The powerhouse South Division squad is stocked with a majority of the circuit's heavier hitters, including Charlotte's Henry Wrigley (tied for the league lead with 12 homers), Palm Beach's Xavier Scruggs (fourth with 10 longballs) and Bradenton teammates Jeremy Farrell (fifth with nine) and Quincy Latimore, who leads the league with 48 RBIs.
But the beefy lineup won't have an easy job -- there's a reason this sort of matchup is called an All-Star Game. FSL wins leader Brayan Villarreal, who's earned seven wins in 12 starts while posting a 3.33 ERA, pitched seven innings for Lakeland on Tuesday (allowing only an unearned run) and is unlikely to throw more than an inning or so Saturday. Luckily for the North, he's not the only hurler on the leaderboard.
Clearwater's Austin Hyatt, who's third in the circuit with 81 strikeouts in only 64 1/3 innings, will probably work an inning or two against the South. He'll be joined by Tampa's Adam Warren, who's third with a 2.44 ERA, and Dayton's Rafael Dolis, who is just behind Warren with a 2.51 mark. Dunedin's Henderson Alvarez (5-2, 2.78 ERA) could go for several innings since he last pitched Monday. Fellow Jays prospect Matt Daly's 15 saves tie him for the league lead with Bradenton's Noah Krol; Daly will work out of the North bullpen and Krol out of the South's.
The North pitching staff hopes to get run support from a lineup that may not be as powerful as the South's but is adept at finding other ways to score. Nobody in the league has scored more than Daytona's Brett Jackson, who crossed the plate at least once in each of his last six games before the break. Lakeland's Kody Kaiser is second with a .348 batting average, which he's boosted from a .263 mark on May 1. Erik Komatsu of the host Brevard County Manatees has stolen 16 bases and been caught just once, while Clearwater's Cody Overbeck, who's in the top five in both homers (11) and RBIs (41), could provide his division with pop.
That crew faces the likes of Palm Beach starter Mark Diapoules and a slew of very strong relievers, including Cardinals teammate Matthew Frevert and the Charlotte Stone Crabs tandem of Marquis Fleming and Zachary Quate.
The festivities begin on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET with Home Run Derby.