With the Major League All-Star break upon us, not only does MLB shut down for a few days for some fun in the Miami sun, the two AAA Leagues and the AA Eastern League also close up shop for some All-Star hijinks. Which Pawtucket and Portland players were selected to play in these midsummer classics, and which ones were snubbed?
Pawtucket Red Sox
The Annual AAA All-Star Game, pitting the talents of the International League and the Pacific Coast League will take place tonight on the West Coast at Cheney Stadium, home of the PCL Tacoma Rainiers. Three PawSox players will be participating in the classic, outfielders Rusney Castillo and Bryce Brentz and pitcher Edgar Olmos.
Celebrated luxury tax casualty Rusney Castillo – who turned 30 on Sunday – has finally put together a season that was worthy of the hype that surrounded him when he was signed by Boston in 2014. Batting .302/.339/.473 at the break, Castillo has knocked a team-leading 17 doubles as well as nine homers, while stealing 13 bases in 15 attempts. Interestingly, Castillo has been plunked by more pitches (eight) than he has seen ball fours (seven).
Bryce Brentz was a late addition to the International League squad, taking the place of the injured Dustin Fowler. Brentz has been the offensive catalyst for the Pawsox hitting .270/.340/.532, leading the team in runs scored (44), runs batted in (49), and home runs (18). Bryce was also selected as one of the three International League participants in the Home Run Derby, winning the contest by slamming 18 bombs in the final round (38 total). He will look to match last year’s PawSox participant Chris Marrero in winning both the home run contest and the All-Star Game MVP.
Left-hander Edgar Olmos had a couple of cups of coffee with Miami (2013) and Seattle (2015), but not much was thought of his pickup by the Red Sox prior to the 2017 season. But, at 27-years-old, Olmos has put up the most consistent numbers of his career, going 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA and a 1.061 WHIP over 60 ⅓ innings. Olmos began the season as a multi-inning reliever out of the pen, but was switched over to a starting role in June. While his relief stats were good (2.56 ERA, 1.232 WHIP in 14 games), his starting numbers have been absurd (0.63 ERA, 0.872 WHIP in five starts).
While the PawSox, treading water at .500 at the break, could hardly have asked for more than three players on the 30-man IL squad, there were a couple of players who may be feeling snubbed.
Jack-of-all-trades Ryan Court has given the PawSox consistent offense all season with a line of .290/.375/.449 with 14 doubles, two triples, and seven round trippers. The utility man has played every position in the infield – with shortstop being his main home – as well as left field. Despite his constant movement around the field, Court has only committed a trio of errors this season.
Hector Velazquez has been easily one of the best starters in the International League, putting up a 6-1 record with a 1.48 ERA and a 0.910 WHIP in his dozen starts for Pawtucket. However. Hector may have missed out on his All-Star moment due to his travels to and from the Boston Red Sox roster.
The AAA All-Star Game can be viewed on MLB Network tonight at 9 PM and the International League could, at some point, have Braves prospect Ozzie Albies – the youngest member of the International League All-Stars at 20-years-old – in the same infield as Brandon Snyder, who is ten years older.
Portland Sea Dogs
The Eastern League All-Star Classic will be held at the home of the Fisher Cats in Manchester, New Hampshire, where the Eastern Division will host the Western Division. Four Sea Dogs will attempt to help the Eastern squad to victory.
Twenty-year-old Rafael Devers – the youngest member of the Eastern League All-Stars – will start at third base after a fantastic first half, which only enhanced his reputation. Devers batted .300/.369/.575 while leading the team in nearly all offensive categories. Devers has the Sea Dogs lead in doubles (19), triples (3), home runs (18), runs scored (48), RBI (56), and walks (31). After going 1-for-4 in the MLB Futures Game on Sunday, Devers will be making one last appearance in a Portland uniform tonight. He is expected to be promoted to AAA Pawtucket after the game.
Outfielder Danny Mars was elected by the fans to the All-Star Game, but this fan favorite is actually having a quality season. Mars has a line of .309/.355/.417 with 16 doubles, three triples, and three homers while leading the team in hits with 89. The speedy centerfielder is also tops on the team with nine steals (and nine more attempted swipes).
Teddy Stankiewicz was the only Portland pitcher on the originally released roster. With Beeks quickly promoted to Pawtucket after his 5-1 start for the Sea Dogs, Stankiewicz has been the most consistent starting pitcher in the Portland rotation. Through 15 starts, Teddy has pitched at least five innings in all but one game and six or more frames in ten games. Despite his best efforts, Stankiewicz has only been able to pick up six decisions on the year, holding a 3-3 record with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.425 WHIP.
Reliever Williams Jerez was added to the roster a few days ago as a replacement for Nestor Cortes, who was promoted to AAA. The conversion project has been dominant of late out of the Portland pen, putting in eight consecutive scoreless appearances (13 ⅓ innings) before relinquishing a run on Sunday. The lefty has only given up more than one run in two of his 24 appearances, but those two outings (a four-run effort over one inning on May 12 and an eight-run walloping on June 7) have raised his ERA to a mediocre 3.53 and his WHIP to 1.292 over 43 ⅓ frames.
Tzu-Wei Lin was well on his way to being a member of this squad as well, with a line of .302/.379/.491 with nine doubles, three triples, and five homers in his 48 games with Portland before his call up to the majors. While Lin would have undoubtedly enjoyed the All-Star soiree, it is always better to be in The Show.