One Giants UDFA Is Already Making Waves After An Underrated College Career

One of the most intriguing UDFA signings for the New York Giants this offseason was Penn State’s Grant Haley.  When I say intriguing, I mean that Haley has the potential to make the roster and get valuable time playing as a cornerback, special teams and/or returner for the Giants.

Haley was born in Michigan, but grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.  Son of Leon Haley Jr. and Carla Neal-Haley, Grant was born into a very smart family.  His parents attended Brown and Penn State and both of them were students at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.

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With that all being say, you can say that education has always been the number one priority in the Haley family.  Even when Grant went to Penn State to play football, his dad, Leon Haley Sr., would preach to him about getting this degree because that is something he will need after football regardless of what happens.  Oh, and his father is also the Dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine. Forget to mention that gem.

During high school, The Lovett School, Grant was an excellent student and even earned a bronze medal at the National Latin Exam.  Not going to lie, I’d say that’s pretty impressive. While at Penn State, Haley remained an excellent student. Throughout his four years, 2014-2017, Grant would frequent the Dean’s List, Academic All-Big Ten, CoSIDA Academic All-District and Midseason All-American honors from The All-Athletic and USA Today.  

Before being a fine student athlete at Penn State, Haley was not always about football. Grant grew up playing soccer and baseball. His mother did not want Grant playing football due to the potential injuries that come along with playing the sport — rightfully so. However, Grant’s grandfather was a high school football coach and was basically the spark that ignited Grant beginning to play football during the 7th grade. This was all done with the consent of his mother, of course.

Once Haley took to the gridiron, everything fell into place.  It was basically like he has been playing football his entire life.  When he began to play in high school, Haley played running back and cornerback and was a two-time team captain.  

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During his senior year, Grant rushed for more than 1,500 yards with 27 touchdowns while also adding six interceptions at cornerback.  Haley was named to MaxPreps second-team Small School All-American. That same season he led his team to the Georgia Class AA State Championship and also was named the Associated Press Georgia Class 2A Offensive Player of the Year.  

Throughout high school, Grant was a four year letterman for football, while also lettering four times in baseball, twice in basketball and twice in track and field. Yeah, I’d say this kid is athletic.

After high school, Grant committed to Vanderbilt, but when Coach James Franklin decided to depart for Penn State, Haley came along for the ride.

As for his football career for the Nittany Lions, Grant saw plenty of playing time from the very beginning.  As a true freshman, Haley appeared in all 13 games both on defense and special teams. He got his first start in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl game at Yankee Stadium as a the kicker returner.

In his sophomore year, he started 11 games after missing two due to injury. He still managed to log 27 solo tackles and two interceptions. Junior year, 23 solo tackles and again 27 tackles his senior season with 2 interceptions.

However, Grant’s biggest accomplishment at Penn State came in his junior year against Ohio State. There was a white out and there were fireworks courtesy of Grant Haley. 4 minutes and 39 seconds to go in regulation, Ohio State is attempting a field goal, up 21-17.  The kick barely went up in the air before it was blocked by Marcus Allen and recovered by the man himself, Grant Haley, who returned it for a touchdown. Beaver Stadium was in an absolute frenzy.  

With that play, Grant became the first player in Penn State football history to return a blocked field goal for a touchdown. Penn State would go onto upset the number two team in the country thanks to Marcus Allen and Grant Haley.

I remember that play like it was yesterday.  What a rush. I would have gave anything to be at that game instead of watching the game on my phone at some stupid haunted house in West Virginia, shaking my head, I know. Anyways, after that game, Marcus Allen and Grant Haley were common names around University Park.

Now, Grant Haley is trying to become the newest member of the New York Giants. Going undrafted only threw gas on the fire for Haley. Even more gas for the fire, one of his weaknesses — his build.  He’s not that tall for a corner, 5’9”, but has quick feet, is an excellent coverage reader, and basically was a lockdown corner at Penn State.  His senior season at Penn State, he did not allow a touchdown and only allowed four total his entire college career while being targeted 168 times.  Ain’t nobody throwing his way.

