The last two weeks have not been kind to the fine folks on the New Jersey shore following the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, which was followed up by a blistering cold Nor’easter that dumped anywhere from six-to-twelve inches of snow on the region.
Thankfully there are folks like Red Sox catching prospect Jayson Hernandez, a life-long resident of Jackson, New Jersey, who made an immediate call-to-arms for help via Twitter.
Now he has gained the support of other professional baseball players, many of whom also call the ravaged shores of New Jersey home, through his Grand Slam for Sandy initiative.
Started in attempt to simply raise a few extra dollars to help out the victims of the storm, Grand Slam for Sandy has quickly become a stand-alone charity thanks to the support of fellow Sox prospects Anthony Ranaudo and Pat Light, Rutgers pitcher Robert Corsi and a host of others in the baseball community who have stepped up to lend a hand.
“It was an unbelievable thing,” said Hernandez of the response he has received. “I didn’t bring anybody into it. It was just going to be my girlfriend and I collecting money around the area.
“Then right after that Anthony [Ranaudo] put it on [Twitter] on his own, then Pat Light did the same thing, then Brad Brach from the San Diego Padres who is from Freehold, New Jersey reached out to me. It’s really unbelievable to see. Sometimes it’s hard to even get words out to describe how amazing it has been.”
Hernandez returned home to Jackson a day before Sandy battered the East Coast and by mid-day on Monday he found himself in the thick of the action.
“The winds starting coming and the rains starting coming,” said Hernandez. “It got the point that by Monday night the winds were up to 90-miles-per-hour. My backyard fence blew out. It was a pretty scary thing.”
“We were looking out my back yard window, saw the sky light up and thought it was lightning. Come to find out it was a transformer exploding. It looked like fireworks were going off on the Fourth of July. As soon as that happened the power went out…we just got power back on Saturday.”
A trip to his former high school, St. Rose’s in the seaside town of Belmar, showed the greater extent of Sandy’s destructive path.
Located seven blocks from the ocean, the school was completely flooded. There was a water mark half way up the hallway walls and the floors were left muddy with dead fish and sea turtles.
“Supposedly the sand [from the beach] is all the way to my high school,” said Ranaudo, who attended St. Rose with Hernandez. “There was water flooding in the cafeteria of the school.”
It was a similar scene up-and-down the New Jersey coast and along the shores of New York and Connecticut as well.
Hernandez knows that he is one of the luckier residents of the region in having power, heat and minimal structural damage to his residence. That is exactly why he continues to make a plea to the public to help out those who have lost most everything in the storm.
In Puerto Rico playing winter baseball, Ranaudo has had to handle the effects on his home state through accounts like Hernadez’s and what he sees in the news.
“It’s still tough to see the damage and devastation to an area I called home for 18 years,” said Ranaudo. “It’s really upsetting seeing the great beaches and tourist attractions that make the Jersey Shore be destroyed and have to be rebuilt."
Families are not only without power or heat, but many have lost everything. Whole neighborhoods have been wiped out and there is a lot rebuilding that will need to be done.
Due to the great response that Grand Slam for Sandy has received in such a short period of time, Hernandez and Corsi have elevated the goal of the charity to help out a specific family who has lost everything, by directly providing them with the funds to start rebuilding.
They have already made the proper steps to set up Grand Slam for Sandy as a non-profit charity, they are in the process of opening up a bank account in the charity’s name, as well as building a website so that people can directly donate with one click.
There will also be an auction, tentatively scheduled for some time next week, with all proceeds to benefit Grand Slam for Sandy.
“Jason Varitek and his wife are sending us an autographed baseball and bat,” said Hernandez. “A couple of people are sending baseballs; a Nomar Garciaparra signed ball…Roy Halladay, Daryl Strawberry and more.”
To date Grand Slam for Sandy has already raised over $3,000 in a little over a week, making Hernandez confident that they can realize their vision of helping a family get back on their feet.
“We want to select a family and personally go give them this money.” Hernandez said.
