Image credit: Nathan Perry, Astros (Photo by Ed Wolfstein)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — On Wednesday night, the New York-Penn League all-stars took the field to showcase their talent. It is the second time that Staten Island has hosted the event, and it didn’t disappoint. There was plenty of offense, and fans got to catch a glimpse of tomorrow’s stars in a game that ended with the Blue All-Stars taking home a 7-4 victory over the Red All-Stars.
Early on, the Blue All-Stars showed their offensive prowess. First baseman Joe Davis broke the ice in the first inning, lacing an RBI single to left field on an offspeed pitch. He attempted to stretch it into a double but was thrown out by left fielder Andrew Warner. This half-inning set the tone for the Blue All-Stars, who stayed aggressive on offense.
Outfielder George Valera laced a double for the Blue All-Stars, the first extra-base hit of the game. His teammates Milton Smith and Kendall Simmons each followed with a double and single, respectively, driving in two runs. They played small-ball in the third inning, as catcher Bryan Lavastida collected an RBI sacrifice fly to stretch the lead to 4-0. While they had a comfortable lead, the Red All-Stars were ready to mount a comeback.
With righthander Jesus Valles on the mound, Simmons made what seemed like a meaningless error to start off the inning. The Red All-Stars started to put the bat on the ball from there, however, with four base knocks over the next six at-bats. Infielder Greg Jones was able to manipulate the barrel to poke a base hit to left field, which allowed the Red All-Stars to trim the score to 4-2. Teammate Caldioli Sanfler hit an infield single to score another run, but he was thrown out trying to advance to second base.
With the game in the balance, Nathan Perry came up in a critical spot for the Blue All-Stars after taking over at catcher. The righthanded hitter smoked a fastball over the right-field wall, which later earned him New York-Penn League all-star game MVP Honors.
“It’s about being disciplined and waiting for the right pitch and putting a good swing on it,” Perry said afterwards.
While it was just one run of quite a few put on the board, it had a special significance for the Tri-City ValleyCats catcher.
“The whole backdrop of the city and the background, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Perry said. “In spring training my grandfather passed away, and he was a huge Yankees fan, huge fan. We played at Staten Island one series before this and I hit the best I’ve ever hit. I think I had my first three-hit game as a professional . . . and tonight, to do that, that was all for him. It was such a special moment, and I know he was up there smiling down on me.”
Perry’s homer tilted the momentum back toward the Blue All-Stars, and they didn’t look back. Righthander Fausto Segura took the mound for the Red All-Stars and walked three of the first four batters he faced. Blake Sabol and Brayan Rocchio were able to use their speed to steal bases and ultimately come around to tack on two more runs.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, outfielder Kyle Stowers hit a home run to left-center field. Down by three runs, the Red All-Stars failed to rally against righthander Cameron Junker, who struck out his first two batters before getting Andrew Fregia to ground out and end the game.
“We had a short meeting earlier [and] I told the guys congratulations,” Blue All-Stars manager Edgardo Alfonzo said. “This is what it is, you know, you go out, play, have fun, be smart. Remember, we still have two weeks left in the season . . . just go out and play and do what you have to do.”
While this was just a one-game look, plenty of players showed why they were chosen to play. Here are some of the standout players and tools from Wednesday’s night New York-Penn League all-star game.
George Valera, DH, Mahoning Valley — Valera showed plus bat speed and above-average power in his two at-bats. The designated hitter is twitchy in the box with quick hands. His lower and upper halves sync up well, allowing him to drive through the baseball.
Gilberto Jimenez, OF, Lowell — Jimenez showed nice actions in center field for the Red All-Stars. The outfielder got good jumps and showed the range necessary to play the position in the future. He showed an accurate arm with good carry to it.
Jordan Diaz, 3B, Vermont — While Diaz made some contact with the bat, his defensive play was outstanding. He has a good first step on the infield, with soft hands and a plus arm. Diaz has good feel for the hot corner, which helps him impact the game defensively. He turned a quality double play and also made a diving stop to his right before getting up and throwing out the runner at first base.
Joe LaSorsa, LHP, Hudson Valley — LaSorsa worked quickly to dispatch hitters in the top of the ninth inning. The lefthander works from a low, three-quarter arm slot and slightly coils to show his back to the hitter before delivering the pitch. He worked mostly with a fastball that topped out at 91 mph and a sweeping breaking ball in the low 80s, both of which were effective offerings.
Wilmer Reyes, SS, Brooklyn — Wilmer showed off his ability to play a quality shortstop. The infielder moves well laterally and has a good transfer to his throwing hand. He is able to throw from multiple angles with good arm strength. He has sound footwork up the middle, and his glove was clearly at asset to his team.
Greg Jones, SS, Hudson Valley — Jones showed that he has an advanced feel to hit. The infielder has good barrel awareness, as he is able to manipulate his swing to make contact to all fields. He is confident at the plate, and his ability to work the count helped him on Wednesday.
Andres Munoz, RHP, Staten Island — While he did allow a run, Munoz has good arm strength and isn’t afraid to attack hitters. He topped out at 96 mph with his fastball and mixed in a mid-80s changeup which had some sink to it. He went after hitters inside with his fastball and didn’t try to work around any hitters during his inning of work.
Leonardo Rodriguez, RHP, Abderdeen — The 6-foot-7, 215-pound Rodriguez showed plenty of promise. He works from a three-quarter arm slot with a big arm circle in the back. His arm speed is plus, and he topped out at 95 mph with his fastball. The righthander worked with a changeup which was firm, and a breaking ball which had a short tilt to it that he was able to throw for strikes. Rodriguez’s arm strength and physicality make him a player to watch in the future.
Ezequiel Duran, 2B, Staten Island — Duran is athletic and showed prowess with the bat. He has plus bat speed and was able to track pitches well. While he didn’t produce at the plate, it’s evident that his strength and athleticism have plenty of value.
Josh Simpson, LHP, Batavia — Simpson was impressive in the bottom of the eighth inning. The lefthander came out firing strikes. He works from a three-quarter arm slot and is quite lanky on the mound. He topped out at 91 mph with his fastball and was able to command it well. He opens up his front side a bit in his delivery, but is able to spin a good breaking ball with short, late break. He was able to throw it for strikes and also induced soft contact with the pitch.
Andre Pallante, RHP, State College — Pallante showed good stuff in his one inning of work. The righthander has some crossfire to his delivery and hides the ball well. He topped out at 95 mph, setting up hitters before working to his breaking ball. It had good shape and depth to it, which he was able to keep down for most of his outing.