Thursday, April 07, 2016

2016 Hagerstown Suns include sons of Bucky Dent, Cal Ripken, and Mariano Rivera: Cody, Ryan, and Mo-Hagerstown-Mail

4/6/16, "In Ripken, Rivera, Dent, Hagerstown Suns have famous baseball sons," Herald-Mail Media, Bob Parasiliti

"As the Hagerstown Suns' manager, Patrick Anderson is on a first-name basis with his players.

“To me, they are Ryan, Mo and Cody,” Anderson said Wednesday during the Suns annual media day.

“That’s how we know them. They have their own identities and personalities. They have their own careers.”

They are like any other Single-A minor league prospects. They are working hard to get a foot in a major league clubhouse door. Their only difference is they all have a pedigree.

Ripken is taking up the family business of baseball, following his famous father Cal Ripken Jr., the beloved former Baltimore Orioles infielder and recent Hall of Famer.

Rivera is attempting to pick up where his dad left off. Mariano Rivera retired after the 2014 season as the legendary closer for the New York Yankees.

And Dent, who is returning for a second season with the Suns, plays the infield just like his father, Bucky Dent.

The elder Dent won two World Series rings as the Yankees shortstop and is best known for his late-inning home run in the 1978 American League playoff game against Boston.

The trio are one of the storylines unfolding with the 2016 Hagerstown Suns. While the franchise and its future in Hagerstown continues to be a political baseball, the team opens up its 36th season tonight at 6 against the Delmarva Shorebirds.

With their last names, Ripken, Rivera and Dent are an automatic focal point for a young Hagerstown team.

The Suns will be giving Ripken his first chance to really play since he was drafted in the 15th round in 2014 by the Washington Nationals.

“He’s a great kid,” Anderson said of the 6-foot-6 Ripken. “He hasn’t played for the last two seasons because he has been hurt. He rolled his ankle and needed surgery. But he is a left-left (hitting and throwing) first baseman. I’m happy he’s healthy and he going to get his chance.”

Ripken has played parts of two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, the Nationals' rookie level club. He played 44 total games with a .217 batting average, including two home runs and 14 RBIs.

This will be his first attempt of playing full-season baseball, which is a 140-game schedule, instead of the 70 games or fewer played in the lower divisions.

"We are going to have to watch him a little," Anderson said. "He is a little behind because he hasn't had the number of at-bats some of these other guys have. He's raw.

"We all know he is going to face attention because of his last name. He’s humble, and he listens to everything he’s told. You love to have that. He's just Ryan to me."

With Rivera, the Suns got the latest edition to a trilogy.

“We call him 'Three,'” Anderson said. “Because he is the third Mariano in his family."

The 5-11 right-hander had a 1-2 record with five saves and a 5.45 ERA at Auburn, Washington's New York-Penn League affiliate.

With the Suns, Rivera will start following his father's footsteps, but it comes after changing his shoes.

"He is like his dad. He’s going to be in the bullpen setting up and closing games," Anderson said. "He played soccer for most of his life before he picked up baseball for some reason.”

The lynchpin for the Suns might well be Dent, who is one of seven players returning to Hagerstown to start the season. Fans will have to pay attention to the Suns' lineup every night, just to see where he is playing.

“Cody has been here parts of the last two years, and he can play all the infield and outfield positions,” Anderson said.

Dent is in his third year in the Nationals organization after being selected in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft. He has played for the Nats' four different Single-A teams on the half-season and full-season levels.

Dent's versatility will allow Anderson to use many combinations of players, while rotating the roster to give the team rest.

He will be working on trying to improve his .193 career batting average. He hit a career-best .226 for Hagerstown last season.

“He has to work on his swing," Anderson said. "It is a work in progress.”

The three big-name players will be the calling card for the Suns this season. How they develop will have a definite impact on Hagerstown's success in 2016.

Anderson thought about one possible other benefit for Suns fans this season.

"We could have some famous family coming in to watch them play," he said." image from Herald-Mail Media

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