One man’s 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game ballot: PCL edition
By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com
We’re two weeks into Triple-A All-Star Game voting with a little more than two weeks left to vote to send your favorite Triple-A players to Durham on July 16.
With that in mind, here is who I’d vote for at each position based on the Pacific Coast League portion of the ballot. (Note: All players included below are currently playing in the PCL and have enough at-bats/innings to qualify for the major statistical categories. Those that are on the ballot but don’t meet these stipulations weren’t considered.)
Catcher: Adam Moore, El Paso Chihuahuas — No offense to Moore, but there were slim pickings here at catcher. Only three of the catchers on the PCL ballot have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting races. But don’t let that take away from what has been a fine season so far for the Chihuahua backstop. The 30-year-old owns a .311/.374/.459 line with four homers and 18 RBIs in his first season in the Padres system, and that certainly stands out when compared to Round Rock’s Brett Nicholas (.259/.329/.358) and Oklahoma City’s Max Stassi (.247/.296/.421).
First base: Mike Jacobs, Reno Aces — This one is much more cut-and-dry. Jacobs leads the league with a .343 average and 26 doubles. He also ranks second with 56 RBIs and third with a 1.015 OPS. Each of those is tops among PCL first basemen on the ballot. This is one of the easiest votes.
Second base: Arismendy Alcantara, Iowa Cubs — Many reasons to hem and haw here. Alex Guerrero was putting up quite the numbers (.376/.417/.735, 10 homers) in his first 33 games with Albuquerque, but he hasn’t played since May 20 when he was bit in the ear during an altercation with Miguel Olivo. Therefore, he doesn’t qualify for the offensive categories and loses my vote based on that. (Is it a little cruel to take it away from him after being attacked? Maybe, but I have to stick to my stipulations here.) With a .322 average, Fresno’s Joe Panik also garnered some consideration, as did Tacoma’s Ty Kelly with a .394 OBP and nine homers.
But Alcantara gets my vote because of his combination of power and speed. He leads balloted PCL second basemen in both steals (10) and slugging percentage (.515). His nine triples are most in the league and already constitute a career high, beating out the seven he collected for Class A Advanced Daytona in 2012. There were others that deserved consideration but not enough to shake my belief that Alcantara should be starting in Durham.
Third base: Adam Duvall, Fresno Grizzlies — Far less debate with this one. The 25-year-old slugger is tops in the PCL with 20 homers — five of which have come from his last nine games — and that number ranks fourth in the entire Minor Leagues behind only Joey Gallo (23), Kris Bryant and Peter O’Brien (22). In a stat that’s perhaps only interesting to me, he’s split those 20 exactly equally between home and the road. His impressive numbers go beyond just power though. He’s also batting .300 with a .367 OBP and, yes, a mighty high .636 slugging percentage.
Shortstop: Andy Parrino, Sacramento River Cats — Continuing with the on-and-off theme of tough picks with easy picks, this required a lot of back-and-forth. After considering the candidates – if you’re asking Javier Baez was cut early because of a low .230 average and .290 OBP — I settled on a final two of Parrino and Tyler Ladendorf, both of whom play for Sacramento. They split many of the major categories; Ladendorf leads in average, OBP, slugging and RBIs while Parrino, who rejoined Sacramento off waivers from the Rangers in April, has the advantage in home runs, steals and runs. In terms of a tiebreaker, I looked at who has played more games at short for the River Cats. Parrino has played 40, Ladendorf 23 — most of which came before Parrino showed up on April 24. Advantage: Parrino.
Joc Pederson, Albuquerque Isotopes — The only reason Pederson is on this list is because the Dodgers have too many outfielders. Otherwise, you’d think he’d be in the Majors by now. He’s shown off several tools in his first trip to Triple-A, putting up a .325/.436/.603 line with 16 homers and 15 steals. The left-handed slugger ranks in the league’s top six in each of those categories. Here’s hoping Pederson is somehow in the Majors by the All-Star Game and therefore can’t participate. For now, he deserves everyone’s vote.
