With only two of us, my brother and I had to get creative to play baseball as kids.
We played against each other, one pitching, one hitting. Since we didn’t have fielders we created rules to determine outs.
A high pop up is an out. A weak grounder is an out. Keep that idea in mind for the rest of this column.
A surge of baseball talent in the Fort Collins area has allowed us to almost field a baseball team of professionals.
We’ll have to use some of the rules created in my backyard to fill the gaps in the field, but let’s have some fun and look at our roster of local pros.
Pitching — Even though we’re making up rules for a lack of fielders, our team is in good shape because of the pitching staff.
We also don’t have a catcher, so garbage cans behind the plate take that role, like it did in the Lytle household.
The starter for our make believe team is obviously Marco Gonzales. The 2010 Rocky Mountain High School graduate was the St. Louis Cardinals first-round pick in 2013.
He already has 13 MLB appearances under his belt, including two wins in the playoffs last year. This year has been bumpy, with him missing more than two months total of action with shoulder problems.
He’s pitched 4.2 innings without allowing an earned run in two Single-A appearances in his return and should be in contention to return to the MLB by the end of the month.
Then if we need relief late in games, the bullpen is in good hands.
Jess Amedee, a 2011 Rocky Mountain grad, was taken in the 27th round of the 2014 draft the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pitching for the Pirates rookie league affiliate in Bristol, Virginia, Amedee has struck out 12 batters in nine innings, walking just two and has an ERA of 2.00.
Jordan Piche is a 2010 graduate of Resurrection Christian in Loveland and was picked in the 28th round of the 2014 draft by the Los Angeles Angels.
Playing in Single A with the Burlington Bees, Piche has a 2.87 ERA and has struck out 45 batters in 37.2 innings pitched, walking just five.
Outfield — Cole Anderson, Grand Junction Rockies. Our newest pro is also one to play outfield, so the 2015 Rocky Mountain graduate will have to cover a lot of ground.
That’s OK, he’s fast.
He was drafted in the 10th round by the Colorado Rockies in June. He’s hitting .268 with two home runs in 12 games with the Rockies rookie league affiliate.
Infield — Andy Burns, Buffalo Bisons. Like the outfield, there are a few holes in the infield, but Burns is versatile.
The 2008 graduate of Rocky Mountain plays third and second for the Toronto Blue Jays Triple A affiliate, he’s even appeared in the outfield.
He’s hitting .279 and playing every day for the Bisons. He’s the most likely to join Gonzales in the majors in the near future.
Managing our team is Frank Gonzales, father of Marco. He’s the Colorado Rockies short-season Single A manager with the Boise Hawks (8-18) after previously coaching at Fort Collins High School and CSU.
It’s not quite a full lineup, but we’re getting there. Carl Stajduhar was picked in the 27th round of the 2014 draft by the Braves out of high school.
He opted to go to the University of New Mexico, where he was a freshman All-American and looks like he’ll be a high draft pick when eligible in two seasons.
New Mexico teammate Tyler Stevens was also a freshman All-American on the mound.
At least 40 more Fort Collins-area players are still in college.
Obviously this “team” won’t ever be on the field together, but it’s pretty impressive to look at the talent our area has produced.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.