Shawn Naranjo Photo
Michael Granda makes contact in a game against Las Cruces June 16 at Joe Bauman Stadium.
By Jeff Jackson – Record Staff Writer
Playing in Monday’s Pecos League all-star game [auth] was a surprise to the Roswell Invaders’ Michael Granda, but his performance matched his top-10 ranking among the circuit’s batters.
Granda had two hits, two RBIs and scored three runs to help the South team win 12-6 at Fort Marcy Park in Santa Fe. One of his hits was a two-run double. “The other was a single. I had one good hit,” Granda said.
Entering Tuesday’s home game against White Sands, Granda was hitting .353, which ranks second on the team and 10th in the league for players with at least 125 at-bats.
“I never played in one in college. I didn’t really expect to play in this one,” Granda said. “It was an honor, a new experience. It was real rewarding, just being in the same dugout as a lot of the best players in the league that I respect, having played them and seeing how good those guys are is a great and just to get to talk to them.”
Granda was one of eight players from the Invaders selected for the game. One of those, starting pitcher Ryan Davis, was traded two weeks ago and the other, reliever Ryan Wakefield, left the team Tuesday for personal reasons.
Invaders third baseman Aaron Carman also was stellar as an all-star with a home run and a single in five at-bats. The South team used 14 men in the batting order and rotated at some defensive positions. Catcher Danny Grauer and Carman played the whole game, and Granda played the final three innings at first base.
All Invaders players appeared in the game wearing their lime-green baseball pants.
Many players in the Pecos League compete with a passion, especially at an all-star game, to prove they belong with an affiliated team, Granda said.
“I think a lot of the guys in the league, and here, have chips on their shoulder,” Granda said. “They feel that at some point in time they were overlooked. One good thing I see with a lot of these guys is we all like to work hard. Everyone here puts in a lot of time and effort into baseball. They love the game. I think that’s where you build at team, when you’re out there working in the day, when you’re practicing, trying to get better together. I think that jells the team a lot.”
Regarding his own career, Granda, 25, takes a more modest approach, perhaps developed from playing one season of junior college in Florida and three seasons at Emmanuel College, now a Division II college program but at his time a NAIA school in Georgia.
“I don’t think I was overlooked. I never thought I was going to get drafted,” he admits. “I’ve always known that I have to work harder than a lot of other people because I don’t have a lot of God-given talent. I just tried to do what I could in college just to play independent baseball, play anywhere. I just wanted to play somewhere. I just wanted a shot out here. I’m really thankful that I got a shot out here. I think if you put in the hard work good stuff will happen to you. I’m just thankful to be out and have the opportunity because I know a lot of people don’t.”
That said, Granda comes from Tampa, Florida, a city rich in baseball talent, both currently and traditionally. Players such as Steve Garvey, Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield and many more with major-league careers, came from Tampa.
“I know when I was growing up there was so much talent, a lot of draft picks, a lot of Division I guys,” Granda said. “You just try to play well as you can. It’s important for me to do well. I knew I didn’t have the talent a lot of those other guys did but I knew if I worked hard that I could do it somewhere. That was important. But, yeah, I take pride in it.
“It’s a hotbed. I know a few of the kids that moved up this year. I’ve seen kids that went to the minor leagues, just a few kids that moved up to the major leagues this year. I played here and there, against them, played with them. We’re not like good friends. I try to keep track of those guys. My dad grew up in Tampa and coached for a long time. There’s a lot of respect for the game back in Tampa, like it’s important, baseball is. I guess you try to hold yourself to a higher standard a little bit. Football might have it a little bit, but Tampa, La Russa grew up down there, Lou Piniella, Doc Gooden, Sheffield. There’s a lot of guys, a lot of older guys that I guess back in the ‘70s, ‘80s, so there’s a lot of history there.”
Reporter Jeff Jackson can be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or firstname.lastname@example.org.