Sometimes things happen that remind us why we love this sport the way we do. Maybe that's ultimately what Rockies shortstop Trevor Story and Astros first baseman Tyler White represent.These two kids -- White is 25, Story 23 -- were long shots to make their clubs in Spring Training. Both
Sometimes things happen that remind us why we love this sport the way we do. Maybe that's ultimately what Rockies shortstop Trevor Story and Astros first baseman Tyler White represent.
These two kids -- White is 25, Story 23 -- were long shots to make their clubs in Spring Training. Both had done enough to earn elite prospect status within their two organizations, but neither was considered a can't-miss prospect like a Francisco Lindor or Carlos Correa.
Here's what opened eyes: performance. All both players needed was an opportunity. Both started spraying line drives around the field, taking advantage of every opportunity. In Spring Training, White hit .353, Story .340. In the end, the decision for Colorado and Houston to keep both of them on the big league club was no decision at all.
That in itself was a sweet story, an accomplishment, the kind both players would remember for the rest of their lives. Baseball people remind us not to trust spring statistics, that they mostly don't translate to the regular season.
Only that was just the beginning for Story and White. Just when you think baseball can't keep producing waves of amazing young talent, these kids have roared into our hearts and minds with two of the greatest debut weeks in history.
Hard to believe that just a few days ago, most baseball fans had never heard of either Story or White. Now their at-bats have become must-watch television, as they've made the most difficult sport on earth look ridiculously easy.
Story, the Rockies' No. 11 prospect, started hitting home runs at a pace no one else had ever hit them in his first week -- six in his first four games and seven for the week, along with a .333 batting average. And White almost matched him, getting 10 hits -- including three home runs and a cool .556 batting average -- in six games.
On Monday, they became the first players making their debuts to receive the opening Player of the Week honors of a new season, Story in the National League, White in the American League. As they begin their second weeks, Story is leading the Major Leagues in home runs, White in batting average.
When players like this make it, they're victories -- not just for the individual players, but for an entire organization. For the scouts who signed them, the instructors who helped develop them and the trainers, doctors, teammates and others who offered assistance.
Story was the 45th overall pick of the 2011 Draft, someone scouted both as an athletic shortstop and a pitcher who threw 96 mph. Story hit 70 home runs in five Minor League seasons -- including 20 in 2015 -- so he had power, but not extraordinary power.
Because Colorado had Troy Tulowitzki, Story played second base and third last season, and he performed so well he was added to the 40-man roster. When Tulowitzki was traded and then Jose Reyes placed on administrative leave, the Rockies had an opening, and Story grabbed it.
White, the Astros' No. 13 prospect, was a much longer shot, a 33rd-round Draft pick in 2013 who was thankful just to hear his name called. He was only 5-foot-11 and didn't match the classic prototype teams look for at the position.
Players who are 33rd-round Draft choices have to prove they belong at every level as teams focus on the higher picks. White did that, hitting at every level. Still, Houston, with a loaded farm system, had other players get more attention.
By the time White hit a combined .325 at Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno last season, the Astros were convinced he'd earned a shot to compete for the job. Draft status means little, especially to Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow. As the Cardinals' scouting director, he'd found future All-Stars in the eighth (Allen Craig) and 13th (Matt Carpenter) rounds.
One day last offseason when Luhnow was running down his club's options at first base, he kept steering the conversation back to a kid named Tyler White. At the time, White was third or fourth on the club's internal depth chart, behind an array of hot prospects and higher Draft picks. Still, Luhnow discussed White in glowing terms.
"I'm not sure I've ever been more confident of someone hitting .300 in the Major Leagues," Luhnow said.
And so, three months later, it has played out beyond what even Luhnow could have imagined.
That's true for Story and the Rockies, too, and a sport that has welcomed Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom and a long list of others in recent years, has two more dazzling young talents.
Story and White have been around long enough to know that beginnings are just that, that there are miles to go. This beginning, though, it's as good as it gets.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U.