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tennessee smokiesThe Southern League All-Stars have been announced, and once again the list is highlighted by a lot of Cubs prospects.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Kris Bryant, arguably the best hitter in all of minor league baseball today, made the list. Bryant currently leads the Southern League in pretty much every offensive category you’d care to name, and probably several you wouldn’t. So much praise has already been heaped on his 2014 campaign that at some point I’m going to run out of words with which to describe his season and will have to make up some new ones. Bryantesque? Sparkletastic?

Joining Bryant on the All Star roster will be second baseman Stephen Bruno. Bruno’s impressive season includes fifteen doubles, an OPS of .864, and an ISO of .196. He also leads the league in plunks, having been hit with a pitch eleven times.

John Andreoli, the outfielder with the .362 OBP and 26 steals, also made the cut. His walk rate this season is an impressively high 14.9%, and that has allowed him to be one of the most productive leadoff hitters in the Southern League despite a batting average that currently sits in the .230 range.

Catcher Rafael Lopez will not play in this All-Star game due to his (well deserved) promotion to Iowa, but he was honored with a selection. Not only did he put up a ridiculously high 16.4% walk rate (as opposed to just a 14.7% strikeout rate), he also compiled an OPS of .879 while gunning down 49% of the runners who tried to steal against him.

The one member of the Smokies starting rotation who has mostly managed to stay healthy is also an All-Star this summer. Corey Black has walked quite a few this year (5.33 BB/9), but he has also struck out 55 in his 52.1 innings on the mound, good for a 9.5 K/9. When he is throwing strikes he has been very good this season, and has allowed just 5.8 hits per nine innings. His six innings, eight strikeout, no hit performance on April 23 is a good example of just how dominant this guy can be.

Closer Armando Rivero is the final Smokie to make the All Star list. He is a late inning strikeout artist (13.5 K/9) who allows very few hits (4.2 H/9) and even fewer walks (3.9 BB/9). Those are great attributes in a closer, so it is no surprise that he has finished 17 of the 20 games in which he has appeared. He is having such a good season with the Smokies that I would not be surprised if he moved on up the system before too much longer.

If you want to see Bryant and his comrades in All-Star action first hand, the game will be June 17 in Chattanooga.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa didn’t have a lot of offense (just six hits) but they had enough for the 4-2 win.
Tennessee – Thanks to a Bryant bomb and great pitching, the Smokies finally broke through for a win. The final was 3-0.
Daytona – Daytona used a four run fourth to propel them to a 6-5 win.
Kane County – The Cougars had the day off.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Matt Szczur had a very nice game, finishing 2 for 4 with his eighth steal. He has hit safely in 4 straight.
  • [Iowa] Christian Villanueva doubled for Iowa’s only extra base hit. It was his third double in 5 games.
  • [Iowa] Iowa pitchers continue to help themselves. Not only did Tsuyoshi Wada single and score, he also struck out 5 over 7 innings while giving up just the one run.
  • [Tennessee] Kris Bryant. Two more walks and homer number 19. When he finally leaves the Southern League, there should be a lot of pitchers sending Thank You cards to the Cubs front office.
  • [Tennessee] Anthony Giansanti and Rubi Silva both finished 2 for 4.
  • [Tennessee] Matt Loosen need 89 pitches to breeze through 6 shutout innings. He struck out 7 and allowed 4 hits and a walk.
  • [Tennessee] Hunter Cervenka pitched 2 impressive innings, allowing nothing but a walk and striking out 5.
  • [Daytona] Dan Vogelbach finished 2 for 3 with a double and 2 walks to lead the Cubs at the plate. His season line doesn’t show it, but he has been playing very well lately.
  • [Daytona] Jeimer Candelario walked twice in this one. He has now reached base in five straight.

Other News

  • As a team Daytona walked ten times against seven strikeouts. More of that please.
  • According to Twitter, former Tennessee Smokie Justin Bour is heading to the majors with Miami. The Cubs lost Bour to the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft, and given that Bour was effectively blocked by Rizzo and had no defensive home other than first base, it was a good move for both Bour and the Marlins and one that did not really cost the Cubs. Bour is one of the easiest to root for guys I’ve ever seen on a baseball diamond. Hopefully he soon becomes a hero to baseball fans everywhere by knocking over that monstrosity in the Marlins outfield with a few of his left handed homers.
  • The MRI results on C.J. Edwards contained good news. The Cubs expect to have him ramp up his throwing with the idea of getting him back into game action soon.

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