Wednesday, August 10, 2011
New Balance Players of the Game: Day 6
LONG BEACH, Calif. — As a freshman in high school, Rhett Wiseman set a goal to one day play in the Area Code Games. He checked that one off his to-do list in style this week. The center fielder from Buckingham Browne & Nichols (Cambridge, Mass.) was a sparkplug for the Yankees, stealing an event-high five bases and earning the New Balance Asdrubal Cabrera “Phenom” award as a player with game-changing talent.
“Speed’s a huge part of my game,” said Wiseman, a rising senior. “If I get on base I can steal second, steal third — turn a single into a triple. It gives me another way to make an impact.”
On Wednesday morning, he keyed the Yankees’ 1-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds with a pair of hits and a stolen base to help his team pick up its first win of the event.
Wiseman was one of five Massachusetts natives on the Yankees, and the Bay Staters actually outnumbered the New Yorkers by one. Wiseman said there wasn’t much Red Sox-Yankees trash-talking between the groups, but he did say there was one hard part about being a Yankee.
“Putting on that hat for the first time,” Wiseman said, “that was a little tough.”
Game 2: Oakland A’s vs. Chicago White Sox
The White Sox also got into the win column for the first time in their last game. After losing their first two games and then tying the next pair, the Sox put up a six-spot in the fourth inning en route to a 6-2 win over the A’s.
As he has all week, rising senior outfielder Justin Burba out of Haysville Campus (Haysville, Kan.) was central to the White Sox offense. He reached base twice in three at-bats, raising his on-base percentage for the week to .636. Combine that great approach at the plate with his speed and defensive ability and Burba is an ideal candidate to take home the New Balance Asdrubal Cabrera “Phenom” award.
“I came out here excited to play against this competition,” Burba said. “I wanted to show how I could help a team win games.”
Burba was the White Sox’s best all-around player for the week. In his 11 plate appearances, he failed to reach base just four times. He also patrolled center field confidently, making the tough plays look routine in addition to making a couple spectacular catches.
Game 3: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Texas Rangers
As Courtney Hawkins walked to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with his Rangers team down a run, he could hear his teammates shouting for him to tie the game up with one swing. The power hitter happily obliged, drilling a big fly to left field to cap his week on a high note and keep his Rangers undefeated as they tied the Brewers, 4-4, in the final game of the Area Code Games.
Power isn’t all the Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas) rising senior brings to the table, and because of that he’s a winner of the New Balance Asdrubal Cabrera “Phenom” award.
“I heard them yelling, but all I was thinking about was making solid contact and not striking out again,” says Hawkins, who fanned in his first three at-bats of the game.
Hawkins only hit .231 for the week, but he was on-base at a .316 clip, swiped three bases, scored three runs and knocked in three more. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound outfielder was one of just two players to hit a ball out of Long Beach State’s Blair Field on the week, joining Lake Stevens (Wash.) rising senior Dylan LaVelle who played for the Royals.