DENVER -- Against the odds, rookie right-hander Aaron Crow was named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday.
Although Crow was having an outstanding season, it seemed doubtful that he'd be selected because (a) he's a rookie and (b) he's a setup reliever.
Yet there he was, picked as the Royals' representative on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell on TBS.
The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
AL manager Ron Washington made the selection of Crow, one of 24 first-time All-Stars named on Sunday.
In addition, Royals left fielder Alex Gordon was one of five AL players named for the 10th annual All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint, also picked by Texas' Washington.
"I was surprised," Crow said. "I thought guys like Alex deserved to be there. I know every team gets one guy, and I thought for sure it was going to be him. I hope he makes it in with the [Final Vote], because he's definitely deserving, but I felt extremely honored and lucky to have this opportunity."
Crow was named on the basis of a 1.36 ERA and a 2-1 record in his 33 relief appearances entering Sunday. He has notched 39 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. He leads the Royals with eight holds.
Breaking in spectacularly this season, Crow began his Major League career with 15 1/3 scoreless innings. He also retired the first batter he faced in each of his first 13 outings.
"It started off really well, and it helped build my confidence," he said. "Ever since the first four or five outings, I've known I had the ability to be successful at this level, so it's just helped me out a lot. I go out there every time and just build on what I have done in the past, and it just helps my confidence keep growing and growing."
A product of the University of Missouri at Columbia, about two hours from Kansas City, Crow grew up a Royals fan in Wakarusa, Kan., near Topeka. He attended Washburn Rural High School and was an all-state selection.
"As soon I found out, I called my dad and let him know," Crow said. "He couldn't be happier for me, and it's great to know I have that support back home."
Crow, a first-round draft choice by the Royals in 2009, came close to making the big league club in Spring Training '10 without any Minor League experience, except for two years with the independent Fort Worth Cats.
However, he began 2010 as a starter with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, only to struggle with a 5.66 ERA and a 7-7 record, and finished the season with Class A Wilmington, where he went 2-3 with a 5.93 ERA.
"At this point last year, if somebody would've told me this is how this year would've gone and I'd be an All-Star, I'd have thought they were high on something," Crow said. "But it couldn't have gone any better this year. I just hope to keep it up. It's been a whirlwind so far this year."
This year he made the club after the Royals decided to use him as a reliever. He was so successful he moved up to become a primary setup man for closer Joakim Soria.
How did manager Ned Yost make such a brilliant move last March?
"I don't know how brilliant it was. We just wanted to get him acclimated," Yost said. "After the year he had, he came in and we had starters already. He's been phenomenal. He's been an All-Star."
Yost was somewhat surprised that a reliever other than a closer made the All-Star squad. But he noted that Crow has made a season-long impression, notably pitching out of a bases-loaded jam against the meat of the Angels' lineup in the season's third game and getting the victory.
"That's what an All-Star does. He has had very few easy innings," Yost said. "We save him for the tough innings, and he's been All-Star-like in it."
Crow succeeds Soria, who went to Anaheim for last year's All-Star Game, as the Royals' representative.
"He deserved it, he's been pitching very well. He's the only one, pitching-wise, that can represent us the best. He's been amazing," Soria said. "He's a really good guy and he's going to enjoy that."
Crow is certainly looking forward to the trip to Phoenix.
"I didn't get a chance to see the whole team [named on TV], but I know guys like Derek Jeter are going to be there, and future Hall of Famers like A-Rod, so it's going to be awesome to be able to meet those guys and play on the same team with them," he said.
With Crow already on the squad, Royals fans this week will have the opportunity to add Gordon to the AL team. Balloting began immediately following the TV selection show and continues until 3 p.m. CT on Thursday. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
Mobile voting in the U.S. is exclusive to Sprint, Nextel and Boost subscribers. To receive the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 1122. To vote for a specific player, simply text message your choice to 1122. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may apply. Mobile voting in Canada is open to all carriers; fans should text their choices to 88555. Standard rates may apply.
On July 12, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.