June 18, 2013
Tonight, the Midwest League will hold their annual All-Star Game at Fifth Third Field in Dayton, Ohio. Fifth Third Field is well known for its constant sellouts and don’t expect anything less on Tuesday as some of the finest MWL prospects will be taking the field to showcase their skills.
The rosters were announced back on June 5 and, as usual, the Lugnuts will be well represented. They’ll be sending four of their finest players to the game, including second baseman Christian Lopes, third baseman Gustavo Pierre, center fielder Dalton Pompey and right-handed pitcher Wil Browning.
Lopes has been excellent all season for the Lugnuts both at the plate and In the field. The 20-year old native of Huntington Beach, California is currently batting .274 with 11 doubles, four home runs, and a .700 OPS while also leading the Lugnuts with 37 RBI.
“I was excited when I found out I was a Midwest League all-star. I know it’s an honor and I’m excited to go out there,” Lopes said. “It’s going to be fun. My brother is coming to the game. He’s hitching a ride with some of the all-stars that made it with Clinton so we’re going to get a hotel room and hang out for a few days. I’m looking forward to seeing him!”
Pierre is having a nice season so far for the Lugnuts, especially at the plate, and is easily the most improved returning player to Lansing. The improvement comes as little surprise as he worked on his swing this past off-season as well as his defense. The La Romana, Dominican Republic native currently leads all Lugnuts regulars with a .292 batting average, 15 doubles and 102 total bases and ranks second on the team with five home runs and 15 stolen bases.
“It feels good to be named a Midwest League all-star,” Pierre said. “I want to say thank you to my teammates and my host family for helping me achieve this.”
Pompey, a speedy outfielder from Mississauga, Ontario, is having a solid season in his first full year of professional ball. The 20-year-old was already familiar with Lansing prior to the season, though, as he made the trip late last season to play in the Lugnuts’ final five regular season games as well as their two playoff contests. In addition to being one of the top defensive outfielders in the league this season, Pompey is batting .243 with 12 doubles, seven triples, 20 RBI and a team-leading 22 stolen bases.
“I thought being a Midwest League all-star was pretty cool. I never really been part of an all-star team so I thought it would be an awesome experience,” he said. “My mom is making the trip to Dayton for the all-star game. My Dad has to work and my brother has baseball as well, but she’s going to come and check out the game and I’m looking forward to seeing her there.”
Browning has been one of the Lugnuts’ most consistent and dominant pitchers this season. The former Louisiana-Monroe standout joined the Blue Jays organization as a free agent in 2012 and has been playing great since, with a 2.30 ERA, 49 strikeouts and four saves in 31 1/3 innings in 2013. The most amazing stats are that Browning has only allowed eight earned runs in total and opposing hitters are batting only .168 against him this season.
“I was happy and excited when I found out I was a Midwest League all-star,” he said. “It felt like my hard work paid off. It was a goal and I accomplished it.”
Lugnuts manager John Tamargo Jr. is happy with the all-stars and feels the managers selecting the rosters did a great job at picking Lansing’s representatives.
“The managers picked the right players. All four of them had outstanding first halves,” he said. “Well deserved and we’re proud of them. We hope they all go down to Dayton and play well.”
The Lugnuts kick off the second half of their season on Thursday when they head to Kentucky to face the Bowling Green Hot Rods.