El Paso Chihuahuas pitcher Brett Kennedy and infielder Luis Urias have been named Pacific Coast League All-Stars. The 2018 Huntington Bank Triple-A All-Star Game presented by Gildan will take place on Wednesday, July 11 in Columbus, Ohio; home of the Columbus Clippers (Cleveland).
The roster is made up of 13 elected players who have received the most votes from ballots submitted by club’s field managers and general managers, members of the media and broadcasters, and online fan voting. The elected players are joined by 20 additional All-Stars selected by Pacific Coast League officials.
Marty Pevey, the Iowa Cubs’ winningest manager, will skipper the roster featuring players from all 16 clubs, including a League-high four from both the affiliates of last year’s World Series – the Fresno Grizzlies (Houston) and the Oklahoma City Dodgers (L.A. Dodgers).
Nearly half of the players on the roster (16-of-33) have yet to appear in a Major League game, while 15 of the players are 25-years-old or younger.
Memphis pitcher Dakota Hudson, tabbed by MLB Pipeline as the St. Louis Cardinals No. 3 prospect, was the League’s top vote-getter and will get the start. The PCL’s ERA and wins leader will become the fifth hurler in franchise history to start a Triple-A All-Star Game, and the first since Chris Gissell in 2005.
Oklahoma City southpaw and the League’s top strikeout artist Manny Banuelos was the other elected starting pitcher. Relievers R.J. Alvarez (Round Rock) and Pat Venditte (Oklahoma City) were also elected; Alvarez has a PCL-best 15 saves, while the ambidextrous Venditte has limited opponents to a .169 average.
The Fresno Grizzlies, owners of Triple-A Baseball’s second-best record, will have two starters on the infield, A.J. Reed (1B), whose 18 homers are the second-most in the League, and J.D. Davis (3B), who has hit .337. New Orleans’ Eric Campbell (2B) and Sacramento’s Chase d’Arnaud (SS) will draw the start up the middle; Campbell has reached base at a .430 clip, while d’Arnaud has scored 52 runs.
Getting the start behind the plate is Milwaukee farmhand Christian Bethancourt (Colorado Springs). Omaha’s Frank Schwindel, his team’s top run producer, will be the designated hitter.
Jabari Blash (Salt Lake), the PCL’s top home run hitter and off a three-homer performance against Reno on June 27, was the top vote-getter in the outfield. He will be joined by Albuquerque’s Mike Tauchman and Reno’s Socrates Brito. Tauchman has posted a .355 batting average and a .626 slugging percentage, totals that rank in the top three in the PCL.
Brito will be making his first Triple-A All-Star appearance. He has topped all hitters in the League with a .358 average. Blash, Tauchman and Brito also make up three of the four players that enter PCL action today with an OPS north of 1.000.
The reserves are highlighted by three of MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospects in the sport, Fresno outfielder Kyle Tucker (No. 9), Oklahoma City outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 28) and El Paso infielder Luis Urias (No. 30).
Rounding out the positional reserves are catchers Rocky Gale (Oklahoma City) and Garrett Stubbs (Fresno), infielders Josh Fuentes (Albuquerque), Nick Martini (Nashville), Nate Orf (Colorado Springs) and Patrick Wisdom (Memphis) and outfielder Zach Borenstein (Las Vegas).
Kansas City farmhand Trevor Oaks (Omaha), sporting a 2.05 ERA, leads the pitcher reserves. Right-handers Shawn Armstrong (Tacoma), Zac Gallen (New Orleans), D.J. Johnson (Albuquerque), Brett Kennedy (El Paso), James Naile (Nashville), Daniel Poncedeleon (Memphis), Tyler Rogers (Sacramento), Bobby Wahl (Nashville) and southpaw Alberto Baldonado (Iowa) are the other hurlers receiving All-Star nods.
The PCL will look to claim their second consecutive All-Star victory after last season’s 6-4 triumph at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. Renato Nunez (Nashville) earned PCL Top Star honors after mashing the decisive three-run homer. In the 20 years since the event changed to the current IL vs. PCL format, the International League has taken 12 of the 20 contests.