Without an actual clock or any real-time mechanism in the game, it isn't often that things can come down to the last few seconds in Minor League Baseball.
Except this week.
With Friday's voting deadline fast approaching, races for the fans' vote on both the International League and Pacific Coast League All-Star teams are coming down to the wire ahead of the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 16 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The closest battle of them all comes for a spot in the IL outfield. Toledo speedster Ezequiel Carrera, who jumped into second place as of the last update nearly two weeks ago, now sits in third, clinging to the final starting spot. After thousands of votes, he sits only 26 tallies ahead of Syracuse's Steven Souza Jr.
Carrera leads all Triple-A players with 32 steals -- no one else has more than 23 -- and has been solid at the plate with a .305/.396/.410 slash line in 63 games with the Mud Hens. Souza, on the other hand, has been one of the circuit's best with a bat in his hand this season. The Nationals prospect leads the IL in all three slash categories (.363/.456/.567) and has added nine homers, 39 RBIs and 12 steals for the Chiefs.
The point could very well be moot come the middle of July as Gregory Polanco currently sits atop the IL outfield leaderboard. The Pirates' top prospect batted .347 with a .945 OPS, seven homers, 49 RBIs and 15 steals for Indianapolis before being promoted to Pittsburgh two weeks ago.
Over in the PCL, the closest race is at the shortstop position, where Tacoma's Nick Franklin is hoping to hold his slim lead over Cubs top prospect Javier Baez. Playing in his third season with the Rainiers, Franklin, who has split most of his time between second and short, owns a .293/.395/.489 line with nine homers and 32 RBIs. He returned to the club earlier this month after struggling (6-for-47) during a 17-game stay with the Mariners.
Baez has gone through his share of struggles but is showing signs of coming around. After batting .172 in April, he has his line up to .226/.278/.424 for Iowa to go with his team-leading 11 homers.
Reno designated hitter Nick Evans (.345/.412/.624, 11 homers, 47 RBIs) remains the top vote-getter in the PCL while Syracuse right-handed starter Taylor Hill (9-2, 1.92 ERA) owns that distinction over in the IL. MLB.com top-100 prospects Joc Pederson (Albuquerque) and Jimmy Nelson (Nashville) continue to hold onto their spots as a PCL outfielder and starting pitcher, respectively.
The fan's vote, which ends Friday, 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.
Here are the leaders by position with only a few days left:
IL All-Star voting as of June 24
|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||Ezequiel Carrera||Toledo Mud Hens||DET|
|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 24
|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|