The Crosstown Showdown is back for its tenth occurrence. It was initially supposed to be played on April 6, but was cancelled due to severe weather. Michigan State and the Lansing Lugnuts are now set to play Tuesday evening where the Spartans will be looking to avenge their 9-4 loss last season.
By having the game in the fall as opposed to the spring, MSU will be without stars Dakota Mekkes, Cam Vieaux and Jordan Zimmerman. All three sported fabulous seasons for MSU; Mekkes led the country in both K/9 as well as fewest hits allowed per nine, Zimmerman was among the best in the country in hitting and led the team in batting average with .374 and Vieaux was one of the best pitchers in the Big Ten with his 2.28 ERA.
The trio of MSU greats have continued their success, already performing well in a shortened minor league season. Mekkes was able to play in the Northwest Short League for the Chicago Cubs affiliate, and in just 17 innings of work, did what he did best and struck out 21. Vieaux was with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and played in the New York-Penn Short League, tossing a 3.33 ERA. Zimmerman may have had the most success, already making it to Low A for the Los Angeles Angels affiliate, the Burlington Bees. Although Zim only hit .159, it says a lot for him to already be at that point considering he came directly off of a college season.
MSU will not be without weapons however. Pitchers Jake Lowery and Walter Borkovich are seen as future pros and will be on hand to pitch for the Spartans. On the offensive side, 2016 Minnesota Twins draft pick Matt Byars, who has yet to sign, will be back with Northwoods Summer League standout Marty Bechina. The two were a key part of MSU’s run last year and were a factor in the Spartan’s well known hit parade.
On the flip side, the Lugnuts are not without their pains either. Depending on how much you read into the mental aspect of sports, the fact the Lugnuts just missed out on a playoff spot may sting them a bit. All the players are staying an extra day to play in this exhibition contest, but they may be less than thrilled to be doing so.
Being a minor league team, the Lugnuts could throw a number of pitchers at the Spartans. Sadly, Future’s Game attendee Angel Perdomo pitched Monday and will be unavailable. He is widely seen as one of the Toronto Blue Jays top prospects. Ryan Borucki is another pitcher to look for in terms of potential major league talent.
In the field there a few notable major league-like guys. Former first round pick DH/Catcher Max Pentecost is hungry to be in the pros, but has been slowed by injuries. He hit .314 with seven HR this past season. The only real thing holding him back from moving up is his inability to catch since returning from injury. Another big name is 1B/3B Juan Kelly, who is from the same region of the Dominican Republic as Adrian Beltre and Jose Bautista. He had 12 homers last year and seeing him personally take batting practice was one of the more impressive sights because of his raw power. An emerging star is 2B John La Prise, who played for the Virginia College World Series team. After a slow start, he got his batting average up to .255 and OBP to .332. He plays good defense and is said by some scouts to have that major league psyche.
The Lansing area tradition should impress and will be full of stars you could see in the majors someday. Be sure to show up early for the home run derby starting at 5:30 p.m. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.