Players to watch at the 2017 Carolina League All Star Game

This Tuesday, some of the top prospects in baseball will be on display in Salem, Virginia at the Carolina League All Star Game. The North Division squad will feature prospects from the Orioles, Indians, Nationals, Red Sox and Royals farm systems, while the South Division team will highlight players from the Astros, Brewers, Rangers, Cubs and White Sox.

The Carolina League All Star game will feature 25 players that were ranked in our Prospects1500 Top 50 team lists, including seven players we ranked in our Top 209 list. Here’s a quick look at each of these 25 players.

CAROLINA LEAGUE NORTH

Victor Robles, OF, Potomac Nationals

Washington Nationals Top 50 ranking: 1

Prospects1500 Top 209 ranking: 7

Through 51 games this season, Robles is batting .285/.384/.495 with six home runs and 21 RBI. He also leads Potomac with 13 doubles and 11 steals.

Triston McKenzie, RHP, Lynchburg Hillcats

Cleveland Indians Top 50 ranking: 2

Prospects1500 Top 209 ranking: 56

The top pitching prospect in the Indians system, McKenzie is making rapid strides towards the big leagues in his third year of pro ball. He currently owns a 5-3 record with a 2.45 ERA (fourth best in the Carolina League) and a 0.96 WHIP (third best in the league). McKenzie is also striking out batters at a slightly increased rate and he has dropped his batting average against by 45 points from last year — from 0.195 between the Lake County Captains and Mahoning Valley Scrappers last year to 0.159 this season.

Willi Castro, SS, Lynchburg Hillcats

Cleveland Indians Top 50 ranking: 17

Through 60 games with the Hillcats, Castro is hitting a career best .289 with a team-leading 61 hits. Castro already has five home runs on the year, and is on pace to hit 13 home runs — six more than his current career-high.

Kelvin Gutierrez, 3B, Potomac Nationals

Washington Nationals Top 50 ranking: 23

A very fast third baseman, Gutierrez has a team-best six triples this year which ties him for third most in the Carolina League. Although he has only three stolen bases so far in 2017, he has quite a bit of stolen base potential as he managed to swipe 25 bases between three teams last year. There is some question as to whether or not he will be able to play in the game, as he was placed on the 7-Day DL on June 10. He could be ready to go by game time on the 20th, but that remains to be seen.

Ryan Mountcastle, DH, Frederick Keys

Baltimore Orioles Top 50 ranking: 4

Mountcastle has been crushing the ball this year in what seems to be a breakout season for the 20-year-old shortstop. He is currently leading the Keys in doubles (24) and is second on the team in home runs with 12 while also leading the Carolina League with 145 total bases.

Austin Hays, OF, Frederick Keys

Baltimore Orioles Top 50 ranking: 8

A third round pick for the Orioles a year ago, Hays is thriving in year two with a .317/.356/.548 slash line and a team best 13 home runs.

Randolph Gassaway, OF, Frederick Keys

Baltimore Orioles Top 50 ranking: 41

Despite a short stint in Double A with the Bowie Baysox, Gassaway has put up a solid season for the Keys in 2017. His .296 batting average is eighth best in the Carolina League and third best for Frederick. Gassaway is also third on the team in runs (30) and hits (61) and fourth in RBI (31) and total bases (79).

Michael Chavis, 3B, Salem Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Top 50 ranking: 9

Michael Chavis has turned on the power this year in Salem, as he leads the league in home runs (17), RBI (55), batting average (.327) and slugging percentage (.659). His 17 home runs are a new career-high, and right now he’s on pace to hit above .270 for the first time in his four-year pro ball career.

Josh Ockimey, 1B, Salem Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Top 50 ranking: 10

Ockimey has been on a steady rise through the Red Sox system, making the jump to the next level in each of his four seasons. He’s being much more patient at the plate this season, leading the team with 41 walks — 12 more than the next player — while seeing his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage all rise 35 points or more from last season.

Nicky Lopez, SS, Wilmington Blue Rocks

Kansas City Royals Top 50 ranking: 23

It’s Year Two for Lopez, and the 2016 fifth round pick from Creighton has become one of the top offensive players for Wilmington. Lopez leads the team with a .307 batting average and a .387 on-base percentage, which is helped in part by him having a walk to strikeout ratio of 2.4:1. Lopez is also a base-burner for the Blue Rocks, leading the team with seven triples while being third on the team with 14 stolen bases.

Anderson Miller, OF, Wilmington Blue Rocks

Kansas City Royals Top 50 ranking: 37

Miller makes up the second half of the 1-2 offensive punch the Blue Rocks have in him and Lopez. Miller is tied with Lopez for the team lead in total bases with 113 while also being tied with catcher Chase Vallot for the team lead in home runs with seven.

