The Little League World Series has been played for over 70 years. It’s been nationally broadcast on television since 1963, showcasing the youngest talent in the world who will one day become superstars. The special kids playing today will go from idolizing Todd Frazier to being idolized by the next generation. As Terrence Mann said in Field Of Dreams, “baseball has marked the time. This field, this game; it’s a part of our past.” Here are the greatest Little League World Series stars from the past that are making waves in MLB today.
Jurickson Profar Powered His Way To The Big Leagues
When the Texas Rangers called Jurickson Profar up to the big leagues for the first time, they had high hopes for the former Little League World Series star. Playing in the 2004 and 2005 tournament, Profar was prolific. Hitting .352 with seven runs batted in, he proved to be a force to be reckoned with.
When times got tough for Curacao (his team), he took the mound and pitched 13 innings, only giving up four runs. His skills were undeniable, and scouts lined up to recruit him. The Rangers won the bidding and he thanked them with a home run in his first career at bat.
Cody Bellinger Isn’t A Rookie Sensation For The Dodgers
Cody Bellinger won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2017 after crushing 39 home runs and driving in 97 runs. Of course, if you had seen him play in the 2007 Little League World Series for Chandler, Arizona, you would have seen those numbers coming.
In one eye opening game, he hit two infield singles before slamming a two run home run over the fence. Clearly his power has never left, although he has struggled through a sophomore slump in 2018.
Colby Rasmus Hit Five Home Runs In The LLWS
Playing for Phenix City, Alabama in the 1999 Little League World Series, Colby Rasmus hit .500 with three runs batted in and three runs scored. Using his bat as a wrecking ball, he helped the team win the American title and advance to the World Series championship match against Japan.
Continuing to show his promise as a player through his high school career, Rasmus was drafted 28th overall in 2005 by the Cardinals. In 2009 he made his MLB debut and finished the season nearly being voted Rookie of the Year.
Jonathan Schoop Developed Power After The LLWS
Since his first at bat in 2013, second baseman Jonathan Schoop has averaged more than 20 home runs a year. In 2017, he knocked 32 balls over the fence, a career high. If you saw him when he was five feet and three inches tall in the Little League World Series, reading those numbers probably surprises you.
Or maybe not. In the 2004 tournament he hit .526 with three doubles and four runs batted in. He didn’t hit any home runs, but all the signs of the player he would become were there.
Cory Rasmus Played With His Brother In 1999
The Rasmus family is creating quite the legacy in baseball. Cory Rasmus played in the same Phenix City LLWS team that his older brother Colby did. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Cory was taken in the first round of the 2006 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves. In 2013 he was called up to the big show.
Ten days after making his major league debut for Atlanta, the Braves played the Blue Jays and Cory Rasmus was called into the game to face Colby. As older brothers tend to do, Colby knocked a double off his little brother.
Dante Bichette Jr. Is Waiting For His Major League Chance
Dante Bichette Jr. is MLB royalty. The son of Colorado Rockies legend Dante Bichette, he appeared in the 2005 Little League World Series before lighting up his high school competition. In 30 high school games, he hit .640 with 40 runs batted in and 10 home runs.
The New York Yankees took Bichette Jr. with the 51st overall pick in the 2011 draft. So far, he’s found the minor league competition harder than his high school opponents. He has not appeared in an MLB game since being drafted. Of, course he’s only 25-years-old, so he still has time on his side.
Devon Travis Celebrated With The Winners After Losing The LLWS
Devon Travis serves as a heart warming reminder of what the Little League World Series is really about. Facing off against Japan in the 2003 title game, his team lost 10-1.They refused to hang their heads low, however. Both teams celebrated on the field after the win, reaching the pinnacle (at that point) of the sport they loved.
As Travis put it, “We were just little boys playing the game we loved.” This boy’s dreams came true in 2012 when he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers. Two years later he was traded to the Blue Jays, where he currently resides at second base.
Sean Burroughs Thew Back-To-Back No-Hitters In The LLWS
At the MLB level, throwing a no-hitter is rare, so when Sean Burroughs threw back-to-back no-hitters in the 1992 Little League World Series, you know scouts were watching. His incredible feat led to a appearance on the David Letterman show where he admitted his career goal was to be a gynecologist.
Ultimately, Burroughs stuck to baseball and was drafted ninth overall by the Padres in 1998. In 2002 he earned the distinction of being the first player to walk the team off with a win at Petco Park.
Randal Grichuk Couldn’t Stop Hitting Home Runs In 2004
Randal Grichuk’s MLB career has fallen short of expectations in recent years, but if anyone is primed for a comeback, it’s one of the greatest players in Little League World Series history. In 2004, Grichuk used his bat to power Lamar National Little League to the to United States Championship game.
On the way to a chance at the title, Grichuk couldn’t stop hitting home runs. By the time his team unfortunately lost (everyone’s a winner in our hearts!), he had mashed four home runs, driving in 13 total runs while hitting .632.
Yusmeiro Petit Is The Only Player To Win The LLWS And The MLB World Series
Yusmeiro Petit was 10-years-old in 1994 when he won the Little League World Series with for Coquivacoa, Venezuala. It was the first time a team from Venezuela won the title. Twenty years later, Petit proved his talent was no fluke, becoming one of the Giants’ most trusted pitchers in their 2014 title run.
