Carolina League Takes Midseason Showdown

The overall talent at the California-Carolina League All Star game, played in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was overwhelming on paper, but on the field it was anything but. Potomac outfielder Edgardo Baez (Nationals) was named the MVP after breaking a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning with a home run to right-center field. The Carolina League would go on to win 3-1, but if anything, the story of the game was about defense, good and bad.

The Carolina League scoring got started with two runners on and none out in the first inning. Frederick catcher Matt Wieters (Orioles) delivered a base hit to left field that plated Wilmington outfielder Joe Dickerson (Royals) to make the score 1-0. There was a threat for more, but San Jose lefthander Ben Snyder (Giants) struck out the Myrtle Beach tandem of DH Ernesto Mejia and shortstop Brandon Hicks (Braves) and then got Winston-Salem first baseman Brandon Allen (White Sox) to ground out harmlessly to second to end the first frame.

The Cal League started a threat in the fifth inning with runners on first and second and one out. Rancho Cucamonga outfielder Peter Bourjos (Angels) hit a single to right field and Lake Elsinore second baseman Eric Sogard (Padres) rounded third, beating the throw home, but missed the plate and Wieters applied the late tag to get the second out. Stockton outfielder Archie Gilbert (Athletics) came through in the next at-bat, however, with a single to right field scoring Visalia shortstop Pedro Ciriaco (Diamondbacks).

Frederick righthander Jake Arrieta (Orioles) threw a scoreless first inning and was consistently 95-96 mph, earning him pitcher of the game honors. Back to the defense theme, Bourjos displayed the best defense, tracking down a couple of fly balls in the gap and throwing out Salem catcher Koby Clemens (Astros) as he attempted to go from first to third on a single, ending the eighth inning.

The Carolina League gave the Cal League extra opportunities, committing three errors. Hicks air-mailed a throw in the first inning that actually hit Baseball America contributing photographer Robbie Gurganus in the chest, while he was in the dugout shooting the game. Potomac second baseman Matt Rogelstad (Nationals) also committed a field error while Allen looked shaky at first base, dropping a pickoff attempt that had the runner dead to rights.

Frederick right fielder Brandon Tripp (Orioles) also flashed the leather, making a couple of nice diving and sliding catches that robbed Cal Leaguers of base hits that could have changed the outcome.

Mejia beat out San Jose catcher Pablo Sandoval (Giants) in the home run derby with some absolute lasers that sailed clear out of the stadium in right field. Also, Vanna White, a native of North Myrtle Beach and best known for turning the letters on Wheel of Fortune, threw out the first pitch of the game.