Pelicans’ pitching trio make Carolina League All-Star list

pel-29Right-handed pitchers Trevor Clifton, Zach Hedges and Jake Stinnett have been selected to represent the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the 2016 California-Carolina League All-Star Game in Lake Elsinore, Calif., the Carolina League announced Wednesday.

Pitching coach Anderson Tavarez and athletic trainer Toby Williams will join the trio of pitchers at Lake Elsinore’s The Diamond on Tuesday, June 21 for the 9:30 p.m. ET game.

Clifton was just named the Chicago Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month for May. The Maryville, Tenn., native went 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA over five starts during the month, putting together a string of 21 consecutive scoreless innings. Over the course of May, he finished second in the Carolina League in ERA and strikeouts (35), and in a tie for third in wins.

Through 10 starts in 2016, Clifton is 4-3 with a 2.08 ERA. The No. 21 prospect in the Cubs system according to MLB.com has fanned 57 against just 19 walks in 52.0 innings, yielding just 43 hits. Clifton has given up just seven total earned runs in his last eight starts covering 44.1 frames for a 1.42 ERA. During that span, Chicago’s 12th round pick in 2013 out of Heritage High School (Tenn.) has punched out 45 against just 12 walks. Clifton currently ranks second in the circuit in strikeouts per nine innings (9.9), fourth in ERA and fifth in strikeouts.

Hedges sits just behind Clifton in the league leaders with a 2.39 ERA. The right-hander from Glendora, Calif. has allowed more than two earned runs in just two of his 10 starts, registering a 5-4 record. In 60.1 innings, Hedges has whiffed 38 against only 13 walks and 52 hits allowed, pitching at least seven frames in four outings.

A 26th-round pick by the Cubs in 2014 out of Azusa Pacific University (Calif.), Hedges surrendered just five earned runs on 24 hits over five starts from April 15 through May 11. During that span, he tossed 32.2 frames for a 1.38 ERA, fanning 22 against eight walks. Hedges has allowed just three earned runs in 20.2 innings (1.31 ERA) over his last three starts.

Stinnett has been one of the most difficult pitchers in the Carolina League to hit this season. The Vista, Calif. native has allowed more than five hits just once in his nine starts all season, and ranks fifth in the league by holding opponents to a .223 batting average. Stinnett has given up just 42 hits in 52.0 innings this season, striking out 40 against 19 walks. He has recorded a 4-2 record and 4.19 ERA.

A second-round pick by the Cubs out of the University of Maryland in 2014, Stinnett allowed more than three earned runs in an outing only once in his first eight starts. During that time, the Cubs’ No. 23 prospect was yielding just 5.8 hits per nine innings, while going 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA that ranked among that top 10 in the Carolina League.

The three right-handers representing Myrtle Beach in the All-Star Game have been tutored all season long by Tavarez, who is in his 16th year in the Cubs’ organization. A season after helping Short Season Class A Eugene to the Northwest League’s second-best staff ERA (3.55), Tavarez has coached the Pelicans to the Carolina League’s best mark at 3.42. In a rotation led by their three All-Stars, Myrtle Beach starters have ceded three earned runs or fewer in 41 of their last 52 starts, posting a 3.12 ERA in that span.

In his third year in the Cubs organization and first with the Pelicans, Williams spent 2014 with Class A Short Season Boise before working last season with the Rookie-level Mesa Cubs. Prior to joining the Cubs, he worked as an assistant athletic trainer for the GCL Braves in 2013.

The 2016 California-Carolina League All-Star Game will pit the Carolina League All-Stars against the California All-Stars at The Diamond, the home of the Lake Elsinore Storm. The game will begin at 9:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, June 21.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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