With the All-Star Break coming so late in the New York-Penn League season, it’s entirely possible that it could potentially interfere with potential playoff chases, such as one the Staten Island Yankees are currently involved in.
For four lucky young Yankees prospects, they only see it as motivation to end the season on a positive note.
“It’s a pleasure and honor for me to be selected to the All-Star Game,” said one of the four, DH/C Isaias Tejada. “It’s a pretty good feeling going into the rest of the season knowing you’ve had a good year.”
Tejada, along with 2B Ty McFarland, 1B Connor Spencer, and C Luis Torrens represented the New York Yankees’ Single-A affiliate at the NY-Penn League All Star Game, where the quartet donned the uniforms of the South All-Stars squad, in a game that would end in a 1-1 tie with their North counterparts. Torrens would end up playing a major role in the stalemate, held at Brooklyn’s MCU Park, going 1-for-2 with a double in the 7th inning. He would also end up scoring the teams thanks to Williamsport’s Derek Campbell’s RBI single.
There’s no denying that the Staten Island four earned their way to the late summer classic, as one only does not need to look too far down the list of the team’s statistical leaders to find their names. Spencer’s .354 average will lead the entire league with a few more at bats, and McFarland is tied for 4th in the league with 38 RBI’s. Meanwhile, Torrens ranks 2nd on the team in runs with 26, while Tejada paces the team in doubles (along with RF Austin Aune) with 19.
The players have not let their individual accomplishments get in the way of the ultimate goal in being one of the four teams in the NY-Penn League Playoffs this September.
“I’m just going to take (the remaining regular season games) like I always take (them),” said McFarland. “I’m going to play as hard as I can and have as much fun as possible with my team and try to be a good teammate.”
The New York four’s road to Staten Island has been very well paved, as each have made successful stops with other proud baseball organizations. Tejada and Torrens played together with the Yankees’ Gulf Coast League affiliate, winners of four GCL titles. On the other hand, Spencer and McFarland spent time with NCAA Division I programs within their home states. McFarland earned All-CAA team honors with the James Madison Dukes, where McFarland would also help the Dukes take a CAA Conference title in 2011, a season that would end in the Dukes making it all the way to the Chapel Hill Regional Final. As for Spencer, he was named a 1st team All-American by the National Collegiate Writers’ Baseball Association as a member of the historic program of the UC Irvine Anteaters, who advanced all the way to the 2nd round of the NCAA College World Series Tournament in 2014.
The players have credited their past experiences in amateur baseball with helping them succeed on the professional level.
“I became a baseball player at JMU, especially in my freshman year when we won the championship,” said McFarland. “I played with a couple of future professional players like (Indians 4th Round Pick) Jake Lowery and (White Sox 15th round pick) David Herbeck who took me under their wing when I was a freshman.”
The group also noted the differences between amateur and professional ball, while also acknowledging the changes they have made to their games as they make this difficult transition.
“Day to day, I’ve just been learning how to become a professional,” said Spencer. “There’s no question it’s different from anything I’ve ever done in my life, whether its high school, college or even summer ball. It’s a learning process and I enjoy it.”
Each of these four guys are still young and developing but they know it’s a huge step on their baseball journey. They know how meaningful it is to represent the Yankees, an organization often regarded as the most historic in American sports, in an event such as All Star Game.
“It’s a great experience,” said Torrens, through translator Tejada. “To represent a worldwide organization like the Yankees is such an honor.”
“It meant a lot more to me being a part of the Yankees and representing them on the field,” added McFarland. “I felt like I was representing much more than just myself. I felt like I was out there representing the Yankees, so this was really a special ceremony.”