The Northwoods League All-Star Game brings together the league’s best players for a two-day event celebrating and showcasing the skills giving them the opportunity to perform at such a high level.
The Eau Claire Express organization sent two of not only its finest players, but first-class people as well. UW-Milwaukee product and former Wisconsin High School State Player of the Year at Eau Claire North High School Tyler Hermann joined Dallas Baptist catcher Daniel Salters in representing the organization and city of Eau Claire at the 2014 event in Mequon, Wis., hosted by the Lakeshore Chinooks.
Salters and Hermann took part in a banquet Monday night with featured speaker Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, as well as introductions from Milwaukee Brewers’ legends Robin Yount and Jim Gantner.
They then performed infield drills and took batting practice for about 70 Major League League scouts at the Chinooks’ Kapco Park before the Home Run Challenge and game itself.
“I thought they took full advantage of everything, they took it seriously and hey came in prepared to maximize the benefit of being selected,” General Manager Andy Neborak said. “And I think they had fun, which is important. They were well deserving of their selections.”
Hermann helped the North squad win the Home Run Challenge by belting a solo shot out to left-center field at Kapco Park. The Challenge, which was set up as a team competition where five guys from the North and five from the South batted in a total of 10 rounds.
Each batter hit twice and got a total of five outs.
Hermann displayed more of his gap power that gets him so many extra base hits during the competition.
“I’m just trying to put some good swings on the ball,” he told the on-field announcer during the Challenge.
One thing both Salters and Hermann did was not trying to do much despite the mass amount of scouts and personnel in attendance.
Starting at catcher and batting fifth for the North, Salters, who is responsible for five towering home runs this season from the left side of the plate, didn’t try to put one in Lake Michigan.
Instead, during his second at-bat, he laced a single between third base and shortstop on an 0-2 pitch.
“You can’t play for scouts, you’ve got to play your game,” Salters, who has changed his swing to get more base hits just like that this summer, said. “You don’t want to be early on an 0-2 pitch, because the pitcher usually throws something offspeed. I just kept my hands back.”
Hermann came in during the bottom of the fifth and despite going 0-for-2, he made two great defensive plays at third base. On both, he came charging in and had to make a strong throw over to first for the out, which he did successfully.
The South won the game 3-0 on Madison Mallards’ Pete Alonso’s three-run homer.
Despite the North squad losing, the two Eau Claire players learned a lot and represented the organization and city in a first-class manner, being some of the first to autograph items for kids after the game.
Salters said the honorary manager for the North, Gantner, told all of the players to not think so much, but to just go out and have fun and do what they do best.
The power duo will look to do what they do best now for the ballclub they represent as the Express are in contention for the second half title in the North Division.