PORT ANGELES — Lefties manager Darren Westward has recent experience with the West Coast League All-Star Game, having served as skipper of the North squad when Port Angeles played host last July.
Westergard loves coaching in the league but does have some concerns with how the WCL All-Star Teams are put together.
“I don’t like the way the league does the All-Star deal,” Westergard said. “The West Coast League is an awesome league and the guys who do well should be recognized for their efforts. But to promote the league a little more and attract more [professional] scouts, maybe they should change it to a prospects game. We could still name an All-Star team and acknowledge those guys and have a prospect game that lets the league grow and become more and more credible.”
To pick the 2018 teams, first-year West Coast League Commissioner Rob Neyer consulted with league coaches and Baseball America, a respected baseball newspaper and website that also provides prospect reports for all levels of the game.
The process left some players out, Westergard said.
“There were some kids that really stood out to our coaching staff and other coaching staffs that were the best prospects, but they didn’t make the list,” Westergard said. “So we had some of those other kids come in for a workout in front of the scouts during All-Star last year.”
Westergard would like to see Aaron Fitt and Kendall Rogers of D1baseball.com and ESPN’s Mike Rooney weigh in on potential all-stars.
D1baseball.com tracks the top level of college baseball and continues to follow summer collegiate-level leagues such as the West Coast League during the summer. Rooney covers the College World Series every year for ESPN and stays plugged in to college baseball.
“Those guys are awesome with what they do,” Westergard said. “Those guys are connected with a lot of the coaches and we try to give them input on that stuff. They have a good feel for the game and respect the opinions of coaches.”
Westergard was ready when asked to name potential prospects he’d like to see get a look in the WCl All-Star Game, set for Bend, Ore. on Tuesday, July 23.
“I would say Matthew Christian, Frankie Scalzo, Nathan Bonck, Ethan Groff, those guys stand out,” Westergard said. “Maybe Damiano [Palmegiani] when he’s on. Carter Loewen, you can’t teach 6-foot-4 or 94 [miles per hour].
Christian, a returning Lefties player, leads the West Coast League in home runs with 6, despite not yet having the minimum of 2.7 plate appearances per game played for the Lefties. He’s hitting .286 in 49 plate at-bats entering Wednesday’s game.
Christian and Connor Denning, another high-performing Lefties hitter (hitting .320), were busy playing for Campbell University in the NCAA Baseball Tournament at the start of Port Angeles’ season.
Scalzo has been one of the better pitchers on the Lefties’ staff after serving as closer for Grand Canyon University this spring and it looked like that was where he was headed with the Lefties. He’s got a 3-2 record with a 3.03 ERA in eight games, five of them starts.
Scalzo is tied for fourth in the WCL for wins, sixth in ERA and sixth in strikeouts (29).
“He’s been working hard on developing his secondary pitches,” Westergard said of Scalzo. “He has a fastball, sinker, changeup and slider. Now if he goes back to the bullpen, Grand Canyon will have a guy with a complete arsenal of pitches. He’s 92 to 94 [miles per hour] and he wants the baseball. He wants to throw.”
Bonck is a 6-5, 228 pound Seattle University product who has a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 appearances for Port Angeles this summer.
Westergard also said his Purdue guys, first baseman Justin Fugitt and outfielder Charlie Nasuti, also deserve All-Star consideration.
“The two Purdue guys have been impressive,” Westergard said.
Nasuti is hitting .319 on the summer with two home runs, three doubles and five RBIs and Fugitt has posted a .308 average with a home run and seven RBIs.
And Westergard would love to see second-year Lefties shortstop Trevor Rosenberg make the squad.
“Trevor Rosenberg is hands-down the best defender in the league,” Westergard said. “I’m partial to him because he’s a shortstop, but he’s so good. He’s so fun to watch.”
The West Coast League typically makes its selections a week before the All-Star game, so look for the official announcement soon.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]