With the announcement of the Eastern League All-Star rosters on Monday, all four full-season San Francisco Giants minor league teams now know their top players. Broken down by affiliate, the Augusta GreenJackets and Richmond Flying Squirrels each have four representatives, the Fresno Grizzlies will have two players in Durham, N.C. on July 16. while the San Jose Giants were represented by just one prospect last month.
Let's break it down and look at each of the eleven minor leaguers receiving All-Star honors in 2014.
C - Andrew Susac | The Giants top catching prospect hasn't put up Buster Posey numbers in his 200-plus Pacific Coast League at-bats, but he has been one of the league's best offensive catchers. We were expecting this considering his power increased in the Eastern League after a seemingly subpar debut with San Jose in 2012. If it weren't for two injuries (concussion, hamstring), which caused him to miss roughly four and a half weeks all together, the organization's No. 4 ranked prospect would've likely had more than eight doubles, six home runs, and 23 RBIs through three months. Despite a June in which his average and power numbers came screeching to a halt, he still manages to sit at a comfortable .271/.384/.458 line as of Tuesday.
This will be Susac's second minor league All-Star selection, having represented the Flying Squirrels a season ago in the Eastern League All-Star Game.
RHP - Heath Hembree | He hasn't been blowing people away in his third consecutive season with the Fresno Grizzlies, which in turn hasn't lead to (a majority of) fans crying for him to be called up. Though he stands second best in the PCL in saves, his 1.40 WHIP and .277 opposing batting average are a bit alarming. Still, if you take away his disastrous May, in which he had an ERA of 7.56 and allowed an average of almost two hitters to reach per inning, he's had his best Triple-A season.
Hembree will be playing in his second minor league All-Star game. He previously was selected to the California League game in 2011 with the San Jose Giants.
Note: Adam Duvall was not eligible to be selected to the Triple-A All-Star Game because he was on a major league roster when the teams were named.
Richmond Flying Squirrels
SS - Matt Duffy | Aside from Adam Duvall, this third-year shortstop is having the best offensive season in the organization. He currently sits in second place in the Eastern League batting crown race, though the man ahead of him, Mookie Betts, has likely played his last Double-A game of the season as he was promoted to Triple-A and then to the big leagues. At .334, Duffy has the highest average of any full-season Giants prospect and has 15 doubles, four triples, and three home runs amongst his 102 total hits.
This will be Duffy's first minor league All-Star game appearance.
3B - Mario Lisson | The 30-year-old Venezuelan, signed in the offseason by San Francisco, is second in home runs and batting average among third baseman in the Eastern League. The former Kansas City Royals prospect, who played the 2013 season in the Mexican League, has been a crucial part of the Flying Squirrels offense and will be making his first All-Star showing.
LHP - Ty Blach | The Creighton left-hander has been the model of consistency in his first two professional seasons, not only for making his second consecutive minor league All-Star game trip, but for maintaining an ERA below three over the course of 215 innings. Blach impressed the organization in 2013 with his 6.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio with the San Jose Giants, totaling just 18 walks while striking out 117 in the California League. This year, Blach's strikeout totals are down and his walk-rate is slightly up, but the 6'1" lefty continues to be a top-three pitcher in the Giants' system.
LHP - Jack Snodgrass | This will be Snodgrass' second straight trip to the Eastern League All-Star Game after posting a 2.67 ERA and a 7-3 record through the first three months a season ago. His 8-2 record gives him the third most wins in the league, though his stat lines aren't as good as 2013. His success has come from a high ground ball rate, an average of 2.4 walks per nine innings, and having just one ball clear the fence 82.1 innings into 2014.
San Jose Giants
LHP - Steven Okert | One of two organizational All-Stars to receive a promotion in 2014, reliever Steven Okert had saved 17 games in as many opportunities for the San Jose Giants at the time of his selection in early June, all while maintaining a 1.17 ERA over 30.2 innings. Since his June 24 promotion to the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Okert has shared closing duties with Cody Hall after Derek Law hit the disabled list with elbow issues. Okert boasts a 12.9 strikeout-per-nine-inning rate, which is best on the Giants' farm.
LHP - Luis Ysla | This 22-year-old Venezuelan has been eye-opening in his first full season as a professional, striking out over nine batters on average per nine innings and holding opposing hitters to a .214 batting average with his mid-90s fastball and sharp-biting slider. Ysla has been one of three standout left-handers on the GreenJackets' staff, including current league-leading ERA man Christian Jones and fellow All-Star teammate Matt Lujan.
LHP - Matt Lujan | Repeating the South Atlantic League, Matt Lujan made the most of it by posting a 1.74 ERA leading up to the league's All-Star selections. In those eight starts, Lujan finished the sixth inning in all eight tries. Lujan has since been granted a promotion to the California League, where he has been part of the San Jose Giants' rotation since mid-June.
RHP - Jake Smith | Smith began the season on a 13.1 scoreless inning streak before finally allowing an earned run on April 29. Smith has been hard to hit in his first run at a full-season team, striking out over 10 batters per nine frames. This will be a second consecutive All-Star selection after Smith represented the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the 2013 Northwest League game.
RF - Tyler Horan | Horan has been the key source of offense for the GreenJackets in 2014, slugging five home runs, five triples, and 16 doubles in 185 at-bats before being selected to his first minor league All-Star game. Horan has continued the power surge, bringing his home run total to 12 to go along with 20 doubles and five triples since the June 17 All-Star contest.