TRENTON– Four players from the Trenton Thunder roster were selected to participate in the 2018 Eastern League All-Star Game held on July 10 at ARM & HAMMER Park in Trenton.
Starting pitcher Dillon Tate, reliever Caleb Frare, Shortstop Abiatal Avelino, and Outfielder Trey Amburgey are the four representatives for the hometown team on the Eastern division squad, managed by Thunder Manager Jay Bell.
Bell was the manager for the North Division All-Stars in the Florida State League and the East division in the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game last year, so he knows what to expect when it comes to these games.
“It is enjoyable, even for the coaching staff to get to know some of the other players around the league,” Bell said. “I’ll have a conversation with the players before the game and share with them that my intention is for you to go out there and enjoy yourself, have a good time, play in the game. But at the same time, we want to shake hands afterward and it’s a lot more fun to shake hands afterward than it is just to walk away.”
After the Thunder players learned they were named All-Stars, there was a mixed bag of surprise and expectancy amongst the group.
“I was honestly surprised,” Amburgey said. “I didn’t think I would be picked but it’s a blessing to be apart of it, my first one in pro ball so I’m just happy to be apart of that with all the great players and just having fun and enjoying it.”
Amburgey is slashing .234/.277/.398 with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs. Amburgey said that he was going to compete in the Home Run Derby the night before.
“I’m going to try and win that and keep it at home,” Amburgey said.
Another player that had his doubts was Caleb Frare who has been lights out this year for Trenton with an ERA of 0.76, a WHIP of 0.95, and he has held opposing batters to a .184 average in 35.2 innings.
“I didn’t think I would get picked, so this is cool,” Frare said. “I was never an All-Star, this is my first time, my hometown of Mile City, Montana did not believe in All-Star teams.”
One player that knew this honor was coming was Thunder Shortstop Abiatal Avelino.
“I was not surprised because I do work,” Avelino said. “But it’s my first time, and I feel, really, really, really happy about that.”
The only question surrounding if Avelino were to get picked to play in the All-Star game was if he was still going to be in Trenton by the time it came around. Avelino has shuffled between Trenton and Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre all season long.
Down in Trenton, Avelino has been scorching the competition as he is slashing .341/.396/565 with nine home runs and 26 RBI’s in 170 AB’s with the club.
Tate didn’t reveal his reaction once he heard about the news.
“It’s an honor to represent the team and the organization, and it’s just one of those things where I didn’t do everything on my own,” Tate said. “Credit to my coaches, teammates, and those guys played a big part in me being on this roster.”
Tate, the 4th overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, has a record of 4-2 with an ERA of 3.48 in 14 games started.
Aside from the game and its festivities, Amburgey is excited to share a clubhouse with the former Heisman trophy winner. Growing up a Florida Gator Football fan, Amburgey idolized Tebow in Middle School.
“I’m sure it’s how people were like when Michael Jordan tried to play baseball,” Amburgey said. “I tip my cap to him, he’s having a great year, tore us apart over there in Binghamton too.”
In 68 games, Tebow is batting .256 with five home runs, and 30 RBI’s.
As with most All-Star games, there is always talk about who didn’t make it. The one notable omission to the team from the Thunder is relief pitcher James Reeves. Reeves has pitched 35.2 innings this season with an ERA of 1.51, a WHIP of 1.01 and he holds opposing hitters to a .144 average.
“There’s no doubt that some guys are overlooked when it comes down to getting voted for as an All-Star,” Bell said. “But at the same time, whenever you do have guys that have the opportunity to play in an All-Star Game, it is a big deal, it doesn’t matter what level you’re at.”