JOLIET – With the change in the format of the Frontier League’s 2018 All-Star Game from squads representing each division to featuring players who were selected as part of either Experienced or Rookies teams, it was probably inevitable that some former All-Stars might have missed out on being able to take part in the special event again this season.
Only six players who have previously appeared in a Frontier League All-Star game are headed back this year. One of those is Joliet third baseman Danny Zardon, who also was selected to play in the game in 2017.
He’s also one of four Slammers who were picked for Wednesday’s contest at River City’s CarShield Field in O’Fallon, Missouri, but the only one who will be on the Experienced team. The other three are all starting for the Rookies team: pitcher Liam O’Sullivan, catcher Trey Fulton and first baseman Trenton Hill.
Zardon is hitting .277 with 53 hits and 32 RBIs. After playing in the Phillies’ organization, he has been with Joliet the past two seasons. Despite fielding his position in an attacking fashion, he has made only one error, which came in the Slammers’ 41st game.
“There will be a lot more rookies there because of this, so it’s definitely a different way to do it,” Zardon said. “We’ve played really well as a team and especially lately and definitely had a lot more contenders, but there are so many good players in this league, so it’s definitely an honor to be chosen as an All-Star again.”
He is pleased with the way that the Slammers have begun to put everything together to help them become a contender in the Frontier League’s East Division, where they own a 27-24 record and are three games behind division-leading Washington.
“Our pitchers are throwing well, our defense is playing behind them, and we’re hitting well as a team so everything is starting to jell, which has put us in a good situation,” Zardon said.
Originally in the Phillies organization, the native of Pembroke Pines, Florida, joined the Slammers last season, when he hit .274 with 87 hits and 50 RBIs. While his offensive numbers are quite similar to his 2017 statistics, he has greatly reduced the number of errors that he’s made while playing at the hot corner.
When a manager has a player good enough to be selected as an All-Star in consecutive seasons, he knows there’s a good reason for the honor. And Slammers manager Jeff Isom definitely likes what he’s seen from Zardon, especially on defense.
“Danny has been consistent,” Isom said. “He was errorless for 40 straight games at third base. I can go out there and make no errors by making no attempt to get to the baseball or not throwing to first base because you’re afraid to make an error. But he’s made so many great defensive plays and to me, he’s the best defender in this league, hands down – it’s not even close. It’s a shame that major league clubs aren’t seeing that on the defensive side, He can go into the big leagues as we speak, and he’d be one of the top five third basemen.
“And he’s not too shabby with the bat, either. He’s kind of hit-and-miss at times, if you will. But he’s consistently between about .280 and .300. But the defensive side is really what sets him apart. He’s won games for us coming in on slow rollers, picking up and throwing across his body. He made one error in 51 games, and that was a slow roller when the grass was wet and the ball slipped out of his hand. To his credit, he probably should have held it but the throw went up the line a little bit. He can make playing third base look so easy while you’ll see other third basemen struggle to make plays and Danny makes these plays look routine.”
The Slammers return to action Friday when they start a weekend series at Windy City.