June 12, 2014
The Midwest League will hold their annual All Star Game at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan on Tuesday, June 17th. This game is always special for the selected prospects, but this year’s game has a little more appeal, as it’s the 50th anniversary of the event.
As usual, the Lansing Lugnuts are well-represented in the game. The Lugnuts are sending four of their best players to represent the Blue Jays organization. Participating are: First baseman Matt Dean, third baseman Mitch Nay, outfielder Derrick Loveless, and left-handed pitcher Griffin Murphy.
While the Lugnuts could arguably have more all-stars, manager John Tamargo Jr. is excited for the group of young players that will represent the Lugnuts on the 17th.
“The managers did an excellent job picking the all-star rosters,” explained Tamargo. “All four of the guys selected are having great seasons. I personally congratulated all four of them and there were probably a few more deserving guys, but there are only so many spots on the team and we are well represented.”
Matt Dean will be the starting first baseman for the East squad. Being named an all-star was a huge honor for the Texas native who just started playing first base professionally last season.
“Being named a Midwest League All-Star is big,” explained Dean. “To be considered one of the top guys in the league was exciting. I feel very blessed for the opportunity.”
“I’m very excited to be the starting first baseman,” he added. “It just shows you that the work you put in every day will help you get rewarded in the end.”
Dean is batting .311 with 12 doubles, three triples, two home runs, and 21 RBIs in the Midwest League. While Dean has the numbers to be honored as an all-star he didn’t expect it because he had an injury earlier in the season.
“I was surprised when I was named an all-star,” explained Dean. “I missed a couple weeks in the first half, so I thought that would hurt my chances, but Mitch Nay came up to me and told me I made the team. It was a little surprising, but well-deserved in my opinion.”
The area Dean enjoys most about being an all-star is the opportunity to share the moment with his parents and sister who were coming up to spend time with him over the break.
“My parents and little sister are coming to the game,” Dean said with a smile. “They already planned on coming up for the all-star break, but since I’m playing in the game. They’ll get a chance to see me play. I’m really excited about that.”
Mitch Nay will be the starting third baseman for the East team. While quietly piecing together an excellent first half of the season, Nay is showing signs of why he’s the Blue Jays top third base prospect.
Batting .278 with 11 doubles, three triples, two home runs, and 34 RBIs in the Midwest League, Nay is humbled by the honor and looking forward to his first all-star game.
“Being named a Midwest League all-star is exciting,” Nay said, smiling. “There are a lot of good guys in this league and I’m honored to be considered one of them. It’ll be my first all-star game and I’m looking forward to the festivities.”
Nay is also looking forward to sharing the moment with three of his teammates. Nay feels all the players on the Lugnuts’ get along great and he’s excited to share the moment with three of his friends.
“It’s going to be really cool, playing with three of my teammates,” Nay said. “It’s always great playing with familiar faces. I have been playing the game with Matt Dean and Derrick Loveless for a couple years now. It’s my first season playing the game with Griffin Murphy, but it’ll be fun having them there with me. They’re all great guys and I’m really looking forward to it!”
Manager John Tamargo Jr. is proud of the first half play of Matt Dean and Mitch Nay.
“It’s a testament to those guys hard work,” stated Tamargo. “They both had great first halves and they deserve all the credit for this honor. They’re both great players with high ceilings. We just want them to get at-bats so they can continue to move up in the future.”
Left-handed reliever Griffin Murphy will be part of the East’s pitching corps. A second year Lugnut that transitioned to closer in 2014, Murphy is showing the signs of why he was a coveted prospect when he was drafted four years ago.
“Being a Midwest League all-star means a lot,” explained Murphy. “It’s a recognition of the things I’ve accomplished this far in the season. I’m really proud and grateful that the Midwest League wanted me on the team.”
Murphy is 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA, 40 strikeouts, and 10 saves through 29 innings of work. Enjoying the transition Murphy made in 2014, Manager John Tamargo talks about Murphy’s transition and why being a closer is an excellent fit for him.
“I really like Murphy closing games,” explained Tamargo. “Murphy’s pitches are a lot better this season. He has the temperament in the 9th inning to handle that role. It’s an excellent fit for him moving forward.”
The left-hander is excited that he will be participating in the 50th annual Midwest League All-Star Game, as he feels an anniversary game adds a little more appeal and it’s broadcasted through the MiLB website which will give his parents an opportunity to catch the action.
“Being the 50th is a cool deal,” stated Murphy. “In an anniversary game the stage is a little bit bigger and it’s very cool it’s at West Michigan’s home stadium. It’s a great venue.”
“I’m also excited about the MiLB broadcast,” he added. “My parents cannot make it to the game on short notice, because they both have busy schedules. The online broadcast will make it available for them to see the action.”
Outfielder Derrick Loveless was added as a reserve player. Being named an all-star was an unexpected moment for Loveless, but he’s very honored by the selection.
“I was humbled when I found out I was an all-star,” explained Loveless. “I didn’t honestly expect it at the beginning of the year. There are a lot of great players in this league and to be on the list is an amazing feeling.”
“When I first found out I thought they were playing a joke on me,” he added, “I felt I had a pretty good first half. I felt my play was decent enough to help my team win games, but I wasn’t expecting to be named an all-star, but I’m very excited and honored to be on the roster.”
Batting .262 with nine doubles, three triples, a home run, and 24 RBIs throughout the first half of his Midwest League season, Loveless caught the eyes of the opposing managers who made sure he was part of the all-star team.
“I’m not surprised Derrick Loveless made the team,” explained Tamargo. “I’m not sure if his name was on the all-star ballot when it first came out, but he really heated up and the other managers saw that. It’s a well-deserved honor for Loveless.”
Be sure to catch your Lansing Lugnuts’ all-stars on June 17th. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM EST.