Carolina League high eight Pelicans make all-star team

pel-gallohomerThe Carolina League announced the All-Star roster for the California League / Carolina League All-Star Game on Wednesday, and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans places a Carolina League high eight players onm the squad.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro, infielders Preston Beck and Joey Gallo, outfielders Royce Bolinger and Nick Williams, and pitchers Alexander Claudio, Andrew Faulkner, and Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez all made the team. Alfaro, Beck, Gallo, and Williams were selected as starters. The Pelicans have more players selected than any other team; the next closest team is Wilmington with four players selected. The game will take place at 7:05 p.m. on June 17 in Wilmington, Delaware at Frawley Stadium, the home of the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

Alfaro, 20, is in his fifth professional season and is one of the top prospects in the Rangers system. Ranked by MLB.com as the number one ranked player and by Baseball America as the number two prospect in the Rangers system, Alfaro is hitting .272 with five homers and 30 RBI. He hit safely in nine straight games in May, and is coming off a homestand in which he hit safely in seven straight at bats. The Sincelejo, Columbia native is third among qualifying catchers in caught stealing percentage, throwing out 35.5% of attempted basestealers (11-31) and the 31 attempts against him are the lowest in the league among qualifying players.  Alfaro was selected to the All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field in New York last season but could not attend due to injury; this is his first minor league All-Star selection.

Beck, 23, is in his third professional season and first as a first baseman. An outfielder in college at the University of Texas at Arlington and in 2012 and 2013 as a Rangers farmhand, Beck has played the majority of his games at first base this season, logging 35 of his 46 starts there. Currently, the Dallas, Texas native is batting .257 with a career high four home runs, along with 33 RBI. He is third on the team on-base percentage (.359). This is his first professional All-Star selection.

Bolinger, 23, earns his second All-Star selection and first of the Midseason variety. The outfielder was a postseason All-Star selection in the Northwest League in 2012 as a member of the Spokane Indians. The Newport Beach, California native is currently on the disabled list with a left knee injury. He is fifth in the league in hitting at .301 has clubbed two home runs and knocked in 24 runs. Bolinger got off to a torrid start, hitting .375 in April.

Claudio, 22, makes his second straight Midseason All-Star appearance. He competed in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game last season before a second-half promotion to Double-A. Claudio has excelled out of the bullpen with a team-leading 1.19 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. He would lead the league in both categories if he qualified among league leaders (he is seven and third innings shy). He is 3-0 with two saves and has struck out 41 batters and walked only six in 37 2/3 innings.

Faulkner, 21, the lone South Carolinian on the roster, gets his first All-Star nod of his career. Putting together his best pro season to date, the left-hander is 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA in 12 outings, nine starts. The ERA is the best among Pelicans starters and fourth in the league. He is the only qualifying Carolina Leaguer without a loss and one of only two that has not allowed a home run. In 59 1/3 innings pitched, he has fanned 58 Carolina Leaguers and walked only 19. In his last start, on May 31, he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and tossed seven scoreless frames against the Carolina Mudcats at home. He struck out a career-high nine batters in a five-inning start on May 21 at Frederick.

Gallo, 20, earns his second straight trip to his league’s Midseason All-Star game. The slugger was a South Atlantic Midseason and Postseason All-Star selection last year. After leading the minors in home runs last year with 40, the Henderson, Nevada native is on pace for a 52-home run season with 21 long balls through 56 games. He leads the Carolina League in home runs, RBI (48), runs scored (51), walks (50), total bases (134), on-base percentage (.466), extra-base hits (32), and slugging percentage (.753). He is first among active minor leaguers in homers, slugging percentage, walks, and OPS (1.219). He has won the Carolina League Player of the Week on three occasions this year and won Texas Rangers Minor League Player of the Month in April.

Gonzalez, 22, is in his first full professional season after being selected in the 2013 MLB Draft 23rd overall by the Rangers. He is tied for the team lead in wins with a 5-2 record and has posted a 2.59 ERA. The Delray, Florida native is fifth in the league in ERA and had a 1.59 ERA in five May outings. Gonzalez took a no-hitter in the seventh inning in a win at Frederick on May 20. He is second in the league in WHIP (1.04) and third in opponents’ batting average (.209).

Williams, 20, nets his second All-Star selection in the last two seasons but his first Midseason selection. The outfielder made the South Atlantic League Postseason All-Star roster in 2013 playing for the Hickory Crawdads. After a slow start in April, Williams has led the team in hitting since May 1. He hit .356 in May and is 5-for-13 in June. He ranks among league leaders in batting average (.305, 6th), hits (61, T-3rd), RBI (35, T-3rd), doubles (16, T-3rd), total bases (94, 4th) and is fifth in slugging (.470). He has logged time in all three outfield spots as well and has two outfield assists on the season. Overall, the Galveston, Texas product is batting .305 with five homers and 35 RBI.

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