With the first half of the season now over in the South Atlantic and Carolina Leagues, it is time for the highly anticipated All-Star festivities. The A-Ball All-Star games not only act as a break between the two halves of the season, but is also a natural time to give a well earned send-off to the next level for the best of the stars. The Red Sox have nine players representing Salem and Greenville in their respective All-Star games; for a select few, it will be their final game before promotion to a new league.
For the first time in over twenty seasons, the Carolina League will be holding an All-Star fest of its own, with the Salem, Virginia Red Sox playing host. The Red Sox A-ball affiliate – who were well-positioned for the Northern Division title for the entire first half before losing their final five games – had five players selected to represent the Northern Division. They will also have the Salem field staff – manager Joe Oliver, pitching coach Paul Abbott, strength coach Gregory Bourn, and athletic trainer Nick Kuchwara – in the dugout managing the North Division All-Stars.
The starting infield for the Northern Division will look a lot like home for the Salem fans in attendance, as first, second, and third base will be manned by Red Sox players.
Third baseman Michael Chavis – the Sox first round pick in 2014 – has made a giant leap forward in his fourth minor league season. In 59 games during the first half, Chavis put up an impressive .318/.388/.641 line with half of his 71 hits going for extra-bases. In the triple crown categories, Chavis ranks sixth in the league in batting, seventh in OBP, and first in slugging as well as OPS. Chavis also tops the charts in homers with 17 and is fifth in doubles with the same number. With third base an issue in Boston, Chavis could soon move up to AA Portland to replace Rafael Devers. In fact, there is a possibility this could be his final game in front of the Salem fans.
Fellow 2014 draft pick Josh Ockimey will man the opposite corner at first. And, like Chavis, Ockimey has made a distinct jump in his fourth professional season. In 66 games for Salem, Josh has batted .290/.401/.452 with 13 doubles and seven jacks. Ockimey, who was one of the most patient hitters in the minors last season with 88 walks, has continued that trend this season, ranking second in the league with 42 thus far. Unlike Chavis, his path to Portland is currently blocked, with Sam Travis in AAA Pawtucket and Nick Longhi in Portland.
Perhaps the surprise of the three starters is at second base, where 2015 draft pick Chad De La Guerra has shown far more consistency than in his first two seasons. In 58 games at High-A, Chad has posted a line of .294/.368/.463 with 16 doubles, three triples, and five downtown shots. Unlike the two 21-year-olds manning the corners, 24-year-old De La Guerra was drafted out of college. Additionally, his path to Portland is currently not clean, with Josh Tobias – who started the season in Salem – currently manning second base.
21-year-old left-handed starting pitcher Dedgar Jimenez may have been in line to be the fourth Salem starter on the All-Star squad, but his start on Sunday will likely leave him on the bench. Now in his fifth season in the Sox organization, Jimenez – like Chavis and Ockimey – has made a tremendous jump thus far in 2017. In his 26 starts last season for Greenville and Salem, Jimenez went 8-10 with a 5.20 ERA. In his 13 games this season, Dedgar has already matched his win total from last season, going 8-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.226 WHIP. More impressive from a development standpoint is his 70 strikeouts in 69 ⅓ innings after he struck out 95 in 136 innings last season.
The final Salem representative is reliever Trevor Kelley, who has continued to excel by avoiding baserunners. Kelley has allowed only 25 men to reach in his 26 ⅔ innings over 18 appearances, putting up a 1.69 ERA in addition to his 0.938 WHIP. If there is any cause for minor concern, his strikeouts per 9 innings is under 9 for the first time in his professional career – but just barely as he has whiffed 25 in his 26 ⅔ innings this season. The Red Sox under Dave Dombrowski have not been shy to move their short relievers quickly, so it would not be a huge surprise to see Kelley move to AA Portland later this season.
South Atlantic League
The South Atlantic League All-Star game will be held in Columbia, South Carolina – home to the Fireflies. While the hometown crowd will be denied a chance to see fan favorite Tim Tebow – batting .224/.319/.338 in 60 games for the Mets affiliate – they will get to see four players from the Southern Division first-half champion Greenville Drive.
21-year-old Roldani Baldwin was the only fielder from the Drive to make the initial cut for the All-Star squad. Baldwin, who had switched between third base and catcher in his first three seasons, has appeared exclusively at catcher this season. In his 45 games during the first half, Roldani has a .285/.315/.529 line with 16 doubles and eight roundtrippers. His defense has also improved, with only two errors committed in 41 games behind the plate and a 33% caught stealing percentage.
Outfielder Lorenzo Cedrola joins Baldwin on the field after being added to the team during the weekend. The 19-year-old has batted .270/.315/.375 in his first 55-game taste of full season ball, with nine doubles, three triples, two bombs, and a dozen steals. His field work – largely in center but also in right – may have helped earn him the nod. Lorenzo has committed just two errors in 94 chances while throwing out three runners on the basepaths.
23-year-old starting pitcher Logan Boyd is the oldest man on the South squad, and his numbers have taken a dip since his selection. Riding high with a 7-1 record and a 3.17 ERA on May 30, Boyd has seen his fortunes lag in June. In his three starts this month, Logan has gone 0-3 with a 9.82 ERA and a 1.773 WHIP. The portsider has a history of inconsistency: last season he led the South Atlantic League with 14 wins despite a 4.78 ERA.
Reliever Stephen Nogosek, drafted last season out of Oregon, is quickly making a name for himself as a closer in the SALLY. The 22-year-old right-hander leads the circuit with 13 saves in his 23 appearances, striking out 45 in 35 ⅓ innings. Nogosek is also keen to keep runners off the bases, with a WHIP just under one. However, Stephen does have a propensity for gopher balls, granting the opposition four homers – with the homer hitters accounting for 40% of the runs he has allowed this season. While not quite as dominant as Bobby Poyner in 2016, Nogosek is likely in line for a promotion to Salem in the near future.
Hitting coach Wilton Veras will also travel across South Carolina to Columbia, joining the South squad coaching staff.