While the big league Chicago Cubs wait to see which one of their players on the ballot will make the 2015 National League All-Star team, it was announced that a handful of prospects from the Tennessee Smokies will represent them during the Southern League All-Star game this season.
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Now according to the Smokies’ official Twitter handle, first baseman Dan Vogelbach and catcher Kyle Schwarber will be starters for the Northern Division while being accompanied by five more teammates. Tennesse also posts that Vogelbach will be batting sixth in the lineup while Schwarber will hit third.
Joining the two sluggers will be pitchers Corey Black, Felix Pena, P.J. Francescon, Frank Batista and catcher Wilson Contreras as reported on their website. Shockingly, Albert Almora, Billy McKinney, and Jacob Hannemann were unable to make the cut, but there’s always next year.
Vogelbach, 22, had 49 hits so far this season with 12 doubles, one triple, four home runs, 25 RBI and a batting line of .301/.414/.460 in 163 at-bats.
His future with the organization remains up in the air as he could eventually turn into a trade piece that could be sent to an American League team looking to add another designated hitter to their lineup.
With Anthony Rizzo leading the charge for the Cubs, it’ll be difficult for him to find his way to the major league roster unless he’s coming off the bench.
Schwarber, on the other hand, could eventually replace a guy like Miguel Montero as the primary catcher once he’s ready. Veteran backup David Ross is almost 40-years-old and doesn’t appear to be someone who could find himself wearing the uniform as an active player next season.
Chicago’s 2014 first-round pick has been on an absolute tear this season for the Double-A affiliate, clubbing 13 home runs and 39 RBI while slashing .321/.435/.584 in 190 at-bats. If he continues to perform at a high level, he should be promoted to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs sometime in the near future.
It’s great to see the Smokies having four pitchers heading to Montgomery, Alabama as well. Batista is the standout arm for this club, holding a solid 1.49 ERA across 11 starts for Tennessee to begin the first half of the season.
He’s allowed only 11 earned runs in 66 1/3 frames and is currently leading the rest of the league in both earned run average and winning percentage. Hopefully, we’ll see him with the Cubs in the next two-three years.