It’s still a baseball town.
For decades, the Sacramento region has been hailed as such for sending scores of prospects to the major leagues.
There are 13 players with area roots who are in major-league spring training camps, some as active-roster player and others as non-roster camp invitees.
The players are young and older (or much older, sorry, Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox).
In Jupiter, in the heart of Florida, the youngest position player in the St. Louis Cardinals’ camp is Dylan Carlson. The 20-year-old was the 2016 Bee Player of the Year out of Elk Grove High School and the Cardinals’ first-round pick that spring.
He’s in camp for a close-up peek. The switch-hitting prospect, who played most of the 2018 season with Advanced-A Palm Beach in the Florida State League, started in left field against the New York Mets on Sunday and had a home run off Mets reliever Edwin Diaz, the runaway major-league leader in saves (57) last season with the Seattle Mariners.
Other Elk Grove High graduates in camps include J.D. Davis, a versatile slugger now with the Mets; pitcher David Hernandez with the Reds, starting his 10th big-league season; infielder Nick Madrigal with the White Sox, a first-round pick last year who is now in minor-league camp; catcher Dom Nunez, a non-roster invite with the Rockies; first baseman slugger Rowdy Tellez with the Blue Jays, and catcher David Freitas with the Mariners.
Madrigal is the area’s highest drafted player, fourth overall. His work ethic was proof that size matters not.
Freitas isn’t the only catcher from the region in a big-league uniform. Andrew Knapp of Granite Bay works behind the plate for the Phillies, and Max Stassi of Yuba City does so with the Astros. Stassi is an example of grinding his way to success. Andrew Susac of Jesuit is a catcher with Baltimore, having also spent time with the Giants.
Rhys Hoskins of Jesuit is a slugger with the Phillies who has taken on a leadership role in camp, offering input to younger players. He has long been motivated by the loss of his mother.
Hoskins is in his second full spring training with the Phillies. The 25-year-old has swatted 52 home runs in 203 games over his first two major-league seasons. He also has a new teammate in the recently signed Bryce Harper.
Another Jesuit alum in a camp is first baseman Zach Green, with the Giants. He has Brandon Belt in front of him on the depth chart and could see extensive time in Sacramento with the River Cats.
Stassi’s brother, Brock, is also with the Giants in camp. He scored a run after drawing a 2-out walk on Monday against the Dodgers.
What is baseball without the allure of a power pitcher?
Matt Manning, a first-round pick out of Sheldon in 2016, has impressed his Detroit Tigers bosses. At 6-foot-6 with a fastball that sits between 94-96 mph, he’s deemed the No. 2 prospect in the organization, having struck out 262 in 198 innings of professional work with just 83 walks.
And there’s the sage old-timer in Boston, Dustin Pedroia.
When he was 20, freshly drafted out of Arizona State by the Boston Red Sox, Pedroia, of Woodland fame (and The Bee’s Player of the Year in 2001) said this to Boston media: “I just want to get in there and start hitting the ball and getting my uniform dirty.”
Pedroia is 35 now, having dirtied his uniform plenty over more than 15,000 innings of pro ball, including 1,506 games with Boston since his breakthrough in 2006.
But the second baseman lasted just three games a year ago, undone by knee injuries. He vows to be 100 percent ready for the start of the season with plenty more to prove beyond his resume of four All-Star Game appearances, his 2008 American League MVP and three World Series championship rings.
“He’s in the Tom Brady mode — me against the world,” Boston manager Alex Cora told Boston media. “He’s been doing that since 2006. Nothing different.”