodpeckers. He hit .374 and led Wright State in RBIs with 65 on his way to winning the Horizon League Player of the Year and first-team All-American honors as a redshirt junior.
Loperfido was named tournament MVP after leading Duke to its first ACC baseball championship in 60 years last season, homering twice in a semifinal win over Virginia. He led the Blue Devils with a .374 batting average, ranking second in the ACC.
Sandle hit .331 as a senior at South Alabama with 50 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, and an eight-RBI game.
Stevens made All-West Coast Conference first team as Portland’s shortstop, hitting a team-high .333.
Kobe had more walks (43) than strikeouts (34) with a .368 batting average in Pac-12 play last season. The Hawaii native hit a record-high .441 in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League in 2019.
Williams, who made only four errors in 42 games at third base for Penn State, hit .302 as a junior last season.
The Woodpeckers (37-46) are 13.5 games behind Low-A East Central Division-leading Carolina (51-33) and 3.5 games behind second-place Down East (47-36) heading into a series at the South Division’s Columbia Fireflies (38-45).
Fayetteville will be back home on Aug. 17 to begin a six-game series against the South’s Myrtle Beach Pelicans (42-42) and former Terry Sanford ace DJ Herz.
Sports editor Monica Holland can be reached at [email protected].
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