Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger became the fifth former Cal Poly baseball player to be selected for an MLB All-Star team when he was picked Sunday for the American League roster as a reserve.
Haniger, who was the second-highest Cal Poly baseball player ever selected when he was taken in the second round of the 2012 draft, has posted big numbers during his second full season in the Big Leagues. As of Sunday, the 27-year-old was tied for second in the American league with 62 RBI and has a .271 batting average. Houston Astros manager A. J. Hinch selected Haniger for the roster.
No one in baseball has been more clutch so far this season. Haniger, who is batting in the third spot following the suspension of Robinson Cano, leads all of MLB with 13 game-winning RBIs and 11 home runs in the seventh inning or later.
"That'll be a cool experience," Haniger told KNDU of the upcoming All-Star Game. "I'm just going to focus on this last week before we head in there because we've got a lot of ground we can make up, and winning these meaningful games in July will hopefully make August and September easier. So the focus until then is just winning ballgames, and after that I can focus on the All-Star Game and just try to soak it in."
Last season, Haniger hit .282 for the Mariners with 25 doubles, 16 home runs and 58 RBIs in 96 games and had a scary moment when he was hit in the face by a pitch.
Haniger played at Cal Poly for three seasons and finished fourth all-time with 26 career home runs. He hit .326 as a freshman and was named Big West Freshman Player of the Year in 2010. He was named Big West Conference Player of the Year in 2012.
Since then, Haniger has overcome injuries, minor-league demotions and two trades after being selected with the 38th overall pick by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft.
Past Cal Poly players selected to MLB All-Star teams include 15-time all-star Ozzie Smith, pitcher Mike Krukow and pitcher Thornton Lee, who was selected for the 1941 and 1945 All-Star games. The last Cal Poly player to be named to an All-Star roster was pitcher Kevin Correia in 2011.
The Mariners will begin a three-game series against the Anaheim Angels on Tuesday followed by a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies before the All-Star break which begins next Monday with the Home Run Derby.
The 2018 All-Star Game will be played July 17, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., televised on Fox.