Baseball Factory and PONY Baseball alums Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun Guiding Milwaukee Brewers To Top Of National League Central
Before Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun were teammates on a division title contender with the Milwaukee Brewers, they each had past experiences with both PONY baseball and the Baseball Factory.
Christian Yelich’s first experience with the Baseball Factory was in July of 2007, when he attended a UA BF National Tryout in Azusa, CA. One year earlier, Yelich played in the 2006 PONY World Series for his hometown Simi Youth Baseball team, from Simi Valley CA. This experience of high level baseball aided Yelich when he most needed it during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
In his eight games played during the WBC, Yelich collected nine hits, batting .310 with a .448 SLG, three RBIs. If not for Marcus Stroman’s strong performances on the mound, Christian Yelich would have no doubt won the tournament’s MVP Award.
Another tournament involving USA Baseball that Yelich played in?
None other than the 2009 USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, in which he played for team PONY. On his team then, are now two of his current divisional rivals and athletes we’ve previously written about – both PONY and Baseball Factory Alums, Pirates’ starting pitchers Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams.
Yelich was selected in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the then Florida Marlins, out of Westlake High School, CA. He played five seasons in Miami before being traded this offseason to the Brewers.
In Yelich’s first 19 games with the Brewers, he is hitting .274, with two homers and nine RBIs, even though he missed upwards of two weeks with an oblique injury in mid-April. In his last three seasons with the Marlins (2015-2017), Yelich hit .292 with 485 hits, and 223 RBIs. In 2016, he blossomed into a rising star, winning the Silver Slugger Award with a SLG percentage of .483 and 62 extra base hits (21 homers, 38 doubles and three triples).
One of Yelich’s new teammates and counterparts in the Milwaukee outfield is the 2011 NL MVP, Ryan Braun.
Braun was a part of the Baseball Factory Team One National Showcase in 2001 in his only Baseball Factory experience. He also played PONY baseball in his hometown and for the North Valley Baseball Association in Granada Hills, CA.
Out of the University of Miami, Braun was selected with the 5th overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, now in his twelfth season with the Brew Crew. He was called up in May of 2007 and had what some people called one of the most dominant rookie seasons ever. In 113 games that season, Braun hit an astounding 34 homers with a .324 BA and a .634 SLG while totaling 97 RBIs, which would win him the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year.
With the exception of the 2010 season (25 HRs and 103 RBIs), from 2008-2012 Braun would hit at least 32 HRs and bat in at least 106 runs. This stretch was good enough to win an NL Silver Slugger Award and be named an NL All-Star selection each of those years. In his MVP season of 2011, Braun hit .332 with 33 homers and 111 RBI, leading baseball in slugging percentage (.597) and an OPS of .994.
Although Yelich is in his first season in Milwaukee and did not get a taste of postseason baseball with Miami, he is just as eager as the rest of the organization to get back to the postseason. While in Milwaukee, Braun has only played in 15 postseason games himself, in which the most recent came when they advanced to Game 6 of the 2011 NLCS and would lose to their bitter rivals the St. Louis Cardinals.