Junior All-Stars feel like big leaguers at GLF

August 6th, 2020

An Academy RBI season that opened June 15 on the fields at the Texas Rangers MLB Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex, Presented by Toyota, came to an end Wednesday night at Globe Life Field.

Players from the two All-Star teams of Junior Division baseball players from the Academy’s RBI league were soaking in the experience before the games.

“It feels like almost a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to play on a Major League field. I can’t even believe it,” Austin Phillips, from Team Texas, said.

While Phillips, an incoming freshman at Arlington Martin, missed the opportunity to travel and face off against the outside competition that would have been part of the COVID-canceled RBI Southwest Regionals, he was taking it in stride.

“This is a pretty good consolation,” Phillips said.

Colin Moore from Team Rangers spent the season working toward making an All-Star team, but it still didn’t prepare him for the moment he stepped onto the field.

“Craziest thing ever. I never would have thought this would happen. I knew we were going to do an All-Star game, but not like this,” said Moore, who will be a sophomore at Prosper High School.

Casey Walls (Blue Ridge High School, 2023) got the start for Team Rangers and responded by tossing four scoreless frames as his mom, stepdad, grandparents and dad looked on from the Globe Life Field stands.

“It felt great. Couldn’t be a better place to do it,” Walls said, crediting his curveball and fastball for the outing.

The Rangers led 6-0 before Texas rallied for four in the bottom of the fifth with Walls out of the game. The Rangers went on to add a couple of insurance runs and take home the 8-6 victory after two hours of play.

But for Texas coach and Academy director Juan Leonel Garciga, the most important outcome of the game was the experience for the athletes.

“For some of these kids, they had their first high school baseball season and it got cut short abruptly,” Garciga said. “But now their first high school baseball season just ended by playing a baseball game at Globe Life Field. No one can take that away from them. It’s as good an ending as you’re going to have, given the circumstances.”

The game wrapped up a series of three All-Star contests at Globe Life Field this week for the Academy RBI Leagues Softball, Junior Baseball, and Senior Baseball divisions. In a normal year, one team from each division would have represented the Academy at the RBI Southwest Regionals.

While that was impossible due to the coronavirus, Garciga and the Academy staff made a silver lining possible for their athletes.

“It was a real treat because normally, we’re able to give a big league experience to 45 players, 15 from each All-Star team. This year, with the freedom to host the event here, we’re able to pretty much double that and serve almost 100 athletes to give them, truly, a big league experience,” Garciga said. “For us, that’s invaluable. You can’t put a price tag on that.”