Crews gets first hit, other FSS alums shine in spring

February 28, 2024

After setting a new record as the highest drafted New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series alum ever after he went at No. 2 overall to the Washington Nationals last year, there was some talk that Dylan Crews might get promoted to the big leagues before the 2023 season was over.

He’s that good. Just like the FSS staff has been saying for years now, but that’s a different story.

Anyway, that he’s already starting to turn it on in his first big league spring training shouldn’t surprise anyone then. Crews now has hits in his last two games with the Washington Nationals, including a double, as well as two RBI, two stolen bases and one dramatic catch in the outfield. He’s quickly shown that he has the potential to be the complete package in pro ball. Albeit in a very small sample size, his .830 OPS this spring is good enough to put him in the Top 50 among all qualified hitters.

Crews, who spoke one-on-one with FSS Plus after he’d already reached Double-A Harrisburg late last summer, is still only 22 years old and likely ticketed for a return to the minors to at least start the year, is a “true” FSS alum, having stood out both at the National Tournaments and then the Main Event at 2019, memorably doubling off the Green Monster at Fenway Park.

Tink Hence, RHP — St. Louis Cardinals

One of Crews’ teammates from what one could argue is the most loaded team ever assembled for any FSS game, Hence, who played alongside Crews on the National Team at the 2019 Main Event, has also stood out early in big league camp.

In his second MLB spring training as a non-roster invitee, Hence debuted for the Cardinals on Saturday and dazzled, striking out four Astros batters in two scoreless innings; he whiffed two in both the seventh and eighth in his highly anticipated relief outing. A consensus Top 100 prospect in all of baseball, Hence has only 54 1/3 innings at above A-Ball, and will either return to Double-A to start this year, or receive a more aggressive promotion into the Triple-A rotation. Either way, he could factor into the Cardinals big league plans sooner rather than later if he stays on his current trajectory.

Cooper Hjerpe, LHP — St. Louis Cardinals

Not to be outdone, Hjerpe, who is likely more of an “under the radar” type prospect for some, has also gotten off to a strong start in what’s his first big league spring training action.

The No. 22 overall pick of the 2022 MLB Draft and alum of the FSS National Tournaments as a member of NorCal, the Southpaw made his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday against the Miami Marlins and dazzled, putting together two scoreless, hitless frames in which he also struck out four batters.

The 22-year-old missed a large chunk of last season due to injury, but rebounded nicely with a strong stint in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, and still figures to a key piece on the St. Louis pitching staff sometime in the near future, especially as a more advanced college arm. With just 41 regular season innings under his belt at the High-A level last year, he’ll likely move a bit more slowly than Hence regardless, but could be knocking on the door of “The Show” by the end of this season as well.

Mike Ashmore
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