CHARLESTON, SC - The South Atlantic League has announced that Charleston RiverDogs hurlers Nestor Cortes and Christian Morris have been named to the Southern Division All-Star roster, joining their three teammates and two coaches in the annual midsummer classic hosted by at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington on June 21.
With Cortes slated to pitch in Sunday's finale against West Virginia, the RiverDogs lefty will be unavailable for the 57th annual All-Star game and Morris will pitch in his stead. Named to the original all-star roster, Daris Vargas will also not appear in the North-South showdown at Whitaker Bank Ballpark with the Dominican righty scheduled to pitch on Saturday in Charleston, WV.
Cortes, a 21-year-old lefty out of Hialeah, FL, has dominated South Atlantic League hitters since a midseason call up to Charleston on May 6. After pitching a one-hit gem in six innings to pick up the win in the RiverDogs' first half title clinching victory over Augusta on June 14, Cortes lowered his ERA to an astounding 0.98 mark to go along with a 3-1 record. The Yankees' 36th round pick in 2013 has struck out an impressive 47 batters in 36.2 innings, an average of 11.5 per nine innings, while walking just nine and opponents hitting a measly .117 against him. Over 42 percent of the outs recorded by Cortes have been via the strikeout this season.
After throwing six innings, giving up no runs, two hits, one walk, and 12 strikeouts against Columbia on May 19, Cortes was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week, garnering league weekly honors for the second time in his career.
Now in his second season as a pro, Cortes debuted in the Gulf Coast League where he would spend two seasons, logging a 4.42 ERA in ten appearances in his first year, before posting a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the next two campaigns. The 5'11" southpaw was named an Appalachian League Postseason All-Star in 2015 after logging 63.2 innings with 66 strikeouts and ten walks with the Pulaski Yankees to go along with a 6-3 record and a career best 2.26 ERA.
Another addition to the roster, Morris has posted all-star worthy numbers since joining the RiverDogs midseason after a call up from extended spring training. Morris is having a breakout season in his second year as a pro, boasting a 4-2 record with a 2.38 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 45.1 innings. The former Indiana Hoosier was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for the week of June 6-12 for his performance against the Asheville Tourists on June 9 when he tossed six innings, giving up no runs, just a lone hit, two walks, and 7 strikeouts.
Morris, a 22-year-old, made his debut with Charleston on April 30, after spending last season in rookie ball and one game with Advanced-A Tampa. With the Gulf Coast Yankees 2, the pitcher posted a 0-3 record with a 5.40 ERA in 8 appearances, 7 of them starts, while striking out 24 batters in 26.2 innings to go along with 10 walks. Now in his second season of professional baseball, the Williston, FL was drafted by the Yankees in the 33rd round of the 2015 draft out of Indiana University.
Cortes and Morris will join RHPs Cody Carroll, Andrew Schwaab, and Daris Vargas all named Southern Division All-Stars previously, along with manager Luis Dorante and pitching coach Justin Pope who will help lead the All-Star squad from the bench.
The Charleston RiverDogs finish up the first half of the season on the road in West Virginia with a four-game set against the Power that concludes on Sunday afternoon. The RiverDogs are currently sitting atop the Southern Division in the South Atlantic League with a 40-26 overall record having already clinched the first half title and securing their first playoff berth in 11 seasons.