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SPORTS - Baseball's Diamonds From The Desert

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STRIPLVSPORTS

DIAMONDS FROM THE DESERT

THREE MAGNIFICENT BALLPLAYERS--
PLANTED, CULTIVATED, AND HARVESTED RIGHT HERE IN LAS VEGAS
By Jeff Alexander

Stars have always blazed across the stages of Las Vegas, as thousands of people filled its showrooms giving standing ovations to acknowledge the talented performances they have just seen. But now three talented Las Vegans are blazing across stages far from this city: in Washington, Chicago and Texas. Their stages are called baseball diamonds and all three are getting standing O’s from thirty to forty-thousand fans packed into a stadium lit by the sun and the bright lights of nighttime baseball games. 

Remember these names:
Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, and Joey Gallo.

Historically, Las Vegas’ greatest major league ballplayer was Greg Maddux, who dominated batters for years, earning his place at Cooperstown, New York’s Baseball Hall of Fame. He still is seen at times enjoying Little League ball games around the city of Las Vegas. 

National attention to the quality of Las Vegas baseball came last year when the Little League team from Mountain Ridge won game after game with style, grace and great baseball; its offense, defense and pitching all exceptional. They took second place, but then were awarded the Championship when Chicago’s team was found to have pulled some shenanigans!

So Las Vegas is beginning to get a reputation for being a hotbed of baseball talent. Those that coach the youngsters here are knowledgeable (many themselves played at high levels) and teach the basics extremely well, while instilling the sportsmanship that is so important to becoming an exceptional player. There seems to be a gene pool in Vegas that is replete with baseball talent (Keep up the good loving!). Now, it sure looks as if Vegas baseball fans will have the pleasure and excitement of watching young men from Vegas play in the majors for many years to come; maybe all the way to Cooperstown, ala Maddux.

BRYCE HARPER
Bryce Harper was a phenomenon at an early age and rocketed through a couple years of high school, a couple in college and directly to the draft. Signed by the Washington Nationals, he is a complete player who plays with the enthusiasm of Pete Rose, the intensity of Ty Cobb and the power of Mickey Mantle. (He’s not quite as fast as Mantle, but almost). Right now he’s having an incredible year, leading or near the top in every category imaginable: average, homeruns, RBI’s, slugging, on base percentage, runs scored, and bases on balls. He made the All-Star team again. He plays so hard, he has a tendency to hurt himself, but he’s beginning to learn when and when not to push too hard. What a future for this guy—and we’re lucky enough to be able to experience it with him!

KRIS BRYAN
As a rookie for the Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant is not quite as on fire as his friend Harper, but he’s starting to remind Cub fans of their two other legendary third basemen: Ernie Banks and Ron Santo. He’s exceptional defensively at third and hits with power from the right side. He starred at Bonanza High, and word has it that his female classmates thought the really handsome hunk should have headed West to Hollywood instead of East to Chicago. Be that as it may, Kris is already making an impact on the Cub team with timely big hits. He hit his first walk-off homerun recently, and the expectation in Chicago and Las Vegas is that there will be many more. He’s another Vegas guy we can enjoy watching for years. 

JOEY GALLO
Joey Gallo, a Bishop Gorman H.S. graduate, was the Gatorade Player of the Year and a high school All-American while there. He hit a total of 67 homeruns and as a senior batted .509 with 21 homeruns. In 2012, he became a first round draft pick of the Texas Rangers as a third baseman/outfielder. Joey is huge at 6’5” and 205 pounds. Texas Ranger execs describe his towering homeruns as majestic, and he truly hits with even more power than Harper or Bryant. He landed briefly in the majors, debuting June 2, 2015, and performed well filling in for injured Rangers, but he is right now honing his skills at the minor league level. He’s the third leg of our Las Vegas baseball triumvirate who soon will be garnering the same kind of accolades as the other two. 

Wow! What a decade of baseball watching Las Vegans have ahead of them.
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