NILES - It's hard to tell if any of the 64 former Mahoning Valley Scrappers who made the major leagues will make the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Chances are, it's a long shot.
However, the Scrappers front office is offering six players who began their professional career in Niles a spot in Eastwood Field history. The Scrappers' Hall of Fame will be unveiled before Friday's 7:05 game with the Hudson Valley Renegades. Plaques will honor the inaugural inductees on a wall between the left field bleachers and grandstand seating.
"We're very excited to be able to have a physical hall of fame right at the ballpark," said Scrappers general manager Jordan Taylor. "Those honored will be prominently displayed and it will be a great addition to Eastwood Field."
Want to know who is in the first class of players? Come to the game on Friday - it's also a fireworks night. The display will be put to music with a baseball theme.
It's easy to guess some possible candidates for the ring of honor. Two have already been recognized with their own bobblehead (CC Sabathia in 2004 and Jason Kipnis in 2012). A Victor Martinez bobblehead was given to the first 1,000 fans at the game on July 13. Francisco Lindor (Aug. 10) and Vinnie Pestano (Aug. 24) also will be part of a giveaway.
Though Sabathia was only a Scrapper for six games in the franchise's inaugural season in 1999, he still made an impact as an 18-year old. He struck out 27 batters in 19innings and owned a 1.83 ERA. In 2000, Sabathia was named Minor League Baseball's Player of the Year.
The California native could have a shot at a berth in Cooperstown, with his 13-year career 3.57 ERA and 2,342 total strikeouts. Martinez was also on the 1999 teams, and hit. 277 in 64 games for Mahoning Valley. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline in 2009 for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price. Now with the Detroit Tigers, Martinez has a career batting average of .301 and 299 doubles.
The Scrappers won their only New York-Penn League championship in 2004. Infielder Lou Merloni, infielder Argenis Reyes, catcher Chris Gimenez, catcher Wyatt Toregas and pitchers Aaron Laffey, Tony Sipp, Mike Porzio, Scott Lewis and Brian Tallet have had Major League careers and were on that championship team.
"We've had a great history in our 15 years," Taylor said. "There's been a lot of success and we're proud of what we've accomplished and look forward to more success in the future."