EDITOR'S NOTE: Next Generation articles are submitted to the Lakewood Ranch Herald by Lakewood Ranch High School journalism students. The school news columns appear in this space each Thursday.
Next stop might be the majors for Lakewood Ranch's Johnny Griffin and Gus Schlosser, starting pitchers for Lakewood Ranch's varsity baseball team.
They might have taken the first step to the big leagues by accepting baseball scholarships from Manatee Community College.
MCC, rated the No. 1 community baseball college in Florida, has sent 15 players to the majors. One of them is LRHS head baseball coach Dave Moates, who played for the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees. Another is senior Justin Sauveur's father, Rich, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Also, Southeast High grad Joe Mays played for the Minnesota Twins.
Moates said he believes that Griffin and Schlosser have what it takes and are "well polished" enough to pursue their athletic dreams.
Griffin corresponds with scouts via e-mail, so they will attend his games to see his style of play and possibly have the opportunity to make their rosters. The Yankees Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers are among the teams scouting Griffin. If a team offers him a position and salary, he said he will willingly accept.
Schlosser is on a parallel level with Griffin. He's held a position on the varsity since he was a freshman. During the past four years, Schlosser has proved himself worthy, earning scholarships athletically and academically. In one memorable game, Schlosser had 12 strikeouts and allowed just two hits.
His pitches consist of change-ups and a fastball that can reach 89 mph.
"Gus is like a role model to me," said outfielder and left-handed pitcher Rudy Marerro, "I guess you could call him my hero."
Schlosser and Griffin are two strong players, but it takes all of them to make a winning team. The team, as a whole, is well put together and confident that they will be district contenders. Many of them have been playing baseball together for a long time and want to make their last year together incredible.
"Most of us have been playing together since Little League days," said second baseman Miguel Nieves. "And we have built up great chemistry and an even greater amount of talent."