After an exciting 2017 season, more than 100 Little League graduates will officially kick off the 2018 season on Thursday, March 29, as all 30 Major League Baseball teams open the season on the same day for the first time since 1968.
The earliest start in MLB history, the 2018 MLB Opening Day festivities will feature Little League alumni from all around the world, including NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger (Chandler (Ariz.) Little League), AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge (Linden (Calif.) Little League), World Series MVP George Springer (Walicki Little League – New Britain, Conn.), NL Reliever of the Year Kenley Jansen (Willemstad, Curacao), and newest international rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani (Mizusawa Little League – Oshu, Japan).
Among the graduates are an elite group of only 10 MLB players who have also played in the Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
- Cody Bellinger – Los Angeles Dodgers – Chandler (Ariz.) National LL – 2007 LLBWS
- Michael Conforto – New York Mets – Redmond (Wash.) North LL – 2004 LLBWS
- Todd Frazier – New York Mets – Toms River (N.J.) American LL – 1998 LLBWS
- Randal Grichuk – Toronto Blue Jays – Lamar National LL (Richmond, Texas) – 2003 & 2004 LLBWS
- Scott Kingery – Philadelphia Phillies – Ahwatukee (Ariz.) LL – 2006 LLBWS
- Lance Lynn – Minnesota Twins – Brownsburg (Ind.) LL – 1999 LLBWS
- Yusmeiro Petit – Oakland Athletics – Coquivacoa LL (Maracaibo, Venezuela) – 1994 LLBWS
- Jurickson Profar – Texas Rangers – Pabao LL (Willemstad, Curaçao) – 2004 LLBWS
- Jonathan Schoop – Baltimore Orioles – Pabao LL (Willemstad, Curaçao) – 2004 LLBWS
- Devon Travis – Toronto Blue Jays – East Boynton Beach (Fla.) LL – 2003 LLBWS
Along with the 10 players, Tampa Bay Rays Manager Kevin Cash (Northside Little League – Tampa, Fla.) played in the 1989 LLBWS and will be starting his fourth season as the manager for the Rays in 2018.
Little League’s notable graduates had a standout season in 2017 with nearly 60 graduates making it to the postseason, 20 graduates participating in the 2017 All-Star Game festivities, and 16 former Little Leaguers® earning MLB Awards. Together, Little League graduates combined for more than 800 home runs in the 2017 season, with 13 alumni hitting at least 30 home runs throughout the year. On the mound, 36 Little League alumni combined to 5,937 innings of work in 2017, equivalent to approximately 660 games.
The 2017 MLB World Series was one for the history books as 17 Little League alumni took the field between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers in a memorable seven-game series showdown. Highlighting his rookie season, Cody Bellinger became the 14th player to play in both the Little League and Major League World Series while Carlos Correa became the second-straight Little League Magazine cover athlete to win the MLB World Series, taking after Kris Bryant’s historic run with the Cubs in 2016. Bellinger will grace the cover of Little League Magazine this year, which will be shipped to local Little League programs later this spring.
The 2018 MLB season is set to be another exciting year for all of Little League’s graduates, especially Michael Conforto and Todd Frazier, who will be leading the return to Williamsport for the 2018 MLB Little League Classic on August 19.