As the best players in the Midwest Collegiate League descend upon Oil City Stadium in Whiting on Saturday night for the league's eighth-annual all-star game, the outcome of the game might not be the only thing at stake.
The annual celebration of the top talent in the MCL is an excellent opportunity for college stars to play in front of, and impress, professional scouts. And for fans to potentially see the next Major League Baseball prospect.
The MCL has routinely seen its alumni make it to the professional ranks, with St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong and Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Tony Cingrani both making it to the big leagues.
DeJong played in the 2013 All-Star Game while playing for DuPage County Hounds. The former Illinois State star went on to get drafted by the Cardinals and made his Major League debut last season. DeJong hit .285 with 25 home runs last season and finished as the runner-up in the 2017 National League Rookie of the Year battling behind the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger.
Cingrani played for the Illinois Jayhawks in 2010 before the league began holding an All-Star Game. At that time, the league was known as the Great Plains League. It rebranded as the Midwest Collegiate League ahead of the 2011 season.
Numerous other players who have gone on to sign professional contacts have taken the field in the game, including recent Texas Rangers draft pick and former Valparaiso catcher Scott Kapers. He is one of six players from the 2015 All-Star Game who has gone on to play professionally.
Kapers played for the Michigan City Lakers the summer after he graduated from Mount Carmel High School.
The Rangers drafted him in the 17th round in June. He is now playing for the Class-A Spokane (Washington) Indians.
Saturday’s game will pit the East All-Stars (Northwest Indiana Oilmen, Southland Vikings and Crestwood Panthers) against the West All-Stars (Joliet Generals, Bloomington Bobcats and DuPage County Hounds).
The Oilmen are sending nine all-stars to the game, including 2018 MLB Draft picks Jake Plastiak (San Diego) and Zaid Walker (Cincinnati).
Southland and Bloomington will also have nine All-Star representatives. Joliet has seven, DuPage has six and Crestwood has four. Southland’s Dave Letourneau will coach the East while Bloomington’s Jake Wegner will coach the West.
The all-star game has been at Oil City Stadium for all but one of the eight years since its debut in 2011.