The Bristol Blues will have plenty of representation at Holman Stadium in Nashua, N.H., for the Futures League All-Star Game on Tuesday night.
Patrick Winkel, Ian Ostberg, Emmet Sheehan, Richard Brereton and Neal McDermott have all been selected for the contest, it was announced on Friday.
Winkel will also compete in the Home Run Derby, to be held before the game, which is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m.
The freshman has taken over as one of the team’s primary catchers, despite just joining the Blues in late June. In 11 games with Bristol, Winkel is hitting .262 with one home run and 11 RBI.
“He is just a pure hitter,” Blues manager Ronnie Palmer said of Winkel. “He trains up at UConn Monday through Thursday, so he misses a lot of the weekday games. His stats would be even better. But as a hitter, he has power to all fields, which is really impressive for a young kid. As a catcher, he’s been solid. He really understands how to call a game.”
Ostberg’s selection was no surprise. His batting average has hovered around .300 all season long, currently at .295. He is also in the top 10 in the league in hits (33), runs scored (25), walks (18) and stolen bases (15).
“It just comes down to a lot of hard work,” Ostberg said of his success this season. “We have a team with a great culture and a great attitude. We are winning games, which is the most important thing.”
Brereton rounds out the Blues’ position players to be selected. Like Ostberg, Brereton has proven to be one of the team’s best at getting on base. He is hitting .288 with an on-base percentage of .404. His 14 RBI are second on the team, a testament to his run-producing ability.
Palmer said he thinks Brereton’s season may be the “most complete” of anyone in the league.
“I’m just trying to play my game all season long,” Brereton said. “I feel like I’ve seen the ball pretty well. So obviously, it’s an honor to be recognized. There are a lot of great players in this league. I’m excited to go up against them. And I’m excited to share the experience with a few of my teammates as well.”
On the mound, the Blues have two pitchers headed to Nashua.
Sheehan has had an interesting season for the Blues. He began the summer in the bullpen, but was thrown into the starting rotation in late June. Overall, Sheehan has appeared in seven games, four out of the bullpen and three starts. He has a 2-1 record with a 2.34 ERA.
Palmer thinks Sheehan has “electric stuff” and said he will remain in the rotation for the rest of the season.
Sheehan said this season has been a great opportunity for him to get some experience out of the bullpen.
“I was already really comfortable starting, since I did it in high school,” Sheehan said. “So to see it working out in the bullpen too is nice, because I know I can do it, if that’s what I end up doing in college.”
Capping off the Blues’ picks is closer McDermott, who may have been the easiest selection of all.
“It wasn’t a question of if he was going to get selected. I think he’s been the most dominant pitcher, starter or reliever, in the FCBL. It’s a testament to the work he puts in every day,” Palmer said.
In 15 appearances and 18 1/3 innings, McDermott has given up just three earned runs for an ERA of 1.47. He has struck out 36 batters, the most in the FCBL. He also leads the league in saves with 11 - and the next closest pitcher only has five.
“It’s a true honor,” McDermott said. “It’s a prestigious league with a ton of great talent. It’s an honor to even be considered, let alone make the team.”
Palmer was excited for his five players that made the cut, but felt as though his squad, which currently sits in third place in the standings, deserved to have more players on the roster.
“I mean this in absolutely no disrespect to the other teams,” Palmer said, “but we have a lot of guys on this team that could have made it and didn’t. We submitted a lot of worthy names. And the five that got picked definitely deserve it. But a lot of our guys have worked hard and deserved to be honored as well.”
Every team except for the last-place North Shore Navigators has more players headed to the All-Star Game than the Blues.
Tyler Roaix can be reached at email@example.com