by Brandon Boyd, Coordinator of Communications
We’ve been blessed to see great athletes pass through Erie Insurance Arena and UPMC Park throughout the years.
For the Erie Otters, it’s been NHL MVP Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome, Alex DeBrincat, Andre Burakovsky (about to participate in the Stanley Cup this year), Mike Rupp and Brad Boyes.
For the SeaWolves, we’ve seen Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson, Michael Fulmer, Omar Infante, and plenty of other Detroit Tigers starters through the years.
The BayHawks have offered Jeremy Lin, Seth Curry, Danny Green and others who have seen significant NBA playing time.
Here in Erie, we get to consistently see the future of professional sports. It’s a unique honor that proves to be a lot of fun time and time again.
At Erie Events, we’ll be honoring a few of our past athletes in a way that can be seen by many — but we’ll talk about that later.
With all the past athletes we’ve seen come through our city, it’s only a matter time before the next greats come through. Some of them are already in our midst. Let’s have a look:
Erie SeaWolves: If you haven’t caught a game, you’re missing out! With plenty of promotions on game days and top players in the Detroit Tigers minor league system, a day at UPMC Park is one that will highlight your summer.
There are several players to look out for on the team. Beau Burrows, pitcher, has posted a strong season for the SeaWolves. As the Tigers #4 ranked prospect, has a 2.61 ERA and has shined as a starter thus far.
Pitcher Kyle Funkhouser is a top-ranked Tigers prospect as well, and though his 0-3 record might not show it, he has a lot of promise as a player. Second baseman Will Maddox is currently batting .382 and while he’s not ranked highly in the Detroit Tigers system, he’s playing high-quality baseball that will quickly get him noticed.
The future of the SeaWolves looks bright, too, as three top-100 MLB prospects could see time in Erie. Pitcher Franklin Perez, obtained in the Tigers’ Justin Verlander trade, was to be playing for the SeaWolves before an injury. When healed, he should see time in Erie and will likely wind up a future pro. Pitchers Matt Manning and Alex Faedo, currently in lower level baseball, will possibly see their baseball futures wind up in Erie as well. The Tigers and Toledo Mud Huns (AAA) roster boasts plenty of former SeaWolves, and this year’s roster will prove to be similarly fruitful for the Tigers organization.
Erie Otters: The benefit to a less-than-ideal season is a high draft pick. The Otters drafted fourth in this year’s OHL Priority Selection Draft and took defenseman Jamie Drysdale. Drysdale is a well-spoken, affable athlete whose on-ice demeanor is just as impressive as when off the ice. Drysdale led his team to a GTHL Championship and was named the GTHL’s Player of the Year.
2017 first round CHL Import pick Stephane Patry represented Switzerland at the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship, and in addition to Drysdale, four Erie Otters prospects were selected to participate in the OHL’s Gold Cup, an annual showcase event.
Names to watch on this year’s Erie Otters team include Hayden Fowler, a 2017 first rounder acquired from Sault St. Marie, and Emmett Sproule, 2017’s first round pick. The Otters quickly expected to start succeeding again and relive the magic of the past few years.
Erie BayHawks: As the G-League affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks, the BayHawks are primed to see a few promising players on the team. The Hawks currently have three first-round picks (#3, #19, and #30) as well as pick #33 in the second round of the NBA Draft. The Hawks are a young, rebuilding team, and it’s likely that at least one, if not more, of their picks ends up playing for the BayHawks. The future roster of the BayHawks will likely clear up a bit after the NBA Draft.
The BayHawks will likely be returning some members of last year’s playoff team. It remains to be seen who might stick with the Hawks next season, but the success of the BayHawks should remain next season.
All told, just as the past, the future of sports in Erie is bright with plenty of young athletes ready to start telling the stories of their successful careers. You just might want to come read them while you can.