2 August 2006

Local team experiences Capeís best

With a host of scouts watching their every move, Harwich Mariners All-Star Game representatives Josh Donaldson and Antone DeJesus made the most of their experience by just having fun. 

"This was just a great day for baseball, great atmosphere," said DeJesus, a center fielder from the University of Kentucky who collected two RBI, one on a double down the right-field line in the sixth inning. "Itís an honor to be here and be able to meet pretty much the best players in the Cape League and have fun doing it." 

While playing right field, DeJesus misplayed a ball down the line and was charged with an error, but it wasnít his only blemish of the day, as he was also thrown out trying to steal second after walking in the fifth inning. 

The error was unusual for DeJesus, who hadnít committed one in 33 games in the outfield this season. 

"It was nice to get that hit toward the end of the game. I struggled a little in the field, but itís just for fun here today, just an exhibition. Were here to have fun and please the crowd a little bit," said the Amherst, Ohio, native entering his junior year at Kentucky. 

DeJesus was named to the team, despite a low .234 average, because of his defensive skills and an impressive on-base average of .393. 

Donaldson, Harwichís top hitter, joined DeJesus as an all-star. 

"All in all, it was a good experience," said Donaldson, who was solid behind the plate for the East. "I got a few at-bats, but had to face some pretty good pitching." 

Despite being just a few feet away from more than four rows of pro scouts, Donaldson, starting catcher for the Auburn Tigers, showed no signs of being affected by any increased scrutiny. 

"You just have to block that out and really not pay attention to that, because if you try to do something youíre not capable of doing, then itís not going to lead to success. So I try to stay away from that," said the Harwich slugger. 

Donaldsonís selection onto the all-star team was an easy decision. In addition to being in the top five in hitting for most of the season (currently fifth at .304), Donaldson has consistently been among the league leaders on most offensive categories. 

Heís tied second in doubles (10), tied for fourth in hits (41) and tied for second in extra-base hits (14). Donaldson also leads the Mariners in RBI (20) and home runs (four). 

Dealing a variety of different pitchers, including some of the position players forced into pitching roles, was a challenge for Donaldson. 

"It really forced me to keep adjusting during the game. These guys (the pitchers) are here for a reason, and that reason is because they donít throw the ball straight," he said. 

Although he did not get into the game because of scheduled start on Sunday, Harwich pitcher Tony Watson still managed to learn from his experience at the All-Star Game. 

"Iím a little disappointed I didnít get in the game, but itís just an honor to be named an all-star, and you need to do the best for your team," said the tall lefty from Lincoln, Neb. "It was great to go around and meet some of the other all-stars and talk with them for a while." 

Watson, a soon-to-be senior at Nebraska, was named to the East team after compiling a 4-1 record with a 2.25 ERA to start the season. 

Also named to the team, but not pitching, was fellow Harwich starter Dan Merklinger of Seton Hall. Merklinger was selected for starting his season 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA, but didnít pitch after starting a game two days earlier. 

By Matt Rice/ mrice@cnc.com