The Triple-A All-Star Game is unique among minor-league contests in its makeup.
All 30 teams are represented between the Pacific Coast League and International League squads, meaning there are at least 30 pairs of eyes watching the players in the game.
That can be a good thing for the veterans named to the squad, including Isotopes left-hander Dana Eveland.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Albuquerque pitching coach Glenn Dishman said. “I know from experience you develop a reputation amongst the league. Maybe if you have changed and you’ve developed into a different guy or you’ve got a new pitch or you’ve cleaned up your delivery, it’s a good venue for everyone to watch you.”
Eveland has been the Isotopes’ top starter this season (7-6, 3.99 ERA) going into Wednesday’s game with Round Rock. He was named the PCL squad, which will be managed by the Isotopes’ Lorenzo Bundy.
“Health-wise this year I feel great,” Eveland said. “I don’t care what level you’re at, it’s definitely an honor to be considered one of the best in your league.”
Still just 27 years old, Eveland has been racked up plenty of innings around the Majors and Minors since he signed with the Brewers in 2003.
Eveland was 10-4 with a 2.72 ERA at Double-A Huntsville when he was named a Southern League All-Star.
“It was fun,” he said. “I got called up that night to the big leagues. I threw a nine-pitch inning. The inning was forgetful, it was quick. But the whole All-Star experience was fun.”
Eveland went 1-1 with a 5.97 ERA and one save in 27 games for Milwaukee that summer. He was traded after 2006 to Arizona and then after the 2007 season to Oakland. Eveland went 9-9 with a 4.34 ERA in 29 starts for the A’s in 2008, his best season in the Majors.
He was traded to Toronto before the 2010 season and then dealt again at midseason to Pittsburgh, where he pitched just three games before being sent to Triple-A Indianapolis.
The southpaw said he would like to pitch at least an inning in Salt Lake on July 13, if for nothing else than erase his ugly line (0-2, 7.96) with the Indians.
“I’ve got to get some redemption against the IL,” Eveland said. “Last year they kicked my butt, the whole league.”
This season the key for Eveland’s success has been several different factors.
“My sinker has definitely been my best pitch all year,” Eveland said. “I’ve gotten a lot of groundballs. That’s the easiest way to pitch in this place is to keep it on the ground. I can handle giving up some singles here and there, it’s just trying to keep the longball out, it’s tough to do sometimes.”
Catcher J.D. Closser said it has been Eveland’s breaking pitches that have keyed his turnaround.
“He’s able to throw his breaking balls when he’s behind in the count, get swings and misses and get swings and groundballs,” Closser said. “Shoot, he’s got 20 double plays or something like that. That’s the key, anytime you get guys on base you can erase two with one (pitch).”
Dishman said Eveland has been able to mentally overcome the obstacles Albuquerque and the PCL represent.
“I think over the months he’s figured out some things,” Dishman said. “He’s worked a ton in the (bullpen), he’s worked on his delivery a little bit. I think he’s figuring out how to pitch here in Albuquerque and on the road. He’s got a good idea of what he’s doing now.”
Eveland said most of the time being successful comes down to one thing.
“Luck. A lot of luck,” he said. “Here in Albuquerque you really just battle. You’ve got to battle, get some groundballs and hope for some lineouts occasionally. It’s a tough place to pitch.”