BRISTOL - With All-Star Game selections having been announced on Friday, the representatives of the Bristol Blues are getting excited for Wednesday’s FCBL showcase.
“I can’t believe it. It’s going to be a great time,” Blues pitcher Izzy Fuentes said. “We’re just going to be there, stay loose and have the greatest time we can have. Just take advantage of the time that [we’ll] be there and just enjoy it.”
Joining Fuentes in Worcester this week will be fellow pitchers Mike Kreiger and Mike Munson and infielders Tyler Roberts and Austin Chauvin.
“It’s awesome,” Blues manager Pat Riley said. “Those guys deserve it. [They’ve] worked hard and it’s great they’re getting recognized for that hard work. [It’s] great for the organization and they’re going to show well and represent the Blues very proudly.”
In addition to the five Blues players chosen for the game, Bristol outfielder Frankie Gregoire was selected as the Blues’ representative in the fan vote to fill the final two vacancies, one apiece on the West and East Division teams. By using a survey on the FCBL website (thefuturesleague.com), fans can vote for Gregoire to help him into the All-Star Game.
“It would be a great opportunity,” Gregoire said. “At this point it’s up to them. It’s not up to me. If I get in, that’s great. If not, [I’ll] just keep playing.”
With his All-Star fate in the Bristol fans’ hands, Gregoire is confident they will do everything they can to get him to Worcester.
“I know they’ll do their best,” he said. “It just depends on who has more. We’ll see.”
Gregoire’s snub was a notable one. Gregoire leads the Blues in runs (13), doubles (8) and RBI (18). He is also tied for the team lead in home runs with Liam Scafariello with two and is second on the team with 27 hits, just one behind Roberts. Gregoire’s teammates, especially those selected outright, were shocked by his absence on the team.
“I feel like Frankie should be in no matter what,” Chauvin said. “He has the numbers. He has the most RBI on our team. I feel like the fans are going to pick him up on that one.”
Of the five Blues All-stars, only one of them has been to the game before. Austin Chauvin was one of eight Blues that were selected last season and getting back there again was something he was shooting for this season.
“That was my goal coming into the summer,” he said. “Just play well and hopefully make the All-Star team [and] help this team win and actually seeing it happen, after the injuries I’ve had to deal with, it was pretty nice.”
For each of the four players chosen who have never gone, the selection was an unreal experience and each of them deserved the honor.
“It meant the world,” Kreiger said. “This is one of the best collegiate leagues in the country and I’m just really honored that they saw me for my [pitching]. I’m just really excited to be a part of it.”
“It was awesome” Roberts said. “It was a great feeling receiving recognition for all my hard work. I’ve really been working hard my entire life for it. To get the opportunity to play in the All-Star Game and showcase my skills is exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”
“It’s great. It’s an honor,” Fuentes said. “It’s the first time for me so I’m try to take advantage, play hard and show off my talents and see where I can go from here.”
“Munson’s been dealing all year [and] same with Izzy,” Chauvin said. “[They’ve] just been lights out for us so they deserve it.”
The majority of the All-Stars from the Blues, three out of five, are pitchers and that ratio truly depicts what has been the strength of this season’s team.
“The bats are starting to come a little bit around but, yeah, the strength has been in our pitching so far the first half of the season,” Riley said. “Those are the guys that have really stepped up. We’ve got to collectively continue to pitch the ball well.”
The Blues have not been consistent recently but they are still in second place in the West Division and they clearly have a foundation of talent, so much so that Gregoire needs to be voted into the game and is in danger of being on the outside looking in. Getting this kind of league-wide attention should give the Blues confidence as the second half continues to ramp up and the games begin to mean more.
“It means a lot,” Fuentes said. “It means that we’ve got something in the bag that’s coming out and we’re just getting started. Hopefully we can keep showing it and keep riding.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org