photo: Medlar Field at Lubrano Park (Cooper Deck/The Cardinal Nation)
The 2018 New York-Penn League All-Star game canvassed some of the top big-league prospects in the world, three of which were State College Spikes players. Along with Spikes manager Joe Kruzel who coached the South team, 2B Nick Dunn, SS Delvin Perez and 3B Edwin Figuera also represented the Spikes in the game, played Tuesday, August 14 at State College’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
— Cooper Deck (@CooperDeck) August 14, 2018
Dunn, who played high school ball in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, just over an hour east of State College, was the only Spikes player in the starting lineup for the South. The 21-year-old is currently hitting .263 on the year while tying for the team-high with 29 RBI. He is also having a great year in the field, only accumulating four errors en route to a .977 fielding percentage.
The 2018 fifth round pick out of the University of Maryland started at second base while leading off. In addition to recording a putout for the second out of the first inning, Dunn singled to shallow right field after falling behind in the count 0-2 in his first at-bat. He was moved over to second on a walk, and scored on a two-run triple from Brooklyn Cyclones right fielder Ross Adolph.
Dunn walked in his second at-bat in the second, but was stranded at first following the 25th pitch of the inning, which according to NYPL All-Star Game rules, ends the inning. In his final at-bat of the night in the fourth, Dunn flied out to shallow left field to finish the night 1-for-2.
Dunn exited after the fourth inning, as his teammates Perez and Figuera entered. Perez, St. Louis’ 2016 first round pick from San Juan, Puerto Rico, was in the two slot playing shortstop while Figuera took over the designated hitter position, batting fifth in the lineup.
Figuera has been one of the most consistent hitters in the Spikes lineup this year, hitting .288 with while also adding a team-high 12 stolen bases. He has scrapped together 47 hits this year, good for third best on the club.
However, his play in the field has been suspect at best, as he has a .908 fielding percentage at third base with the Spikes representing 10 errors along the way.
The 20-year-old led off the fifth inning for the South team, reaching on a throwing error by the second baseman. He was retired on a fielder’s choice in the next at-bat. Figuera finished the night by grounding out to shortstop on a softly hit ball in the seventh.
Perez has hit .220 on the year over 44 game appearances at shortstop for the Spikes. His season in the field should not be overlooked, as he has only made eight errors while playing solid defense.
The 19-year-old had one of the hardest hit balls of the night in his initial at bat in the sixth inning, but it was driven directly toward the right fielder, who brought it in for the second out of the inning. Perez approached his second at-bat with one out and runners on second and third in the eighth, but flied out to the second baseman on a flare to shallow right field.
The game was definitely entertaining, as it had a different feel than an actual league game. The players were having fun, conversing on the base paths and joking around with each other throughout.
One of the highlights of the evening included Josiah Viera, who suffers from Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, going out to the mound for a call to the bullpen. As the honorary bench coach, Viera is an integral part of this Spikes team, as the teen has his own jersey and supports the team in any way he possibly can.
He went out to the mound alone, and the entire stadium stood up and clapped for him as he went out for the change; even the players for each team came out of the dugout to recognize him, along with the umpiring crew as well. It was truly a very special moment.
Josia Viera went out to the mound last night for a pitching change in the NYPL All-Star Game. It was one of the most special moments I have seen in baseball. pic.twitter.com/ITY41qF7hc
— Cooper Deck (@CooperDeck) August 15, 2018
“It gave you goosebumps,” Kruzel said. “It’s an opportunity and a situation to recognize him. He’s done so much for us, and I mean that from the players standpoint in the organization to the Spikes organization. He’s always grateful and he’s always thanking us, but he does a lot more for us than we do for him. It’s just an opportunity to honor him in a position where he may never have that chance.”
The 3,048 fans in attendance at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, however, did not see the most competitive game, as the South took it by a 7-1 decision.
The Spikes return home Wednesday, August 14 to take on the Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia Phillies affiliate) in a two-game set before going on the road for a three game series against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Cleveland Indians Affiliate).
Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.
© 2018 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.