MANCHESTER, NH — The Eastern League All Star Classic is in the books. The East Division All Stars erupted for a seven run sixth inning, ending the 1-0 pitcher’s duel and rising victorious 7-1.
New York Yankees pitching prospect Yefry Ramirez was tagged for one run in his second inning appearance. He looked good, but the West Division All Star pitching was rolling through the East lineup with ease, keeping the score 1-0 until the sixth inning.
Zack Zehner — the Yankees outfield prospect — entered the game in the top of the sixth as a defensive replacement. He came to the bat in the bottom of the sixth for the first time. Hometown Fisher Cat Ryan McBroom had just tied the game with an RBI-double.
It only took one pitch and Zehner changed the course of the game.
Zehner drove in two, giving the East a 3-1 lead. He only saw two pitches in the game, one in the sixth and one in the seventh. He made both count, and got base hits each time, the first a two-RBI single.
“Coming off the bench, I really wanted to be aggressive,” Zehner said. “We were having a lot of fun in the dugout. We were kind of feeding off each other. I just wanted to go up there and hit the ball hard. I got a good pitch to hit, first pitch, and I rode with it.”
Zehner was a late addition to the All Star Classic. Several injuries and promotions to Triple-A opened the door for the New York Yankees outfield prospect to play on the big stage. He took full advantage on a 2-for-2 night, driving in two. His work didn’t go unnoticed, earning MVP honors.
“It feels great,” Zehner said of his Top Star MVP award. “It’s been an awesome couple of days here. All the guys are great. It’s a great way to cap the whole time we’re here.”
Zehner now returns to the Trenton Thunder, where he is enjoying a breakout season. The 24-year old outfielder from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is slashing .281/.387/.418 with 15 doubles, three triples and an already career-high five home runs. The Thunder are currently 60-28, the best team in the Eastern League this season by a wide margin.
“I don’t think we’re going to miss a step,” Zehner said of the upcoming second half. “This team is really professional. We’re all working together really well.”
Conner Greene wows the crowd
It’s sometimes tough to make out what kind of pitching prospects the Toronto Blue Jays have. Both Conner Greene and Sean Reid-Foley possess electric stuff, but have long been plagued with inconsistencies leading to command issues.
Last night, Greene showed what he was capable of at the All Star Classic.
Playing on his home field, the Fisher Cat ace came out firing. He registered 100 on the radar gun twice in his first few pitches. He was the only pitcher to throw two innings on the night and he didn’t relent at all.
Greene blew a 100-mph fastball by Francisco Mejia to end the third inning. He came back out in the fourth, and allowed a lead-off single to Detroit Tigers prospect Christin Stewart. He then unloaded the heat once again, striking out the next three batters. He froze Cleveland Indians prospect Yu-Cheng Chang on a 79 mile-per-hour breaking ball to end the fourth.
Greene’s final line? He tossed two innings, allowed two hits, struck out four and walked none. His heat ooo-ed and aah-ed the crowd. It was the stuff the Blue Jays have known Greene is capable of, and he was able to flash it on his biggest stage of the season.
If Greene can build off this momentum, and lower that walk rate, the Blue Jays have a dangerous weapon. At the very least, he showed if all else fails, he could be nasty out of the bullpen.