Mudcats Have Four All-Stars Despite Poor First Half

It has been a season to forget on the field for the Carolina Mudcats. Entering Wednesday’s game with a dismal 21-43 record, the ‘Cats have floundered spectacularly to the shock of most observers. Carolina’s record belies not only the talent in Zebulon but also the individual performances from some of Cleveland’s top prospects.

The announcement of the Carolina League All-Star team only accentuates that surprise. Carolina has four players who will be making the trip to San Jose, CA to face the California League All-Stars on June 18, including both of the first round picks. Only the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas) have more All-Stars than the Mudcats.

Leading the way to San Jose will be former first-round draft pick Francisco Lindor. The eighth player taken overall in the 2011 draft has acclimated to professional baseball with verve and class.

Lindor has a .295 average going into Wednesday’s action, highlighted by his 19 extra-base hits. In the field, Cleveland’s top-rated prospect according to Baseball America has steadily dazzled everyone with his range at shortstop and ability to make top-tier plays at a young age.

“What else can you say about the guy,” Carolina manager Dave Wallace said.”He just makes so many plays night-in, night-out that you become spoiled.”

“He has as much talent as I have ever seen.”

Not to be outdone, the other first-rounder in Zebulon, centerfielder Tyler Naquin, will be joining Lindor in San Jose.

Naquin, who appeared in a College World Series at Texas A&M, is batting .306 with six home runs and 27 RBIs. His slugging percentage of .472 and OPS of .836 are both highest on the team among players who began the season in Carolina. The 15th pick in the 2012 draft also has shown he has a cannon of an arm in centerfield.

Unlike his two his two teammates that play in the field, first baseman Jerrud Sabourin was not highly touted coming out of Indiana University. In fact, Sabourin was not drafted at all and signed with Cleveland as a free agent coming out of college.

That has been the story of Sabourin’s career and the San Diego-native has never let it slow him down. The ex-Hoosier is mashing at a .302 clip for the Mudcats in 2013 and does not feel in awe of the more heralded players he competes with or against.

“Of course, I can play with them (the higher draft picks), Sabourin said. “ It doesn’t matter who I’m playing with.”

“I can play with anyone. I can play with big leaguers.”

The lone pitcher from the Mudcats to earn All-Star status is lefthander Cody Anderson. The goal Cleveland had in mind for Anderson in 2013 was to build arm strength as the native of Quincy, CA made the transition from reliever to starter.

And Anderson has taken off in his new role. The lefty has a 6-3 record on the campaign with a dazzling 2.95 ERA in 13 starts. Anderson has struck out 66 batters while walking only 17 and has a WHIP of 1.11.

Wallace is excited about what he has seen so far.

“He can locate, he can drive it downhill,” Wallace said. “His breaking ball is developing and he has got a pretty good change-up.”

“I think he has got a really good shot to pitch for a long time. That experience-factor is huge,”

While the first half has been a disappointment, Wallace is happy for his players who will be heading to San Jose.

“I’m very proud of our All-Stars,” Wallace said. “Each is very deserving, and will be great representatives of the Cleveland Indians, Carolina Mudcats and the Carolina League.”

Photo by Nikolaus © 2013 Carolina Mudcats

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  1. Why that record? How are the fans responding? Any potential improvement in the horizon for the second half?

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