Snell, Rankin, and Robbins Continue Climb Through Minor Leagues

The Shorewood (Snell), and Shorecrest (Rankin and Robbins) products are working their way up the minor league ladder.

After Shorecrest graduate Glendon Rusch finished his pro career with the Colorado Rockies in 2009, local players have been jockeying for the chance to be the next major leaguer from Shoreline. Now, since checking in with fellow Shorecrest grads Pierce Rankin and James Robbins last June (http://patch.com/A-jL4k), they've been joined by Shorewood's Blake Snell on the road to the bigs.

Robbins finished his 2011 season batting .240 with 26 doubles and 16 home runs for the single-A Midwest League's West Michigan Whitecaps, a farm club to the Detroit Tigers. His numbers were good enough to warrant a promotion to the High-A Lakeland Flying Tigers, of the Florida State League (FSL). Robbins has continued to showcase his power, with 28 doubles in 118 games in 2012, good enough for 6th in the league, to go along with 11 home runs.

Rankin's 2012 season has been more filled with uncertainty. After appearing in 10 games with the Midwest League's Lansing Lugnuts, Rankin was reassigned to the Toronto Blue Jays' extended spring training. Rankin would then find himself promoted to the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, after injuries decimated the team's catching corps. He would go 0 for 4 in his only appearance with the squad, and would then settle in with the FSL's Dundien Blue Jays. In 12 games with the Blue Jays, Rankin has impressed, batting .361 with 4 doubles and 7 RBIs.

On August 19, Robbins' Tigers and Rankin's Blue Jays faced off with both players in the lineup. Robbins went 1 for 4 with a double, while Rankin went 1 for 2 with a single and walk, as the Tigers came out on top, 7-4. With the teams currently holding the top two spots in the FSL's north division, the Shorecrest grads could see each other in the first round of the league playoffs tenatively scheduled for September 4-6.

Meanwhile, Snell has had the highest expectations from the crop of local players in affiliated ball, after being drafted with the 52nd pick in the 2011 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. Thus far, he's lived up to the hype, being named the 2012 Pitcher of the Year in the Appalachian League, while posting a record of 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA. In 11 starts for the Princeton Rays, he held opponents to a .202 average, and struck out 53, while walking 17, numbers also good enough to land him on the Appalachian League All-Star team.

With their seasons winding down, the future appears bright for Shoreline's minor leaguers. With Shorewood's other 3 2011 MLB Draft picks, Trevor Mitsui (12th Round, Tampa Bay), Bobby LeCount (44th Round, Pittsburgh), and Kevin Moriarty (47th Round, Texas), playing collegiately, it stands to reason that the area will get to see one of its' own in the Major Leagues sooner rather than later.


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