Bats Rack: Unbiased All Stars


I’ve always thought it rather stupid for baseball organizations to organize events where all you do is vote for players from your favorite team (yes, I am including the Reds in that statement). Unfortunately, it happens. And guys like Joey Votto (Reds) and Heath Bell (Padres) who were having career years last season don’t make the All Star Team initially because they simply don’t play in a large market. The same goes on at the Triple-A level and it rings extremely true this year.

For instance, Lehigh Valley IronPigs catcher Erik Kratz (.286/.380/.526 10 HR, 7 2B, 28 RBI) is leading Bats catcher Devin Mesoraco (.323/.402/.545 8 HR, 24 2B, 42 RBI) in All Star voting. Also, IronPigs third baseman Ronnie Belliard (.251/.311/.347 3 HR, 8 2B, 23 RBI) leads Durham’s Russ Canzler (.289/.398/.482 8 HR, 20 2B, 40 RBI). Furthermore, Pawtucket Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias (.227/.263/.238 0 HR, 2 2B, 15 RBI) and Syracuse shortstop Chris McConnell (.175/.250/.257 1 HR, 9 2B, 10 RBI) are number 1 and number 2, respectively, at their position over the Bats’ Zack Cozart (.318/.362/.498 7 HR, 24 2B, 28 RBI).

This list could go on forever. Luckily, this should change as fan voting only counts for 1/3 of the equation. Media (unbiased) votes count for 1/3 and manager (unbiased) votes count for the final third.

Put simply, I believe that fans should NOT be allowed to vote for All Star Games unless they vote for the BEST players who are having the BEST seasons—not that one guy you really like because he plays for your team…

Now that my rant is over, I can get to the real reason for this post: My (Unbiased) International League All Star Ballot:

Here’s a short bio for each of these outstanding players along with my guess as to when they’ll be a permanent at the major league level (ETA):

Starting Pitcher – Julio Teheran – Gwinnett Braves

Rated the #5 overall prospect by Baseball America before the season, Teheran has not disappointed. He’s 7-1 in 12 starts with a 1.83 ERA. A low-to-mid 90s fastball combined with an above-average changeup and a hard-breaking curveball make Teheran extremely hard to hit. This year Julio has begun to throw his changeup more often. This has helped him keep hitters off balance and his WHIP extremely low (0.979). Teheran made a couple of starts earlier this season for Atlanta and has an ERA of 5.19 in those starts. Luckily for the Braves, he’s just 20 years old and will be a solid pitcher for them for years to come. ETA: Mid-2012

Catcher – Devin Mesoraco – Louisville Bats

If you’ve been reading this blog or are a Reds fan, you know who Devin Mesoraco is. What you might not know is that Devin is in the top 10 in the IL in AVG (5th, .322), OBP (2nd, .404), SLG (3rd, 545), H (T-8th, 75), 2B (2nd, 26), HR (T-9th, 8), RBI (T-6th, 42), BB (T-9th, 30), and TB (T-6th, 127). Mesoraco has been under the tutelage of veteran Corky Miller and skipper Rick Sweet as he is becoming a much better defensive catcher. Devin is merely waiting his turn at catcher for the Reds. ETA: Early 2012

1st Base – Jorge Vazquez – Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees

Jorge Vazquez reminds me of a guy that used to play for the Bats named Rob Stratton. Put simply: Tons of pop, lots of fizz. Vazquez has went yard 20 times this year, which leads the IL. Problem is, he also leads the league with 93 punch outs. For no other reason, I put Vazquez on my All Star ballot because I want an awesome Home Run Derby. Vazquez is certain to deliver in that category. ETA: Late 2012

2nd Base – Jason Kipnis – Columbus Clippers

Kipnis is hitting .307 since a not-so-stellar month of April average of .253. Since April Kipnis has 6 HR and 31 of his 42 RBI. Those 42 RBI are good for 6th in the league. Kipnis isn’t the best defensively, but he certainly isn’t the worst. And with a bat that can go for .300+ on a consistent basis, Jason is certainly a viable future option for the Cleveland Indians. ETA: Early 2012

3rd Base – Russ Canzler – Durham Bulls

It causes me extreme pain to vote for a Durham Bull for the All Star game, but fair is fair. And Canzler is having a fairly good season. Canzler, originally a member of the Cubs organization, is hitting .286/.391/.474 with 8 HR, 20 2B, and 41 RBI. With Evan Longoria at the hot corner in Tampa Bay, Canzler’s big league prospects with the Rays look bleak. ETA: As soon as he finds a new home.

Shortstop – Zack Cozart – Louisville Bats

Cozart started 2011 extremely slow. He had a .225 BA after April—even after a 5-hit game April 30. Since then, Cozart is hitting .367 with 6 HR and 22 RBI. Recently, Cozart began leading off for the Bats. In those games, Cozart is hitting over .400 and has 4 lead-off HR, which is a Louisville franchise record. Defensively, Cozart is as good as they come. Good range combined with a great arm and tons of heart make Zack a very viable future option for the Reds. ETA: Late 2011.

Left Field – Alejandro de Aza – Charlotte Knights

This speedster is tied for 5th in the league with 16 SB. He roams LF for the Knights and does a terrific job of it. He also has 21 doubles, 5 triples, and 6 HRs to go along with 27 RBI. He has been with the Dodgers and Marlins organizations previously and did make it up with the White Sox late last season. But until De Aza can become more patient at the plate, his chances of starting everyday in the majors aren’t very good. ETA: Early 2013

Center Field – Desmond Jennings – Durham Bulls

It was extremely difficult for me to pick Jennings over the Bats’ Dave Sappelt. The one thing that sets Jennings apart from Sappelt is his ability to steal a base. Jennings is 14-15 in steal attempts. That goes a long way when your OBP is .373 and you have the ability to go yard (Jennings has 10 HR) and drive in runs (33 RBI). Sappelt still has some things to improve on so, for now, Jennings gets my vote. ETA: Late 2011 

Right Field – Jeremy Hermida – Louisville Bats

Hermida has been raking all year. He leads the league with a .362 average and it has basically become assumed that Hermida is going to get a hit every night. Right now, Hermida’s path to the Reds is blocked by Jay Bruce. The odds of Hermida making it and staying with the Reds are slim to none. As soon as Hermida finds a suitor, though, he could make a difference at the major league level. ETA: Early 2012

Designated Hitter – Brandon Guyer – Durham Bulls

Guyer is on the All Star Ballot as a RF, but his numbers simply do not add up to Hermida’s. That doesn’t mean they’re bad, though. Guyer is hitting .313/.383/.520 with 10 HR and 41 RBI. Guyer hit a 2-run HR in his first major league at-bat on May 6th. Guyer was acquired by the Rays from the Cubs in the deal that brought Matt Garza to Chicago. The Rays hope Guyer will be hitting many more home runs for the in the future. ETA: Mid 2012

Relief Pitcher – Kevin Whelan – Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees

Whelan has been outstanding this season. He is 1-1 with 18 saves and a stellar 1.61 ERA. Whelan possesses a deadly splitter that has had hitters guessing all year (32 Ks in 28.0 IP). If Whelan enters the game in the 9th with the lead, it’s time to start the car; this guy has been lights out all year. ETA: Early 2012.

So there it is; My Unbiased All Star Ballot. As you can see, there’s a TON of talent in the IL.  I voted for three Louisville Bats. A few other Bats that could easily make the cut include Todd Frazier, Yonder Alonso, and Dave Sappelt. Will any of these guys make it up to the Reds? Feel free to comment and tell me what you think.

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