CLEARWATER, Fl. - South Atlantic League president Eric Krupa announced updated rosters for the SAL All-Star Game and with the addition of Blake Perkins as a utility outfielder, a division-best ten Hagerstown Suns have been selected as Northern All-Stars for the 58th annual game on June 20 at Spirit Communications Park in Columbia, South Carolina.
Six Suns players earned previous invitations to the All-Star Game, including first baseman Aldrem Corredor, shortstop Carter Kieboom, third baseman Sheldon Neuse, and right fielder Daniel Johnson. Hagerstown starting pitchers McKenzie Mills and Tyler Watson were selected to the Northern Division pitching staff.
Hagerstown manager Patrick Anderson will skipper the Northern Division All-Stars for the third time in four years. He led the Northern Division to a 2-1 victory in 2016 and a 4-4 tie in 2014. Anderson is in his fourth season managing the Suns, who lead the division with a 33-23 record and lead the SAL in most offensive categories including batting average, runs scored, home runs, and RBIs. Anderson will be assisted by his second-year hitting coaching Amaury Garcia and his fourth-year pitching coach Sam Narron.
Perkins leads the SAL with 55 runs scored in 60 games, which is the third-most played in the league. The speedy 20-year-old from Litchfield Park, Arizona was selected in the second round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals and leads the Suns with 13 stolen bases this season. Perkins etched his name in the Hagerstown record book on April 23 by tallying two walk-off base hits in less than three hours during a home doubleheader sweep of the Delmarva Shorebirds.
Corredor will start at first base for the Northern Division after smashing through preseason expectations in his first full-season assignment. The 21-year-old native of Miranda, Venezuela made himself a mainstay near the top of the lineup for the best offensive lineup in the league with a team-best .311 batting average, good for seventh overall in the SAL. Corredor is third in the league with 18 doubles and leads the Suns with three walk-off base hits this season.
Kieboom is currently on the disabled list after suffering an injury on May 12, but his early-season numbers were so impressive, the 19-year-old shortstop earned an invited to the All-Star festivities. Kieboom batted .333 with a .586 slugging percentage in 29 games. He was drafted 28th overall by the Washington Nationals in 2016 and appeared on ESPN's SportsCenter after launching three home runs with 5 RBI during a league-record, 30-hit performance by the Suns in a 22-4 win at Lexington on April 30. Kieboom is currently on the Disabled List and will not play in the All-Star Game. He's been replaced by Kannapolis shortstop Mitch Roman.
Neuse earned the starting job at third base with his combination of offensive power and defensive strength. The 22-year-old infielder from the University of Oklahoma was leading the Suns with 27 RBI through 46 games before making a short stay on the disabled list. Neuse is currently batting .289 with a .439 slugging percentage, five home runs, and his nine stolen bases are good for second-best on the team.
Johnson leads the SAL with 11 home runs after hitting just one in 62 games with the Auburn Doubledays in Class A Short Season last year. He began the year batting near the bottom of the Suns order, but after a slew of injuries in May, Johnson took over the three-spot and continued his torrid offensive pace. The 21-year-old New Mexico State alum is eight-best in SAL batting average at .306, third in slugging percentage at .563, and fourth in extra base hits with 23. He'll start in right field for the Northern Division after displaying some acrobatic defense for the Suns.
Mills has been the ace of the Suns starting rotation in 2017. His ERA of 2.30 is good for ninth-best in the SAL and he's second on the team with 59 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings of work. The 21-year-old southpaw hails from Marietta, Georgia and was selected by the Nationals in the 18th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He leads the Suns with five victories in 10 starts and his WHIP of 0.95 is third-best in the SAL.
Watson is leading the Suns with 64 strikeouts through 61 innings this season. The 20-year-old lefty from Gilbert, Arizona was taken by the Nationals in the 34th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. Watson is 4-1 in his last 6 starts with a season-long ERA of 3.39 and more double plays induced than any other Suns pitcher.
Mills and Watson will not pitch in the All-Star Game. They will be replaced by Will Hibbs from Lakewood and Kyle Kubat from Kannapolis.
Both All-Star teams will be represented by 26 players, selected by managers, coaching staffs, local media, and front office executives. Spirit Communications Park will be hosting its first SAL All-Star Game. The annual SAL All-Star Game dates to 1960, when the All-Stars defeated Salisbury, 6-2, in Newton, North Carolina.
Many events are scheduled in Columbia leading up to the 58th SAL All-Star Game. It all begins with a Celebrity vs. Soldier softball game on Monday, June 19 at Spirit Communications Park, beginning at 6:15 p.m. The Home Run Derby, featuring SAL players and high schoolers from around South Carolina, will follow the softball game at 7:30 p.m. The celebration continues with the Monday Night Party at Music Farm in downtown Columbia.
The All-Star Game is scheduled for Tuesday, June 20 at 7:05 p.m. Gates open at 3:00 p.m. at Spirit Communications Park for Fan Fest and autographs. For more information, visit www.columbiafireflies.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.