The Crosstown Showdown: glimpsing the future

Out on Kindle, it's the 2nd edition of my Baseball Thesaurus!
The print edition will be arriving shortly, via August Publications.
Make of this what you will.
This year is the eighth Crosstown Showdown, presented by Auto-Owners Insurance, pitting the Lansing Lugnuts and the Michigan State Spartans.  During the past seven seasons, over 70,000 fans have come in through the gates, watching the Lugs build a 5-2 record in the series against MSU.
The Blue Jays, as the Lugnuts' parent club, began the series playing things relatively straight: Starter Kyle Ginley worked a good five innings in 2007, relieved by Nate Starner for the next 3 2/3, with closer Julio Pinto locking up a Lugnuts win.  The starting lineup featured the regulars, including young Travis Snider (0-for-1, 3 walks).
In 2008, however, the Jays made a decision that they've stayed consistent to till this day.  Instead of using members of the Lugs pitching staff, they sent up younger - and perhaps rawer - guys, who weren't quite ready for the Midwest League yet.
2008:  Joe Wice, Marcus Walden, Tim Collins, Kyle Walter, Brad Cuthbertson
2009:  Scott Gracey, Willy Mendez, Chris Holguin, Jason Roenicke
2010:  Sam Strickland, Shawn Griffith, Ruben De La Rosa, Juan Hernandez, Casey Beck
2011:  Note - instead of pitchers, outfielder Chris Hawkins and infielder Matt Nuzzo flew in for the game
2012:  Roberto Osuna, Daniel Norris, Kevin Comer
2013:  Chase De Jong, Alberto Tirado, Adonys Cardona, Justin Jackson
2014:  Mark Biggs, Yeyfry Del Rosario, Francisco Gracesqui, Adaric Kelly, Garrett Pickens, Jesus Tinoco
Let's discuss this briefly.
*  Tim Collins is now an above-average Major League reliever and Marcus Walden is a Triple-A sinkerballer knocking on the door of the Big Leagues.
*  Matt Nuzzo would go on to hit one of the most dramatic home runs in team history, leading to the playoff elimination of the great 2011 Dayton Dragons.
*  Drew Hutchison, now in the Majors, started the 2011 CTSD.  Aaron Sanchez, now the Blue Jays' top prospect, started the 2012 CTSD.  Both could easily become MLB All-Stars down the road.  If you were a fan at one of those games -- or, heck, if you were one of the Spartans who batted against them -- you have a story to tell.
*  The 2012 sequence of Lugnuts pitchers could look awesome with the passing of time:  Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, and Daniel Norris, pitching in a game televised on the Big Ten Network, in front of a stadium-record crowd of 12,997.  Kevin Comer was a 1st-round supplemental pick who was given a lot of money and then traded to Houston.  He hasn't distinguished himself yet, but stay tuned.
*  The 2013 CTSD serves in retrospect as a perfect preview of the 2014 Lugnuts, with Chase De Jong, Alberto Tirado and Adonys Cardona all ascending to Lansing's starting rotation this year.  There was also this video:

*  As for this year, I'd advise you to keep a long-term eye trained toward 18-year-old Jesus Tinoco.  It's a good sign for anyone that young when the Blue Jays trust in him enough to send him in for a game like this.  At the very least, this is going to be a great experience for a young gun who has never pitched above the Gulf Coast League.


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