Chasen Shreve at the crest of a wave of Las Vegas talent reaching Major League Baseball
Yankees lefty Chasen Shreve saw it, and of course had to reach out to his old high school teammate to let him know that if it were him, Shreve definitely wouldn't have been pranked by Maddux and his "distinct voice."
But that moment also gave Shreve a chance to reflect on the pool of current MLB talent from the Las Vegas area, something that he and Bryant, teammates at Sin City's Bonanza High School for two seasons in the late-2000s, may have taken for granted in the past.
"It's funny, because when we were in high school, we never thought anything of it. We were like 'oh, Bishop Gorman is number one in the nation,' and it was just normal for us," Shreve says of his Vegas prep days. "But after a couple of years, we saw all these guys get drafted or go to college and then eventually make it to the Majors, and there's now a whole bunch of guys from Vegas who are doing well, from Double-A on up."
That Bishop Gorman program Shreve mentioned won six straight Nevada State Championships from 2006-11, and that run's alumni list alone boasts current or recent MLB players including Rangers uber-prospect Joey Gallo, Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard, and Mariners pitcher Donn Roach.
Shreve and Bryant are two of just three players from their alma mater to reach the Majors - infielder Justin Leone, who played 31 games for the Mariners in 2004, is the other - so even though they don't get the chance to talk or see each other as much as they'd like, they still share a deep bond, one that gave Shreve pride as he watched his high school friend and teammate finish off last year's World Series and win the National League MVP Award.
"Kris was always super good and we kind of knew it right away; when I pitched against him in practice I'd sometimes forget that he was two years younger than me," Shreve told the Las Vegas Sun about Bryant earlier this week. "I've always said it about Kris that no one deserves it more, because he's such a humble and nice guy. Add to that he's my personal friend, and it was just very cool to see him do it all."
Perhaps, though, as good as Bryant has been, the cream of the Clark County crop is an outfielder who was a thorn in both Gorman's and Bonanza's sides at Las Vegas High proper: Bryce Harper.
Like Bryant, Harper is two year Shreve's junior, but the two were also teammates for one season, 2010, at the College of Southern Nevada. Following that campaign, Bryce was the No. 1 overall pick and Shreve was selected in the 11th round, and those two are also still very close to this day.
"We definitely support each other, and we talk every now and then during the season," Shreve said. "We're both pretty busy during the season obviously, so we mostly see each other during the winter, but if we go to D.C. or the Nationals come here, we always go to dinner and catch up."
Shreve terms it "interesting" that he, Harper, and Bryant are now the major-league trailblazers for that group of young talent from the Las Vegas area, but if you ask him, the last thing he wants to do is actually face either of those two.
The lefty has yet to face Bryant, an opportunity that may come when the Yankees head to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs in May, but he did pitch against Harper twice in 2015, and called those matchups two of the most awkward at-bats of his career.
"I actually don't like facing people I know, because, I mean, they're my friends," he said. "You don't want to make them look bad, and they don't want to make you look bad, so it's tough, but you have to go and act like it's a normal player and focus on what makes you successful."
It must be noted, though, that even though the matchups were uncomfortable, Shreve won the first one, striking out Harper looking; sure, the eventual unanimous NL MVP got his buddy back with an RBI double in the second meeting, but as Shreve smiled, he'll always have that huge K on his register.
"I didn't think it'd be such a tight situation when I got to face him the first time," Shreve chuckled, "but it was fun. We went to dinner after the game and talked about it, and he said he knew what was coming, but he still swung at it."
Perhaps friendship can sometimes take precedence over baseball after all.