Porter Hodge – Pic by Tennessee Smokies
This sort of happened quickly. May flew by in the blink of an eye and now we’re sitting here with our second monthly All-Star team of the 2023 season.
This team is a little bit different mainly because we have about a third less players than we did in April. A lot of that has to do with some guys getting poached from Iowa to play in Chicago. Some of it has to do with pitchers catching up to hitters and vice versa.
While last month’s All-Star team was rather large, it was mostly dominated by players from the Iowa Cubs. This month, Iowa has less players than any other affiliate. Tennessee has the most position guys while South Bend has the most relievers, and Myrtle Beach the most starting pitchers.
Juan Mora, Felix Stevens, Andy Garriola, Jackson Ferris, Grant Kipp, Saul Gonzalez, Nick Hull, Koen Moreno, Brody McCullough
I was hoping there would be more of a hitting presence from this team, but several players faded down the stretch. Still, the fact that they have four starting pitchers make the squad is just amazing. Two of which, were in contention for starting pitcher of the month in Nick Hull and Grant Kipp. Had Ferris thrown more than 11 innings, he would have been starting pitcher of the month.
Ezequiel Pagan, James Triantos, Bryce Ball, Connor Noland, Manny Espinoza, Jarod Wright, Sheldon Reed, Frankie Scalzo
A month from now, this could be a very different collection of players from South Bend. Noland, Espinoza, and Brandon Birdsell are very close to being ready for AA. Then again, Cade Horton didn’t look too challenged yesterday, striking out nine and four innings. The problem is there’s no spot for them in Tennessee right now. Since coming off the IL, both James Triantos and Ezequiel Pagan have been outstanding at the plater. Bryce Ball has been impressive as well. It is not easy being sent down and he does nothing but work hard to get back to Double-A.
BJ Murray, Luis Vazquez, Cole Roederer, Pablo Aliendo, Owen Caissie, Luke Little, Porter Hodge, Jordan Wicks, Blake Whitney
This was the affiliate of the month as they went 15 and 11 as they tended to thunder away at most ball clubs in the Southern League. They lead the league and runs scored. They are also sitting in first place with about three weeks to go before the first half ends. The fire power on this team is tremendous when you consider that Pete Crow–Armstrong did not make this month’s list, and that Chase Strumpf spent all but one day in Tennessee.
A month from now, Zac Leigh should be in this list. Right now, he’s only thrown in two games at his rehab in South Bend.
Miguel Amaya, Jared Young, Darius Hill, Yonathan Perlaza, Jake Slaughter, Chase Strumpf, Brendon Little, Bailey Horn
Well, the six offensive players are not a surprise, but what is catching my eye is the lack of pitching from Iowa. Only two left relievers made it, which, in and of itself bodes well for the major league club as they are both lefties. But the fact that no starting pitcher got a nod is a little disconcerting. Still, it is good to see all the position players that did make the squad as most of them have been around for quite a while and are just waiting for a shot in Chicago.
Players of the Month
Hitter – BJ Murray hit .309 for the month with six home runs and 20 driven in. He also had a .414 OBP and an OPS at 1.042. This was a close race between Murray, Pablo Aliendo, and Owen Caissie.
Starting Pitcher – Porter Hodge put up a 9+ ERA in April and then raided the ship and made to the tune of a 1.6 for ERA with 32 strikeouts in 24.1 innings that is quite the quick adjustment for last year‘s runner-up to pitcher of the year. I am pumped to see how he does in June and if he can continue to make some adjustments throughout the month. Others in contention included Nick Hull, Connor Noland, and Grant Kipp.
Reliever – This came down to the final day, and it was close between Sheldon Reed of South Bend, Saul Gonzalez, of Myrtle Beach, and Luke Little of Tennessee. And the winner is Sheldon Reed. He had a 1.59 ERA over 11.1 innings. He also struck out 18 and had a batting average against of .118 and a WHIP of 0.92.
When next month’s liste comes around, it is not going to contain players from Arizona in the Dominican. They will have their own rookie league all-star list. So, June‘s list will stay with players from the four main affiliates.