BRISTOL - Eight Bristol Blues players were selected as Futures League All-Stars on Tuesday, and one more may join them this weekend.
Christian Beal, Ryan Lauk and Will Reiner were each among the 10 players chosen to be options for the final All-Star selection in the league’s online fan vote that closes at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.
As of Friday afternoon, Beal led the three Bristol players with 220 votes (13 percent) out of 1,646 total votes, but still trailed the Pittsfield Suns’ Mike Nocchi (517 votes, 31 percent) and the Worcester Bravehearts’ Joe Pesce (439 votes, 27 percent).
Reiner had received 37 votes (2 percent), and Lauk had received 28 votes (2 percent).
“As exciting as it is [to have eight All-Stars], I think there are still plenty of guys on our roster who have gotten overlooked,” Blues manager Ronnie Palmer said. “The fact that Christian, Ryan and Will are up for the fan vote and only one of those guys could get the nod to go forward, I think all three of those guys is an All-Star.”
Beal, a right-handed hitting left fielder, is slashing .284/.372/.338 with 21 total hits, eight RBI and seven runs scored, heading into Friday night’s game against the North Shore Navigators.
The Blues have had a loaded outfield all season, but with moving All-Star Brandon Miller to the designated hitter slot for most games, it has allowed Beal to start alongside Austin White and Parker Upton, each of whom were selected to the All-Star game as well.
“Any time [Beal’s] gotten opportunities, he’s produced most of the time,” Blues manager Ronnie Palmer said. “He’s been pretty solid defensively for us as well. That’s one of the pluses of our outfield is there’s some depth there. Not just depth, but quality depth.”
Reiner, a left-handed hitter, was slashing .283/.404/.457 with 12 RBI and eight walks prior to Friday night’s game.
“I think Will gets overlooked on the catching aspect with how comfortable our pitchers are throwing to those guys,” Palmer said. “The toughest position to play in the summer, in my opinion, is catching. You’re trying to catch guys [you don’t work with often] and feel them out as far as how their balls are gonna move and stuff like that.”
Reiner is one of three Bristol catchers (Jordan Laske, Sam Loda) who rotates as the team’s starting backstop every third day.
“They all do a great job behind the dish, and Will certainly has been there since day one for us and done a tremendous job calling pitches,” Palmer said. “Will’s done a tremendous job defensively for us, calling pitches, blocking and throwing guys out. He’s been very good.”
Lauk, a right-handed starter, has been one of the most consistent Blues arms, sporting a 2-2 record with a 3.74 ERA, 38 strikeouts and 16 walks in 33⅔ innings during six starts.
“Ryan’s been everything we’ve asked for and then some,” Palmer said. “He’s been very good for us from day one since he’s been here, but each time he’s gone out, it seems like his velocity is staying deeper into the game. He’s starting to spot up better and locate the ball better. You can see he’s more comfortable with himself coming off the surgery.”
Lauk was a starter in high school but was moved to the reliever role at Wagner College. After battling back from a torn UCL two years ago and undergoing Tommy John surgery, Lauk has found success this summer.
Palmer spoke with Wagner head coach Jim Carone, who wants Lauk to become a starter again, possibly on the weekends in the more critical conference games.
“From what he’s done this summer, you can see why they wanna try to move him to that part of the staff,” Palmer said. “Ryan has been the epitome of consistency. Every time he runs out on the mound, we know were gonna get five, six or seven innings.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org