MANCHESTER — The Eastern League All-Star Game is right around the corner for four New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Santiago Espinal, Nash Knight, Zach Logue and Forrest Wall will head down to Richmond, Va., for Wednesday night’s game, and since the Fishers won the league title last season, manager Mike Mordecai and his staff will lead the Eastern Division All Stars.
“It’s pretty exciting, especially at this level,” Espinal said. “I wasn’t thinking about (making the All-Star team), so when I got the news, I was very surprised. I’m just very happy and excited to go. It’s going to be fun going down with the other guys and going with the coaches. It’s great.”
Through 74 games, Espinal is hitting .267 with four home runs and a team-high 44 RBIs. For him, it won’t be just a chance to spend more time with his teammates, but also an opportunity to catch up with some old friends. Espinal started his career in Red Sox organization before being traded to Toronto for Steve Pearce, so he’ll see some old teammates in Richmond, including Boston’s No. 2 prospect, Bobby Dalbec.
“I’ve played with those guys since Low-A and I think it’s going to be fun since I know them (well),” Espinal said. “It’s gonna be pretty fun and I know a lot of the other guys going down.”
Joining Espinal in the field are Knight and Wall, both of whom are first-time All-Stars.
Wall has been one of the Fishers’ most consistent hitters all season, though a recent rough patch has his average down to .262. He complements the average with four homers and 25 RBIs.
“I think I’ve improved both (hitting and fielding) this year,” Wall said. “I think both aspects of my game have improved. It’s awesome to get this after the work, but there’s more to be done.”
Knight also has four home runs, but he’s been most effective in the field, where he has committed five errors in 61 games.
“I don’t really know how I made it, to be honest,” Wall said. “I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well but I also think I could be playing better. There are some things that I’ve done well and some things that I could have done better. I think I’m just trying to be ready to play every day.”
According to Mordecai, Logue has been the team’s most consistent pitcher all season. He’s pitched 93 innings over 16 starts this year and has struck out 71 while going 3-6. The trip to the All-Star Game is also his first.
“It’s a cool individual accomplishment, but I also wouldn’t have been able to do it without my teammates and coaches,” Logue said. “I have three position players coming with me and without them behind me on defense and at the plate on offense I wouldn’t be in this spot.”
Mordecai, for his part, won’t just be relegated to the dugout during the trip. He was picked to participate in the Celebrity Home Run Derby since he spent a few seasons playing for the Richmond Braves while he made his way to the major leagues. He says he’s unsure how that will go or if he even remembers how to swing a bat.
Mordecai is going to soak every moment in, regardless.
“Just letting the guys play the game and enjoy that aspect of it and seeing these guys playing in an All-Star Game,” he said. “They’ve got a concert or something planned for us a few days before the game, so it’s going to be a fun trip. I’m looking forward to heading down there.”