PENSACOLA, Florida -- Wade Wass leaned against a wall in the dugout tunnel at Blue Wahoos Stadium on a rain-soaked Tuesday evening. The Sunshine State clearly wasn't living up to its nickname.
The Double-A Mobile BayBears backstop signed autographs for fans while talking with the media after finding out the 41st annual Southern League All-Star Game was rained out.
Wass was all-too-familiar with the weather in Northwest Florida, growing up in Pensacola and playing baseball at perennial power Pensacola Catholic High School.
"We've been through this before here. You can't control the weather," he said. "It's disappointing we couldn't play for the fans and for my hometown, but I'm grateful to be here. I still had a great time."
It's been an interesting journey for Wass to this point in his career. He was drafted in the 13th round by the Orioles in 2012 after two seasons at Meridian Community College in Mississippi. He passed on the opportunity and went on to play two seasons at Alabama.
He went undrafted in 2014, but signed a free-agent contract with the Angels after a strong showing in the Cape Cod League that summer. Wass reached Double-A last season with Arkansas and ended up even closer to home this year when the Los Angeles switched its affiliation to Mobile.
Selected as an All-Star for the first time in his career, Wass hit .245 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs during the first half of the season.
He was scheduled to participate in the Home Run Derby on Monday, but tightness in his arm kept him out of the competition. But it didn't put a damper on the pride he took in being on the South Division squad.
"To come share this All-Star moment with this group of guys, it's been special," Wass said. "It's an honor to be a part of it."
The 25-year-old thinks he's grown by leaps and bounds in his second go-round in Double-A.
"I feel I've improved a lot and that is the name of the game," Wass said. "As long as you are always developing and improving, you are going to play. I've definitely improved, but have a long way to go. I'm looking forward to getting back to Mobile and putting together a great second half."
Mother Nature intervenes: Southern League president Lori Webb hoped to see a great game, but the rain never stopped, falling consistently throughout the day as a result of a tropical storm invading the Gulf Coast. Instead of becoming the first midsummmer classic hosted by the Blue Wahoos in the six-year history of the franchise, the contest became the circuit's first All-Star rainout.
"This is the first one that hasn't even started or has gotten off to a late start," Webb said. "It's the first one we've lost in this way, I believe."
Webb felt bad the fans didn't get a chance to watch the stars of tomorrow showcase their talent at a stadium considered one of the best in Minor League Baseball.
"It's very tough," she said. "We worked closely with the staff here a few months before this event. We planned, we worried and we stressed and we thought we had everything perfect. For this to happen tonight, it's just heartbreaking."
Blue Wahoos team president Jonathan Griffith echoed those sentiments, adding that he hoped the baseball gods make up for the washout in September.
"We got all our home games in and have had over 150,000 come to our games already. We can't complain about that part of it," Griffith said. "This is just a bump in the road. I'd say from this bump we should be winning the championship this year."
Pensacola came into the break having clinched a playoff berth for the third consecutive year. But Wass and the BayBears will be looking for more in the second half.
"Individually, I just want to stay healthy and continue to play well," he said. "I won't pay too much attention to my numbers. I'd be happy to make a run and get into the playoffs. It's always special when you can make the playoffs in the Minors, because it's so hard to do."