Richard Lovelady, LHP, Wilmington Blue Rocks

Kansas City Royals Top 50 ranking: 40

The Blue Rocks lefty closer has been solid coming out of the bullpen in 2017, converting five of six save opportunities while compiling a 1-0 record with a 1.27 ERA and a minuscule 0.71 WHIP. He has struck out 35 batters over 28.1 innings while walking only two.

Foster Griffin, LHP, Wilmington Blue Rocks

Kansas City Royals Top 50 ranking: 50

Griffin was selected to the All-Star team on the basis of his 4-2 record and 2.86 ERA over 10 starts with Wilmington. However, he has since been promoted to the Rangers Double A affiliate, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, so he will not be appearing in the game.

REST OF THE SQUAD: RHP Argenis Angulo, LHP Cristian Castillo, RHP Shao-Ching Chiang, RHP Tanner Chleborad, LHP Dedgar Jimenez, RHP Trevor Kelley, RHP Yunior Marte, C Taylor Gushue, C Sicnarf Loopstok, 2B Chad De La Guerra, 2B Sam Haggerty

CAROLINA LEAGUE SOUTH

Eloy Jimenez, OF, Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Chicago Cubs Top 50 ranking: 1

Prospects1500 Top 209 ranking: 14

Jimenez has appeared in only 26 of the Pelicans games this season, but he has put up some solid numbers with six home runs and a 15:16 walk to strikeout ratio. He is also leading the team in on-base percentage (.394) and slugging percentage (.545).

Corey Ray, OF, Carolina Mudcats

Milwaukee Brewers Top 50 ranking: 3

Prospects1500 Top 209 ranking: 34

The No. 5 overall pick in last year’s draft, Ray is progressing nicely in his second year of pro ball. Ray is second on the team in doubles (14) and is tied for the team lead in triples (2) and has a team-best 15 stolen bases — five more stolen bases in 11 fewer games than what he accomplished last season.

Isan Diaz, SS, Carolina Mudcats

Milwaukee Brewers Top 50 ranking: 4

Prospects1500 Top 209 ranking: 51

Diaz got off to a hot start this season, but ever since increasing his average to .270 on May 24, he has gone 6-for-69 (.086) in the 20 following games to drop his batting average to .213. Despite the recent slump, he is still second on the team with 37 RBI and tied for second with nine home runs.

Zack Collins, C, Winston-Salem Dash

Chicago White Sox Top 50 ranking: 4

Prospects1500 Top 209 ranking: 64

Chicago’s first round pick in last year’s draft has seen his batting average dip slightly from his 2016 debut, but he has increased his power output. Collins leads the team with 10 home runs and 23 extra base hits, including his first two career triples in professional ball.

Franklin Perez, RHP, Buies Creek Astros

Houston Astros Top 50 ranking: 6

Prospects1500 Top 209 ranking: 107

With a team-best 0.67 WHIP, Perez is having a strong 2017 season for the Astros. Sporting a 3-1 record and a 2.25 ERA, Perez just continues to get better each year in the minor leagues.

Myles Straw, OF, Buies Creek Astros

Houston Astros Top 50 ranking: 31

Straw is picking up where he left off from last season, as he already has 17 stolen bases and is on pace to surpass his 2016 total, and he leads the Carolina League with a .428 on-base percentage.

Nick Hernandez, RHP, Buies Creek Astros

Houston Astros Top 50 ranking: 40

Converting seven saves in seven save opportunities, Hernandez has been one of the best closers in the league this year. He currently owns the third best WHIP (0.86), the second best ERA (1.40), and the second most strikeouts among Carolina League pitchers with at least five saves this season.

Cody Ponce, RHP, Carolina Mudcats

Milwaukee Brewers Top 50 ranking: 14

Freddy Peralta, RHP, Carolina Mudcats

Milwaukee Brewers Top 50 ranking: 26

Jake Gatewood, 3B, Carolina Mudcats

Milwaukee Brewers Top 50 ranking: 27

Justin Steele, LHP, Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Chicago Cubs Top 50 ranking: 38

Luis La O, 3B, Down East Wood Ducks

Texas Rangers Top 50 ranking: 11

REST OF THE SQUAD: RHP Adbert Alzolay, LHP Tanner Banks, RHP Nate Griep, RHP Yoanys Quiala, RHP Ricardo Rodriguez, C Chuck Moorman, 1B Josh Altmann, 2B Bryant Flete, SS Danny Mendick, OF Louis Silverio, OF Daniel Spingola

The Skills Competition (Hitting Challenge and HR Derby) will both take place this Monday, June 19 at Kiwanis Field in Salem, VA.

Article featured image Carolina League All Star Classic logo – courtesy MiLB.com

About Michael Grennell 10 Articles
Baseball fanatic. I love to write and photograph anything and everything related to America's Favorite Pasttime. Follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrennell for baseball news with other sports-related tweets mixed in.

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