CORPUS CHRISTI - Starting pitcher Tommy Shirley and outfielder Preston Tucker lead a quintet of Hooks named to the Texas League South Division All-Star Team, league president Tom Kayser announced Monday. Second baseman Nolan Fontana and third baseman Matt Duffy were voted in as starters, while relief pitcher Andrew Robinson joins Shirley and Tucker as reserves on the roster, which was selected by league managers, coaches, broadcasters and beat writers.
Shirley, a 25-year-old southpaw, emerged as Corpus Christi's ace through the season's first two months, going 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA in 13 games (10 starts). The Pennsylvania-native ranks second in the Texas League in earned run average, WHIP (0.88) and opponents' batting average (.189), as well as fourth with 62 strikeouts.
A 2010 draft pick out of Xavier, Shirley allowed more than two earned runs in a start for the first time all season Sunday night against San Antonio. He ranks second among TL starters in walks-per-nine innings (1.84) and fewest baserunners-per-nine innings (8.72).
After hitting .247 in April, Fontana's bat caught fire in May, when he batted .325 with a .505 on-base percentage. Overall, the former second-round pick is owns a .279 batting average with one home run, 23 RBIs, and league bests in walks (53) and OBP (.437). Fontana is tied with North Division All-Star Alex Yarbrough for the TL lead in doubles (19).
The South's starting third baseman, Duffy was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City May 28, after he hit .302 in the first two months with six long balls and 35 runs batted in. The Texas League Player of the Month for May, he hit .365 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 25 games. At the time of his promotion to OKC, Duffy led the circuit in runs driven in, ranked third in total bases (92) and stood fifth in batting average (.302).
Tucker has emerged as Corpus Christi's most reliable run-producer in 2014, leading the Hooks in runs scored (35), home runs (14), RBIs (40) and total bases (125) to go with his .266 batting average. The former Florida Gator has been with Corpus Christi for nearly a year, after his promotion from Advanced-A Lancaster June 26, 2013.
The veteran reliever Robinson has been dominant out of Corpus Christi's bullpen in 2014. He stands 4-1 with a 1.15 ERA and two saves in 19 games. He's walked just 10 and fanned 31 in 31 1/3 innings pitched, while holding the opposition to a .227 batting average. Robinson rattled off a stretch of eight straight scoreless outings from May 8-May 31 and has allowed one run in his last 10 games, spanning 17 2/3 innings.
The Arkansas Travelers will host the 2014 Texas League All-Star Game June 24 at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.