Bishop leads way for Cal North All-Stars

No. 13 Mariners prospect goes 4-for-4 with three runs scored

Modesto's Braden Bishop accepted the BUSH's MVP Award from California League president Charlie Blaney. (Ken Weisenberger/MiLB.com)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | June 21, 2017 3:02 AM ET

VISALIA, California -- If an All-Star Game is a showcase, then Braden Bishop marketed himself admirably Tuesday night.

Not regularly touted for his hitting, the Mariners' No. 13 prospect went 4-for-4 with a triple, a double, three runs scored and two stolen bases to lead the North to a 5-3 win over the South in the California League All-Star Game, earning BUSH'S Most Valuable Players honors in the process.


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"I think the biggest thing for me was to have fun and try to see the ball," the Modesto outfielder said. "I knew these guys were going to come after me, and I was just lucky enough to have my barrel run into a couple."

Bishop batted .309/.411/.403 with 13 steals for the Nuts in the first half after combining for a .273 average over 104 games between the Class A Midwest League and the Cal League last year.

"I think I've been told for so long I can't hit, it's made me work that much harder to show that I can. I feel like I've always been able to hit," the 2015 third-rounder said. "But to be able to make the adjustments and have them pay off this year, not only for people watching, but for myself -- to show myself that the adjustments that I make work -- I think it's big for me and also people around me."

Bishop led off the bottom of the first inning with a double to left field off eighth-ranked Padres prospect Eric Lauer (Lake Elsinore) and later stole third.

"A couple pitches in, I was looking over at [Rawhide manager Shelley Duncan] at third, and he was just saying, 'It's there if you want it,'" Bishop said. "That's part of my game, so I might as well showcase it."


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Two innings later, he singled up the middle off No. 24 Dodgers prospect Dennis Santana and stole another bag. His speed was on display yet again in the fifth, when he poked a knock through the right side against Jose Rodriguez (Inland Empire) and scored on a double by Tyler Ramirez (Stockton). He led off the seventh with a three-bagger to the gap in right-center against Andrew Istler (Rancho Cucamonga).

"I hit it and I saw it go to the gap, and I made up my mind I was going three even if I got out," Bishop said. "I heard [Visalia batting coach Vince Harrison coaching over at first] telling me to go three, so I knew that I needed to get on three and have fun with it."

Knowing he was a home run shy of the cycle, he was ready to take the same spirit into another at-bat, but didn't get one.

"Everybody was telling me to drop my back shoulder and hit it as hard as I can," Bishop said. "I'm not known as a power hitter at all, but I think just the fact that I had four hits and I was a home run from the cycle, you never know what could happen."

The Rawhide's Bo Takahasi struck out three -- whiffing Garrett Hampson (Lancaster), Brendan Rodgers (Lancaster) and Josh Naylor (Lake Elsinore) in his first inning of work -- and allowed one hit and one walk in a second scoreless frame. He earned the win.

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"I never expected that, but it was a great feeling," Takahashi said. "I was just happy to be here. I just tried to enjoy the most time I could on the field."

Visalia teammate Bud Jeter, who leads the league with 16 saves, shut the door for the North, entering with a runner on second and one out against Hampson and Rodgers -- the No. 10 overall prospect who will head to Double-A on Wednesday. He got the former to fly out to left and retired the latter on one pitch.

"Nothing extra [against Rodgers], just tried to execute my pitch. I threw him a slider and got him to ground out. As a bullpen guy, it's kind of the situation you look for, to come in there in the pressure situations and try to get the job done," Jeter said. "In Visalia, we've got a special community, really close-knit, and it's always great to come out there and throw in front of the crowd."

Lancaster, which won the South Division's first-half title, did some heavy lifting for the South, with seven of the squad's 11 hits and all of the RBIs and runs. Rodgers went 1-for-5 with an RBI double and a run scored, and Hampson -- Colorado's No. 15 prospect -- was 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored.

"We're just out here trying to compete every at-bat just like we do in Lancaster, and it happened to work out in our favor, putting good swings on pitches you think you can handle," said Wes Rogers, who went 1-for-3 with a walk.

Tuesday's festivities also included a Cal League Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Kirby Puckett, Mike Piazza, Dave Duncan, Tony La Russa and 30-year Major League umpire Doug Harvey. Duncan, La Russa and Harvey accepted their induction plaques in person. Cal League president Charlie Blaney also was honored for his 50th year in professional baseball.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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