Buffalo Bison and St. Francis High School graduate Jim Negrych will be back playing in the Triple-A all-star, this time as a starter in the game to be played July 17 in Reno, Nevada. (Photo courtesy of Buffalo Bisons/MiLB.com)
Jim Negrychís continued success playing Triple-A baseball, this year as the local product for the Buffalo Bisons, is proving to be no fluke.
Once again, Negrych will get the chance to play among the best this level of baseball has to offer. The Buffalo native and St. Francis graduate was voted to the International Leagueís starting lineup to play against the best of the Pacific Coast League in the all-star game July 17 in Reno, Nevada.
Negrych will be joined by teammate Mauro Gomez, who was also voted to the IL starting lineup. The 28-year-old Negrych will be playing in his second consecutive Triple-A mid-season classic after being added to last yearís roster for the game which took place at Coca-Cola Park in Buffalo.
Playing for Syracuse last season, Negrych was named as an International League reserve days before the game. He was thrilled to be able to play in the Silver Anniversary game then, which was in front of his hometown fans, but being named a starter this year comes with an added bonus.
ďLast year was fun because it was here ó I enjoyed that. But itís certainly different to be selected as a starter, as opposed to a third reserve,Ē Negrych said. ďIt (means) a little bit more this year from a playing stand point. I doubt it will match the atmosphere of last year but itís still going to be fun to go out there and represent our team and our area and try to do the best I can.Ē
This yearís game will also be one for the memory bank because the honor validates what the Bisonsí parent organization, Toronto Blue Jays, have said all along ó that Negrych was a solid player who could help the Buffalo succeed.
ďItís an honor to be selected as a starter,Ē Negrych said. ďThereís a lot of good players in the league. To be recognized as one of the top performers, thatís pretty gratifying.Ē
And Negrychís numbers certainly back up his spot on the all-star roster. He batted .429 during an amazing month of April that helped the Bisons go 17-7 the opening month. While some critics said the bottom would eventually fall out and Negrych would come crashing back down to Earth, heís has proved the doubters wrong.
ďHeís done a great job,Ē said Bisons manager Marty Brown. ďI think all of those critics that say those things about Jim, gives him drive. Heís out to prove to people play this game at the highest possible level. Heís here and he wants to get that opportunity to play in the big leagues. He knows the only way to do that is to be consistent, and thatís what heís done.Ē
Negrych has been wielding a deadly bat as he was hitting at a .400 clip through mid-May. Though his average took a hit last month, Negrych has rebounded in fine fashion as his .319 average as of July 7 ranked him third in the IL.
Negrych has been solid throughout flashing the leather with great defensive plays at second base, making 51 starts there. But as the season turned the page at the mid-way point and the Bisons found themselves dealing with roster shuffling, Negrych has found himself getting that start at third base in 19 games.
For now though the all-star game is on the back burner as Negrych is just focused on finishing strong and helping the Bisons get into the playoff picture. As for the critics, Negrych has dealt with them before and knows they will never fully go away.
ďIím just playing to the best of my ability every single night and thatís all I do,Ē he said. ďThereís always people that will knock you...Iím not really concerned with silencing the critics. Iím just really happy to go out there and represent our team.Ē