FORT WAYNE – TinCaps manager Michael Collins strode into a joyous postgame clubhouse and got everyone’s attention.
With a hand on the shoulder of All-Star center fielder Mallex Smith, Collins delivered a message: Enjoy Mallex while you can.
Collins then broke the news that Smith will be promoted to high-A Lake Elsinore after next week’s All-Star break.
Smith went 3 for 4 and scored two runs Saturday in an 8-4 victory over Bowling Green at Parkview Field.
Teammates swarmed Smith after the announcement, with Franmil Reyes, heavier by 70 pounds, even jumping on Smith’s lap.
Smith, who leads all of baseball in stolen bases with 48, had no idea this was coming.
I’m just happy for it, like any promotion, he said. I’ve built a bond with them over time. It’s rewarding that they’re happy for me, too.
After a season and a half in Fort Wayne, the reality that today’s game may turn out to be his last in town struck Smith, 21, as bittersweet.
Very much so, he said.
Collins suspected the Padres organization might move Smith up after he hit .369 in May.
He earned it, Collins said. He leads the (Midwest League) in runs scored. I’m pumped for him.
Smith’s speed was on full display before 8,043 fans Saturday. He tripled to center in the first inning and singled and scored in the second. After a double in the eighth, Smith stole third.
He creates havoc, Bowling Green manager Michael Johns said. He plays hard. He plays the game the right way. Good for him.
The TinCaps (30-38) jumped all over Bowling Green All-Star Ryne Stanek.
A first-round choice in the 2013 first-year player draft, Stanek entered with a 2.16 ERA. The right-hander (3-3) gave up six runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings Saturday.
The TinCaps had13 hits. Dustin Peterson and Fernando Perez drove in three runs apiece, and Reyes and River Stevens each added an RBI single.
Collins turned to hitting coach Morgan Burkhart in the third inning and shared a moment of amazement at how their lineup was battering a pitcher that talented.
We were on today, Smith said. He’s a great pitcher. We weren’t missing too many of his pitches.
Payton Baskette (2-3) grinded out 5 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs with his mother, grandfather and twin brother in the stands.
One of my better outings, the TinCaps lefty said.
The Hot Rods (31-37) fell behind 8-4 on Perez’s two-run double in the fourth.
Now, all eyes are on Smith in today’s first-half finale.
That’s a tough piece to replace, Collins said. The team is genuinely excited for one another. He’ll be missed. That’s why they’re all here: to get to that next level.