It's pretty rare that someone is able to watch a hometown kid make good in this world, but John Raynor, who grew up in 2 towns from me in Benson, NC has done just that. He was by far the best pure player Johnston County has ever seen and he has developed into a top prospect in the Florida Marlins Organization.
The first time I saw John play was when he was in high school, he was a standout player that everyone knew would be a star. He went on to UNC Wilmington where he struggled his first 2 years, but blossomed into a star his final 2. Then came the 2006 MLB Draft and John became a Florida Marlin being drafted in the 9th round.
John spent the 1997 season with the Greensboro Grasshoppers an "A" level team and watching him several times you could tell he was going to be a star. He was voted the Marlins #1 minor leaguer in his first full season. I would talk to him before games and just revel at his confidence I asked him one time "when do you think you will be in the bigs?" his response, "2009". No if's, ands, or buts about it, a definitive answer. I kind of laughed it off as him being a cocky kid, but here we are in 2008 John is still in NC playing for my hometown Mudcats and putting up major league numbers, he leads the league in steals with 43 and as of today was batting .317 with 9 homers and 34 RBI's, but the most impressive number has to be the 83 runs scored, by far the highest on the team.
I have talked with John many times this season, he is the most humble player I have ever met, I have also had the pleasure of meeting his entire family who in one form or another go to every game, they are the most down to earth bunch you will ever have the pleasure to meet, I have given them candid photo's of there son/grandson and I would like to believe I can call them friends. I hope that when John is in the majors next season that we will be able to keep in touch, he has all the tools of a major league ballplayer minus the lousy attitude and will have a long prosperous career. People ask me how I am so sure of this? my reply, John told me.