Boston sports superstars like Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Paul Pierce and Zdeno Chara are all nearing the ends of their careers, but with that comes another generation of superstars in each of the four major Boston sports. Here is a look at the next wave of greatness to hit the Boston sports scene:
The 24-year-old third baseman shined in his first season as a member of the Red Sox before missing the final two months with a broken wrist. Middlebrooks was called up from Pawtucket after hitting hit .333 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs in just 24 games when Kevin Youkilis went on the disabled list with an injury in early May.
The Texas native played so well during his time in the lineup, the Red Sox couldn’t keep him out of it even when Youkils returned, which led to a trade sending Youkilis to the White Sox leaving Middlebrooks as the everyday third baseman.
In 75 games this past season Middlebrooks hit .288 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs. If it weren’t for the Angels’ Mike Trout and then suffering his broken wrist Middlebrooks would have been a serious candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year.
With his incredible work ethic and talent he possesses, Middlebrooks is in line to be the next big-time slugger in for the Red Sox, and coming off of an impressive rookie season the sky is the limit.
Tyler Seguin is already a fan favorite following the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup title in Seguin’s rookie season at just 19 years of age. The rookie was a healthy scratch in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but after Patrice Bergeron sustained a mild concussion he was inserted into the lineup. Seguin scored a goal and added an assist in his first game, and followed it up with two goals and two assists in his second becoming an instant fan-favorite.
The Bruins selected Seguin as the No. 2 pick in the entire draft in 2010 and he has certainly lived up to the hype. He netted 11 goals and 11 assists as a rookie and then took his game to the next level in his sophomore year scoring 29 goals and dishing out 38 assists, playing with much more confidence than in his rookie year.
Seguin is naturally gifted with an immense amount of talent and will certainly be one of the most exciting and popular players on the Bruins for many years to come as he just signed a six-year extension last month. His connection with the female fan base certainly helps his popularity as well.
The casual Bruins fan may not even know who Dougie Hamilton is, but he in line to be the next great defenseman not only for the Bruins, but in the entire NHL. The 6-foot-5, 19-year-old was the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Bruins.
Hamilton is currently still with his Junior team, the Niagara IceDogs, but will be allowed to return to the Bruins organization once the NHL lockout is over. From all reports surrounding the team, Hamilton would start the season with the big-club in Boston.
Last season with the IceDogs Hamilton tallied 17 goals and 55 assists on his way to winning the Max Kaminsky Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League.
Hamilton is very similar to current Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara as you don’t usually see hockey players 6-foot-5. Being just 185 pounds, Hamilton will need to put on some muscle weight to be as much of a force as Chara, but he is only 19 years old so he has plenty of time to do that and grow into his body. Hamilton should be an exciting player to watch develop in the coming years.
Although Jared Sullinger hasn’t played a regular season game as a member of the Celtics he is already expected to do big things in Green. The power forward out of Ohio State was the teams’ first pick in the 2012 draft at No. 21 overall.
Sullinger came out of college two years early, and could have been a top-ten pick, but injury concerns dropped him to the late first round. At Ohio State he was the 2011 Big Ten Rookie of the Year where he averaged 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 31.7 minutes per game.
This past year he averaged 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while leading the Buckeyes to the Final Four where they fell to the Kansas Jayhawks.
At 6-foot-9 Sullinger will likely take over Kevin Garnett’s role with the team once he retires, but luckily for Sullinger and Celtics fans, he will be able to learn from one of the best power forwards in the game until then.
His development over the next few years should be entertaining as hopefully one of the next Celtics greats is born.
The Patriots made a commitment to getting better on defense in the early rounds of the 2012 NFL draft and Chandler Jones was a big reason why as the team drafted him with the No. 21 overall pick last April. The 6-foot-5, 260 pound defensive end out of Syracuse forwent his senior year to enter the draft.
Despite only playing seven games due to injury last year, he still tallied 39 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Jones has continued his impressive play in the NFL fitting right in with the Patriots starting at defensive end. In his first six games as a professional Jones has 27 tackles, five sacks and three forced fumbles.
Jones is all over the field and has shown a great-deal of speed, which is very impressive for someone 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds. The Patriots are a very young group on defense, which should only get better as the years go by with Jones being one of the main components.
The 22-year-old is well on his way to being the next superstar on defense taking the reigns from Vince Wilfork.
With Tom Brady not having many years left, the Patriots offense could begin to shift to more of a run-based offense and second-year running back Steven Ridley could make that transition happen as he looks to have a bright future ahead of him.
Ridley was New England’s third round pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Following his junior season in which he ran for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns Ridley came out of college early to the draft.
After playing sparingly behind Benjarvus Green-Ellis in his rookie season, Ridley has assumed the No.1 role this year. The 23-year-old has already had three 100-yard rushing games in the first six games this year including rushing for four touchdowns.
The one thing going against Ridley is his ball security, as he has had a tendency to cough up the ball. If he can take care of the football, Ridley has the skills to bring the running game back to New England and take some of the pressure off of Brady.