MOOSIC — One of Justus Sheffield’s goals last year was to make the All-Star Futures Game.
But a right oblique injury suffered in June cost him a good chunk of his 2017 campaign and a shot at participating in the top Minor League all-star game in all of baseball.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders southpaw entered the season with the goal of reaching the bigs. The Futures Game was something he has thought about at times, but his main focus was making his big-league debut.
While his goal of making the majors this season is still a legitimate possibility, he’ll first have an opportunity to make up for lost time in two weekends in Washington, D.C.
While the Futures Game rosters won’t be revealed until Friday, RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell confirmed that Sheffield got the invite to the July 15 all-star game.
“It’s awesome. I’m excited. I’m pumped,” Sheffield said. “It’s just the biggest all-star game below the (MLB) All-Star Game, you know? It’s bigger than making the Double-A all-star game and I think it’s the closest to being a MLB all-star.
“Just the experience, getting to play with guys from all around — different leagues, different teams, meeting guys, getting to play in a big-league stadium. I think it’s just going to be awesome.”
Mitchell has been around Sheffield the most since the New York Yankees traded for the southpaw in July 2016, being his manager in Double-A Trenton each of the past two seasons and this year with the RailRiders.
The first-year RailRiders manager notes the growth in Sheffield’s maturity and his overall “stuff” on the mound that has led to his invite to the all-star game and success this year in Triple-A, sporting a 2-3 record and 2.61 ERA.
“He’s just becoming more of a pitcher than a thrower and it’s shown his last few outings and he deserves to go,” Mitchell said. “If he didn’t know already, he knows he’s the ‘dude’ as they say, you know? If he just keeps on rolling and keeps on continuing this, the sky’s the limit for him. He’s such a good makeup guy, such a good team guy, that he’s going to be good wherever he goes, at each level.”
Sheffield’s an uber-competitive pitcher on the mound.
So July 15, when the bright lights are on him and he’s pitching on national television, he’ll be ready for the challenge.
“It’s just a great honor that the Yankees picked me to go represent them,” Sheffield said. “It definitely does show me that things are possible if you just keep working and pushing for it. I’m just really excited and ready to get going with it.”
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle