The Midwest League, home of the Lake County Captains, has announced its rosters for the 2018 Midwest League All-Star Game from Lansing, Michigan. Three members of the Lake County Captains have been selected to take part in the annual exhibition on June 19.
Pitchers Tommy DeJuneas and Kyle Nelson and outfielder Will Benson will represent the Captains in the 54th MWL All-Star Classic, set to take place at the home of the Lugnuts, Cooley Law School Stadium. Players selected were nominated and selected by the managers of the league.
DeJuneas, a 22-year-old right-handed reliever, was a 26th round draft pick by the Indians last season out of North Carolina State. He made 17 relief appearances for the organization’s Arizona League team last year, posting an 0-3 record with a 2.42 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP, but an encouraging 34 strikeouts in 26 innings of work.
He began the season pitching at the Class-A level for the first time and has started out strong in middle and late relief. In six April outings, he allowed just four runs, giving up two each in two of those appearances, and posted a 3.60 ERA for the month with 16 strikeouts and just two walks in ten innings. He put up a nine-game stretch from April 29 to May 22 during which he allowed just one earned run in 15 1/3 innings (0.59 ERA, .125 batting average against), before a pair of rough outings in the final week of the month. A week later, he was placed on the 7-day disabled list.
Through his first 17 games this season, he is 2-1 with a save, a 3.76 ERA, and a 1.22 WHIP with 34 strikeouts (11.6 K/9) and six walks in 26 1/3 innings of work.
Nelson, 21, is a fellow 2017 addition by the Tribe in the 15th round of the draft out of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was the third member of the Gauchos to be drafted by Cleveland in a two-year span, following in the footsteps of pitcher Shane Bieber and outfielder Andrew Calica from the June draft in 2016.
Nelson signed with the Indians by the end of June and made his professional debut in the bullpen of the short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers days later, posting a 3-2 record in 19 games with four saves, a 2.48 ERA, and a 1.00 WHIP with 40 strikeouts in 29 innings.
The 6’1” left-hander’s good start to his pro career has been overshadowed by a nearly perfect start to his 2018 campaign. He has pitched 12 times for the Captains this season at the time of his All-Star nod, posting a 3-1 record with two saves, a 0.44 ERA, a 0.84 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings. He has given up just two runs, only one of which was earned, and has walked just two batters on the season. His first earned run came in his only loss, which ended his season-opening run of eleven consecutive outings (19 1/3 innings) without giving up an earned run out of the Lake County bullpen.
Benson, the Indians’ first round pick in the 2016 draft out of high school, is playing his first full season of professional baseball after partial campaigns in 2016 and 2017.
Still only 19 years old (he turns 20 on June 16), the right fielder is in his third professional season overall after debuting in the Arizona League in 2016 and playing in 56 games for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in 2017.
Benson opened 2018 with the Captains, showing bursts of power and an ability to draw some walks while dealing with some elevated strikeout totals. In 20 April games, he slashed .200/.381/.415 with two doubles, four homers, and nine RBI while drawing 17 walks against his 23 strikeouts. His numbers declined a little in May, when over 29 games he hit .183 with a .339 on-base percentage and a .355 slugging mark with one double, five homers, and nine RBI. He struck out 36 times in his 115 plate appearances while walking 20. He has hit safely in three of his first four games in June, including a season-best 2-for-4 day at the plate with a pair of homers and five RBI at home against the Dayton Dragons on Wednesday, June 6. It was his second two-homer game of the season and marked a personal best for RBI in a game.
For all three Captains representatives, the All-Star Game selections were the first of their careers.