COLUMBIA, SC - Five players and four coaches were named to the South Atlantic League Southern Division All-Star team, the league announced. Pitchers Jordan Humphreys , Merandy Gonzalez and Max Kuhns and infielders Dash Winningham and Michael Paez will be on display at Spirit Communications Park on June 20. Jose Leger was named manager of the Southern Division and will be joined by three members of his Fireflies staff - pitching coach Jonathan Hurst, athletic trainer Kiyoshi Tada and strength and conditioning coach Tanner Miracle - for the 58th annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
"Being selected to manage the All-Star Game is a great honor," Leger said. "It gives me an opportunity to watch the best players of the first half of this season compete against each other on the same field. There's a lot of talent around the league and I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing some of these kids make it to the show three or four years down the road."
Leger, the 2015 South Atlantic League Manager of the Year, is in his second season as skipper of the Fireflies and eighth overall as a manager in the New York Mets organization. The 35-year-old mentored four SAL All-Stars last season, including pitcher P.J. Conlon , who the Mets eventually named Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Humphreys was the first pitcher in Minor League Baseball this season to reach eight wins. The 20-year-old has an 8-1 record and a miniscule 1.40 ERA - lowest in the SAL. Humphreys is third in the league with 73 strikeouts and has only walked seven batters over nine starts. The Floridian has not absorbed more than two earned runs in any of his outings this season.
Gonzalez was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Month for April. The native of the Dominican Republic was the only hurler in all professional baseball (MLB & MiLB) who did not allow a run during the first month of the season. His impressive scoreless inning streak eventually reached 28.2 IP. Gonzalez is 7-1 with the second-best ERA in the SAL (1.73).
Kuhns has been a strong force out of the bullpen for Columbia. The right-hander from Parker, Colorado, tossed 16.0 consecutive scoreless innings from April 18 to June 2 (11 appearances). The 22-year-old has notched three saves and posted a 2.38 ERA.
Winningham and Paez will also represent the Fireflies in the All-Star Game. Winningham is hitting .251 with seven home runs and a league-best 38 RBIs. The first baseman set three single-game franchise records for the club on May 29 against Augusta: two home runs, six RBIs and 10 total bases.
Meanwhile, Paez leads the squad with a .306 batting average and is also tied atop the league with 19 doubles; only one player in the league has more extra-base hits than Paez. The native of Miami, Florida, has also bashed six homers and driven in 33 runs.
"This is a great honor for the organization to see such a large number of our players and coaches selected to the All-Star Game," Fireflies president John Katz said. "It's exciting the league recognized the talent we've seen in Columbia all year long, and it's incredibly special for these nine individuals to participate in this game at Spirit Communications Park. Our home fans will enjoy seeing such a strong contingent of Fireflies hitting the field with the best players in the league."
Tickets for the South Atlantic League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby are on sale now. Visit FirefliesTickets.com, the Spirit Communications Park ticket office or call (803) 726-4487 for more information.
About the Columbia Fireflies
The Columbia Fireflies are the South Atlantic League affiliate of the New York Mets. Winners of Ballpark Digest's Best New Branding and Logo Award in 2016, the Fireflies play games across the southeast and mid-Atlantic regions, including against in-state rivals in Charleston and Greenville. The team partnered with the city of Columbia and Hughes Development to construct Spirit Communications Park, a multi-use outdoor sports and entertainment venue at the center of the BullStreet development. The Columbia Fireflies are owned by Hardball Capital, owners of the Fort Wayne TinCaps of the Midwest League and the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League. For more information, visit ColumbiaFireflies.com, or follow the Fireflies on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
About Spirit Communications Park
Spirit Communications Park, the 2016 Ballpark Digest Ballpark of the Year, is a 365-day per year multi-use sports and entertainment venue located in the heart of downtown Columbia, SC. Spirit Communications Park is the home ballpark for the Columbia Fireflies, the South Atlantic League affiliate of the New York Mets. Designed for baseball, concerts, football, soccer and a host of other activities, the venue seats approximately 9,000 for sporting events and up to 15,000 for major outdoor concerts. With 16 luxury suites and a 7,000 square-foot Club Level Lounge, Spirit Communications Park can also host everything from business meetings to wedding receptions, and everything in between. The venue is open 365 days a year and serves as a public park with the wrap-around concourse representing 1/3 of a mile for walkers and joggers. For more information, visit SpiritCommunicationsPark.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.