Batavia Muckdogs land seven in New York-Penn League All-Star game

Batavia has seven all-starts on the New York-Penn League All-Star team including outfielders Milton Smith II, left, and Troy Johnston. (Photo courtesy of the Batavia Muckdogs)

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BATAVIA – The 2019 season for the first-place Batavia Muckdogs has been a special one at Dwyer Stadium. Now, add the all-star game to the memories.

The New York-Penn League has announced seven players will represent Batavia in the all-star game on Wednesday, Aug. 21 in Staten Island.

Nic Ready (third base), J.D. Orr (left field) and Troy Johnston (right field) were named starters. Milton Smith II (center field) and pitchers Julio Frias, Brock Love and Josh Simpson were also named to the team.

The all-star game is at 7 p.m. hosted by the Staten Island Yankees with gates opening at 3 p.m. There will be a home run competition between the New York City Fire Department and NYPD.

During the pre-game, the 2019 NYPL Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take lace with Batavia’s Gene Baker going in the hall with Bernie Williams, Jane Rogers and Josiah Viera.

Baker, who died in 1999,  became the first African-American manager in organized baseball, when the Pittsburgh Pirates named him skipper of the Batavia club in 1961.

In 1963, he became the second black coach in the major leagues following Buck O’Neill by a half -season. He can also be credited with being the first black manager in Major League Baseball when he took over for ejected Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh on September 21, 1963. He was also the first African-American player to ever make the Chicago Cubs roster in 1953.

Here is a look at the Batavia all-stars:

Nic Ready

It has been a wild year for Nic Ready. The son of former Major Leaguer Randy Ready, Nic won the 2019 NCAA Home Run Derby in Omaha, Nebraska, then was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 23rd round out of the Air Force Academy.

Ready, a 6-foot-3 righthander who plays third and first, has shown tremendous power this season with seven home runs and 34 RBI’s with 26 soubles and a triple. He is hitting .280 with a .525 slugging percentage.

Ready is currently active duty with the Air Force, but a new law will allow him to play professional baseball and fulfill his military commitments the next two years.

In the all-star game, Ready will start at third.

J.D. Orr

It is no surprise J.D. Orr will start in the outfield in the all-star game. The 5-foot-10 Orr was drafted this year in the 10th round of the draft by the Miami Marlins out of Wright State, where he led the nation in stolen bases.

In Batavia, he not only leads the team with 24 stolen bases, but he leads the entire New York-Penn League with a .373 average and has 59 hits. He has hit three doubles, two triples and scored 46 runs.

Troy Johnston

Another starter in the outfield for the Muckdogs will be Troy Johnston, a 17th round pick of the Marlins out of Gonzaga this year.

Johnston, a 5-foot-11 lefty is hitting .295 with 46 hits, 11 doubles, a triple and two home runs. He has driven in 26 runs and scored 23. At Gonzaga, he was leading the nation in doubles furing the 2019 season and led his team in average.

Milton Smith II

During the 2019 season, Milton Smith II spent time as the top hitter in the New York-Penn League, and is still hitting .319 with 52 hits, a triple and 17 stolen bases, as he was caught just four times. Smith II is also an outstanding centerfielder for the Muckdogs.

Smith, a 5-foot-10 lefty, was drafted in the 22nd round by the Marlins out of Meridian CC in Mississippi in 2018.

Brock Love

Love is a 6-foot-1 right hander who has made a big impact on the Muckdogs this season coming out of the bullpen. He has thrown 14.1 innings with 18 strikeouts and just four walks, giving up just four runs for a ERA of 2.51 and a WHIP of 0.77.

He was picked by the Miami Marlins as the fourth pick of the 2019 draft in the 34th round out of the University of Alabama.

In college, Love was injured in 2017 but in 2018 he was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, something he did in his first seven performances with Batavia. In 2019 he led Alabama in strikeouts with 66 in 60 innings while starting 13 games. Love showed right away as a freshman his command of the strike zone, walking just three batters his first year while strikeout 21 with a 2.81 ERA.

Josh Simpson

The 2019 season has been frustrating for batters opposing Josh Simpson as the 6-foot-2 lefty has a 0.55 ERA in 11 games and has struck out 21 batters in 16.1 innings with just two walks. He has given up just one run all season for the Muckdogs.

Simpson was a 32nd round draft pick out of Columbia University by the Miami Marlins this year. He was an all-Ivy League selection and struck out 56 batters. He threw a nine-inning complete game shut out against Cornell as a senior.

Julio Frias

Frias turned 21 as the season started, and the 6-foot-2 lefty out of Boca Chica, Dominican Republic has enjoyed a great season as a top starting pitcher. Frias has 11 starts and has gone 4-2 with a 2.54 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 56.2 innings with just 21 hits allowed.

In his short career, Frias has tossed 182 innings with 174 strikeouts. His last start was on Aug. 11, a win over Mahoning Valley. Frias signed in 2014 as an international free agent with the Marlins at age 16.

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