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As the Major League Baseball season unfolded over Memorial Day weekend, a number of young Long Beach baseball players are hoping to make their way to the big leagues before the season ends.
Among the most intriguing prospects now on the doorstep of an MLB roster is former Millikan Rams infielder Spencer Steer. The University of Oregon product was recently promoted to the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in St. Paul, where he already hit a pair of home runs in his first week with the Saints.
Steer transformed his skills as a minor leaguer, blossoming into a legitimate power threat. The 24-year-old has hit 8 homers and 13 doubles in 35 games at the Double-A level this season, and has a .586 hitting percentage, more than 100 points better than his previous record.
Minnesota director of player development Alex Hassan praised Steer in a recent interview with Athleticism.
“Spencer was one of the most coachable players we had during my time with the Twins,” said Hassan, who was hired by the Twins in 2018. “From the moment he joined our system, he had a real thirst for knowledge and to learn exactly what he needs to do to improve.
Another young infielder waiting at the Triple-A level is former Lakewood Lancer Brendon Davs, who was claimed on waivers by the Detroit Tigers organization on May 20. Davis, 24, is hitting .247 in 43 Triple-A games this season, including 14 multi-hit games. He also added six home runs and 28 RBIs. Davis was previously with the Los Angeles Angels organization, but may have a clearer path to The Show with a rebuilding Tigers team.
Former Dirtbags wide receiver David Banuelos is also just outside the big leagues and is actually Steer’s teammate with the St. Paul Saints in Triple-A. Banuelos has always been considered an elite defensive receiver, with a bit of pop in his bat as well. The 25-year-old threw his third home run of the season last week as he looks to continue his rise in the Twins organization.
Of course, there are also plenty of guys from Long Beach who are established veterans in the big leagues. One of the older statesmen is San Francisco Giants third baseman Evan Longoria, who returned to the roster on May 11. . The veteran slugger hit a two-home run game on May 25 and then closed the weekend with homers in back-to-back games in Cincinnati, giving him four homers in four games.
Another Dirtbags veteran, Bryan Shaw, is in his 12th major league season as a key reliever in the bullpen for the Cleveland Guardians. Shaw had a tough outing that skewed his season stats but was otherwise solid for the Guardians, allowing just three runs in 14 innings in his other 18 appearances.
Also in the bullpen, former Wilson Bruins pitcher Tommy Nance has carved out a role with the Miami Marlins. Nance was with the Chicago Cubs a season ago but brought his power-hitter thing to South Beach where he whipped up 12 batters in 8.2 PI with a 3.12 ERA in his first seven games with Miami. .
Closer to home, Lakewood and Long Beach State product Matt Duffy has had a great year for the Angels so far. The 31-year-old infielder posted a four-hit game last Saturday for the Halos to increase his season batting average to .290. It was Duffy’s fifth career four-hit game and first since Aug. 12, 2019, when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays.