It’s easy to root for guys like J-Hay, Maggi
How awesome is it that Josh Harrison made the National League All-Star team for the Pirates!
He is, and forever will be, “The Man” in Altoona thanks to his wonderfully catchy walk-up song in 2010.
Harrison also represents something for all the little guys in baseball. He represents hope.
No position. No hype. No big signing bonus. No chance to play every day.
Guys like Harrison and another popular former Curve player, Brock Holt, who’s tearing it up with the Red Sox, are proof that if you bust your tail every day, play the game the right way, do everything that’s asked of you and never take no for an answer, that maybe, just maybe, enough people will take notice.
It won’t be anyone giving those type of players a chance. It will be those guys having to earn every little thing they get in the game.
Harrison and Holt are two of the best stories out of the 115 former Curve players to make the major leagues.
There’s another guy like them playing in Altoona this year, as well, and over the weekend he received some terrific news that he’s been selected to play in the Eastern League All-Star Game.
Utility man Drew Maggi is everything you want in a ballplayer. Versatile, scrappy, works hard, battles for everything he gets.
He’s not the most talented guy around. But Maggi does so many things well that if you watch him play every day, he will rub off on you the same way Harrison and Holt did when they played for the Curve.
“He’s a guy who brings the energy, a guy who’s going to raise the bar in everybody else,” Altoona manager Carlos Garcia said. “Everybody else sees him and tries to follow and compete the way he does.”
Garcia then added what may look like a simple statement but in actuality is one of the best things a manager can say about a player.
“Everybody in here respects Maggi because he creates his own fate,” Garcia said.
That’s why Maggi plays every day for the Curve, even though he didn’t have a starting job at the beginning of the season.
It’s also why the 25-year-old, who’s in his third season with the Curve, was able to earn his first All-Star nod.
He’s a baseball grinder in every sense of the word, and it’s great to see someone like him get rewarded for those efforts.
“It means a lot to me personally,” Maggi said of the All-Star selection. “The feeling feels really good. People acknowledge what you’re doing, so that’s always a plus.”
Drafted in the 15th round out of Arizona State in 2010, Maggi has put up good but not great numbers in his pro career. He’s not a great pure hitter like Holt, the 2012 Eastern League batting champ, or Harrison, who hit .300 for Altoona.
But Maggi runs well – he leads the team with 20 steals – has great plate discipline and can hold his own playing anywhere in the field. He’s already played all four infield positions plus the two corner outfield spots this season.
That kind of versatility is a major plus, and if he continues to improve as a hitter, Maggi someday could knock down the door to the big leagues, just like and Harrison and Holt.
“Watching them succeed definitely gives me hope,” Maggi said. “For me, I don’t really stop believing. I think guys like that who play hard and can play anywhere, those guys are very useful to a team.”
Harrison turned being very useful into being an All-Star with the Pirates, and Maggi has done the same with the Curve.
You never count out guys like that, and you always want to make sure to watch them because they play a big role in making baseball fun.
Cory Giger is the host of “Sports Central” from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. Reach him at 949-7031 or @CoryGiger on Twitter.