Sure, Trenton Thunder starting pitcher Hector Noesi is headed to the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game in Anaheim. A nice honor, no question.
But Austin Romine and Tony Franklin? They’re headed home.
The 21-year-old Trenton catcher was greeted with an envelope on his chair in the Erie Seawolves visiting clubhouse that broke the news to him, and was thrilled to see that he’d be getting a chance to head back to his home state during the baseball season.
“I grew up 20 minutes from the stadium, I used to go to Angels games all the time. I’ve been going there since I was eight,” Romine said.
“I immediately called my dad and my family. I have to get like 40 tickets, my whole entire family is going. It should be fun. It’s such an honor to be considered the future, I guess you could say.”
Romine said that the Futures Game hadn’t even crossed his mind and that he’d forgotten all about it, instead wondering if he’d be selected to the Eastern League All-Star Game. Now he’ll be getting a chance to play at Angel Stadium of Anaheim for just the second time, his first since high school.
“I did a showcase there one time, there was this thing called Angels Elite out in California,” he said.
“They take the best high school guys before the draft, like 17-year-olds, and you play a game there against junior colleges. So yeah, I’ve played there, but I was a little young and I didn’t know how to hit with wood. It’ll be a lot more fun going around this time.”
Romine will be reunited with Oakland Athletics farmhand Grant Green, who he grew up playing in a travel league with, and Royals prospect Mike Moustakas, who played in many showcases with Romine as well as the Arizona Fall League, which also featured Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun, knowing the guys I’m playing with,” Romine said.
“All those guys are going home too, because those guys are from Southern California, too. It’s going to be an awesome time for all of us.”
Franklin, a Los Angeles native himself, understood the significance of the selection for his young catcher.
“Romine’s from California, like I am,” he said.
“Going home is probably the most exciting thing that we can do. This is his first opportunity to play in front of some hometown fans and family, and I know he’s got to be thrilled about that, plus the fact the kid’s been putting together a pretty good year as well. The Major League stage that they’re going to be on, it says a lot about where they are going to be in a couple of years.”
There was one California native, however, who Romine was surprised wouldn’t be joining him in Anaheim: Brandon Laird.
“Granted, it’s a tough situation with A-Rod at third, but he’s having an outstanding year,” Romine said.
“It’s fun to watch when I’m on base or I’m in the dugout, he’s just having a monster year. I was a little surprised there. Phelps has been pitching great for us. We have a couple guys who could have gone. But that’s how it goes, I guess.”
While Laird was unable to get into his first Futures Game, this will be Franklin’s fourth. And while his exact role remains uncertain, his previous experiences have him happy just to be invited back again.
“You have no idea how exciting it is until you’re there,” he said.
“I didn’t know until I was there, and this is my fourth one. I’m probably more excited about this one more than any of them, simply because I’m going home. My grandchildren will be there, and my wife will be there, and my children will be there. I’m pretty excited about it. After 40 years in the game, I’m always still excited about going and participating in front of my family. It’s a good feeling.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com