A look at some of the Arizona young surprises.
Over the past couple of weeks, there is no one name that has created more buzz in sports than the New Knicks' Jeremy Lin. He play has elevated his team and it really came out of nowhere and has befuddled even his head coach. Some compare him to Tim Tebow, but he is much different -- he looks good playing the game of basketball.
Here in Arizona, players don't create the same sort of buzz as in New York, but our teams here locally have produced a few good stories, even if some were short-lived.
Let's look at these players for the different local teams.
John Skelton: Skelton showed a little life as a rookie against the Dallas Cowboys with a couple of big throws in the game winning drive, but it was his play in 2011 that got his name in the national buzz. He was the starter most of the time the Cardinals finished the season 7-2. Statistically overall he was below average, but he showed made big plays at big times and put up a stat line against Philadelphia with the yards and touchdowns that had not been done since Kurt Warner. This coming from fifth-round pick from Fordham.
Anquan Boldin: Boldin was not a low draft pick, but his impact was made immediately as he debuted against the Detriot Lions with a record 217 receiving yards in a debut. No one expected that performance. He was also the heart and soul of team until he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens when contract squabbles made it clear he needed to go.
Max Hall: The tales they will tale of this local kid that went undrafted but looked so mighty and accurate in the preseason. And when he got his chance to start, he led the Cardinals to victory over the defending champion New Orleans Saints. (OK, so it was the defense scoring touchdowns and Levi Brown diving into the endzone recovering a fumble when poor Max was almost killed.) That was a short-lived story, though as he showed that all the moxie in the world can't overcome lack of height and small hands.
Barry Enright: Just two seasons ago, Enright was promoted from AA to fill in because of injury. He captivated the Arizona public (and this site in particular) with his underwhelming stuff and red beard, yet still getting players out and beating teams. For stretch, he was having equal success with the St. Louis Cardinals' phenom Jamie Garcia. After a while, that underwhelming stuff became homerun fodder for opposing batters.
Josh Collmenter: In 2011, the big, slightly tubby pitcher with an odd delivery (for having grown up throwing tomahawks) shut down team after team. He finished the season 10-10 with an ERA of 3.38. He was very good, and most importantly, every time people would start to say that his novelty would wear off and be best suited for the bullpen, he would respond with a dominating start that went deep into innings. He is expected to be a big contributor again in 2012.
Entire Babybacks squad: Back in 2004-2005, there was a buzz among the fans about the Babybacks and their young kids that would come up and make contributions. The likes of Robby Hammock, Alex Cintron and Matt Kata gave fans false hopes of a promising future (Only Cintron has managed to stick around in the majors consistently.
Cedric Ceballos: The second round pick of the Suns was my favorite player when he was with Phoenix. He had a knack for scoring points. He was known as the point-a-minute man, as he had a nose for the ball and found garbage points around the basket with the best of them. He probably never had a play called for him his entire career. He also spent his entire focus on scoring points. His defense was awful.
Richard Dumas: He was another second-round pick that showed amazing talents. He has been considered the most exciting young player Suns fans had ever seen. His rookie campaign was being a huge contributor on a team that would be the runners-up to the champion Chicago Bulls. His drug problems derailed what should have been a special career.