“This community has supported us through our playing baseball and a lot of us wouldn’t have gotten a shot without this community,” he added. “This is a way for us to give back and let them know that “Hey, we’re going to be here and help you out through this process.””
“I know the area will respond and make it even better when it comes back,” said Ranaudo. “It seems that the support around the area and even throughout the country is pretty unbelievable, which is awesome to see.”
HOW/WHERE TO DONATE TO GRAND SLAM FOR SANDY
Send check or money order to:
P.O. Box 589
Jackson, NJ 08527
(make checks payable to Jayson Hernadez with Grand Slam for Sandy in the memo)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (with any questions)
www.facebook.com/grandslamforsandy (‘Like’ for constant updates and auction information)
The following link provides some amazing satellite images of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in and around New Jersey. The fifth image down shows Belmar, New Jersey where Hernandez and Ranaudo attended St. Rose High School:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Brentz is batting .304 for the Surprise Saguaros, having hit safely in all but one of the 12 games he has played in. He has eight RBIs, seven runs scored and two stolen bases on two attempts.
Nineteen players selected to play in the game are ranked in MLB.com’s Top 100, including Astros top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart, Tampa Bay’s top positional prospect Hak-Ju Lee and the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, Seattle Mariners catching prospect Mike Zunino.
The game will be played at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale and you can watch the action live on MLB Network and MLB.com.
In other Sox-Saguaros news, catcher Christian Vazquez was named the Best Defensive Catcher in the Red Sox system by Baseball America, who also released their updated Top 10 for the system (see below) as well. Vazquez is backing up BA’s claim down in Arizona, having thrown out 8 of 17 base runners for a 47% success rate to go with a pick off of a runner at first base.
Pitchers Brock Huntzinger, Pete Ruiz, Ryan Pressly and Chris Martin have all made seven relief appearances for Surprise. Ruiz is second on the team with 15 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings, while Pressly has allowed only one walk in his nine innings. Martin and Huntzinger are yet to allow a home run.
Circling back around, to no one’s surprise Baseball America listed shortstop Xander Bogaerts as the top player in the Red Sox farm system. Here is their complete list along with their Best Tools selections:
1. SS Xander Bogaerts
2. OF Jackie Bradley Jr.
3. RHP Matt Barnes
4. RHP Allen Webster
5. LHP Henry Owens
6. C Blake Swihart
7. 3B Garin Cecchini
8. OF Bryce Brentz
9. SS Jose Iglesias
10. SS Deven Marrero
Best Hitter for Average - Bradley
Best Power Hitter - Bogaerts
Best Strike-Zone Discipline - Bradley
Fastest Baserunner - SS Tzu-Wei Lin
Best Athlete - Bogaerts
Best Fastball - Barnes
Best Curveball - Barnes
Best Slider - RHP Alex Wilson
Best Changeup - LHP Miguel Pena
Best Control - RHP Brandon Workman
Best Defensive Infielder - Iglesias
Best Infield Arm - Cecchini
Best Defensive Outfielder - Bradley
Best Outfield Arm - Bradley
Ranaudo readies for start of Puerto Rican League
Anthony Ranaudo continues to put in work to return to top-form in 2013 after suffering a dead arm injury during the 2012 campaign that caused him to miss much of the season. The 2010 first-rounder is currently down in Puerto Rico, ready to pitch for Criollos de Caguas of the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico. He will be joined by fellow Sox pitcher Jose De La Torre, who was acquired by Boston in a deal for Brent Lillibridge. Other names of note for Caguas include former Sox farmhand Aaron Bates and the third selection of the 2000 draft (Cubs) Luis Montanez who is currently in the Cardinals organization. The Criollos kick off their season on Saturday versus Santurce.
Other Sox prospects kicking around on the rosters that we could find for teams in La Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico this winter include pitcher Jeremy Kehrt who is playing with Los Indios de Mayaguez and 20-year-old outfielder Henry Ramos with Leones de Ponce.
Anthony Ranaudo photo credit - John Corneau/Lowell Spinners