I was so excited that the Giants were able to sign him because I know what he’s capable of.  I personally believe he can be the next DRC for the Giants. I know he’s small, but he can certainly play slot corner better than whoever the Giants currently have slated to play there.  He killed it during the rookie minicamp and to be honest, i wouldn’t be writing this if the Giants did not draft Saquon Barkley, I bet he would have signed somewhere else. Now, those two Penn State roommates show up together to the facilities first and are the last to leave.  Good first impressions.

Day one of the rookie minicamp, one scout reported on Haley, stating: “Might be the most explosive/athletic of all the NYG corners day one.  Has a knack for sticking to the hip pocket of slot receivers.” This is a fantastic sign because since losing DRC, the Giants are in need of a good young slot corner.  Can Haley be the guy? Let’s not get over our heads, but things are looking pretty good for this UDFA. Can he be a Dave Gettleman draft find? Only time will tell, but I love what I am hearing about Grant Haley.

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New York Yankees Flashback: Re2pect, in Spades

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter
That May 14, 2017, was both Mother’s Day, and the one selected by the former Yankees captain to be Derek Jeter Day in the Bronx, seemed pretty fitting, though some grumbled that the ceremonies were to be held before the ESPN Sunday night game, and not the more traditional day game for such honors.
Little did we know that, following a rainout the day before, it would become a day/night doubleheader, with the ceremonies coming before game 2.
In game 1, it was still early enough in the 2017 season that, given his troubles starting the season before, fans were concerned about a poor Luis Severino start, although the team came back strong to defeat Houston 11-6 in that game.
Once a hit by pitch and five third-inning singles drove Luis from the mound vs the Astros down 3-1, he was relieved by another pitcher who (along with Sevy, as it would turn out) would have a stellar season, newly promoted Chad Green, who would hold the Astros through 3.67 frames while the Yanks took a 4-3 lead, fall behind again, but then happily storm back with a six-run inning.
The ceremony before game 2 featured every teammate of Derek’s you would expect, along with players from before his tenure. On Mother’s Day, the women in Derek’s life (grandmother, mother, sister, and pregnant wife) would dominate the festivities, but to this hardened fan, the two highlights were a video message from Don Mattingly, and the most recent, I believe, strains of the “voice of God,” Bob Sheppard — “Number 2, Derek Jeter, Number 2” — calling Derek to the mike once his number had been retired in Monument Park.
Unfortunately, Houston started the late game with a six-run first inning of their own, and led 8-0 after two. The Yanks did battle back gamely but came up short in a 10-7 loss.
All of this took place, by the way, on the day that Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run in 1967, and that Doc Gooden no-hit the Mariners in 1996. (Jeter caught the 27th out in that contest.)
There is just too much with this day. White Sox pitcher Dave DeBusschere, a two-sport star and beloved power forward with the NBA’s New York Knicks, passed away on May 14, 2003, and Earle Combs, the “Kentucky Colonel,” and the first in a long line of star center fielders for the Yankees, was born on this day in 1899.

The Most Underrated Draft Pick For The New York Giants

As the new rookie class for the New York Giants wraps up camp, the veterans on the team are enjoying their final weeks before their season finally begins. The fresh faces around the Giants’ facilities have already begun to change the attitude and atmosphere with and around the organization.

The rookie class included Saquon Barkley, Will Hernandez, Lorenzo Carter, B.J. Hill, R.J. McIntosh, and Kyle Lauletta.

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Which one of those players is the most underrated?

The usual positions that receive the most attention are running backs, offensive lineman, quarterbacks, and even linebackers — All ahead of the lowly defensive tackles.

North Carolina State DT B.J. Hill was one of the sneakiest and most valuable selections for the Giants in the third-round. His skill-set and ability against the run is impressive, and he will only see himself develop even further in his first NFL season.

But why is he the most underrated?

