On July 12th, 2017, the top players from the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball will gather in Somerset, New Jersey for the 20th annual Atlantic League All- Star Game. This season, four New Britain Bees have been selected to represent the Liberty Division as they square off against the best of the Freedom Division. Last year, during New Britain’s inaugural season, 7 total Bees were selected to represent in the All Star Game. This year’s representatives for the Bees are Nate Roe, Michael Crouse, Connor Bierfeldt, and Jovan Rosa.
This will be the first Atlantic League All Star Game for pitcher Nate Roe. After leading the Bees bullpen in ERA this season, the New Jersey native earned the nod to represent the Bees pitching staff in this year’s game.
“It’s an honor to be elected. The Atlantic League has a lot of prestigious players that some of whom have even been in the big leagues. So to even be in the same line as them is such an honor”, says Roe.
Roe’s 2017 season has been one of the best of his career. He has produced the lowest ERA and WHIP of his 5 year professional career. With this year’s All Star Game being played in Somerset, the Plainfield, New Jersey native will be able to return home and pitch in front of his hometown crowd. For Roe, being able to play in front of his friends and family in his first All Star Game will take on an extra special meaning.
“It’s going to be special”, says Roe. “The day after the game is actually the 3 year anniversary of my father’s death, so there’s a lot of emotion. Words can’t describe how special it is. I feel like the stars aligned because It’s going to be 15 minutes away from my house, I grew up going to Patriots games, and I even went to college 15 minutes away from there too. So everything is right there and it’s going to nice to be there around friends and family”.
Joining Roe in this year’s All Star Game will be Bees outfield Michael Crouse. During the 2017 season, Crouse has had a strong year at the plate hitting .264 at the plate with 11 home runs and 37 RBI. Crouse has 71 hits on the season which is second on the team. Crouse’s 6 triples also leads the Atlantic League this season. He has also shown flashes of speed, stealing 20 bases this season and only being caught 8 times. Along with Crouse’s strong season at the plate, he has dazzled fans with his play in the field. Crouse’s defense has even landed him on ESPN with his phenomenal catch against the Lancaster Barnstormers.
Along with Crouse, Conor Bierfeldt will represent the Bees in the outfield. In Bierfeldt’s first season with the Bees, he has tallied 13 home runs, and 39 RBI, leading the team in both categories. Bierfeldt has had success at the plate this season, batting .274. In his first season in the Atlantic League, the former Baltimore Orioles prospect earned his second All Star selection after being named to South Atlantic League All Star Game in 2015. Along with Crouse, Bierfeldt will represent the Bees in this year’s Home Run Derby. Bierfeldt is currently tied for 5th in the Atlantic League in home runs this season.
Jovan Rosa will also represent the Bees this season. After being named an All Star in 2016, Rosa becomes the first player in Bees history to represent the Bees twice in the All Star Game.
“It’s an honor to be elected. I’ve worked hard in the offseason and throughout the season. It’s an honor to see that people are recognizing the fact that I’m putting in the work and trying to get better every day”, says Rosa.
While it is an honor for Rosa to be elected, he still has his sights set on one goal. “It’s exciting but at the same time, it’s an individual achievement. I’m honored and I enjoy it, but I really just care about getting to the playoffs”.
Last season, Rosa became the third player in Atlantic League history to play all 140 games. He has continued that streak into this season and has played in 216 consecutive games for the Bees heading into the All Star Break. During the All Star Game, fans can expect to see the same hard work and determination that Rosa has put on display all season long.
“I’m going to play the game the same way that I always play it”, Rosa says. “I’m just trying to have some fun to be honest, but at the same time I have to play the game the right way and respect it, but I’m definitely looking forward to having some fun".