2007 marks the third year the New York-Penn League will hold an All Star Game and it will be played in the home of the Hudson Valley Renegades (Short Season single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays). This year, four players will represent the Ironbirds; including Matt Angle, Joe Nowicki, Tyler Henson, and Zach Jevne. All four representatives have more than earned their spots on the team. Here is a closer look at what they have done to make the team.
Matt Angle (CF): .302 BA, .426 OBP, 48 R, 39 BB, 26 SB, 1 Error
A lead off guy that would make any manager feel like they've won the lottery, Matt Angle has been the most consistent offensive threat this year. With an OBP well over .400, Angle currently ranks 7th overall in the NYPL in OBP and second among outfielders. His tremendous OBP has led him to become the league leader in runs as well, with 48. The speedster in center also leads the NYPL in stolen bases and is second in walks.
"It's just an honor, being with all the other great guys in the league. It's a tribute to all the hard work and the teammates who push you," Angle told Inside The Warehouse. "It's a good thing to have happen, but you have to make sure it doesn't go to your head so you keep working hard in the last month of the season."
Ironbirds' manager Andy "Etch" Etchebarren also weighed in on his centerfielder.
"[Matt Angle] ignites the ball club when he's on base and makes things happen. You can't do much more than he's done and he's played centerfield very well."
Joe Nowicki (LF): .303 BA, .461 SLG, 6 HR, 36 RBI
Nowicki, signed before last year's draft as a free agent (fifth year senior out of UW-Milwaukee), Nowicki is starting to show his potential. The outfielder has some power to all fields and has the fourth most home runs in the NYPL with 6. Batting out of the seventh spot of the order the majority of the season, Nowicki has been able to drive in 36 runs, good for second among all NYPL players, but has done that with 15 fewer AB's than the league leader (39 RBI). In addition to All Star honors, Nowicki received the NYPL Player of the Week award on July 30 when he clubbed 3 home runs during the week, including his first career multi-home run game as a professional.
"It's nice, it's awesome, it feels really good," expressed an excited Joe Nowicki. "All the hard work paid off and it should be a really fun experience, seeing all the other guys, it should be a really good time too."
"He's been very good almost the whole year. [Joe] Nowicki has swung the bat very well; some great hits, and he's up there in RBI's in the league and driving in runs," Etch told Inside The Warehouse. "He's done very well."
Tyler Henson (SS): .295 BA, .370 OBP, .463 SLG, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 33 R, 14 SB
Henson, born on December 15, 1987 was the second youngest player representing the American League in the NYPL All Star Game, but will be the youngest one playing due to Ryan Kalish's injury. At just 19 years old, Henson is putting up solid numbers and is tied for the lead in home runs by shortstops with 4. His 33 runs is also good for fifth in the NYPL and he has really earned this stat. Henson started the season primarily batting in the eighth spot of the lineup but quickly slugged his way to the second spot, leading the league among shortstops in slugging percentage. His 14 stolen bases is good for second on the team behind fellow All Star Matt Angle. Fittingly, the shortstop on the team owned by former Oriole shortstop and Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr., has not missed one game this year as well. Angle is the only other player who has not taken a day off.
"If you had seen [Tyler Henson] at Bluefield last year and seen him now, you wouldn't know it was the same guy," Etch said of his All Star shortstop. "Hopefully, next year, when we see him playing somewhere else, [Henson] will be even better."
"You look forward to seeing some of the best guys in the league and hanging out, having a good time while enjoying the game," Henson mentioned of what he expects to experience during the break.
Zach Jevne (SP): 3-3, 2.32 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 50.1 IP, 47 K, 10 BB
Jevne, a product of Northern Iowa made his professional debut last year at Bluefield has had a quick transition to single-A Aberdeen. The Ironbirds starter is fifth in the NYPL in WHIP and eighth in the league in strikeouts, with 47. Zach has been counted on to nail down innings when the bullpen has been overtaxed, going at least 6 innings in 5 of his last 8 starts. Most impressive has been his control this season, compiling a nearly 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio. The All Star honors almost came unexpectedly to Jevne.
"It feels great. I'm happy to be selected. I wasn't really planning on it or trying for it, but it's an honor," Zach commented on the All Star selection.
Jevne also talked a little bit about his strategy on the mound.
"Locating pitches and trying to get ahead of batters, and trying to do the same thing every time."
Fellow All Star Matt Angle has a great view of his teammate from centerfield and added a reason as to why Jevne has done so well this year.
"He throws this cutter slash split-finger fastball that I see, and sometimes it looks like it breaks over a foot from center when I'm watching him," said Angle. "That's probably a pitch I wouldn't want to see if I'm facing him."
Etch had this final message for his four All Stars:
"They should enjoy being there and have a good time."
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