PONY and Baseball Factory Alums Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers Jr. Look To Continue Winning Ways in 2018
Before these teammates won the 2017 World Series together as members of the Houston Astros, both Lance McCullers Jr. and Alex Bregman were part of the PONY Tournament of Stars as youngsters.
Both McCullers Jr. and Bregman played in the USA Tournament of Stars for PONY; McCullers Jr. in 2010 and Bregman in 2011. During the first game of the 2010 Tournament, McCullers Jr., (who did not pitch) batted second and went 2-for-3 with a walk and four RBI’s. In their second game, Lance did get onto the bump, pitching the first three innings, giving up two runs and striking out two. Throughout the entirety of the 2011 USA Tournament of Stars, Alex Bregman performed very well, going 5-for-19, including a 3-for-5 effort where he scored two runs in a wild, 10-9 victory.
McCullers Jr., who put together a dominant start against the Seattle Mariners recently where he struck out 11 hitters over seven innings of one-hit ball, was a 2017 All-Star selection. Last year, he made 22 starts, going 7-4 with a 4.25 ERA in 118 2/3 innings. In McCullers Jr.’s first two years in the MLB, he put up a 3.22 ERA each year with 129 and 106 strikeouts, respectively.
During the Astros’ historic World Series run in 2017, McCullers Jr. pitched in five games where he went 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA and one all-important save. McCullers Jr. would pitch in Game 7 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees, finishing them off with an old-fashioned four-inning save. In doing so, McCullers Jr. threw 24 straight curveballs in the 9th inning to take home the American League Pennant.
The son of former Major League pitcher, Lance McCullers, Lance Jr. was selected 41st overall by Houston in the 2012 out of Jesuit High School (Tampa, FL). While playing in his senior year there, McCullers Jr. was named the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year in 2012. Other notable players to win the award include Clayton Kershaw, Alex Rodriguez, Zack Greinke, and even McCullers Jr’s current manager A.J. Hinch.
Both players have a cool parallel in that each played in high level Under Armour Baseball Factory events where top evaluators and fans of the game of baseball caught a glimpse into the future of each.
Two years prior to being drafted, McCullers Jr. played in the 2010 Under Armour Baseball Factory All-America Game with an electric fastball that touched 97 mph.
Earlier that year, McCullers’ future teammate, Alex Bregman, was making a name for himself in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bregman was a player on everyone’s radar at the 2009 Team One Futures Game. He was a player to watch, playing in the 2010 Under Armour Baseball Factory All-America Pre-Season Tournament and would make it back-to-back years, playing in the same event in 2011. In 2010, Bregman became the first high school player ever to win the USA Baseball Player of the Year Award.
In his first year at LSU in 2013, he was voted by Baseball America as the National Freshman of the Year. Bregman was on everyone’s radar after his junior season and was selected 2nd overall by the Astros in the 2015 MLB draft.
After playing 49 games in 2016 where he hit .264 with 13 doubles and eight homers, Bregman emerged as a star in his first full major league season last year. In 155 games, he hit .284 with 39 doubles, five triples, 19 HRs, 71 RBI’s and 17 stolen bases. During the postseason however is where he really made a name for himself, hitting four homers with 10 RBIs. This includes his clutch walk-off single in the 10th inning of Game 5 of the 2017 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which some say was the best World Series game of all time.
This shows the kind of influence and springboard, by both PONY and the Baseball Factory, that can propel potential stars into future Major League standouts.