Some of the brightest prospects in baseball will converge on Tacoma next year.
Cheney Stadium, the home of the Tacoma Rainiers, will host the 2017 Triple-A All-Star Game. A press conference to make the news official was scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at Cheney Stadium.
The game showcases the top players from the International League against the best from the Pacific Coast League — which includes the Rainiers — and has existed in its present format since 1998. It has been annually preceded by the Triple-A Home Run Derby.
And never have these festivities been held in the state of Washington, let alone on South Tyler Street.
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Until next year.
“We’re thrilled and honored to bring this event to Tacoma,” Rainiers president Aaron Artman said Tuesday. “We can’t wait to share all of the details (Wednesday).”
What sort of players might the game include?
The next Andrew McCutchen? He was the Triple-A All-Star and International League MVP in 2008 when he played for the Indianapolis Indians. And in 2011 he’d represent the Pittsburgh Pirates in his first MLB All-Star Game.
New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey played in the 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game and was the International League MVP in 2012 when he played for the Buffalo Bisons.
Rainiers shortstop Chris Taylor was the Pacific Coast League’s All-Star player of the game in 2014 when it was held in Durham, North Carolina. He’s hitting .301 in 206 at-bats with the Rainiers this season.
Cheney Stadium has existed longer than the Triple-A midseason showcase has. It hosted its first Tacoma Giants game on April 16, 1960, long before the first Triple-A All-Star Game was held in 1988.
The 2017 game will be the first All-Star game held in the Pacific Northwest since it was played at PGE Park in Portland in 2009. This year’s Triple-A All-Star festivities will begin July 11 at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina, home of the Charlotte Knights.
It should harken to memories from 15 years ago, when Safeco Field hosted the 2001 MLB All-Star game. Juan Gonzalez was the American Association’s 1990 Triple-A All-Star MVP before eventually getting the chance to play at Safeco for the 2001 MLB All-Star Game, alongside eight Mariners on the American League club. And Magglio Ordoñez was the American Association MVP of the 1997 Triple-A All-Star Game — the last year it included the American Association — before he, too, played in the 2001 MLB All-Star Game.
The game, like its big-brother MLB version, has end-of-season implications, as well. The league that wins the Triple-A All-Star Game also gets to host the Triple-A championship game between the Pacific Coast League and International League champions.
Tacoma is the longest continual member of the PCL. The City of Destiny first had the Tacoma Giants (San Francisco) in 1960, followed by the Tacoma Cubs (Chicago), Tacoma Twins (Minnesota), Tacoma Yankees (New York), Tacoma Tugs/Tigers (Cleveland, Oakland) before becoming the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners and becoming the Rainiers in 1995.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677