BY CHAD DARE
BUTLER, Pa. —
Winning 13 of their last 14 games, the Danville Dans currently hold the best record in the Prospect League.
Tonight, five members of the team will represent the Danville Dans at the Prospect League All-Star Game in Butler.
Left-hander Troy Conyers, who is 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA, will be the starting pitcher for the Prospect League’s West Division.
“Well, first off, it’s an honor to represent Danville in the all-star game,’’ said Conyers, who had 46 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched this summer. “And, it’s a privilege to be the starting pitcher for the West Division.
“This is a reward for a really good summer.’’
Also making the trip to Butler with Conyers were outfielder Casey Fletcher, infielder Tyler Selesky, utility player Chet Simoneaux and reliever Miles Nordgren.
It’s the second straight year that Fletcher, an Oakwood High graduate, has represented Danville in the Prospect League All-Star Game.
But, he admits it’s a little different this time around.
“Since, I played in this game last year, the other guys have been coming to me for information on what to expect,’’ said Fletcher, a native of Newtown. “There is the banquet (held on Tuesday night) and then you have the pro workout and home run derby before the game.
“It’s a pretty unique experience and I feel honored to be able to not only represent the Danville Dans, but also Vermilion County in the all-star game.’’
Another difference for Fletcher is the success that the Dans have enjoyed in the first seven weeks of the Prospect League season.
Danville (29-12) set a Prospect League record with an 11-game win streak and just this week, the Dans were ranked No. 15 nationally by Perfect Game for summer collegiate baseball leagues.
“Yeah, it’s a little different this season because this game takes on a whole different meaning for us,’’ Fletcher said. “The winner of this game will get home-field advantage for their division in the Prospect League Championship Series.’’
And according to Conyers, just like the Major League All-Star Game played on Tuesday night in New York, it’s a piece to their plans for the first-ever Prospect League title in Danville Dans history.
“We want to do all that we can to help our chances to win the title,’’ he said. “I know that will be a part of my focus when I take the mound.’’
And, what about the national ranking?
“That’s a really big deal,’’ Conyers said. “It’s good for our team and it’s also good for our league.’’
The Prospect League has two teams in the top-25 as the Quincy Gems are No. 22, while the West Virginia Miners and the Chillicothe Paints, the top two teams in the East Division, are also receiving consideration for the rankings.
“Ultimately, the rankings are not what we are playing for,’’ Fletcher said. “Our goal is to win a Prospect League title and when you do that, those type of things with the rankings will just naturally come your way.’’
But even with the league’s best record, the Danville Dans do not have the most representatives at tonight’s game.
The Quincy Gems have eight players chosen for the West Division All-Stars with the Terre Haute Rex getting seven.
Until this past weekend, the Dans were originally getting just four players, but Simoneaux, who has a team-high four home runs and 24 RBIs, was a late addition to the team.
“It’s great that we were able to get Chet into the game,’’ Fletcher said. “I thought he should have made it when the original teams were announced. I personally feel that we could have had 10 players on this team.
“We have a few other position players, like a Jake Thomas, and a few pitchers, like Jared Burton and Trey McNickle, that also could be here for us.’’
And after trying to beat teams like Hannibal, Quincy, Springfield and Terre Haute for the past seven weeks, those players are now teammates against the East Division.
“That’s going to be a little awkward,’’ Conyers said. “But, we’re here to have fun and showcase our talents for the scouts that are expected to be here.’’
Conyers, a sophomore-to-be from the University of San Diego, will see one familiar face.
Hannibal reliever Wes Judish is a teammate at USD and he is representing the Cavemen at the all-star game.
“That’s going to be a lot of fun catching up with him before the game,’’ said Conyers. “Wes and I are really good friends at school.’’
In addition to the five players at tonight’s all-star game, the Danville Dans are also be represented by coaches Rick Fraire and Tony Gatto.
Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. (Eastern) and fans can follow the game action live at www.prospectleague.com.