The Midwest League announced on Tuesday the representatives for the mid-season Midwest League All-Star Classic on June 21 at Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The list of players included four members of the Lake County Captains.
The Indians Class-A affiliate will send three position players and one pitcher to the Eastern Division squad, including their middle infield tandem, a starting pitcher, and his battery mate. Shortstop Willi Castro, second baseman Tyler Krieger, catcher Francisco Mejia, and pitcher Tom Pannone will be the Captains honorees in the 52nd annual midseason exhibition.
Nineteen-year-old Castro is having a well-rounded season for the Captains while playing shortstop. The switch-hitting third-year pro out of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, is hitting .249 this season with a .271 on-base percentage and .382 slugging percentage. He has 54 hits this season in 51 games, with five doubles, six triples (second-best in the Midwest League), four homers (second-best on the club), and 22 RBI. He has also stolen seven bases in ten attempts. He spent the 2014 season split between second base and shortstop in the Arizona Rookie League before playing 67 games for short-season Mahoning Valley last year.
Castro celebrated his selection with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of the Captains’ 7-6 win on Tuesday over Lansing in Eastlake.
Krieger, the Indians’ fourth round pick in the 2015 draft out of Clemson, has put together an impressive season at the plate and is among the team and league leaders in several key offensive stats. He extended his season-high hitting streak to 17 straight games with a single in Tuesday’s contest against Lansing. The switch-hitting 22-year-old second baseman has played in 54 games for Lake County this season, hitting .324 with a .402 OBP and .451 slugging percentage. He has eleven doubles, three triples, three homers, and has driven in 28 runs while scoring 41 himself, tied for the Midwest League high. His 66 hits are fourth in the league and tops on the team, while his 14 stolen bases are tied for the team lead.
The All-Star nominations for Castro and Krieger are both the first of their professional careers.
In his second season behind the plate for the Captains, catcher Mejia has been much improved at the dish. Following Tuesday’s action, the 20-year-old is hitting .317 with a dozen doubles, three triples, a pair of homers, and has driven in a team-leading 35 runs. The switch-hitter and former undrafted free agent signing by the Indians in 2012 has hit safely in nine straight games, batting 14-for-34 (.412). He has also shown improvements behind the plate, making just three errors on the year (.992 fielding percentage) with three passed balls after allowing 16 passed balls last season. After throwing out 34.4% of base stealers last season and 32.2% the season before, he has improved to 43.6% this season (17-for-39).
Mejia was also a mid-season All-Star in 2014 while playing for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
The 22-year-old southpaw Pannone was selected by the Tribe in the ninth round of the 2013 draft out of the College of Southern Nevada. In his fourth season in the organization and his second season in the Captains rotation, he has gone 4-4 with a 3.28 ERA in a dozen starts. He has logged 60 1/3 innings on the season, allowing 19 walks while striking out 57 batters and holding opposing hitters to a .221 average at the plate. He allowed just one hit over seven innings in a win at home against Bowling Green on June 1. His strikeout total is third-best on the club, his WHIP (1.14) is second-best, and his ERA is tops on the staff.
He was previously named a post-season All-Star for the Arizona League Indians in 2014.
Photo: Tim Phillis/TCP Photography