Walsh joining Trout, Ohtani on All-Star squad

July 5th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- It's been quite the journey for Angels first baseman , who has gone from being a 39th-round pick in the 2015 Draft to being named an All-Star for the first time in his career, as announced on Sunday.

Walsh had a breakout rookie year in the shortened 2020 season and has proved it’s no fluke, as he’s been one of the best hitters in the Majors this season and will be rewarded with a trip to Colorado’s Coors Field for the All-Star Game on July 13. He’ll be joined by teammates -- who became the first player to be selected to the game as both a pitcher and a position player -- and who will miss the game with a strained right calf. It’s the first time the Angels have had three players selected to the Midsummer Classic since 2015.

"It's pretty cool," Walsh said. "I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who voted for me, whether it was a fan or a player. I really appreciate that and am very grateful. You dream of the World Series and the All-Star Game, all that kind of stuff, but I never made one in the Minor Leagues, so this is pretty special."

Walsh, 27, entered Sunday batting .284/.345/.564 with 20 homers, 21 doubles and 60 RBIs in 80 games. He's one of three American League first basemen selected as an All-Star, joining Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Oakland's Matt Olson. Walsh made it over talented sluggers such as the White Sox's José Abreu and Houston's Yuli Gurriel.

Walsh saw some time in right field earlier this season when the club still had Albert Pujols, but he has since settled in as the franchise's first baseman of the future.

"I think it's helped showing up to the ballpark and knowing you're probably going to play that day," Walsh said. "The fact that I've gotten consistent opportunities has helped."

Walsh, who had planned on spending the All-Star break relaxing in nearby Newport Beach, said he’s most looking forward to watching Ohtani in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby and in the All-Star Game. The Angels are open to Ohtani both hitting and pitching in the Midsummer Classic, while Walsh believes Ohtani should be the favorite in the Derby on July 12.

"It's just exciting for all of us," Walsh said. "I've seen what he can do in batting practice. I think he's about to open some eyes. Not that he hasn't with his 30 homers, but they're going to see some stuff they've never seen before."

Trout, who was elected as an All-Star starter for a ninth time, won’t be able to participate in the game and could be on a rehab assignment during the break. But he stumped for Walsh on Thursday, as he believed he was a deserving All-Star.

“He’s been incredible,” Trout said. “A couple of games this year, he's won with some big hits. You saw what he did in New York when he hit that slam. He deserves to be there."

Walsh became just the 11th position player to be selected to the All-Star Game despite being drafted in the 39th round or later. The last was the Cubs' Bryan LaHair (39th-rounder in '02) in 2012.

Angels manager Joe Maddon was thrilled to see Walsh join Ohtani and Trout on the All-Star game roster and felt he was deserving of the honor.

"I'm really pleased," Maddon said. "This is a guy who was a low Draft choice, killed the Minor Leagues and had to wait for his turn. Nobody wanted to give him a chance. Finally, he gets here and gets an opportunity and he takes full advantage of it. What you're seeing is a full carryover from what he's done in the Minor Leagues. He works really hard on his defense and is a really solid teammate, so I was really happy about that one."