Meet the HRDX Wild Cards who could steal the show

May 17th, 2022

When you watch a big league baseball game, you know those players have trained their entire lives to get to that point. They ate egg whites for breakfast, chicken breast for lunch and hit the gym to focus on the skills that would help them blast a 95 mph (153 kmh) fastball a country mile. But when you come out to watch HRDX, each team will have a Wild Card, a player who is an athlete, a content creator and -- wildest of all -- brand new to the sport.

While these Wild Cards are getting ready, training to blast dingers, and (probably) studying flashcards with baseball idioms like "can of corn," we thought it was time for you to meet baseball's newest and unlikeliest stars.

Cubs: Spencer Owen (@SpenFC)

Owen -- real surname Carmichael-Brown -- may be the rare eSports player to turn pro ... in live sports. Spencer was one of the best FIFA players in the world, but that focus started to change in 2015. That year, he started the Wembley Cup, a charity football (or soccer) match held at Wembley Stadium. Owen then founded Hashtag United, a semi-pro soccer team whose men's team won the Division One South Eastern Counties League championship in 2018-19, and the women's team won the Essex Senior Cup this year.

He's also the author of the bestselling book, "Gamechanger," detailing just how he went from FIFA star to world-touring soccer club owner. With all the success he's seen online and on the pitch, he's now setting his sights on a very different kind of game. Fortunately, he has Great Britain's pitching & catching coordinator, Will Lintern, by his side to get him ready to go.

Owen's already had a chance to take some cuts, which you can watch below. How much better will he be when the Cubs take the field on July 9? You'll need to tune in to find out.

Dodgers: Yoongy Kwak (@YoongyKwak)

Too bad stolen bases aren't a part of the competition because L.A. most likely has the fastest player in the competition: Olympic speedskater Yoongy Kwak. While Kwak may not be the first speed skater to swing the lumber (that distinction would belong to former Marlins infielder Eddy Alvarez), Kwak is the first short-track speed skater to be selected to the Korean National team 10 times. He holds a remarkable 34 World Cup medals and 2 Olympic medals, as well. Perhaps most importantly, he also knows some moves, busting out a BTS dance routine after winning silver at this year's Winter Olympics.

He should also stand out with his signature bright pink locks and fashion-forward looks:

Red Sox: Liv Cooke (@LivCookefs)

Bat flips will never look the same after Cooke takes the field. That's because Cooke is the first female World Champion football freestyler and a five-time world record holder. So, when she picked up a bat early in training, well, she made it do some pretty unique things:

While Cooke started on a traditional soccer path, playing in Preston North End's youth academy as a 10-year-old, it was only after an injury sidelined her at 15 that she discovered her talent for freestyle. Healthy enough to work on her skills, but not yet ready to get back into game action, she fell into a whole new world.

"I then discovered freestyle videos online and was blown away," Cooke said in 2018. "I wanted to do those tricks. I’d spend all day in my garden learning a trick and when I was able to do it I wanted the next one and the one after that. Before I knew it I was doing some pretty decent tricks!"

Those skills also make her the exact person you want around you when at the hotel buffet:

Yankees: Daniel Corral (@DanielCorralMX)

If there's anyone you should count on making an acrobatic defensive play, Corral is probably the person who's going to do it. Corral is a gymnast who has represented Mexico at the Summer Olympics, Pan American Games, Central American and Caribbean Games, World Championships and more. Perhaps best known for his work on the pommel horse and the parallel bars, those skills should serve him well when trying to rob home runs high above the outfield fence.

You may also find lots of adorable selfies and romantic photos on Corral's Instagram page during the tournament. Corral is engaged to professional cyclist Antoineta Gaxiola and the two are set to marry later this year.