The American Association announced on Friday morning that RailCats outfielder Colin Willis has been named a reserve for the North Division Team in the 2019 American Association All-Star Game. Willis is the RailCats lone representative and will participate in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 23rd, at CHS Field in St. Paul, Minn.
“The RailCats have never had a more deserving player of this honor,” said RailCats manager Greg Tagert. “Colin is the epitome of an All-Star. From the time he arrived he has represented the RailCats organization in the highest manner, on and off the field. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Willis ranks second in the American Association with 37 walks and is slashing .271/.395/.424/.819 in a team-high 48 starts. Willis also leads the Gary offense with 170 at-bats, 29 runs, 46 hits, 11 doubles, three triples, 17 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs, 72 total bases, six stolen bases in six attempts, 14 multi-hit games, six multi-run games, seven-multi walk games, a .424 slugging percentage and a .819 OPS.
Willis became the first RailCat to hit a home run after going deep on June 12th against Winnipeg, drew a season-high four walks and reached base in five of his six plate appearances on June 23rd against St. Paul and scored the game-winning run in the inaugural game at Routine Field against the Milwaukee Milkmen on June 24th.
Willis slashed .297/.385/.448/.834 with a team-high 98 hits, 50 RBIs, 148 total bases and 48 walks in a career-high 92 games last season. Willis also finished with a team-high-tying nine home runs, reached base in a career-high 34 straight games (third longest in the American Association) and was named the American Association Player of the Week for the first time in his career for the week ending on June 10th.
Willis was named the American Association Rookie of the Year in 2017 after finishing seventh in the league with a .319 batting average (first among rookies) and led the RailCats with eight home runs, 54 runs, 145 total bases, a .407 on-base percentage, a .482 slugging percentage, an .889 OPS and 29 multi-hit games.
Willis originally signed his first professional baseball contract with the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League in the spring of 2016 before signing his first American Association contract with Gary on Aug. 18, 2016. In 11 games (39 at-bats) with the RailCats, Willis slashed .231/.348/.333/.681 with three extra-base hits, five RBIs and three runs.
The RailCats return home to U.S. Steel Yard for the start of their season long 10-game homestand on Friday at 7:10 p.m. vs. Cleburne. The Railroaders send right-hander Jesus Sanchez (5-2, 3.52) to the mound in the opening game of the series while the RailCats have yet to announce their starter.
Friday’s game is Kevin “Bacon” Night, and includes bacon themed concession specials. The series opener is also Nurses Appreciation Night and features postgame fireworks, presented by Fifth Third Bank.
Ticket packages for the 2019 Gary SouthShore RailCats season are available online at RailCatsBaseball.com or by calling the RailCats ticket line at (219) 882-BALL. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.