Some of the best baseball players in the world took part in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Just three days earlier, on that same diamond, the top high school players participated in the High School All-Star Game.
Turlock senior Tyler Soderstrom was among them, starting at catcher for the National team. He went 1-for-2 in a 4-2 loss to the American squad.
It was the first time Soderstrom played a game in a MLB stadium although he has worked out at Chase Field and Petco Park.
“It was kind of crazy with the stands everywhere,” Soderstrom said. “It’s a different feel.”
The Bee’s Baseball Player of the Year said being in a major league clubhouse was a highlight and the whole experience was awesome.
Soderstrom was one of 40 players chosen for the game from the Prospect Development Pipeline League, a program created by MLB and USA Baseball last November.
The UCLA commit said he was selected at the end of his junior year and spent 3 1/2 weeks in Florida at IMG Academy’s campus.
“We practiced during the week and played games on the weekends,” said Soderstrom, who hit .450 with four home runs and 27 RBIs for Turlock last season. “We were also being evaluated the whole time.”
There were four teams, all named after former MLB stars.
Soderstrom was on Team Jones, named after former Atlanta Braves third baseman, Chipper Jones. Team Howard (Ryan Howard), Jeter (Derek Jeter), and Larkin (Barry Larkin) were the other teams.
“It was incredible to just be around guys you grew up watching on TV,” he said.
The 40 players will travel to Los Angeles in mid-August for a week and the top 20 will make Under-18 Team USA and compete in the 2019 U-18 Baseball World Cup in Gijang City, South Korea, from Aug. 30-Sept. 8.
Besides the time in Florida, Soderstrom also spent a week in Arizona in mid-June, when he competed in the Perfect Game National Showcase.
“I miss friends and family but it’s just one of those things you have to do,” he said. “Last summer, I realized baseball was what I wanted to do with my life.”
Soderstrom comes from a baseball family:
His dad, Steve, spent three years in the San Francisco Giants organization and his brother, Tate, just finished his sophomore year at Arizona where he appeared in 41 games.
He’s getting used to the constant watchful eyes of scouts.
“Its tough at times but it is good to be put through that kind of pressure,” he said. “It’s going to be like that all the time (in college and pros one day).”
Nuts prospect plays in Futures Game: Since 1999, Major League Baseball has held a Futures Game leading up to the All-Star Game.
The game features some of the top prospects in baseball and Modesto Nuts outfielder Jarred Kelenic played on the American League Futures team on Sunday in Cleveland.
Kelenic, who went 0-for-3, is hitting .265 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 23 games for the Nuts.
Pirates call-up Turlock’s Kramer: Before Sunday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pittsburgh Pirates called-up infielder, Kevin Kramer.
The Turlock High grad, who has spent most of his season in Triple-A with the Indianapolis Indians, pinch-hit in the seventh inning and reached base on a walk before scoring on a three-run home run by outfielder Bryan Reynolds. The Pirates won the game, 6-5.
Kramer spent five days with the Pirates in mid-April but didn’t appear in a game. In 21 games in 2018, Kramer hit .135 with four RBIs.
Ceres native heading to Elite World Series: Ceres native Elias Mendez is heading to Viera, Florida, to participate in the USSSA Wilson Demarini Elite World Series that begins Sunday and goes until July 21.
Mendez’s 9-under Lamorinda Titans are one of over 30 baseball teams that will participate in the tournament and one of only three west of Texas to qualify.
The team is based in Walnut Creek and Mendez plays pitcher, second base, and the outfield.
The Nor Cal Valley 10-under team based in Modesto also qualified.
Locals qualify for Junior Olympics: Several local athletes finished in the top five in their event at the Region 16 Track and Field Championships at Modesto Junior College last weekend and have qualified for the USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships at Sacramento State.
Competing in the 15/16 year-old division, Delilah Mendoza-Valladolid qualified in the 200, 400, and 800-meter races.
Pitman sophomore McKinley King qualified in the discus.
Gloria Stevenson (high jump), Anya Harris (high jump), Lindsey Strong (800), Ben Chappell (hammer throw),\ and Jake Dirkse (discus) also qualified.
Rise Above Vault, a pole vault group in Turlock, had eight athletes qualify.