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Hefflinger, Carolina League stars romp06/19/2013 2:21 AM ET
By Alex Espinoza / Special to MLB.com
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Between the seventh and eighth innings of the California-Carolina League All-Star Game on Tuesday night, big, orange inflatable sofas were brought onto the field for a game of musical chairs. It was almost as entertaining as the display put on by the Carolina League in the fourth and fifth as the visiting team played musical chairs around the basepaths en route to a 12-2 rout.
San Jose's Edwin Escobar may have been on the mound for his fourth-inning appearance, but he didn't benefit from the home cooking. The Carolina League batted around against the Giants southpaw, a feat it duplicated an inning later.
"We wanted to let these guys know that this was their game," said Lynchburg Hillcats skipper Luis Salazar, who managed the Carolina League. "We told them to enjoy it, they'll remember it for the rest of their careers. That's what they did. They came to play."
By the time the fifth was over, the Carolina League All-Stars had a 12-1 lead and the final four innings were reduced to a formality.
Braves prospect Robby Hefflinger followed his Home Run Derby win by earning All-Star MVP honors. He started the fourth-inning rally against Escobar with a double and finished 3-for-5 with a pair of two-baggers and a run scored.
"I was able to get a couple good swings on some pitches," Hefflinger said.
Carolina League players were together only a few days, including a trip to AT&T Park in San Francisco on Monday. But Hefflinger said the collection of young stars jelled quickly. And once the squad was presented with the All-Star trophy, the 23-year-old outfielder hoisted it in the air and was mobbed by his teammates.
"That's what we were saying during the Home Run Derby and in the locker room," Hefflinger said, "that this team chemistry for guys that have never played together, the bonding was really incredible. You had guys from all walks of life."
Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor delivered a two-run double and walked, while David Rohm (Braves) and Rangers No. 3 prospect Luis Sardinas both contributed pinch two-run single in the fifth for the Carolina League.
Lake Elsinore Storm catcher Robert Kral was named California League MVP after blasting a solo homer in the third and drawing a walk in the fifth. Despite the loss, the Padres prospect couldn't wipe the smile off his face after the midseason showcase.
"I just went out and tried to have as good a time as possible," Kral said. "It was an absolute blast. Just the whole experience of being here was so cool and I'm just honored I got a chance to play."
As the Carolina League was busy with the bats, nine pitchers combined to scatter seven hits. Rangers No. 12 prospect Luke Jackson struck out one in a hitless first inning to get the win.
"That's what we call Carolina League pitching," Salazar said. "They've got good pitching in the Carolina League. We also played great defense and we hit the ball. We combined three things today, and that's what it takes."