The number of World Series rings belonging to former Augusta GreenJackets continues to accumulate with each October.
A stable of former GreenJackets helped the San Francisco Giants win two World Series titles between 2010-2012, including 2012 World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval.
A pair of Boston Red Sox, who also got their start in Augusta, have been equally successful on the big stage.
Before the GreenJackets made the transition to being a Giants affiliate in 2005, they were home to Red Sox minor leaguers making full-season debuts in Class A. Two of those, Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester, were crowned world champions for the second time Oct. 30.
Pedroia and Lester were drafted a year apart in the second round, and both made their full-season debuts in Augusta.
Pedroia went 20 for 50 with five doubles and one home run in 12 games for the GreenJackets in 2004 before moving to Advanced-A Sarasota to finish his first professional season.
“He played then just as he does now,” GreenJackets public address announcer Scott Skadan said. “He absolutely swung from his heels with the same upper cut as he does now, as well. He was a scrappy, uniform-always-dirty kind of player, always hustling and going for the extra base. He was a fun guy to watch, and you just knew he was destined to make it, regardless of his size.”
Pedroia made it despite being 5-foot-8, making his majors debut within two years of wearing a GreenJackets uniform. He found success even quicker, winning a world title in his first full season in 2007, while also winning rookie of the year. He was named AL MVP one year later and is a .302 career hitter.
Lester made his full-season debut for Augusta in 2003, posting a 3.65 ERA in 106 innings. He turned the corner as a pro the following season in Sarasota, recording 98 strikeouts in 91⅓ innings, and was in the majors by 2006.
Lester was on the same world title team as Pedroia in 2007, and he now owns two rings along with the second baseman. He has made his mark as a postseason pitcher, allowing one run on 12 hits with 18 strikeouts in 20⅓ World Series innings, earning a 3-0 record.
Memories of Lester in Augusta aren’t as vivid. Despite being a second-round pick, he didn’t make a huge impression and didn’t receive national attention until 2004. He followed that season with a 2.61 ERA for Double-A Portland in 2005.
Reports are Lester didn’t throw his cutter until 2004, a pitch that has been big for him in the majors.
“The Sox feel that he developed enough physically and mentally in ’04 that they can begin to push him a little harder,” a 2005 Baseball Prospectus report said. “Armed with a new cutter, a little extra gas on his 93 mile-per-hour fastball and improved breaking pitches, Lester will be in Double-A in 2005 and is still on track for the big leagues soon after that.”