Great Eight: 'Birds Stack All-Star Roster
CLEARWATER, FL - The minor league-best Delmarva Shorebirds are sending almost a third of their roster to the 60th annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game presented by SEGRA, as announced by the league office on Tuesday morning. Eight Shorebirds will represent the team in the midsummer classic at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, West Virginia on June 18.
Pitchers Grayson Rodriguez, Drew Rom, Ofelky Peralta, and Zach Matson will join catcher Daniel Fajardo, shortstop Adam Hall, outfielder Doran Turchin, and designated hitter Seamus Curran on the Northern Division's roster. The eight players are the most from one SAL team this season; the last time the Shorebirds came anywhere near that total came in 2014 when they sent seven All-Stars to Hickory.
With top billing on the Northern Division pitchers' roll call, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez has dominated Class-A baseball like few other 19-year-olds before him. The Nacogdoches, Texas native is 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA and 0.837 WHIP through 43 innings over eight starts this season, walking 12 and striking out 61. Rodriguez, last year's 11th overall draft pick and the Orioles' No. 4 prospect, began the season on a 14.2-inning scoreless streak, winning the first SAL Pitcher of the Week award and Orioles Minor League Pitcher of the Month in April.
Fellow youngster Drew Rom stands right beside Rodriguez as one of the Sally League's teenage superstars. The Fort Thomas, Ky. lefty has gone 4-0 with a 1.49 ERA, 1.063 WHIP, 12 walks, and 55 strikeouts through 42.1 innings over nine outings (seven starts). Rom, a fourth-round pick in last year's draft and the No. 27 prospect in the O's system, recorded a microscopic 0.35 ERA in May, boasting a 25.1-inning scoreless streak from April 27 through May 30.
Back with the Shorebirds after a respectable 2016 season, right-hander Ofelky Peralta has cultivated one of the most feared heaters in the SAL. The Bonao, Dominican Republic man is 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA and 1.059 WHIP over 45.1 innings in 10 outings (nine starts), walking 19 and fanning 59. Armed with a fastball that has at times touched triple digits, Peralta recorded back-to-back double-digit strikeout starts in early April and has at different points retired 14 and 12 batters in a row.
Collectively, the Rodriguez-Rom-Peralta triumvirate has gone 14-0 with a 1.65 ERA and averages 12.05 strikeouts per nine innings, helping to form one of the most dominant rotations the South Atlantic League has seen in years.
Left off the Opening Day roster and only called up to Delmarva on April 18, southpaw Zach Matson quickly established himself as a shutdown force in the Shorebird bullpen. Through 13 appearances the Fayetteville, Mo. native is 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA, 0.975 WHIP, and three saves. Thanks in part to his signature curveball, Matson has struck out an eye-popping 45 batters and walked just 14 in 26.2 innings, good for a 15.19 K/9 clip.
As the pitchers' top signal caller, catcher Daniel Fajardo shares in and contributes to his staff's absurd levels of success. When the Maracay, Venezuela native catches this season, Shorebird pitching clocks in with a 1.88 ERA, and the team has gone 26-3 in games Fajardo has started. Fajardo has been behind the dish for six of Delmarva's league-high seven shutouts this season, and when baserunners have dared to steal against him, he has thrown them out 38.7 percent of the time. At the plate he is batting .270 with 13 RBIs. Fajardo was one of three catchers selected to the Northern Division's roster.
Shortstop Adam Hall, Baltimore's No. 14 prospect, has been a beacon of consistency at the top of the order for the Shorebirds. The 20-year-old from Bermuda is batting .322, good for third in the league, and ranks top-five in on-base percentage (.403), hits (65), runs (39), and stolen bases (15). Hall was named Orioles Minor League Player of the Month in April after recording nine multi-hit games, a total that's now soared up to 22. He will serve as the North's starting shortstop.
Outfielder Doran Turchin busted out of the gate on Opening Night with a triple and two RBIs and didn't break stride. The Oak Creek, Wisc. native is slashing .263/.372/.447 with 12 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 39 RBIs, 34 runs scored, five stolen bases, and an .819 OPS. Turchin's 39 rib-eyes rank sixth in the Sally League, and his four three-sackers tie him for third, just one back of the leaders. He made the roster as a utility outfielder.
After making last year's midsummer classic as a first baseman, Seamus Curran becomes a two-time SAL All-Star as the North's designated hitter. The Agawam, Mass. man clocks in tied for sixth in the league with 10 home runs, batting .222 with 26 RBIs along the way. Curran has honed into the power stroke that saw him belt 13 round-trippers with Delmarva in 2018; five of his 10 home runs this season have come since May 19.
The Northern Division team will be managed by David Berg of hosts West Virginia, while Brooks Conrad of defending league champion Lexington is at the helm for the Southern Division.
"The amount of talent that is showcased each year in this game is tremendous, and this year certainly continues that tradition," said SAL President Eric Krupa on the 60th set of the league's best. "West Virginia Power General Manager Jeremy Taylor and his staff have been working for more than a year in order to put together one of the most anticipated events on the baseball calendar."
The Shorebirds, currently 43-13 and leading the Northern Division by six games, close the first half on Sunday, June 16 against Hickory at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. Delmarva begins the second half at Greensboro on June 20 before returning to Salisbury on Monday, June 24.
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