Sarasota High Grad Ian Desmond Named National League All-Star

Written by David Driver on July 8, 2012 | Sarasota Patch

 

SARASOTA, Fla. – Sarasota native Ian Desmond has been a fixture at shortstop this season for the surprising Washington Nationals. 

 

As a baseball standout at Sarasota High School, Ian Desmond did not dream of being a Major League Baseball All-Star.

 

“My goal was to get my name up on the wall near the concession stand” at the school field, said Desmond, standing in front of his locker in the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse before a game July 3 in the nation’s capital.

 

That has not happened yet but Desmond, 26, the shortstop for the Nationals, was named to the National League All-Star team as a reserve on July 1 by former big league manager Tony La Russa.

 

“To me it is pretty special. He is a Hall of Fame manager. For him to select me is pretty humbling,” Desmond said. “It is a tremendous honor.”

 

He will join Washington starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, who grew up in the Miami area, for the game in Kansas City on July 10. “I don’t want to be the weak link,” Desmond said of the three players.

 

It will be the first big league All-Star game for Desmond.

 

“As a kid I never really dreamed about playing in All-Star game. My mind was on the bigger picture” of winning a World Series," said Desmond, part of a long line of big leaguers to come out of Sarasota High and the city.

 

Desmond, a slick fielder, is ranked among the top hitters in the league in extra-base hits this season for Washington. He hit a home run against the Giants on July 3 in his first home game since he was named to the All-Star team.

 

He has flourished since he was moved from the leadoff spot to a middle-of-the-order hitter for Washington manager Davey Johnson, who was born in Orlando in 1943.

 

Washington has been one of the biggest surprises in the Majors this year. Desmond has come up through the minor league system after he was drafted out of high school in the third round in 2004 by the Montreal Expos, who later became the Nationals.

 

Does he think fans are starting to be aware of Washington? “I don’t think they can really help it. We are an exciting ballclub. We are never out of” any game, he said. “We have set new standards here, I think.”

 

Gonzalez gave a lot of credit to Desmond for the success of the Nats. “He has made plays for us,” said the pitcher.

 

Desmond, born in Sarasota on Sept. 20, 1985, progressed to Class AA Harrisburg (Pa.) of the Eastern League in the minor leagues before he was demoted to Class A Potomac in Woodbridge (Va.) of the Carolina League in 2006. He used that as motivation and eventually made his big league debut with the Nats on Sept. 10, 2009.

 

He hit .279 in his first 330 at bats this season with 24 doubles, two triples, 14 homers and 47 RBIs.

 

Desmond hit his 15th homer of the year Thursday night to help stage a comeback as the Nats rallied for a 5-1 deficit going into the seventh to beat the Giants, 6-5,and improve to a season-best 16 games over .500 at 48-32. Desmond had two hits in the game and is now hitting .282.

 

Desmond gave credit to rookie phenom Bryce Harper, 19, an outfielder who began the year in the minors. “He has been a huge part of our team. He has been out there every day grinding,” Desmond said.

 

“I think (general manager) Mike Rizzo goes without credit, sometimes,” Desmond added. “He put together a great team this year. Some really good character guys, some veterans that have really pushed all three of us (All-Stars) to where we are at, at this point in the year. We are all trying to play at our max level. That is the direction this organization is going.”

 

“Like Desi said, we are coming together” as a first-place team, Gonzalez said of the National League east leaders.

 

 

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