The Carolina League, home of the Indians’ Class-A Advanced Lynchburg Hillcats affiliate, announced on Wednesday its selections for its 2016 mid-season All-Star team. The list included six members of the Hillcats organization.
Outfielder Greg Allen, first baseman Bobby Bradley, shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang, starting pitcher Julian Merryweather, catcher Daniel Salters, and starter Justus Sheffield will represent Lynchburg in the 2016 California-Carolina League All-Star Game on June 21 from The Diamond at Lake Elsinore.
The six selections for the Hillcats were tops in the league. It is the sixth straight season that Lynchburg has had at least three players on the mid-summer squad.
In his first season with Lynchburg, the 23-year-old Allen has been the table setter and prototypical center fielder and leadoff hitter, getting on base at a high rate and making his way around the bases by theft. Through play on June 7, he was fourth in all of minor league baseball with 29 stolen bases in 31 attempts and was tops on the Hillcats roster with a .402 on-base percentage, aided by 36 walks, third-best in the Carolina League. The San Diego State product isn’t too shabby with the defensive work either – he played 49 consecutive games to start the season without making an error.
This will be Allen’s second All-Star team – he was named a mid-season All-Star in 2014 at Mahoning Valley.
Bradley is the name Indians fans may be most familiar with. The 20-year-old first baseman has been the power supply for the Hillcats lineup, leading the team and league with 14 homers and 53 RBI. He is one of just two players in the Carolina League (Aderlin Rodriguez of Frederick the other) entering play on Thursday with a double-digit home run total and he has an eight-RBI lead on all challengers. He has also drawn 36 walks, tied with Allen for third in the league. Bradley was hitting .238 with a .362 OBP entering Thursday and had matched his 14 homers with 14 doubles this season.
The slugger will add the honor to a growing list of accomplishments for the third year pro, who was a third round pick by the Tribe in 2014 out of high school. He was named a post-season All-Star with the Arizona League Indians and the league’s most valuable player in 2014. Baseball America named him a Rookie All-Star in 2014 and both a Low Class A All-Star and a Minor League All-Star in 2015. MILB.com selected him an organizational All-Star for the 2015 season.
Shortstop Chang adds the All-Star berth to a season already having a Carolina League Player of the Week award for his solid week at the plate from Memorial Day through June 5. He leads the team with 27 extra bases hits, good for third in the league. The 20-year-old out of Taiwan is also third in the league in slugging percentage at .495 (behind second place Bradley’s .515) and doubles with 16 (leading the team). His .275 average heading into Thursday was second on the club and he just saw his modest six-game hitting streak come to an end in his last game.
Chang was previously named a post-season All-Star for the Indians in the Arizona Rookie League in 2014 and a Baseball America Rookie All-Star the same season.
Merryweather is your Carolina League leader with a 0.92 ERA through nine starts. He missed some time on the disabled list, but has still compiled a 7-1 record and struck out 43 batters in 48 2/3 innings. He has minimized potential damage by keeping runners off of the bases – he has a 1.03 WHIP, the top mark on the Hillcats staff and the third-best number in the league. The 24-year-old right-hander was named the league’s Pitcher of the Week on May 15.
This is the first time that Merryweather has been named an All-Star at any sort while in the Indians organization.
Catcher Salters is a mid-season All-Star for the second season in a row after being named one in the New York-Penn League last season while playing for Mahoning Valley. After 39 games with the Scrappers and one game with the Hillcats last season, he stayed with Lynchburg for the start of the 2016 season and is hitting .271 on the season with five doubles, two homers, and 14 RBI.
The 13th round pick of the Indians in the 2015 draft out of Dallas Baptist, he was also named a Baseball America Short-Season All-Star for the Scrappers at the end of last season.
Twenty-year-old left-hander Justus Sheffield has started his 2016 strong in his first season at High-A, posting a 4-2 record with a 3.10 ERA in eleven starts, allowing a .235 average against and a 1.21 WHIP. A first round pick by the Indians in the 2014 draft, he appeared in eight games for the Indians’ Arizona Rookie League team before going 9-4 with a 3.31 ERA in 26 starts for Lake County last season.
Last season, Sheffield was a mid-season Midwest League All-Star with Lake County and was named a MILB.com Organization All-Star for the 2015 season.
Photo: Lathan Goumas/The News and Advance