Prior to last year, the Long Beach State Dirtbags had a representative in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game for 10 consecutive seasons. After missing out last season as a rookie, former Dirtbag Jeff McNeil has started a new streak by being selected to play in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 9, at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
McNeil, 27, made his debut with the New York Mets last July and is leading all of MLB with a .348 batting average. His selection is the 20th in Dirtbags history and he is the fourth different Dirtbag to earn the honor in the last five seasons.
“It’s a dream of mine to play in the All-Star Game,” McNeil told MLB.com last month. “I think I’ve done enough. I think I’ve been the best possible player I could be up to this point, playing multiple positions and doing it really well. I don’t think there’s much more I can do.”
After being selected as a National League reserve on Sunday via player vote, McNeil went 3-for-5 with two runs batted in and a stolen base in a victory over Atlanta. It was his eighth game of three or more hits this season to go with a .412 on base percentage. McNeil had four home runs and 17 RBIs in June.
“He’s a great hitter,” former Dirtbag and Mets teammate Jason Vargas said of McNeil.
McNeil was a utility player for the Dirtbags and he’s continued that role with the Mets. He has only made three errors this year in 43 games in left field, nine in right, 22 at second base and 15 at third.
“He always says that he can play any position,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told MLB.com. “He thinks he can go throw a shutout tonight. That’s who he is.”
The Dirtbags 10-year streak in the All-Star Game included Jered Weaver (2010-2012), Evan Longoria (2008-2010), Troy Tulowitzki (2010-11, 13-15), Jason Vargas (2017) and Marco Estrada (2016).
The city of Long Beach had a representative in the All-Star Game for 12 consecutive seasons from Long Beach Poly alum Chase Utley in 2006 to Dirtbags product Jason Vargas 2017.
The All-Star Game will be broadcast live on FOX starting at 4:30 p.m.
McNeil isn’t the only pleasant surprise from June after J.P. Crawford had the best month of his young career with the Seattle Mariners.
Crawford, 24, was drafted straight out of Lakewood High in 2013 with the 16th overall selection, and immediately became a top prospect for the Philadelphia Phillies. The shortstop made his MLB debut in 2017 but injuries and inconsistency at the plate kept Crawford from reaching his true potential.
After being traded to Seattle in the offseason, Crawford started the season at AAA Tacoma. He hit .319 with 15 RBIs and 20 runs scored in 31 minor league games, and was called up in May to start for Seattle.
An ankle injury sent Crawford to the injury list at the end of month and he’s been a different player ever since. The shortstop has made a handful of highlight defensive players while hitting .413 with 17 RBIs, five doubles, two triples and two home runs in 16 games in June.
“We certainly gave up a good player to get J.P. Crawford, but where he’s at in his development and his age, it’s huge,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told MLB.com. “There’s going to be some failures and rough games along the way, but what we’re starting to see is this is a guy that is really going to be a big part of our future. The fact he’s in the middle of the field at shortstop is huge.”
Crawford has had a hit in six of his last seven games, and hit another home run on Sunday.
(Statistics through July 1)