There are many superlative ways to get yourself a spot on the Midwest League postseason All-Star team. Here are two, apparently.
One, pitch well enough that your parent club thinks you're ready to jump from Class A ball to the Majors in under a month. Two, break a Minor League record by reaching base successfully in 74 straight games.
West Michigan right-hander Buck Farmer and South Bend shortstop Andrew Velazquez did those things respectively en route to being honored by the Midwest League on Monday.
Farmer, a fifth-round pick out of Georgia Tech by the Tigers in 2013, opened his first full season with the Whitecaps and didn't need long to settle in. He kept his ERA hovering around 3.00 through most of the first three months of the season but really turned it on in July, when he went 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA in four starts. He was promoted to Double-A in time for August, finishing with an 10-5 record and 2.60 ERA in 18 Midwest League starts, and made his Major League debut on Aug. 13 against the Pirates.
Farmer wasn't the only member of the 2014 Whitecaps honored Monday. Wynton Bernard (.328) owns a 22-point lead over All-Star second baseman Kean Wong (.306) for the Midwest League batting title and was an easy pick in the outfield. He was also named the league's MVP for his impressive hitting display. Meanwhile, left-hander Kevin Ziomek leads the league in both ERA (2.23) and strikeouts (145) and represents the southpaws on this year's All-Star team.
Velazquez's performance didn't quite earn him a ride to the game's biggest stage, but he did garner plenty of national attention during his 74-game on-base streak that ranged from April 22 to July 16. His run broke the record of 71 games, previously held by Kevin Millar (1997) and Kevin Youkilis (2003) during their separate times with Double-A Portland.
Thanks to his incredible run, the switch-hitting shortstop owns a .291/.370/.426 line in his second season with South Bend as of Monday, and thanks to his speed, he leads the Midwest League 14 triples and 50 steals. That was good enough to garner Prospect of the Year honors from the circuit.
Brewers' No. 7 prospect Clint Coulter earned DH honors because of his impressive bat. The 21-year-old catcher led all sluggers with a .405 OBP and .919 OPS and ranked second both homers (20) and slugging percentage (.514).
Here is the complete list of 2014 Midwest League post-season All-Stars:
2014 MIDWEST LEAGUE POSTSEASON ALL-STAR TEAM
|Jake Bauers||1B||Fort Wayne||SD|
|Kean Wong||2B||Bowling Green||TB|
|Andrew Velazquez†||SS||South Bend||ARI|
|Wynton Bernard*||OF||West Michigan||DET|
|Joey Curletta||OF||Great Lakes||LAD|
|Brett Phillips||OF||Quad Cities||HOU|
|Mitch Garver||C||Cedar Rapids||MIN|
|Buck Farmer||RH SP||West Michigan||DET|
|Kevin Ziomek||LH SP||West Michigan||DET|
|Silvino Bracho||RH RP||South Bend||ARI|
|Will Locante||LH RP||South Bend||ARI|
|Mark Johnson||MGR||Kane County||CHC|