Detroit Tigers reliever Gregory Soto selected to 2021 All-Star Game

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Detroit Tigers left-handed reliever Gregory Soto has been selected to 2021 All-Star Game, scheduled for July 13 at Coors Field in Denver. The game between the American League and National League starts at 7:30 p.m.

The Tigers had a few worthy candidates — rookie starter Casey Mize, second baseman Jonathan Schoop, righty reliever Jose Cisnero and Rule 5 draft pick Akil Baddoo — but Soto was selected to represent the organization on the American League All-Star team's roster.

This is Soto's first All-Star Game in his three-year MLB career.

"It's a big achievement," Soto said Sunday. "For me and my family, it's very important. Since I was a kid, I've always thought about that. Now it's a dream come true."

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Detroit Tigers reliever Gregory Soto (65) pitches against the Houston Astros during 10th-inning action Sunday, June 27, 2021 at Comerica Park in Detroit.
Detroit Tigers reliever Gregory Soto (65) pitches against the Houston Astros during 10th-inning action Sunday, June 27, 2021 at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Soto, 26, is 4-1 with six saves, a 2.94 ERA, 20 walks and 40 strikeouts over 33⅔ innings in 36 appearances this season. He made his MLB debut in 2019 as a starting pitcher but transitioned to the bullpen, where he is thriving.

"His stuff has always been talked about, written about and feared from the other side," said Tigers manager AJ Hinch, who informed Soto of his All-Star Game selection Sunday morning. "The big question: Was he going to be able to harness it? And he's really put together a nice run of quality outings in high leverage with zero room for error. I've only put him in the toughest spots imaginable."

Entering Sunday, Soto had posted a 0.53 ERA, six walks and 20 strikeouts over 17 innings across his past 17 outings. His improvements through the month of June have shown how far he has come in his ability to throw strikes — both with his 100 mph fastball and wipeout slider.

Last year, Soto finished with a 4.30 ERA, 13 walks and 29 strikeouts in 23 innings.

But Soto's confidence is much higher nowadays.

And not only because he is headed to Denver.

"He wants be name the closer," Hinch said. "He really does want the responsibility at the back end, but I know some outs in the sixth inning, seventh inning and eighth inning that he's gotten this year specifically helped us win games. That should be valued, and that should be rewarded."

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers reliever Gregory Soto selected to 2021 All-Star Game