Shortstops deep in Florida State League All-Star Game in Fort Myers

By David A. Dorsey, The News-Press

FORT MYERS — The shortstops in the 55th Florida State League All-Star game were so talented that two of them didn’t even start there.

On a partly cloudy Saturday night with no rain at Hammond Stadium, nothing could stop the onslaught of talent in the sixth such game to be held in Fort Myers since the first in 1985 at Terry Park.

Daytona Tortugas manager Eli Marrero, leading the North team, didn’t even bother to fill out his lineup card.

“My wife did it,” Marrero, showing the card with Marisol Marrero’s handwriting on it. “Does this look like my handwriting? She did it. She did a good job. I swear to you, 100 percent, she made the lineup.

“She’s been with me since high school, all throughout the minor leagues and all throughout the big leagues. I’d go 0-for-4, and she’d say, ‘You’d better start hitting the ball.'”

Eli Marrero used 11 pitchers in a 1-0 victory against the South in front of 5,102. The North scored the game’s lone run in the top of the sixth when Christin Stewart of Lakeland led off with a double, and two outs later, Dustin Houle of Brevard County singled to score Stewart. Stewart was named the MVP and received the MiLB Top Star Award. Stewart was 1-for-2 with two walks, a double and a run scored.

Eight members of the Miracle appeared in the game. Felix Jorge started and pitched a scoreless inning with a hit, walk and strikeout. Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Jay and Todd Van Stennsel each turned in an inning without allowing a run. At the plate, Nick Gordon was 1-for-1 with a walk. Edgar Corcino went 1-for-4 and Trey Vavra was 0-for-2.

With his wife remaining in their hometown Miami, Eli Marrero, who played in the big leagues in 1997-2006, at least managed the team. It included New York Yankees shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo, who started at second base. That made room for Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Angel Ortega to be in the starting lineup, too.

The South team, led by Charlotte Stone Crabs manager Michael Johns, looked at the statistics and talked to Fort Myers Miracle manager Jeff Smith, who told him Nick Gordon could handle playing third.

“I’ll try to get as many of these guys at-bats as possible,” Johns said. “I think they’re all superstars.”

Gordon, the No. 5 pick in the 2014 draft by the Minnesota Twins, started at third base, was the leadoff hitter, and planned on shifting to shortstop in the fifth inning. This allowed Amed Rosario, a heralded prospect for the New York Mets, to start at shortstop and in the No. 4, cleanup hitter’s spot.

Kevin Newman of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brian Anderson of the Miami Marlins, also heralded shortstops, made the South team’s roster. Newman, who suffered a broken orbital bone May 27, could not play, and Anderson already has been promoted to Double-A.

Rosario and Mateo each acknowledged the young wave of big-league shortstops, such as Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros, Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians and Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers leading the way. They hoped to join them soon.

“It’s an honor to be playing with these guys,” Rosario said. “It’s fun to be together. We all have the same goal.”

The pregame activity informed fans that the game, with fireworks afterward, would stand out. Players signed autographs for 35 minutes on the concourse, with Mateo having the longest line.

Professional pogo stick riders Ryan O’Malley, 27 of Bradenton and Tyler Phillips, 15 of Wesley Chapel, wowed the crowd, doing flips and an assortment of tricks.

Don Siemon, 90 and stationed on the USS Chevalier, adjacent to the USS Missouri in 1945 when the Japanese signed the peace treaty ending World War II, was honored with the veteran’s salute.

After a moment of silence for the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando last week, Sarah Hardwig of Naples sang the national anthem, punctuated by a Lee County Sheriff’s Office helicopter flyover.

Mitch Walding, a fifth-round draft pick in 2011 by the Philadelphia Phillies, won the pregame home run derby.

“It’s such an honor,” Walding said. “It’s terrific to compete with these guys.”

Avi Adkins

Avi Adkins is a seasoned journalist with a passion for storytelling and a keen eye for detail. With years of experience in the field, Adkins has established himself as a respected figure in journalism.

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