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Ace pitcher John Ely rewarded with trip to All-Star Game
Tonight, Albuquerque Isotopes starter John Ely will get the recognition he has worked hard for this season: suiting up for the Pacific Coast League All-Star team.
The right-handed Ely has taken on the responsibility of the Isotopes’ rotation’s ace this season, going 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 18 games.
Perhaps the most telling feat of his dominant year is his PCL-leading 116 strikeouts, which help pace his stats-per-nine innings that include strikeouts (3rd, 9.66), fewest base runners (3rd, 10.90) and walks (5th, 1.82). The hurler’s 109 innings of work are also second in the PCL, just one shy of the top mark.
With a solid first half of the season, Ely felt he needed only the honor of being selected to the All-Star squad to feel properly recognized. He said he’s been unhappy with his performance during the last few years and referred to this season, complete with an All-Star selection, as a comeback year.
“I needed a good season, a consistent season to basically rebound,” Ely said. “To get the extra All-Star (selection) on top of it is a good compliment.”
Wednesday will mark the hurler’s second professional All-Star game. In 2009, he was named to the Southern League All-Star team while with Double-A Birmingham in the White Sox farm system.
Both selections are important accolades to Ely, but this year’s opportunity carries slightly more meaning to the Isotopes’ ace.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Ely. “I’ve been to one other All-Star Game, but this one means a lot to me, to have it on my bounce-back year.”
The upcoming contest will offer Ely the opportunity to demonstrate his ability against the league’s top talent. As a player that’s not on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, the pitcher is looking to use the All-Star game as proving grounds to the big league clubs.
“I came into this season with that attitude,” said Ely. “I wanted to come out and prove that’s where I want to be and I can pitch there (with the Dodgers). I’m trying to prove to everyone else that I’m capable of that.”
However, a selection to the All-Star team doesn’t guarantee playing time. With 11 other pitchers on PCL’s roster, including Isotopes closer Josh Wall, Ely might not receive the chance to toe the rubber amid a crowded rotation.
Alongside Ely another one of four Albuquerque All-Star selections — one of which, Luis Cruz is with the Dodgers and will not play — is catcher Tim Federowicz.
The duo has worked together in 11 of Ely’s 18 total starts including five of the last six. If the starter gets the ball during the contest, he’ll have the comfort of a familiar face behind the plate, as Federowicz is slated as the PCL’s starting catcher.
The three-day break from the regular season is widely considered a relaxing, entertaining event, especially for the players involved. But for Ely, even though he plans on enjoying himself at the All-Star celebration, he’s still focused on delivering a standout performance.
“It’ll be fun because usually everyone’s in good spirits at these types of events,” said Ely. “But I want to win that game. It’s not a day off.”