Three Crawdads will take the field in the Northern Division’s starting lineup for the South Atlantic League’s All Star game on June 18, at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, N.J., home of the Lakewood Blue Claws.First-round draft choices Joey Gallo and Lewis Brinson will start at third base and in centerfield, respectively, while Prosperity, S.C., native C.J. Edwards will be the starting pitcher for the Northern Division squad.In addition, three other Hickory players were named to the All Star roster as reserves – second baseman Ryan Rua, catcher Jorge Alfaro and left-handed relief ace Alex Claudio.“No doubt about it, this is a great honor for these young men,” said Crawdads’ manager Corey Ragsdale. “I want them to enjoy the experience, to soak it all in, and to know that more such honors are possible for each of them.”Ragsdale then gave a quick synopsis of each player’s season so far.Gallo – “He’s scuffled a little bit of late, but his power numbers (14 home runs, 30 RBIs) are still outstanding. You have to remember, this guy is 19 years old. He has every chance to be as good as they come in this game.”Brinson – “Like Gallo, he has all the tools. He is so amazing physically that again, you forget that he is just 19 years old, also. His average is starting to climb now (.257) and, like Gallo, the power is certainly there (13 home runs, 26 RBIs.).”Edwards – “You have to be happy for this kid. He’s such a good guy. Does everything you ask him to do. For a lower round (48th) draft pick, he has come on so strong (5-2, 2.225 ERA), and we think he’s only going to get better.”Alfaro – “Jorge is a testament to the strength of the Texas Rangers’ scouting system. His offense is great (10 home runs, 31 RBIs, a .250 batting average), and he’s also growing into being an amazing defensive catcher. He’s young, and he’s still learning, but he’s also super athletic. He is a very special young man.”Rua – “You have to be really happy for him. We moved him to second base from third so we could have him and Gallo in the lineup at the same time, and he has adapted very well. He is doing what we thought he could do. And look at his numbers (17 home runs, 50 RBIs, .246 batting average). He has given us some of the best at-bats we’ve had all year.”Claudio – “A relief pitcher has to have a lot of guts and that’s exactly what Alex brings to the mound. He has been so impressive (3-1, 1.33 ERA, a team-leading 10 saves). He knows how to throw strikes, and he’s got some flair when he’s out there.”The strengths of these players and the ’Dads’ ability to hit with power (Hickory’s 90 home runs led all of Minor League baseball as the All Star break neared) have kept the team at or near the top of the Northern Division standings all season.Whether they capture the first-half pennant or not, Ragsdale says the club’s focus in the second half will be continuing to learn the fundamentals of the game so that his players will be fully prepared to move up the Texas Rangers’ minor-league ladder.While the team has launched more homers than any other squad in the Sally League, it has also struck out (654 K’s through June 9) more than any other franchise.“These guys are still learning their swings,” Ragsdale said of the strikeout rate. “They’re learning what they can do with the bat and what they can’t. But as the second half progresses, I think you’ll see those strikeouts drop and see them be more consistent at the plate.”Crawdad notesHickory closes out the first half of the season with a 5 p.m. start against the Delmarva Shorebirds at L.P. Frans Stadium on June 16. No games will be played June 17-19, but the ’Dads will open a seven-game home stand on June 20, with the first four contests against the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Fireworks will follow the June 12 game, and Chipper Jones bobbleheads will be given to the first 1,000 fans through the gate for the June 22 game.
Friday, Jun. 14, 2013
3 Crawdads starting in Sally All Star game
Bill Poteat is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at email@example.com.
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