Paulo Orlando, Omaha Storm Chasers — This is somewhat like the Ezequiel Carrera pick over in the IL. With 15 steals, Orlando is tied for fourth in the PCL, but he gets the nod for his impressive resume with the bat. His .335 average also ranks third in the PCL. Although he’s bat all around the lineup for the Storm Chasers this season, Orlando would be a great player to stick to at the top of the PCL lineup down in Durham.
Domingo Santana, Oklahoma City RedHawks — After that, it gets a little thin in the PCL from my view. Brad Snyder (18 homers) was promoted to the Rangers earlier this week. Andrew Brown (.359 average, 13 homers) moved up to the Mets last week. Randal Grichuk (.315, 10 homers) has been up-and-down with the Cardinals in the first half and is now up. That brings us to Santana. The Astros’ No. 7 prospect owns a .289/.363/.486 line with 10 homers, one triple, 17 doubles and 39 RBIs for the RedHawks.
Designated hitter: Allan Dykstra, Las Vegas 51s — Nick Evans was tearing it up with Reno, batting .335 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 44 games with the Aces into late May. The D-backs took notice and brought up the 28-year-old on May 28. He went 1-for-11 with a solo homer and seven strikeouts in eight games before being designated for assignment Thursday. Although he remains in the top two for both average and OPS (1.034) in the PCL, that means I’d have to look elsewhere with his next destination in doubt. Enter Dykstra, who is a perfectly good alternate. The 2013 Eastern League MVP owns a .302/.434/.570 line with 10 homers and 47 RBIs for Vegas. His 1.004 OPS is fifth in the league, one spot above Duvall.
Jimmy Nelson, Nashville Sounds — Nelson has been the best pitcher in Triple-A ball this season. There’s not much to think about there. His 1.51 ERA is the lowest among qualified hurlers at the level. His 86 strikeouts trail only Mike Fiers (92), who moved up to the Brewers earlier this month. He’s posted a 0.89 WHIP and .168 average-against, also lowest among Triple-A hurlers. The right-hander has lived up to his billing as the Brewers’ top prospect and then some in the first half.
Brad Mills, Nashville Sounds — It’s no wonder the Nashville pitching staff leads the PCL with a collective 3.31 ERA. (Oklahoma City is second at 3.69. Salt Lake is last at 5.88.) Mills ranks right behind Nelson among PCL pitchers on the ballot with a 1.57 ERA, almost one run ahead of No. 3 Tsuyoshi Wada of Iowa (2.51). His 0.88 WHIP is actually better than his teammate’s, as shown above, and his 70 strikeouts in 69 innings is nothing to sneeze at. If Fiers was still in the Minors, you could make the case that three different Sounds should start in Durham, and you would be right.
David Aardsma, Memphis Redbirds — When your ERA and WHIP match, that can either be a very, very good thing or a very, very bad thing. This is a list of potential All-Stars, so obviously in the case of Aardsma, it’s the former. The 32-year-old right-hander has put up a 0.94 ERA and 0.94 WHIP to go with 11 saves in 27 appearances for the Redbirds. He’s struck out 28 in 28 2/3 innings and has held opposing batters to a .143 average. Yeah, those are All-Star numbers.
Spencer Patton, Omaha Storm Chasers — Three PCL relievers are tied atop the league with 13 saves so far. Nashville’s Donovan Hand, however, has a 4.35 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, and Iowa’s Blake Parker has only tossed 16 2/3 innings. Patton has the strongest resume of the bunch. Through 32 innings with Omaha, the 26-year-old right-hander leads balloted relievers with a 0.81 WHIP and has also put up a 1.13 ERA and 37 strikeouts in that span. I don’t normally like to put too much weight into saves, but there’s no need to overthink this one. Patton has been really, really good.