Ex-Pelicans make a splash on MLB opening weekend

Former Myrtle Beach Pelicans made major splashes on Major League Baseball’s opening weekend, beginning with the very first pitch of the 2018 campaign.

Former Pelican and current Chicago Cubs lead-off man crushed a home run on the opening pitch of the 2018 season against the Miami Marlins on Thursday. The solo shot jump-started an impressive showing by players who played in Myrtle Beach before reaching the big stage. Here’s a look at some recent Pelicans fared in their big league debuts:

* Outfielder Billy McKinney made his major league debut Friday with the New York Yankees at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. McKinney is the first Pelicans alumnus to debut in The Show this season, and the 170th, including rehabbers, to both don a Myrtle Beach jersey and play in the big leagues. A native of Plano, Texas, McKinney grounded a single to right field in his first career at-bat. The left fielder finished 1-for-4 in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

A first-round pick (24th overall) by the Oakland Athletics in 2013 out of Plano West Senior High School in Texas, McKinney was traded to the Chicago Cubs along with infielder Addison Russell and right-handed pitcher Dan Straily in the deal that netted the A’s right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. McKinney began the 2015 season with the Pelicans, batting .340/.432/.544 with five doubles, two triples, four home runs and 25 RBIs in 29 games before earning a promotion to Double-A Tennessee.

* Right-handed pitcher Pedro Araujo made his major league debut Saturday for the Orioles at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards. On the heels of outfielder Billy McKinney’s big-league introduction Friday, Pelicans alums now boast MLB debuts in two of the 2018 season’s first three days. The club has seen 171 players both play in Myrtle Beach and in The Show. A 24-year-old from San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic, Araujo tossed a perfect eighth inning on Saturday, striking out one batter in Baltimore’s 6-2 loss.

Araujo was a member of the Pelicans in each of the last two seasons. After a promotion from Low-A South Bend in June of 2016, the right-hander struggled in 13 games to a 5.21 ERA, though he did fan 22 batters in 19.0 innings. Upon his return to Myrtle Beach to start the 2017 season, Araujo was excellent, going 6-1 with a 1.81 ERA in 44 games. Over 64.2 innings, he ceded just 42 hits (5.8 H/9) with 83 strikeouts (11.6 K/9) against 17 walks (2.4 BB/9).

Photo courtesy of MLB

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