Three Pelicans selected as Carolina League All-Stars

pel-underwoodThe Carolina League announced its roster for the 2015 Carolina-California League All-Star Game, presented by WaBa Grill, and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, will send three players along with two coaches to participate.

Pelicans starting pitchers Duane Underwood Jr. and Jonathan Martinez, along with outfielder Mark Zagunis, will be joined by pitching coach David Rosario and assistant coach Chris Gutierrez for the game in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The game will be played at LoanMart Field, home of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Class A-Advanced, Los Angeles Dodgers), on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 10:35 p.m. ET.

Underwood Jr., 20, was the Pelicans’ Opening Night starter and is 5-2 this season with the league’s third-best WHIP (0.99). Along the way, the hard-throwing right-hander has amassed 37 strikeouts while surrendering 16 walks in 56 1/3 innings of work. Underwood Jr. has also earned the Carolina League’s third-lowest ERA (2.08) by allowing no more than one earned run in seven of his ten starts. With that, he holds opposing batters to a .203 average, the second-lowest in the league, while also allowing the third-fewest baserunners per nine innings among qualifying pitchers. A native of Raleigh, N.C., the Cubs selected Underwood Jr. in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Pope High School in Marietta, Georgia. This is his first selection to a mid-season minor league All-Star game.

Martinez, 20, was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade for Cubs infielder Darwin Barney on July 28, 2014. This is his first selection as a mid-season minor league All-Star. The six-foot, one-inch right-hander has pitched to a 4-1 record as the Pelicans sixth starter, striking out 27 while walking only eight batters in 49 full innings of work, and his 2.76 ERA is the sixth-lowest in the circuit. Ahead of Underwood Jr. for the second-best WHIP in the league (0.94), he also holds batters to the third-lowest batting average against (.213), as well as the second-fewest baserunners per nine innings. A native of Maracay, Venezuela, Martinez has allowed no more than one earned run in five of his ten starts. His best appearance this year was a two-hit shutout on the road against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. He struck out two batters without a walk in six innings, but took no decision.

Zagunis, 22, earns his second mid-season All-Star selection. He was picked as an outfielder for the 2014 Northwest League contest. Thel right-handed hitter has played all three outfield spots, with some time spent as a catcher in his pro career. Selected to the mid-summer contest as an outfielder, Zagunis has launched three home runs while leading the team in hits (58), leading the league with a .459 on-base percentage. In 53 games, his 43 walks are also the most in the Carolina League, which includes nine multi-walk games and two three-walk contests. He also ranks third in runs scored (36), and is tied for the second-most stolen bases on the Pelicans (7). His .305 batting average is the seventh best in the circuit, and was as high as the third at the end of May, due to a season-high 12-game hit-streak in which he hit .438 (21-for-48) from May 8-22. Zagunis was drafted by the Cubs in the third round of the 2014 draft out of Virginia Tech. 12

Rosario, 50, is in his eleventh season with the Cubs system. He began as a pitching coach with the Boise Hawks in 2005 and served with manager Mark Johnson last season with the Kane County Cougars. As a player, the southpaw pitched ten years in the minor leagues, including six with the Cubs, and spent two years in the independent Atlantic League. This season, he has guided the Pelicans pitching staff to the league’s second best ERA (3.16). His pitching staffs’ 2.85 ERA last season with Kane County was the best in the Midwest League. He has been a pitching coach at three different levels, from Class A-Short Season, to Class-A, and Class A-Advanced.

Gutierrez, 31, earns his first all-star selection as a coach in his second year of coaching. He began his coaching career last season as an assistant under Johnson in Kane County. Prior to that, he played nine seasons in the minor leagues with the Blue Jays, Angels, Dodgers and Marlins organizations, reaching as high as Triple-A.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

 

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