With MLB spring training wrapping up, it’s time to look towards Opening Day. There are some new faces in new places all across the league that should leave fans excited.

Familiar Faces

For MLB fans of Long Island, there is plenty to look forward to. The most notable is the hometown native, Marcus Stroman, of Patchogue-Medford High School, returning home. After two years with the New York Mets in 2019 and 2021, he left the “Big Apple” to play for the Chicago Cubs.

This season, New Yorkers can watch him play again, but this time in pinstripes. The New York Yankees signed him for $37 million over two years to bolster the starting rotation.

Throughout Stroman’s career, he has a 77-76 overall record with an outstanding 3.65 ERA and 1091 strikeouts across 1303.2 innings. He has continued this consistency this spring training with a 3.68 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 14.2 innings pitched. With Gerrit Cole out, Stroman will prove to be a crucial piece on the Yankee roster.

Another former Long Island player to look out for is Steven Matz of the St. Louis Cardinals. Matz was born in Stony Brook and played at Ward Melville High School.

He has been in the league for nine years, starting with six of those years on the New York Mets. However, his best season came with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021, where he had a 14-7 record and a 3.82 ERA with 144 strikeouts across 150.2 innings.

Matz has spent the last two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and will continue to pitch for them this year. He slots in as their fifth starter, but will also have some appearances in the bullpen.

Although Matz had his struggles in New York, he is still a player for Long Island fans to root for this upcoming season.

Rising Stars

It’s been a while since Long Island has had a rising prospect to root for. Stroman and Matz are the most notable players in recent history.

This year, many up-and-coming stars were able to show out in spring training to make a push toward the official roster. One player in particular is making Long Island proud as he heads into the 2024 season.

Twenty-four-year-old Logan O’Hoppe enters opening day as the Los Angeles Angels starting catcher. He played high school ball at St. John the Baptist, a private school in West Islip, where O’Hoppe was born.

He was drafted in 2018 by the Philadelphia Phillies and was sent to Los Angeles in 2022 in a trade deadline deal that sent Brandon Marsh to the future NL champions. Since then, O’Hoppe has played 56 games for the Angels and proved to be a great acquisition.

Last season he dominated in his first 16 games with a batting average of .282, 13 RBIs, and 4 homers. Unfortunately, his hot start was cut short after he suffered a torn labrum and required surgery.

He struggled in his return from injury nearly four months later, but he still managed to put up a respectable season with a .236 average, 29 RBIs, and 14 home runs in 56 total games. With an entire offseason to recover, O’Hoppe will look to build off this promising season and breakout this year.

In other news, a younger Long Island star is breaking onto the baseball scene. 18-year-old pitcher Josh Knoth is making waves in the Arizona Complex league, a rookie-level minor league. The Medford native played at Patchogue-Medford High School, the same town as New York’s Marcus Stroman.

Knoth was drafted in the first round, 33rd overall, by the Milwaukee Brewers. He has been assigned to the ACL Brewers, but this year he could make his minor league debut. Although he won’t make it to the major leagues for a couple more years, Knoth has a bright future and is a player to keep an eye on.

Previous articleBay Shore Finishes 25-1 with Loss in State Final Game
Next articleSuffolk Marks Red Cross Month with Flag Raising at Dennison Building
James Haupt is The Messenger Papers' weekly Sports Reporter and Staff Writer, covering everything from local little leagues to professional sports teams. James is also a full-time college student at Villanova University majoring in Journalism.