MIDLAND, Mich. - After pitchers Carlos Frias and Jharel Cotton were promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga, there was only player left on the Great Lakes Loons roster that made the trip to Fifth Third Field in Dayton, Ohio for the Midwest League All-Star Game. His name is Tyler Ogle.
Ogle has had a solid first half for the Loons, hitting .278 with nine home runs and 33 runs batted in. His first half is more impressive if you start looking under the surface, at stats like on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Ogle, who has played first base, catcher and left field for Great Lakes, is fifth in the Midwest League in on-base percentage (.412) and has a good slugging percentage of .444. The former Oklahoma Sooner is eighth in the league in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), a stat that measures a players ability to get on base, along with their ability to get extra-base hits.
The Midwest League put on quite a show for everybody that made the trip to The Gem City, including players and front office staff from each team in the league. The two days in Dayton included a block party on Monday, a Home Run Derby on Tuesday and of course, the Midwest League All-Star Game.
"The overall experience was wonderful," Ogle said. "Since the first day I got there, you could just tell that it was going to be a good time by the atmosphere. The block party was a lot of fun and I had a great time. We got to watch a home run derby on Tuesday and got a walk-off win for the East. It was awesome."
The Eastern Division had a 5-2 lead going into the ninth inning before the West scored three runs to tie the game at 5-5. With extra innings looming, the East had runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the ninth. Dayton Dragons shortstop Zach Vincej beat out a double play to keep the inning alive before Lansing Lugnuts outfielder Dalton Pompey hit a two-out single up the middle to win the game for the East.
Ogle, who was born in Portland, Maine, but lives in San Antonio, got two plate appearances in the game. He went 0-for-2, with a strikeout and a groundout, but had two good at-bats, working a full count twice before being retired.
"Any time you're in an all-star game, you want to showcase your talent," Ogle said. "Going up there, I just wanted to get a pitch I could hit hard. The first guy did a really good job of not giving me that pitch to hit. The second at-bat, he was lighting up the radar gun and mixing in some good off-speed stuff. I was just trying to get my pitch instead of trying to hit his. I was able to work another full count."
Though the Texas native was able to have a good approach, not every player in the game was simply looking to drive the ball. There were looking to put on a little bit of a show for the crowd at Fifth Third Field.
"A lot of the guys' initial thought was to put one over the fence," Ogle explained. "Nobody really wants to walk in these games. So I think they were swinging hard early, but they all went back to their normal game plan once they got down a strike or two."
The actual Home Run Derby took place about 90 minutes before the start of the game. Dayton Dragons outfielder Jesse Winker, the younger brother of Loons outfielder Joe Winker, led all players with 10 home runs. Winker, who also batted third in the East lineup, had the crowd's attention, along with the attention of Ogle and his big brother, who also made the trip to Dayton.
"It was fun to be able to watch (Jesse)," Ogle said. "Joe, him and I all went out to dinner the first night we were here. He put on a great show in front of his home crowd and it was really fun to watch."
Despite a 27-43 record in the first half of the season, the Loons built momentum for the second half by winning nine of their last 12 games heading into the All-Star break.
"This break is nice because you get to clean the slate," Ogle said. "You don't have to sit on that first half, especially being at the All-Star Game, I haven't really thought about the first half since I got here. This break has been nice and it lets you focus on your game plan for the second half when we can hopefully go out there and get some wins."