Midwest League: Cougars reliever added to All-Star roster
By Mike Knapp For Sun-Times Media June 7, 2012 10:42PM
Kane County's Robinson Yambati fires a pitch against the Quad Cities River Bandits on Thursday night. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 7, 2012 11:34PM
Matt Ridings has been one of the most consistent pitchers out of the bullpen this season for the Kane County Cougars, and his performance was rewarded Thursday when he was named to the Western Division pitching staff for the Midwest League All-Star game June 19 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
The 24-year-old Ridings, a Western Kentucky University product who was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 41st round in 2010, is 4-2 with a 2.34 ERA this season. He’s also made a team-high 18 appearances and picked up his first save of the season Wednesday night against Quad Cities.
“I’m excited, it’s an honor,” Ridings said. “It should be fun and we hope to have a good crowd. My family gets to come up, too. I told them today and they were excited. Hopefully it is a good experience.”
Ridings wasn’t named to the original team that was announced Monday. Instead he is taking the place of former teammate Nick Graffeo, who was on the squad until he was promoted to High-A Wilmington Tuesday.
Cougars manager Buck Buchanan, who will manage the Western team, spoke with league president George Spelius and was told he could replace Graffeo with another pitcher from his staff. Ridings, who has given up just three runs in his last 10 appearances, was an easy choice.
Ridings joins teammates Lane Adams and Jorge Bonifacio, who will represent two-thirds of the starting outfield on the team.
“I think he should have been on the team from the beginning,” Buchanan said. “It’s good for him, he’s very deserving.”
Cougars 4, Quad Cities 1 — Robinson Yambati pitched seven strong innings and Danny Mateo drove in two runs as the Cougars have now taken the first two games of the three-game set.
The right-handed Yambati, making his third start for the Cougars, matched Aaron Brooks’ 7-inning stint Wednesday night and went one better, allowing a run on four hits while striking out five to improve to 2-1 on the season. Mike Giovenco followed with two shutout innings to pick up his second save of the season.
“He (Yambati) was under control out there, and it is big for him to stay under control when he is throwing,” Buchanan said. “He showed a plus curveball and was throwing hard.”
Mateo, who drilled a three-run homer Wednesday, had three hits and plated both of his runs with an eighth-inning double. Mike Antonio and Dean Espy both had two hits and an RBI.
The series, and six-game homestand, concludes at 6:30 Friday. Angel Baez (1-1) will start for the Cougars.