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Well, a lot of factors go into determining value, but Hill’s are the most intriguing of the bunch. Being that Damon Harrison played a significant amount of snaps in 2017, all while being injured — Hill will take a lot of stress off the former UDFA. Additionally, the NCS product will have the best nose-tackle in the game to teach him the ropes, which improves his overall value.

Big Blue View spoke to Hill about his transition from college:

“It’s been great just coming here and competing with some guys, just learning the defense and doing my job,” Hill said. “It’s not hard because I have been kind of doing the same thing, same defense I had in college, so it’s not bad at all.”

On learning from Damon Harrison:

“ He is one of the best run-stoppers in the league, and I take pride in stopping the run, too,” Hill said. “I want to learn from him.”

Hill already being familiar with the Giants’ defensive playbook gives him a leg up as a rookie. That plays an additional factor in terms of increased value. He will bring a gritty mentality to the defense and a willingness to learn from one of the NFL’s best players.

Giancarlo Stanton Hits Exceptionally Well When A Specific Player Is Pitching

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

New York Yankees’ Luis Severino has a lot to like about his new teammate Giancarlo Stanton , the two have a great connection that started on Opening Day when Stanton went 3-for-5 with 2 home runs and 4 rbi. When Sevy starts Stanton has a slash of .500/.529/1.188 and despite Giancarlo’s early season struggles when the ace is not starting Severino remains confident about the reigning NL MVP going forward wether or not he is on the mound.

“I don’t care what everybody says. He’s a great hitter. And he’s going to continue to do this stuff.”

He also made a prediction about Stanton’s home run totals for the season.

“I told him, ‘I have to pitch every two days,’ ” he said. “Every time I pitch, he hits a homer . . . Like I’ve said [before], by the end of the year, he’s going to be at 50-something homers.”

Stanton hit a career high 59 home runs last season and currently has 10 this season on pace for 48 according to MLB.com. Eight of the ten home runs have come when Severino is on the mound and in three of his eight starts Stanton has had multi-hr games. Sevy’s prediction of 50 hr is not unrealistic when you consider Giancarlo has not been hitting home runs regularly yet. He has only homered in seven of the Yankee’s forty games with six of his hr coming in three of those games. Expect to see the bombs come more frequently once summer comes. Last season he hit 30 of his 59 hr in July and August.

Another example of the excellence Severino’s presence has done to Giancarlo’s bat is the extreme split when Luis is not starting Stanton bats a .160/.336/.273 slash with two homer runs and eleven rbi vs .500/.529/.1.188 with eight homers and fifteen rbi when he does start. Stanton also has recognized the magic that happens when Luis is on the mound.

“I told him in here between innings, ‘We work well together,’ ” Stanton said with a smile

In Severino’s last start on May 13th against the Oakland As Stanton went a perfect four-for-four raising his batting average 20 points from .232 to .252 and was a triple short of the cycle. He had one home run and drove in three. The Yankees won 6-2 and capped a 7-2 home stand. Severino benefitted from the offensive output winning an AL best sixth game. After the victory Boone had this to say about Stanton’s game.

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“He was the difference today,” manager Aaron Boone said. “A lot of quality at-bats by him. Just very happy with the work he’s put in — the hard work behind the scenes, the grind you see day in and day out from him — and when it gets rewarded I love that.”

Some of the Stanton’s highlights from the Games Severino started:

  • Three multi-homer games.
  • Two four-rbi games.
  • A 4-for-4 game on Mother’s Day.

The highlight Yankee fans might have enjoyed the most though? Giancarlo owning Dallas Keuchel hitting two home runs off him on May 2nd in Houston. It was the first home run a Yankee hit off Keuchel who the Yankees have struggled mightily with in the past and one of the more despised opposing pitchers in recent Yankee history.

The Yankees now start an eight game road trip against the Nationals, Royals, and Rangers. Severino should get his next start in the Royal’s series, it will be the first time since 2013 Stanton has played against the Royals. Will the Severino-Staton connection give Yankee fans another special game?

New York Yankees Pitcher Working Toward Cy Young Award

New York Yankees‘ Luis Severino, 24, is rising up the leader board with a bullet and may be collecting Cy Young votes as he does it.

