Rays’ slugging, ‘so deserving’ Isaac Paredes chosen for All-Star Game (2024)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Isaac Paredes wasn’t paying much attention when Rays manager Kevin Cash started a team meeting before Sunday’s game to talk about logistics for the July 15-18 All-Star break and resuming play afterward in New York.

“He was kind of speaking to everybody, so I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Paredes recalled later via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “But once he said my name, I kind of felt it in my chest a little more.”

For good reason, given what Cash was about to add: Paredes had been chosen as an American League All-Star and will make a return trip to Texas next Sunday night.

“I kidded with him that I know he wanted to get back to Mexico for the break, (and) you can do that,” Cash said, “but you’ve got to stop in Dallas for a couple of days first.

“He’s so deserving, and (we’re) proud for him.”

Paredes was the only Ray named an All-Star on Sunday. He was was one of four players chosen for the American League squad by Major League Baseball officials to make sure all teams are represented on the 32-man rosters, since none were voted in. Reliever Jason Adam was considered Tampa Bay’s other strong candidate.

That is a significant change from last year, when the Rays had outfielder Randy Arozarena and first baseman Yandy Diaz elected starters by the fans and pitcher Shane McClanahan voted in by the players. Infielder Wander Franco later was added as an injury replacement.

Rays’ slugging, ‘so deserving’ Isaac Paredes chosen for All-Star Game (1)

Paredes, 25, is a worthy representative, as he leads the Rays with 14 homers, 47 RBIs and an .820 OPS while hitting a solid .266 and splitting time between third and first base.

“It was definitely a dream, but I never thought that it would actually come to reality,” Paredes said.

“(I’m) very happy. I’m very proud of myself. I called my mom already. We were both in tears, so it’s something very good for both of us.”

And for the Rays, given Paredes’ rise in performance since being acquired from Detroit (with a competitive balance-round draft pick) at the tail end of spring training 2022 for Austin Meadows in a deal designed primarily to open an outfield spot for Josh Lowe.

Paredes had only limited opportunities with the Tigers and didn’t do much with them, hitting .215 with two homers, 11 RBIs and a .592 OPS in 57 games spread over five call-ups.

But Rays officials, who had scouted Paredes since he started his pro career as a teenage shortstop in the Cubs system, were confident he would develop into a productive hitter with at least some power. With 65 home runs (including 31 last season, all pulled to leftfield), 190 RBIs, an .808 OPS and a .242 average in 338 games for the Rays across 2½ seasons entering Sunday, he has done that.

Rays’ slugging, ‘so deserving’ Isaac Paredes chosen for All-Star Game (2)

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But the Rays didn’t necessarily expect this kind of reward this soon.

Rays’ slugging, ‘so deserving’ Isaac Paredes chosen for All-Star Game (3)

“We knew we had a guy that had a lot of hit ability,” Cash said. “I don’t think any of us thought we were going to have a 30-homer guy. So, good for him and better for us that we got that, because he does show the hit ability as well. He hits for a very good average, gets on base — all of those things and the power.

“It goes back to his development and him understanding who he really is as a hitter. I’ve got to give credit to (hitting coach) Chad Mottola, too, for some of the messaging early on, like, ‘This is what makes you special.’ And then a lot of credit goes to Isaac for taking that approach day in and day out.”

Paredes will spend the next couple of days working out his logistics, planning for his mom, Gloria (who lives in Hermosillo); young daughter, Susuki; and a handful of other relatives to attend the festivities.

Plus, he’ll be proud to represent his native country.

“I (may) be the only Mexican that’s in it,’’ Paredes said. “I think the fans are going to be very proud of what I’m doing.”

• • •

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Rays’ slugging, ‘so deserving’ Isaac Paredes chosen for All-Star Game (2024)
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