Seven Blue Crabs selected to All-Star game
Among 44 players named to 20th Atlantic League event
The Atlantic League’s midsummer classic on July 12 will feature seven Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
Starting pitchers Brian Grening, Daryl Thompson and Gaby Hernandez, closer Cody Eppley, first baseman/designated hitter Zach Wilson, first baseman/designated hitter Michael Snyder and outfielder Devon Rodriguez are headed to the 20th Atlantic League’s All-Star Game at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J., home of the Somerset Patriots. The league officially made the announcement of the all-star selections on Monday.
The seven Blue Crabs are among 44 players in the All-Star Game, pitting the Liberty Division against the Freedom Division. Liberty will be managed by Somerset manager Brett Jodie and Freedom will be managed by Sugar Land manager Gary Gaetti.
First-half Liberty Division champion Somerset boast the most all-stars with eight, followed by Southern Maryland (40-32 overall through Wednesday) with seven. York has six all-star nods, while Long Island, Lancaster, and Bridgeport each have five. Sugar Land and New Britain each have four all-star selections.
“It is great to see our guys recognized by the rest of the Atlantic League,” Blue Crabs manager John Harris said. “They’ve won ballgames for us this season and are very deserving to represent our team and organization. Everyone has contributed and exceeded expectations.”
In his fourth season with the Blue Crabs, the right-hander Grening finished the first half with a 6-2 record on the hill. Through Wednesday, Grening was tied for the most wins in the league with seven and had the third-lowest ERA at 2.72.
“It’s a total honor to be selected,” Grening said. “It’s not easy to make the all-star team in this league. I’m very excited to be a part of this event.”
Thompson was selected to his second league allstar game, first since 2013 where he threw two scoreless innings in that contest.
Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High School graduate, ended the first half with a 5-4 record and a 3.91 ERA, also leading the league in innings pitched (89.2), while finishing in the top 10 in wins and strikeouts (73).
“This is a big accomplishment for all of us,” Thompson said. “It feels good to be selected again and it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for my teammates we have.”
Hernandez, in his sixth season with the Blue Crabs, will be making the trip to Somerset in his first all-star appearance.
Thus far, the right-hander is having his best season yet with the franchise, improving his record to 6-1 after Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Sugar Land Skeeters in the second game of the second half where he allowed just one run on three hits with eight strikeouts. He led the
league through Wednesday with 83 strikeouts and the six wins were one off the league high.
“It’s nice to represent the Blue Crabs and it should be really a good experience for all of us voted in,” Hernandez said.
Eppley returns for his third consecutive all-star game. The veteran closer finished the first half with a 2.59 ERA, going 20 for 20 in save opportunities and ranks second in the league in saves currently with 21, while appearing in a league-high 34 games this season.
Snyder, who was selected for the second straight season, has been a force in the middle of the lineup. The Blue Crabs’ clean-up hitter is currently hitting .287, with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs. Snyder leads the league in doubles (21), while also ranking second in homers, RBIs, and is second behind teammate Cory Vaughn (45) in runs scored (43).
“Last year was a great experience and a lot of fun,” Snyder said. “Somerset should put together an exciting atmosphere and it will be a great time for ever yone.”
Wilson, who has been a force in front of Snyder in the lineup, is making his first all-star appearance. Wilson finished the first half hitting .288, with 12 homers and 46 RBIs. Through Wednesday, Wilson was tied for third in the league in RBIs behind Snyder with 47.
Rodriguez, in his first season with the Blue Crabs as a late addition to the team on May 12, has established himself as one of the best hitters in the league, appearing in just 43 games. He has a .401 batting average with five homers and 35 RBIs, not having played enough games to qualify for statistical marks.
Southern Maryland, which was swept in three games by Long Island last weekend, was tied for first place with Lancaster in the Freedom Division first-half standings with identical 38-31 records.
Sunday marked the league’s end of the first half, but the Blue Crabs and Barnstormers will make up a May 25 postponement at 6:35 p.m. July 28 at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf that will count in the first-half standings with the winner clinching the division title and a playoff berth in September.
The Blue Crabs kicked off the second half on Monday at home versus Sugar Land and had taken two of the first three games of a four-game series that was scheduled to conclude Thursday.
First baseman/designated hitter Zach Wilson was one of seven Southern Maryland Blue Crabs selected to play in the Atlantic League All-Star Game in New Jersey on July 12 for the Freedom Division.
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs outfielder Devon Rodriguez will make his first appearance in the Atlantic League All-Star Game in New Jersey on July 12.