The Jacksonville Suns are coming off their sixth Southern League title in team history. The Sun’s owner is in talks to sell the team, something that could lead to a new era for one of the most successful double-a teams.
That makes this a good time to remind everyone how many great players have stopped here in Jacksonville before making it to the big leagues.
Randy Johnson pitched one season in 1987, when they were still the Jacksonville Expos. He went 11-8 and would get to the majors in 1989, were he pitched for six different teams in 22 years. The big unit was just inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this month. He is the most recent pitcher to win 300 games.
The home run king, Hank Aaron, actually played one season in our town. It was 1953, and the team was the Jacksonville Braves. He hit 22 home runs before going on to hit 755 in the majors.
The controversial infielder, Alex Rodrigues, made a 17-game stop in J’Ville in 1994, when he played for the single, double and triple A farm systems of the Mariners before making the majors.
This Hall of Famer and MLB leader in strikeouts played for the suns for seven innings in in 1967, when they were under the Mets. He was sent back from the MLB due to illnes, injuries and Army Reserve service. He would later return to the Mets in 68′ and never return to the minors.
Matt Kemp played for the Suns in 2006, for for 48 games. He would end up finishing the year on the Dodgers major league roster. Kemp led the MLB in home runs in 2011 and was traded to the Padres this offseason.
The 2014 MVP, three-time Cy Young Winner, Clayton Kershaw, was a Sun in 2007 and 2008, starting a total of 16 games. He has gone on to be the one of most dominant pitchers in the majors.