Growing up, baseball was not an option; it was a way of life. Most of my earliest memories involve baseball, but to get my full story we will have to go back a little further than my earliest memories. If I could remember being 9 months old I would say my earliest memory was seeing my father drafted in the 33rd round by the Atlanta Braves. I don’t remember that or all of the pictures I see of myself decked out in Braves gear at Spring Training or the ballpark in Pulaski where the Braves Appalachian League affiliate was then. Unfortunately an injury cut my father’s career short before he could climb the ladder much, however, all of my early memories are of the dugout for his adult league team he played on when he came back to central Pennsylvania. My brother, sister and I grew up in that dugout until he gave up playing to coach all of us. While I never had the god given talent my dad had, my brother did inherit that talent and I am fortunate enough to have been able to watch him get the call in the 21st round by the Texas Rangers in 2005. My brother spent two seasons between the Arizona Rookie League and Short Season A Ball before moving on to other things. So baseball is in my blood and while playing beyond high school was never in the cards for me, I love the game and love fantasy baseball and prospects as much as going to games.
Growing up in central Pennsylvania has also allowed me to see plenty of professional baseball growing up. It’s a great location surrounded by a ton of baseball. My great-grandfather had season tickets to the Orioles from the mid 1960’s and I have been to Camden Yards hundreds of times since it opened in 1992 – including the Home Run Derby in 1993, Game 2130 of Cal’s streak, the game Cal Ripken Jr. sat out and a handful of playoff games. Just in the immediate area I regularly take in minor league games in Frederick, Hagerstown, Harrisburg, Reading, Wilkes-Barre and of course Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington. I am fortunate to have married an amazing woman 5 years ago that has learned to love going to games and has become a pretty big baseball fan herself, although she would likely tell you I am in too many fantasy leagues.
I’m incredibly excited to cover the Pirates minor league organization for Prospects1500.com. Writing about baseball is something I have been looking to get into and covering prospects is an amazing way to do it. I look forward to interacting with everyone as often as possible! Follow me on Twitter at @RyanJames5.