[UPDATED: Wednesday, July 15, 1:18 p.m. to reflect stats from Monday's doubleheader @ Herndon Braves]
Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins second baseman and walk-off aficionado, became the first Big Train (’06) alumnus to be 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 all-star 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 a staggering four batters on the season.
While leading the pitching staff with 35.1 innings on the bump, 32 strikeouts and a formidable 1.27 earned run average, Yandel's defense and clutch bat have 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 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, he would not boast such gaudy numbers. Farrar has brought tenacity and talent 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) entered Sunday's game 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 on the year. Sheller, whose sidearm wizardry has solidified the Big Train bullpen, sports a 0.84 WHIP, strikes out a batter an inning, all while allowing opponents to hit just .134 against him.
Both the Big Train and the Vienna Riverdogs sent nine players to the South Division all-star roster. Filling out the roster, the Alexandria Aces sent five representatives, while three players each represented D.C. Grays and Herndon Braves.