Polanco, Nelson off to early leads in voting

Fellow prospect Pederson, veterans Hessman, Francoeur also on list

Early leaders Jimmy Nelson (No. 69) and Gregory Polanco (No. 12) both rank among MLB.com's top 100 prospects.

By Sam Dykstra / MiLB.com | June 5, 2014 2:00 PM ET

With a mix of prospects and veterans, the early leaders of the Triple-A All-Star vote are a pretty good representation of the best (and worst) stories of the season's first half.

Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco (Indianapolis) and Brewers top prospect Jimmy Nelson (Nashville) are some of the most notable names to lead their respective positions as of Thursday ahead of the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 16 at Durham's Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Polanco is the top vote-getter among all International League players and for good reason: The 22-year-old outfielder has taken the IL by storm with a .355/.412/.550 slash line with six homers, five triples, 17 doubles, 48 RBIs and 14 steals in 58 games with the Indians with calls for his promotion to the Majors following him along the way.

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Nelson, who has already made one appearance in the Majors this season, sits atop the PCL starting pitcher category, thanks to a league-best 1.64 ERA to go with a 0.90 WHIP and 69 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings for the Sounds. The right-hander is embroiled in a three-way race for the top spot in the latest ratings. Teammate Mike Fiers (6-3, 2.53 ERA, league-leading 92 strikeouts) is holding off Reno's Mike Bolsinger (5-0, 1.90 ERA in seven starts) for the second spot in the fan's vote by fewer than 100 votes.

Dodgers No. 2 prospect Joc Pederson sits safely in second place for the PCL outfield since taking off in his first season with Albuquerque. The 22-year-old is batting .337/.446/.625 with 15 homers, 36 RBIs and 13 steals for the Isotopes. Like Polanco, he could find a way to the Majors before the All-Star Game festivities.

While there are a few big-name prospects, there are a couple veteran notables atop the boards as well.

Leading his category, Toledo third baseman Mike Hessman has filled plenty of headlines this season after eclipsing the 400 mark for career Minor League home runs last month. His 258 career IL homers also have him tied with Ollie Carnegie for the circuit's all-time lead. But unlike Derek Jeter, this is no swan-song vote for the 36-year-old infielder. Hessman leads the IL with 14 home runs this season and sits third with a .923 OPS.

On the PCL side, Jeff Francoeur might be the most recognizable veteran to potentially make his way to Durham. The former outfielder for five different Major League clubs is batting .271 with nine homers and 33 RBIs this season but has grabbed the nation's attention for two other reasons. He was the victim of a team-wide prank filmed by El Paso teammate Cody Decker in which he was told reliever Jorge Reyes was deaf. He has also made six appearances out the bullpen for the Chihuahuas, posting a 5.06 ERA in 5 1/3 innings. Perhaps he could be of some assistance in a pinch come the July exhibition.

Albuquerque second baseman Alex Guerrero leads the PCL at his position, despite not playing for the Isotopes since May 20. In his first season with the Dodgers, the Cuba native required plastic surgery after being bit by Miguel Olivo during a dugout scuffle. Olivo was released soon after. Guerrero was batting .376 with a 1.152 OPS in 33 games with the Isotopes at the time of the incident.

Here are the leaders for both the IL and PCL thus far:

IL All-Star voting as of June 5
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 Mikie Mahtook Durham Bulls TB
OF Chris Dickerson Indianapolis Indians PIT
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 5
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

The fan's vote, which started May 27 and will conclude June 27, will count for one third of the player's total. That will be added to the media vote (33 percent) and Triple-A field/general managers vote (33 percent) to determine who will go to Durham on July 16. Voters also receive a special discount on MiLB.TV or, if they already subscribe to the service, a 15 percent discount to the MLB.com Shop. Fans can vote up to 25 times.

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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