With a mix of prospects and veterans, the early leaders of the Triple-A All-Star vote are a pretty good representation of the best (and worst) stories of the season's first half.
Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco (Indianapolis) and Brewers top prospect Jimmy Nelson (Nashville) are some of the most notable names to lead their respective positions as of Thursday ahead of the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 16 at Durham's Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Polanco is the top vote-getter among all International League players and for good reason: The 22-year-old outfielder has taken the IL by storm with a .355/.412/.550 slash line with six homers, five triples, 17 doubles, 48 RBIs and 14 steals in 58 games with the Indians with calls for his promotion to the Majors following him along the way.
Nelson, who has already made one appearance in the Majors this season, sits atop the PCL starting pitcher category, thanks to a league-best 1.64 ERA to go with a 0.90 WHIP and 69 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings for the Sounds. The right-hander is embroiled in a three-way race for the top spot in the latest ratings. Teammate Mike Fiers (6-3, 2.53 ERA, league-leading 92 strikeouts) is holding off Reno's Mike Bolsinger (5-0, 1.90 ERA in seven starts) for the second spot in the fan's vote by fewer than 100 votes.
Dodgers No. 2 prospect Joc Pederson sits safely in second place for the PCL outfield since taking off in his first season with Albuquerque. The 22-year-old is batting .337/.446/.625 with 15 homers, 36 RBIs and 13 steals for the Isotopes. Like Polanco, he could find a way to the Majors before the All-Star Game festivities.
While there are a few big-name prospects, there are a couple veteran notables atop the boards as well.
Leading his category, Toledo third baseman Mike Hessman has filled plenty of headlines this season after eclipsing the 400 mark for career Minor League home runs last month. His 258 career IL homers also have him tied with Ollie Carnegie for the circuit's all-time lead. But unlike Derek Jeter, this is no swan-song vote for the 36-year-old infielder. Hessman leads the IL with 14 home runs this season and sits third with a .923 OPS.
On the PCL side, Jeff Francoeur might be the most recognizable veteran to potentially make his way to Durham. The former outfielder for five different Major League clubs is batting .271 with nine homers and 33 RBIs this season but has grabbed the nation's attention for two other reasons. He was the victim of a team-wide prank filmed by El Paso teammate Cody Decker in which he was told reliever Jorge Reyes was deaf. He has also made six appearances out the bullpen for the Chihuahuas, posting a 5.06 ERA in 5 1/3 innings. Perhaps he could be of some assistance in a pinch come the July exhibition.
Albuquerque second baseman Alex Guerrero leads the PCL at his position, despite not playing for the Isotopes since May 20. In his first season with the Dodgers, the Cuba native required plastic surgery after being bit by Miguel Olivo during a dugout scuffle. Olivo was released soon after. Guerrero was batting .376 with a 1.152 OPS in 33 games with the Isotopes at the time of the incident.
Here are the leaders for both the IL and PCL thus far:
IL All-Star voting as of June 5
|C||Jhonatan Solano||Syracuse Chiefs||WAS|
|1B||Dan Johnson||Buffalo Bisons||TOR|
|2B||Ruben Gotay||Louisville Bats||CIN|
|3B||Mike Hessman||Toledo Mud Hens||DET|
|SS||Tyler Saladino||Charlotte Knights||CWS|
|OF||Gregory Polanco||Indianapolis Indians||PIT|
|OF||Mikie Mahtook||Durham Bulls||TB|
|OF||Chris Dickerson||Indianapolis Indians||PIT|
|DH||Wilson Betemit||Durham Bulls||TB|
|SP||Taylor Hill||Syracuse Chiefs||WAS|
|SP||Brandon Cumpton||Indianapolis Indians||PIT|
|RP||Kirby Yates||Durham Bulls||TB|
|RP||Jeff Beliveau||Durham Bulls||TB|
PCL All-Star voting as of June 5
|C||Adam Moore||El Paso Chihuahuas||SD|
|1B||Mike Jacobs||Reno Aces||ARI|
|2B||Alex Guerrero||Albuquerque Isotopes||LAD|
|3B||Adam Duvall||Fresno Grizzlies||SF|
|SS||Nick Franklin||Tacoma Rainiers||SEA|
|OF||Andrew Brown||Las Vegas 51s||NYM|
|OF||Joc Pederson||Albuquerque Isotopes||LAD|
|OF||Jeff Francoeur||El Paso Chihuahuas||SD|
|DH||Nick Evans||Reno Aces||ARI|
|SP||Jimmy Nelson||Nashville Sounds||MIL|
|SP||Mike Fiers||Nashville Sounds||MIL|
|RP||David Aardsma||Memphis Redbirds||STL|
|RP||Spencer Patton||Omaha Storm Chasers||KC|
The fan's vote, which started May 27 and will conclude June 27, will count for one third of the player's total. That will be added to the media vote (33 percent) and Triple-A field/general managers vote (33 percent) to determine who will go to Durham on July 16. Voters also receive a special discount on MiLB.TV or, if they already subscribe to the service, a 15 percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. Fans can vote up to 25 times.