Outfield races tighten for Triple-A voting

Carrera overtakes Mahtook, Dickerson in IL; Francoeur clinging in PCL

Ezequiel Carrera is off to quite the start in his first season with the Toledo Mud Hens. (Scott W. Grau/MiLB.com)

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | June 11, 2014 2:35 PM ET

Ezequiel Carrera has shown a pretty good ability to steal. After all, he does lead all Triple-A players with 25 stolen bases so far this season for Toledo. So it seems rather fitting that he might next swipe a spot on the International League All-Star team.

The Mud Hens speedster jumped into second place among IL outfielders in the latest Triple-A All-Star game ballot update Wednesday, leapfrogging Durham's Mike Mahtook and Indianapolis' Chris Dickerson in the process ahead of the game on July 16 at Durham's Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Beyond just the ability to take the extra base, Carrera has proven plenty capable with the bat this season. He ranks seventh in the IL with a .320 average through 51 games while his .404 on-base percentage places him fifth in the category. That's a significant bump from the .248 average and .312 OBP he put up -- to go with 43 steals -- for Columbus last season after being designated for assignment by the Phillies in May 2013. The 27-year-old outfielder, who signed a Minor League deal with the Tigers last offseason, was last a Minor League All-Star in 2009 when he put up a .337/.441/.416 slash line with 27 steals for the Mariners' Double-A West Tennessee affiliate of the Southern League.

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Despite being overtaken by Carrera, Mahtook remains in the third and final IL outfield spot. The Rays' No. 14 prospect owns a .321/.381/.505 slash line with three homers, five triples and a league-best 21 doubles for Durham. Dickerson dropped off in the race for a starting spot, despite ranking in the league's top five for average (.321, fifth), OBP (.415, second) and OPS (.918, fifth).

Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco (.347/.405/.540, seven homers, 49 RBIs, 15 steals) remains at the top spot for both IL outfielders and overall IL vote-getters but was called up to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Barring any unforseen struggles, it's unlikely he'll move back to Triple-A before the All-Star Game, thus potentially opening up a starting spot for his teammate Dickerson.

Over in the Pacific Coast League, El Paso's Jeff Francoeur continues to cling to the third and final spot in that starting outfield in the most hotly contested race, according to the latest numbers. The veteran outfielder owns a .276/.305/.473 line with 12 homers and 36 RBIs for the Chihuahuas in their inaugural season and has made headlines by appearing seven times out of the El Paso bullpen and posting a 4.26 ERA.

He leads Cardinals No. 11 prospect Randal Grichuk by only 75 votes, however. The Memphis outfielder had a .315/.364/.589 line with 10 homers and 32 RBIs before being called up to the Majors in the end of May. He is batting .150 with a homer and three RBIs in 18 games for the big league club.

Nick Evans is at the top of the PCL's designated hitter position and also leads the entire ballot in total votes. The 28-year-old Reno slugger had a .335/.393/.641 line with 11 homers and 44 RBIs but, like Polanco and Grichuk, is currently in the Majors with the D-backs. His 1.034 OPS ranks second behind only Dodgers No. 2 prospect Joc Pederson (1.045), who sits comfortably in second among PCL outfielders.

Here are the rest of the IL and PCL ballot leaders:

IL All-Star voting as of June 11
Position Name Team MLB org.
C Jhonatan Solano Syracuse Chiefs WAS
1B Dan Johnson Buffalo Bisons TOR
2B Ruben Gotay Louisville Bats CIN
3B Mike Hessman Toledo Mud Hens DET
SS Tyler Saladino Charlotte Knights CWS
OF Gregory Polanco Indianapolis Indians PIT
OF Ezequiel Carrera Toleod Mud Hens DET
OF Mikie Mahtook Durham Bulls TB
DH Wilson Betemit Durham Bulls TB
SP Taylor Hill Syracuse Chiefs WAS
SP Brandon Cumpton Indianapolis Indians PIT
RP Kirby Yates Durham Bulls TB
RP Jeff Beliveau Durham Bulls TB
PCL All-Star voting as of June 11
Position Name Team MLB org.
C Adam Moore El Paso Chihuahuas SD
1B Mike Jacobs Reno Aces ARI
2B Alex Guerrero Albuquerque Isotopes LAD
3B Adam Duvall Fresno Grizzlies SF
SS Nick Franklin Tacoma Rainiers SEA
OF Andrew Brown Las Vegas 51s NYM
OF Joc Pederson Albuquerque Isotopes LAD
OF Jeff Francoeur El Paso Chihuahuas SD
DH Nick Evans Reno Aces ARI
SP Jimmy Nelson Nashville Sounds MIL
SP Mike Fiers Nashville Sounds MIL
RP David Aardsma Memphis Redbirds STL
RP Spencer Patton Omaha Storm Chasers KC

Voting for the Triple-A All-Star game will conclude on June 27. The fan's vote will count for one third of the total vote, which will be added to votes from the media and the Triple-A field/general managers vote to decide who heads to Durham on July 16. Fans can vote up to 25 times and will receive a discount on MiLB.TV or a 15 percent discount to the MLB.com Shop, if they already have the service.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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