By: Matthew Vandenburgh
The Tampa Bay Rays, currently sitting at second place in the American League East, are getting some representation at the All-Star game this year. For the third year in a row, the Rays have two players named to the AL All-Star team. This year pitcher Charlie Morton and outfielder Austin Meadows will play in Cleveland on July 9.
Though neither player will start the game, both Morton and Meadows have played at the level expected of All-Star players so far this season.
Morton, 35, is currently 8-2 with a 2.43 ERA so far this year. That 2.43 ERA is good enough for third lowest in the majors, second best in the AL. Morton is also just outside of the top ten in strikeouts, sitting at eleventh with 124 punch outs so far.
Morton signed a two-year deal with Tampa in December, and instilled himself as a locker room leader fairly quickly with his team first attitude.
“It was pretty humbling, because I know a lot of my peers voted me to go and that means a lot,” Morton told MLB.com. “You kind of wish that more of your teammates would go, but it’s humbling.”
His professionalism does not go unnoticed. Manager Kevin Cash talked about Morton’s ability to be a leader and teacher in the field too.
“Just appreciative of the work that he’s done on the mound,” Cash told MLB.com. “But like I’ve said many times, I'm equally appreciative of what he does in the clubhouse and who he is and how he’s been so consistent for a bunch of young guys.”
Meadows seems to have confirmed his potential as one of the game’s bright young stars. The 24-year-old finds himself hitting .291, with 12 home runs and 41 RBI at the end of June, sixth best amongst outfielders in the AL.
One of the three players to come from Pittsburgh in return for Chris Archer, Meadows had an exceptional start to the season, which has buoyed his numbers through a rough June, where he slumped to a .204 average for the month.
Despite his slump Meadows still worked hard and did the best thing a young player can do, be a sponge and learn from the veterans around him.
“It’s been a journey to get here,” Meadows said. “To be able to do that now, it’s a true honor to be in that bracket with those guys. I look forward to getting out there, meeting them, picking their brains and having fun.”
The All-Star game is going to be played on Tuesday, July 9, in Cleveland’s Progressive Field.