One man’s Triple-A All-Star ballot: PCL edition
By Sam Dykstra
I went over my picks for the IL All-Star team for next month’s exhibition in Reno earlier in the week. This time, I took a look at the PCL side of the Triple-A ballot and present my choices below for your consideration.
Catcher, Matt McBride, Colorado Springs — Listen, I get why everyone supports Tim Federowicz here. You sort the catchers by batting average, see that his .418 is light years beyond the competition, observe that his other numbers (eight homers, 25 RBIs, 20 runs) aren’t too bad either and make the easy click without a second thought. But here’s the deal. Federowicz hasn’t played for Albuquerque since May 29, and though his numbers do jump out, there are other worthy candidates who have been in the PCL all year, none of whom is better than McBride.
The 28-year-old backstop leads all statistically eligible PCL catchers in average (.328), homers (15) and RBIs (45). His .683 slugging percentage also leads all hitters in the circuit. (Fan vote leader: Federowicz)
First baseman, Brock Peterson, Memphis — Same thing goes for Ka’aihue in this spot. First base is naturally a power position, so people look to homers here. With 16 roundtrippers for Reno, Ka’aihue has had a stranglehold on the category for quite some time. However, he hasn’t played in the PCL since May 31 and not because he was called up or was moved to a different Major League organization. He actually signed with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan after being granted his released at the beginning of the month.
Instead, consider Peterson (.306/.388/.578, 16 homers, 50 RBIs) or Fresno’s Brett Pill (.363/.398/.649, 10, 55). This was actually a tough decision for me, but I give the nod to Peterson because he’s played 29 more Triple-A games this season (71-49). Pill’s slash line is impressive, but it’s come in a smaller sample than the Redbirds first baseman’s. Still, given his high homer and RBI rates, I could be persuaded either way. It’s Peterson for now. (Fan vote leader: Ka’aihue)
Second baseman, Dean Anna, Tucson — Now onto someone we can all agree on apparently. Anna leads all eligible second baseman with a .339 average and .947 OPS, which rank fourth and seventh among all PCL batters, respectively, through 68 games for the Padres. I called him the surprise batter of the early going last month, and he’s only been better since, with a .356/.460/.534 slash line in June. (Fan vote leader: Anna)
Shortstop, Chris Owings, Reno — The D-backs’ No. 5 prospect recently moved into the ranks of MLB.com’s top 100 overall and for good reason. He’s batting .358 for the Aces, good enough for second in the PCL and his best mark by far through five seasons in the pros. His 49 RBIs, which lead all PCL shortstops, are just three behind his career high set in 128 contests between Class A Advanced Visalia and Double-A Mobile last season. (Fan vote leader: Owings)
Third baseman, Matt Davidson, Reno — There’s a lot to wade through in this category. Nolan Arenado (Colorado Springs) and Jimmy Paredes (Oklahoma City) were both worthy candidates when the ballots were set on May 24, but both find themselves in the Majors right now. That leaves it down to Davidson and Ryan Wheeler with Colorado Springs. They’re about even in every category, except the power numbers where Davidson leads in homers (10-5), slugging (.498-.443) and OPS (.856-817). As such, the left side of the infield ought to look awfully familiar to the Reno fans in attendance at next month’s All-Star Game. (Fan vote leader: Arenado)
Outfielder, Corey Dickerson, Colorado Springs — The argument shouldn’t be whether Dickerson is an All-Star or not. It’s about whether he’s been the PCL MVP, and the argument for that basically boils down to him or McBride. (It’s almost like Colorado Springs is a hitter’s haven or something.) He leads the league in average (.386), OPS (1.075) and triples (13) while ranking in the top three in OBP (.429) and slugging (.683). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Rockies called him to the big club on Friday after 66 dominant Triple-A contests. (Fan vote leader: Dickerson)
Brian Bogusevic, Iowa — He’s only done it once for the I-Cubs this season, but Bogusevic has a great case to be the PCL’s leadoff hitter. His .428 OBP ranks fourth in the circuit, and his 15 steals are seventh. He’s also batting .326 with a .940 OPS. Tough to keep him off any list. (Fan vote leader: Bogusevic)
Joey Butler, Round Rock — The competition for the third outfield spot is difficult, if only because no one jumps out quite the way Dickerson or Bogusevic do. Butler is a fine choice though with his .329 average, .418 OBP and .920 OPS. Can’t go wrong with that. (Fan vote leader: Michael Choice, Sacramento)
Designated hitter, Chad Huffman, Memphis — The PCL put only seven designated hitters on the ballot, making the voter’s job much easier in this category at least. Huffman leads the group with a .325 average, and his eight homers and 30 RBIs rank second and third respectively. That’s nothing spectacular in the PCL, but his resume is the cleanest here. (Fan vote leader: Brad Hawpe, Salt Lake)
Starting pitcher, Sonny Gray, Sacramento — The A’s No. 5 prospect has handled the Minors’ top level quite well in his first extended stay. He leads PCL pitchers with a 2.62 ERA and is second with 83 strikeouts. The league could do much worse than handing him the ball to start the All-Star Game, and he’s certainly earned that opportunity. (Fan vote leader: Gray)
Josh Lindblom, Round Rock — I get the point of picking Michael Wacha. He’s a big-time prospect who has met or even exceeded expectations as a rookie who is one step away from the Majors. He’s even pitched on the game’s biggest stage in front of one of the most ardent fanbases in the game, a group that has no doubt aided his vote total.
But if you’re willing to disregard Wacha’s limited innings compared to his PCL peers — the voters seem to be, and I also am so inclined in this instance — you have to admit that it’s actually Lindblom that’s having the better year. He bests Wacha in ERA (2.04-2.34), WHIP (0.92-1.01) and strikeouts (43-40) while gathering just one fewer out (57 1/3 IP-57 2/3). If this was a measure of who is a better prospect, Wacha wins easily. But it’s not. Lindblom deserves the vote here. (Fan vote leade: Wacha, Memphis)
Relief pitchers, Dan Otero, Sacramento; Cory Burns, Round Rock — I was all set to explain my theory about relievers in the All-Star Game all over again, but then I saw Otero (15 saves, 0.99 ERA, 0.55 WHIP) and Burns (15 saves, 1.17 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) are actually the fans’ choice relievers as well, despite Chris Hatcher (22 saves, 2.84 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) leading the circuit in saves. So now, I don’t feel obligated to do so. Well done, team.