Petit’s biggest moment came during an 18-inning NLDS game against the Washington Nationals. He pitched six scoreless extra-inning frames. San Francisco won the game and eventually the World Series. The celebration made Petit the only player to ever win at both levels of World Series competition.
Michael Conforto Helped Lead The Oregon Ducks To The College World Series
Michael Conforto’s team lost the 2004 Little League World Series, despite him going an eye-opening six for ten at the plate. Luckily enough for Conforto, he’s pretty great at reaching the big game at the end of the season! In 2013 he helped lead the Oregon Ducks to the College World Series.
Then, as a New York Met, he hit two home runs in game two of the 2015 MLB World Series. The feat made him the first rookie to hit multiple home runs in a World Series game since Andrew Jones in 1996. He is also one of three players to ever appear in the World Series at the little league, college, and professional level.
Todd Frazier Was The First LLWS Star To Win The Home Run Derby
Todd Frazier might not have a World Series championship yet, but he did lead his little league team to glory in 1998. Leading off for Toms River, New Jersey, Frazier put on a show. In game two of the series he hit a grand slam in the third inning, giving his team a 6-4 lead.
As a major league player, he rose quickly through the Cincinnati Reds’ organization and made his debut in 2011. Four years later, in front of his hometown crowd, Frazier beat Joc Pederson of the Dodgers to win the MLB Home Run Derby.
Lance Lynn Turned His LLWS Success Into A Major League World Series Title
Lance Lynn didn’t have a great Little League World Series in 1999. His team, Brownsburg, went 0-3 in the tournament and he went 0-1 with a 4.09 earned run average. Lynn must have learned from his mistakes, because his MLB career has been anything but disappointing.
As a rookie with the Cardinals in 2011, he won the World Series, beating the Texas Rangers. Since then he has compiled a career 3.53 earned run average with over 80 career wins.
Michael Saunders Fell In Love With Baseball After Playing In The LLWS
Growing up in British Columbia, Michael Saunders played every sport that was available to him. From hockey to baseball he played it all. Then, in 1999, he played in the Little League World Series for Gordon Head Little League.
The team didn’t win, but that didn’t matter to Saunders. His passion became baseball, “I think playing in an international competition [at that age] and then getting a chance to play with the national team and travel the world really made me fall in love with the game.” He was drafted by the Mariners in 2004 and made his debut in 2009.
Adam Loewen Did It All In The LLWS
Adam Loewen was a little league sensation when he appeared for British Columbia as a pitcher in the 1996 Little League World Series. During the Canadian Championship game he pitched a three-hit shutout. He wasn’t just the team’s best pitcher, though. He was also their best hitter.
Like another Canadian on this list, Loewen also played hockey growing up, and wasn’t sold on a career in baseball until after his little league experience, “I always loved hockey more, but I remember that summer being the most fun I ever had.”
Ruben Tejada Made His Major League Debut At 20-Years-Old
Ruben Tejada went two for three when he faced Japan playing for Santiago de Veraguas Little League in the 2001 World Series. Japan won, but his performance was enough to get scouts to follow him back to Panama. In 2006, he signed with the Mets as an international free agent. He was 16-years-old at the time.
Four years later, Tejada made his major league debut, going hitless in two at bats. Since then he’s bounced back and forth between the major and minor leagues, most recently playing for the Baltimore Orioles.
Christian Bethancourt Was A Catcher And Pitcher In The 2004 LLWS
In the Majors, Christian Bethancourt is a catcher in the Brewers organization, but as a young lad in the 2004 Little League World Series he played pitcher too. Playing for the Panamanian All-Star team in 2004, he played well enough to gain international interest.
As soon as Bethancourt was old enough to sign with an MLB club he did, joining the Atlanta Braves in 2008. Five more years passed before Bethancourt stepped behind a big league plate for the first time. It was well worth the wait, we’re sure.
Gary Sheffield Joined The 500 Home Run After Winning The LLWS
Gary Sheffield was a member of the 1980 Tampa team that won the the Little League World Series. He drove in five runs in the final, leaving his mark on the competition. When he became an MLB superstar, he left an even bigger mark.
By the time Gary Sheffield hung up his cleats, he had hit over 500 home runs. This made him the only player in Little League World Series history to hit that many homers at the professional level.
Jason Bay Is The Best Canadian To Ever Play In The LLWS
Jason Bay had a stellar career in MLB, playing for the Pirates, Mets, Red Sox, Padres, and Mariners. To this day, he is the only Canadian born player to win the Rookie of the Year award. He was also named to three all-star teams in his 10-year career.
As a little leaguer, Bay participated in the 1990 World Series as a member of Trial, B.C. His team made it all the way to the semifinals before being knocked out by tournament champions Taiwan.
Jason Varitek Went From The LLWS To Breaking The Curse Of The Bambino
Jason Varitek was the starting catcher for the 2004 Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series, breaking the “Curse of the Bambino.” In 2007, he doubled down, winning a second World Series with Boston and etching his name in East Coast history.
Before becoming a Boston legend, though, Varitek played for Altamonte Springs, Florida in the 1984 Little League World Series. The team won the United States Championship bracket, but lost to South Korea 6-2 in the title game.