PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles slugger Matthew Christian and reliever A.C. Chavez have been selected to the West Coast League All-Star Team.
This year’s mid-summer classic is being held Tuesday at Vince Genna Stadium in Bend, Ore. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
Christian, a returner from the 2018 Lefties squad, arrived a little later this summer as his Campbell University squad advanced to the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.
Since stepping foot back in Port Angeles, Christian wasted no time in making his presence felt at the plate as the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is tied in the West Coast League for most home runs (six) with Bellingham’s Troy Viola, a fellow North Division All-Star selection.
Entering Tuesday, Christian, used primarily as a DH and a first baseman, is hitting .270 in WCL play with five doubles, a triple, six home runs, 17 RBIs and eight stolen bases.
Lefties manager Darren Westergard said he values Christian’s contributions on and off the field.
“Matt has been awesome,” Westergard said. “He is a dynamic athlete and a guy that can really hit the ball. He lightens [the mood] a little bit. He’s such a laid-back funny guy that works his butt off. I really enjoy that he understands it’s just a game and he’s able to get his work in and get better. He’ll be a senior this year [at Campbell] and he never gets too high and never gets too low, so it’s good for our younger guys to see that.
“And it’s impressive that he’s able to play baseball at such a high level, considering he’s only been focused on it for the last few years.”
Christian was a prep football standout and played quarterback for NCAA FCS McNeese State as a freshman before transferring to play baseball at a community college back home in Alabama.
Chavez advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series this spring at New Mexico Junior College.
He has appeared in a team-high 15 games out of the bullpen for Port Angeles. The 6-3, 185-pound southpaw has a 2-1 record with one save and a 4.95 ERA in 20 innings in WCL play this summer.
Westergard learned about Chavez through a Texas Rangers scout that covers the four corner states (Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico).
“He’s the only kid I really recruited,” Westergard said. “I called him nonstop because I didn’t know AC’s coach. A best friend I coached against who is the Rangers scout in the four corners saw him and let me know I needed him. So between he and his dad, I probably called them 20 times.”
Westergard describes Chavez as a “quiet assassin.”
“He does his talking on the mound, which is good,” Westergard said. “I’m excited for him, he’s earned it. He has a pro type of arm, hitting 92 [miles per hour] on the left side. He has the makeup of a successful pitcher.”
Chavez is looking for his next landing spot, having completed his eligibility with New Mexico JC.
“He’s got a couple of opportunities,” Westergard said. “Lewis and Clark State, St. Mary’s, a school back where he’s from and Arizona Christian just got in the mix.”
West Coast League Commissioner Rob Neyer discussed the selection process.
“Overseeing the West Coast League’s All-Star selection process is both a blessing and a burden — for the same reason —far too many talented players with compelling All-Star credentials,” Neyer said in a press release. “But with the help of Northwest area scouts, Baseball America and all of our canny head coaches, I’m confident that this year’s All-Star Game in Bend will be the greatest talent showcase in West Coast League history.”
The full roster can be found on page B2.
The night prior to the All-Star Game on Monday the WCL’s top sluggers will battle in the annual WCL All-Star Game Home Run Derby. The derby starts at 6:30 p.m. Later this week, WCL All-Star Home Run Derby representatives will be announced for each team.
The North will be coached by Ryan Wright of the Kelowna Falcons, while the South will be led by Bend Elks skipper Joe Dominiak and his staff.
The North Division is comprised of the Bellingham Bells, Kelowna Falcons, Port Angeles Lefties, Wenatchee AppleSox, Victoria HarbourCats and Yakima Valley Pippins. The South Division is made up of the Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, Cowlitz Black Bears, Portland Pickles, Ridgefield Raptors and Walla Walla Sweets.
The Corvallis Knights lead the way with seven selections while the Victoria HarbourCats have the second-most with six. Both the Knights and HarbourCats were the first-half winners in their respective divisions and they have the top two overall records in the league.
One of the standouts heading to Bend is infielder Brooks Lee of the Corvallis Knights. Lee, who will play for the South All-Stars, was ranked by MLB.com as the No. 37 overall prospect going into this year’s MLB Draft. Despite being selected by the San Francisco Giants, the incoming freshman will head to college and play for his dad at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Cal State Fullerton hurler Joe Magrisi of the Yakima Valley Pippins headlines the pitching staff for the North. Magrisi has already been named the WCL’s Moss Adams Pitcher of the Week twice this season. Magrisi just pitched seven shutout innings against the Lefties last week, an outing in which he struck out 11 batters. Magrisi leads the WCL in both ERA (0.63) and strikeouts (53).
Both catchers for the North are red-hot sluggers from the Victoria HarbourCats. Tyson Hays of Illinois State is hitting .422 in 14 games. His teammate and fellow catcher Frankie Niemann of Tulane has a .400 batting average in 26 games.