On a day when he felt he didn’t have it all working for him against the Oakland Athletics, Severino pitched six innings of one hit ball with 5 hits, all singles, one run, seven strikeouts and two walks.

Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that Severino said after the game:

“I didn’t have my slider. My fastball command wasn’t where it usually is,” Severino said. “I grinded to get through six innings.”

Meanwhile, Severino’s ERA has shrunk from 2.61 in April to 2.14 after Sunday’s win against the Athletics.  He previously bested the Houston Astros’ lineup with a 2.11 ERA and the Boston Red Sox with a 2.21 ERA.

Against the Astros, Severino tossed his first career complete game shut-out.

He is currently tenth in the league in ERA, behind Patrick Corbin (2.12) of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Sean Manaea (2.11) of the Athletics and trending up.

According to Fangraphs, Severino (2.4) is also ranked third in WAR behind only Gerrit Cole (2.8) of the Astros and Max Scherzer (2.6) of the Washington Nationals.

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Severino is tied with Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies and Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians  for second place in wins with six behind the Nationals’ Max Scherzer with seven.

So despite not having the slider and not having command of his fastball, Severino managed to raise his record to 6-1 and the Yankees have now won eight of his nine starts.

Ryan Chichester of Pinstripe Alley writes that even when Severino finds himself in a jam,  as he did in Sunday’s fifth inning against the Athletics, his numbers only improve:

“In the rare event that he has ran into trouble this season, he seems to reach back for more and perform even better on the mound. He already holds hitters to a .242 wOBA with the bases empty, but those numbers only improve when the pressure increases. With men on base, that wOBA drops to .214. With runners in scoring position, it plummets to .171. Slugging percentage and batting average also follow the same trend.”

Severino is performing like an ace and the uptrend in his numbers show that he is improving as he progresses through the season, even when he’s grinding out starts.

Severino has the confidence and ability on the mound to be the ace of this staff and to be a league leader.

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Mets and the Jason Vargas Situation

There is no doubt that New York Mets pitcher Jason Vargas had struggled through his first three starts of this season. Even saying he struggled is being very kind to the veteran. Through 12.1 innings he has allowed 26 hits, 19 runs, five home runs and seven walks. There have not been any positives that Vargas can hang his hat on over this rough stretch.

The Mets inked the 35-year old left hander to a two year, $16 million deal with an option for a third year. He was an all-star in 2017 but his first and second half of the season were day and night. He had a 2.62 ERA in the first half and 6.38 in the second half of the season. His horrible second half of the season did not stop the Mets from giving him a two-year contract. The Mets were banking on Vargas to play the role Bartolo Colon had over his tenure with the Mets.

Vargas Has Struggled Big Time

Not only has Vargas not rebounded, but he has been worse and his 13.86 ERA shows it. His fastball sits in the mid to high 80s and if the location is not perfect, he is throwing batting practice. The Mets have to get a few off days over the next 10 days which allows them to skip Vargas next start. He will throw a simulated game during the week but the fuse is running short with him.

The Mets are certainly in a win now mode and they can not wait for Vargas to regain his groove. They showed this with how quickly they got rid of Matt Harvey. The Mets also have plenty of options to replace Vargas in the rotation. Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are both very capable starters at the big league level and have been good out of the Mets bullpen this season. Corey Oswalt and P.J. Conlon will likely be put in the bullpen before the rotation, but are also options for the Mets.

How Much Time Does Vargas Have Left?

Vargas might have one, maybe two starts before the Mets move him to the bullpen. If he continues to get shelled it would be an easy move to the bullpen. One solid start buys Vargas another handful in the rotation. They paid him a decent amount of money in the offseason, but that should not stop the Mets from taking him out of the rotation if he is not producing.

The Mets have been lucky with the amount of off days/rain outs they have received which allows them to continue to push Vargas back. The Mets would welcome Vargas pitching anywhere close to where he was in the first half of 2017. There is no reason to doubt that he will rebound but he is not creating many believers after his first three starts of the season.