Triple-A All-Star lineups are often littered with talent, both young and old, and that's certainly the case with this year's International League iteration.
Nationals' No. 14 prospect Steven Souza and veteran infielder Mike Hessman were just two of the headliners of the IL All-Star squad, announced Wednesday, that will take on the best from the Pacific Coast League on July 16 in Durham.
Hessman famously became the IL's all-time leader in home runs earlier this week when he clubbed his 259th (404th in the Minors) long ball Monday. Even though that was his first homer in a month, the 36-year-old third baseman still ranks second in IL with 15 on the season, trailing only Buffalo's Dan Johnson (16) who was selected as the circuit's starter at first base.
This will be Hessman's fourth trip to the Triple-A All-Star Game, tying him with Lee Stevens, Joe Thurston and Todd Williams for most selections in the game's 27-year history.
Souza, meanwhile, has been statistically the most dominant hitter in the IL during his first season in the circuit. In 63 games with Syracuse, the 25-year-old outfielder owns a .358/.444/.595 slash line, leading the league in each of those three categories, and has also contributed 13 homers, 49 RBIs and 15 steals for the North Division leaders.
The Nats farmhand is not alone in terms of prospects on this year's IL All-Star roster.
Pawtucket will have a battery of them as No. 8 Red Sox prospect and right-handed starter Anthony Ranaudo, who at No. 91 is the only top-100 prospect on the team, will be joined by No. 10 prospect and catcher Christian Vazquez. Ranaudo is 9-4 with a 2.35 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 81 strikeouts in 17 starts (95 2/3 innings) for the PawSox. Vazquez, known more for his defensive acumen than his offensive production, has been solid both at the plate and behind it with a .275/.331/.384 slash line and a 39.1 percent caught-stealing rate, good enough for third in the league.
The host Bulls will also have a pair of top-20 prospects from the Rays system in No. 14 Mikie Mahtook (.316/.382/.510, seven homers, 12 steals) and No. 18 Mike Montgomery (8-1, 3.28 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) representing the hometown team at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in two weeks. Columbus' Jesus Aguilar (Indians No. 16) was the final top-20 prospect honored, thanks to his .278/.376/.491 line with 12 homers for the Clippers.
Thirteen players were elected to the squad by a three-way split vote between field managers and general managers (1/3), media members (1/3) and online fan voting (1/3) while the other 17 players were selected by IL office. Among the selected players are WHIP leader Liam Hendriks (0.90) and steals leader Ezequiel Carrera (33).
Durham, Syracuse and Indianapolis -- the league's three division leaders -- will send four representatives to the Triple-A midsummer classic, each tied for the most in the circuit.
Here is the complete 2014 IL All-Star roster, as announced Wednesday:
2014 INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE ALL-STAR TEAM
|Ivan De Jesus||INF||Norfolk||BAL|
|Luis Garcia||RHP||Lehigh Valley||PHI|