‘Ducks Dominate Eastern League All-Star Roster

The Cleveland Indians farm system has been well represented in midseason All-Star Games across the levels and the same will be said for the Double-A Akron RubberDucks later this month.

Six RubberDucks were selected for the Eastern League’s Western Division squad for the July 13 game from Akron’s Canal Park. The players will be coached in the game by their manager, Dave Wallace, hitting coach Tim Laker, pitching coach Tony Arnold, coach Luke Carlin, trainer Jeremy Heller, and strength and conditioning coach Scott Nealon.

Starting pitcher Shawn Morimando, reliever Perci Garner, catcher Jeremy Lucas, first baseman Nellie Rodriguez, and outfielders Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer will stay at home in Ohio to participate in the honor during the Eastern League’s All-Star break. Frazier and Morimando made the club through the fan vote.

The rosters were filled by using a combination of fan voting and balloting done by the managers, broadcasters, and writers around the league. The six selections matches the six players taken from the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats roster for the Carolina League team for their All-Star Game. The Single-A Lake County Captains had four honorees, while the Triple-A Columbus Clippers had three players picked this week.

Morimando, the 23-year-old left-hander, won nine of his first eleven games to start the season and had a miniscule 1.64 ERA and 1.03 WHIP through those starts. He allowed 12 earned runs, more than one-third of his total for the season, in a pair of losses to start June, but has allowed eight over his last 17 2/3 innings while posting a 1-1 record in those three games.

He is a perfect 6-0 in eight starts at Canal Park this season with a 2.28 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He is the Eastern League’s win leader approaching the break. The young southpaw was a 19th round pick by the Tribe in the 2011 draft out of high school. This will be the first All-Star Game of his professional career.

Garner is a former second round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2010 draft out of Ball State. The 27-year-old Dover, Ohio, native joined the Indians organization in 2015 and appeared in 18 games of action for the Hillcats. He was promoted to Akron to start the season and has posted a 4-1 record with a 1.84 ERA and 0.92 WHIP through his first 22 appearances while notching a pair of saves. He has 45 strikeouts and just nine walks in 49 innings of work. Opposing batters are hitting .205 against him this season in his third different season of work at the Double-A level (his first since 2014 with Reading).

This is the second All-Star nod for Garner, who made the midseason club for Clearwater of the Florida State League in 2013.

The backstop Lucas is in his second season with the ‘Ducks. His numbers have been much improved at the plate, where he has hit .241 through his first 54 games with eleven doubles, seven homers, and 25 RBI. Last year, he hit .239 with eleven doubles, two homers, and 22 RBI for the season. He has yet to make an error defensively.

This will be the 25-year-old’s first All-Star Game. He was a 12th round selection by the Indians out of Indiana State in the 2012 draft.

Rodriguez, 22, was fourth in the league in home runs with 15 at the time of the All-Star announcements. He leads Akron in RBI (49), total bases (140), and slugging percentage (.483) and is second in walks (40) and hits (73).

Through 76 games in his second season in Double-A, he is hitting .252 with 18 doubles, two triples, 15 homers, and 49 RBI. He was a 15th round selection out of high school by the Indians in the 2012 draft.

It will be the third minor league All-Star appearance for Rodriguez, who was selected for the midseason honors in 2013 with Mahoning Valley (New York-Penn League) and 2015 with Lynchburg (Carolina League).

A recent decline in production at the plate has removed the 21-year-old Frazier from the top few slots in the batting average race in the Eastern League, but he entered play on Thursday hitting .286 with 21 doubles, a triple, nine homers, and 38 RBI. He leads Akron in runs, hits, doubles, batting average, on-base percentage and is third in walks, stolen bases, total bases, and slugging percentage. He has played all three outfield spots this year through his first 69 games, limited by a week on the disabled list with a sore hamstring.

It is the first midseason All-Star team for the former first round pick, who was named a post-season All-Star in 2013 in the Arizona League and 2015 for Lynchburg in the Carolina League. He will also represent the RubberDucks, the Indians organization, and the U.S. team in Major League Baseball’s Sirius/XM Futures Game on July 10 from San Diego, California.

Zimmer, the Indians’ first rounder in the 2014 draft, has struggled some with strikeouts and his batting average, but has still put together some solid offensive numbers for the Akron team. He is hitting .237 with a .362 OBP and .477 slugging mark. He has scored 45 runs, added 16 doubles, six triples, and a dozen homers, and has driven in 44 runs. Zimmer is also among the league leaders in stolen bases with 27.

The 23-year-old top prospect is in his second season in Akron after joining the team after the Carolina League All-Star break last season. He was an All-Star that year for Lynchburg and participated in the MLB Futures Game in Cincinnati.

Prior to the All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 13, there will be a Celebrity Softball Game at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, July 12. Former Major Leaguer Carlos Baerga will lead a team against ‘Ducks manager Wallace.

Following the conclusion of the game, the 2016 Eastern League Home Run Derby will take place at 8:05 PM. Contestants for the derby have yet to be announced. A fireworks show will follow.

Photo: David Monseur/MiLB.com

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