CLINTON – Jack Larsen wasn’t a high-end draft pick.
Nobody cut the Clinton outfielder a sizable bonus check.
The only thing the Seattle Mariners organization gave Larsen was an opportunity.
Signed as an undrafted free agent last summer, Larsen is the only position player from either Clinton or Quad-Cities voted by Midwest League managers as a starter for Tuesday’s all-star game.
A collision with an outfield wall during a game a week ago will prevent Larsen from participating in the 54th annual Midwest League All-Star Game in Lansing, Michigan, but before suffering the shoulder injury Larsen earned his spot on the lineup card.
“There’s no shortage of motivation,’’ Larsen said. “When you don’t get drafted but somebody gives you a chance to play, you appreciate it. Then, you go out and prove that you belong.’’
Larsen has been proving that on a daily basis throughout the season for the LumberKings.
His batting average hit a season-high .330 on May 11 and while he is currently hitting .272, the consistency in his defense has been matched only by his work ethic.
“He plays the game with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. We’ve got a roster full of guys who are sort of like Jack, not high draft picks but guys who like to show up and work and who love to play the game,’’ Clinton manager Denny Hocking said.
“I love that he was picked as a starter for the all-star game. Undrafted free agent, he’s just out there getting it done the right way.’’
Clinton teammates Ryan Costello, Ryne Inman and Collin Kober will participate in Tuesday’s 6 p.m. game at Cooley Law School Stadium, but Larsen appreciates the honor of being selected.
The Mariners gave the Mission Viejo, California, native a chance following a solid senior season at Cal-San Diego, an NCAA Division II program where Larsen thrived after a broken wrist during his senior year of high school limited his recruiting options.
“I had a good senior year in college and I talked with a few teams but the draft came and went. The Mariners called and asked if I’d be interested in a free-agent deal. Why not?’’ Larsen said. “It gave me a chance to prove that I could play at the next level, to see if I could do this.’’
Larsen hit .312 in 34 games in the Arizona Rookie League last fall, positioning him for an opportunity to make the LumberKings’ roster this season out of spring training.
“That was the goal, and now the goal is to see where this can lead,’’ Larsen said. “It’s to see if I can take that next step.’’
He spent the past week trying to heal the injury he suffered when he ran shoulder first into an unforgiving outfield wall at Ashford University Field during a game against Kane County on June 10.
The break is giving Larsen a chance to hit the restart button and work past a recent slump at the plate.
“I got off to the type of start I wanted to this season, but I’ve cooled off a bit,’’ Larsen said. “It’s a long season and I expected there to be some ups and downs. I’m looking forward to getting it going again, having more consistent at-bats and staying aggressive at the plate, doing what I can to be aggressive, be ready.’’