Five Pelicans, staff named Carolina League All-Stars

pel-lineupPitchers Adbert Alzolay and Justin Steele, outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Daniel Spingola and infielder Bryant Flete will join Myrtle Beach’s coaching staff in representing the Pelicans at the 2017 All-Star Classic, the Carolina League office announced Monday.

The 7:05 p.m. game on Tuesday, June 20 will pit a Southern Division squad against a team made up of Northern Division players at Haley Toyota Field in Salem, Va.

Alzolay, Myrtle Beach’s Opening Day starter, ranks fifth in the Carolina League in WHIP (1.05). The native of San Felix in Venezuela has held opponents to a .214 average, a mark that places him fifth among starters in the circuit. Alzolay’s 3.14 ERA also sits eighth in the league. The right-hander has yielded just 50 hits in 63.0 innings, and has walked only 16 batters against his 61 punchouts.

Originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2012, Alzolay ranks sixth in the league in both K-BB% (17.7%), 10th in FIP (3.93) and 11th in xFIP (3.86). The right-hander’s line drive rate is the 13th-lowest in the circuit at 20.0 percent, and his swinging strike rate (12.1%) is 16th. Over his last 10 starts, Alzolay has posted a 2.85 ERA, whiffing 54 against 11 walks in 53.2 frames.

Steele leads the Pelicans in ERA at 2.51, a mark that places him third in the league. The southpaw has registered a 4-3 mark in 12 starts, ceding just 63 hits in 61.0 innings. A native of Lucedale, Miss., Steele has fanned 50 against 22 free passes. Steele’s 51.4 percent ground ball rate is the eighth-highest in the league. His 17.4 percent line drive rate is the fifth-lowest, and his 31.5 percent fly ball mark is 15th.

The No. 24 prospect in the Cubs’ organization according to Baseball America, Steele has gone seven starts in a row with no more than two earned runs allowed. Over that span, the Chicago Cubs’ fifth-round pick in 2014 out of George County High School (Miss.) has compiled a 1.83 ERA, striking out 34 against just nine walks in 39.1 innings.

Jimenez, the Southern Division’s designated hitter, has played in fewest games of any All-Star position player. Ranked as the consensus top prospect in the Chicago Cubs’ organization and by MLB.com as the No. 8 prospect in all of baseball, Jimenez is batting .293/.398/.560 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 22 games. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, his 161 wRC+ would be second in the circuit.

The native of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic hit Myrtle Beach’s only grand slam of the season and collected five RBIs, all coming in the first inning, on May 25 against Winston-Salem. He drew a walk-off free pass in the 14th inning that beat Lynchburg on May 14. Jimenez also tied the game against Down East on June 2 with an RBI double in the ninth inning to cap a four-run comeback in a contest the Birds would win 7-6 in 10 frames.

Spingola, who hit just .231/.322/.327 in 49 games with Myrtle Beach a year ago, has upped his batting line to .308/.388/.477 in 56 contests with the Birds in 2017. Spingola has ripped 15 doubles, six triples and two home runs while driving in 26 runs.

A 31st-round pick by Chicago in 2015, Spingola’s .308 batting average rates ninth in the Carolina League while his six triples rate in a tie for third in the circuit. His 139 wRC+ is 11th-best in the league. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket has reached base in nine of his last 11 games, posting a .349/.417/.419 line over that time frame.

Flete is slashing .298/.346/.435 over 49 games this season. The native of Cumairebo, Venezuela has also bashed 12 doubles and five homers to drive in 26 RBIs.

Originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2011, Flete is batting .337/.370/.474 with seven doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs in his last 23 games. Over that stretch, he has helped the Pelicans post a 16-7 record.

The quintet will join Myrtle Beach’s coaching staff of manager Buddy Bailey, pitching coach Anderson Tavarez, hitting coach Guillermo Martinez, assistant coach Ty Wright, athletic trainer Toby Williams and strength and conditioning coach Jason Morriss in representing the Southern Division. The 2017 All-Star Classic is the first Midsummer Classic in Pelicans history involving a Southern Division squad pitted against All-Stars from the Northern Division. The previous 20 All-Star games were played between the Carolina and California Leagues.

The Carolina League selected its All-Stars via a voting process that involved its managers and general managers, along with one media vote per market. Myrtle Beach has now had at least three players represent the Pelicans in the Midsummer Classic for the past seven seasons, dating back to 2011. Infielder Ian Happ and right-handed pitchers Trevor Clifton, Zach Hedges and Jake Stinnett represented the Birds in the 2016 All-Star Game.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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