Bethesda Boasts Slew of All-Stars
Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins second baseman and walk-off aficionado, became the first Big Train (’06) alumnus selected to participate in the MLB All-Star Game, Saturday.
One day later the Big Train (23-9) followed suit, as nine players on Sal Colangelo's league-leading squad got the nod for Wednesday's Cal Ripken League all-star game, including four players returning for their second appearance.
The team's ace, Tulane senior Tim Yandel, will reprise his 2013 all-star role serving as the only Big Train player returning in non-consecutive seasons. Catcher Justin Morris (Maryland) and outfielders Cody Brown (Mississippi State) and Logan Farrar (Virginia Commonwealth) received all-star honors in back-to-back seasons.
Showcasing precise control and consistency on the bump, Yandel has thrown at least five innings in each of his six starts without giving up more than two earned runs in any outing. He has walked an astounding four batters on the season.
While leading the pitching staff with 35.1 innings, 32 strikeouts and a formidable 1.27 earned run average, Yandel's defense and clutch bat have also earned him time at first base for Colangelo.
The arguable Big Train MVP ranks second on the team with nine extra base hits, tied with Zach Kirtley (St. Mary's, Calif.) and four behind Chris Lewis (Sacramento State). But the two-way standout has accumulated those numbers, including back-to-back walk-off doubles in June, in just 61 at-bats. Kirtley and Lewis have sprayed their extra-base hits in 116 and 124 at-bats, respectively. Yandel enters the all-star break ravaging opposing pitchers, hitting at a .467 clip with six runs batted in this past week.
With the addition of Lewis, the league's RBI-leader, to this year's South Division roster – both Farrar and Brown return to reprise their 2014 all-star honors – the entire Big Train outfield will be represented in the Cal Ripken Collegiate midsummer classic.
Lewis, Bethesda's cleanup hitter, leads the club with 39 hits, four homers and 25 runs batted in. Without speedy, aggressive table setters, however, Lewis would not boast such gaudy numbers. Farrar has brought tenacity, talent and speed to the top of the order since returning from the College World Series with his Virginia Commonwealth Rams. Brown, a staple atop the Big Train order, has scored a team leading 28 runs while tacking on 14 stolen bases.
Manning the hot corner, Harrison Crawford (Creighton) enters the break on a tear, hitting .438 in his last seven games and raising his batting average by 50 points. One of Bethesda's most well rounded players, he has made the fewest errors of any everyday infielder. A mainstay on the left side of the infield, Crawford joins Kirtley, also making an all-star appearance in his first Cal Ripken League season.
Along with Yandel, right-handers Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s, Calif.) and Walker Sheller (Stetson) represent the feared Big Train pitching staff. Strotman, also a starter, completes a phenomenal 1-2 punch with Yandel; the two combine for an ERA below two with just 10 walks in 65 innings pitched. Sheller, whose sidearm wizardry has solidified the Big Train bullpen, sports a 0.84 WHIP and strikes out a batter an inning, all while allowing opponents to hit just .134.
Both the Big Train and the Vienna Riverdogs sent nine players to the South Division all-star roster. Filling out the team, the Alexandria Aces sent five representatives, while three players each represent the D.C. Grays and Herndon Braves.
First Alumnus Selected to MLB All-Star Game
After being left off the American League’s initial 2015 All-Star roster, Brian Dozier (BT '06) let his bat do his campaigning.
On July 7, he was announced as one of five American League Final Vote candidates. He celebrated by launching a two-run walk-off homer in extra innings to seal a series-opening win against the Orioles that evening.
Dozier finished second in the Final Vote and again responded by capping a seven-run ninth inning rally with an upper-deck walk-off bomb, Friday.
During Saturday’s day game, Dozier received a standing ovation from an adoring Target Field crowd after the announcement that he would replace an injured Jose Bautista on the American League roster.
The Big Train alumnus promptly followed the announcement with a single.
Tied for the league-lead with 66 runs scored on the season, Dozier will deservingly get a full taste of the all-star week festivities for the first time; he participated solely in last season’s home run derby in front of his hometown Minnesota fans.
The Twins second baseman joins starter Jose Altuve and fellow AL Central reserve Jason Kipnis in Cincinnatti for Wednesday’s 86th MLB All-Star Game.