Pitchers Carry The Day In California League All-Star Game
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The California League has long been known as the preeminent hitter’s league in minor league baseball.
In the league’s annual all-star game Tuesday night, it was pitchers who stole the show.
North Division pitchers combined to allow six hits and one run with 13 strikeouts, and the North Division All-Stars beat the South Division All-Stars, 7-1, at San Manuel Stadium in the California League All-Star Game.
All nine pitchers who appeared for the North recorded a strikeout. As a staff, they retired 10 straight batters at one point and nine of 10 hitters at another. Combined, they allowed only four runners past second base the entire game.
"It’s an all-star game for a reason,” said Modesto catcher Cal Raleigh, who caught the first five innings for the North. "They came out here and they did exactly what they were for.”
Modesto righthander Ljay Newsome (Mariners) got the start and set the tone with two strikeouts in a scoreless first inning. Stockton’s Brady Feigl (Athletics), Visalia’s Jeff Bain (D-backs) and Modesto’s Joey Gerber (Mariners) all joined him in throwing a scoreless inning with two strikeouts as well.
San Jose’s Camilo Doval (Giants) showed the top velocity of the game when he touched 100 mph twice—although he also surrendered the North’s only run allowed—and Visalia’s West Tunnell (D-backs) closed out the ninth inning firing 95-97 mph fastballs.
In all, it was a dominant display from the North Division arms from the first inning to the last.
"It was electric,” said Newsome, the league leader in strikeouts through the all-star break. "To start the game off and have those guys come in and follow, it was awesome.”
Visalia outfielder Mark Karaviotis (D-backs) went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead the North offensively and was named Most Valuable Player. Karaviotis, a 19th-round pick out of Oregon in 2016, opened the scoring with an RBI single in the second inning and added another RBI single in the eighth to help the North pull away.
"It’s an honor,” Karaviotis said. "This is my first all-star recognition as a professional and I got about 10 or 11 family members who flew out from Hawaii to be here. Just to be able to have a good game, a successful game, in front of my friends, family and loved ones, it was an awesome night.”
Stockton’s Jameson Hannah (Athletics) added a two-run triple and finished 1-for-3 with three RBIs for the North. San Jose’s Heliot Ramos (Giants) and Stockton’s Lazaro Armenteros (Athletics) each reached base three times and scored twice.
Lake Elsinore’s Esteury Ruiz (Padres) led off the sixth inning with a home run off Doval for the South’s only run. Ruiz, the Padres' No. 26 prospect, added a bat flip to punctuate the moment.
The North jumped in front early with three runs in the second inning off Inland Empire righthander Kyle Bradish (Angels).
Ramos got it started with a sharp single to left field to lead off the frame. After Armenteros reached on an error, Karaviotis singled Ramos home to open the scoring.
Two batters later, Hannah ripped a line drive into right field corner just out of the reach of Lancaster’s Casey Golden (Rockies) and raced around the bases for a two-run triple to extend the North’s lead 3-0.
"Speed is one of my tools and I was happy to hit the ball pretty hard down to right field," said Hannah, the Athletics’ No. 7 prospect. "If they don't make the play on me, then I'm going to take those extra bases. I was happy that ball got down and I was able to use one of my tools."
The North piled on late. Karaviotis led off the seventh with a single and scored on a fielder’s choice by Visalia’s Jancarlos Cintron (D-backs) to make it 4-1. Karaviotis struck again in the eighth with an RBI single and then came around to score on a fielder’s choice by Hannah. Visalia’s Renae Martinez (D-backs) finished the scoring in the ninth when he laced a one-out double and came home on a single by Visalia teammate Cam Duzenack two batters later.
That was more than enough for the North pitching staff. Gerber loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but got a strikeout and a groundout to escape unscathed, and Tunnell finished it off with a scoreless ninth.
"They just did what they’ve done all year,” Raleigh said. "I just told them keep it simple, throw your stuff and trust it. Don’t change, you got here for a reason. Everybody did, and everybody did great.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Doval, the Giants’ No. 19 prospect, threw his first pitch at 100 mph and also his last pitch at 100 mph. He sat 94-97 mph in between with an 88-92 mph slider. Doval's velocity did not result in dominance, however. He left a pitch up and in that Ruiz turned on for a home run to left field, and he also allowed an opposite-field single to Padres' No. 29 prospect Gabriel Arias.
Inland Empire righthander Oliver Ortega (Angels) reached 98 mph for the top velocity among South pitchers. He sat 95-98 mph and landed his 81-84 mph power breaking ball for strikes during a 1-2-3 fifth inning. Ortega recorded two strikeouts, getting Stockton infielder Nick Allen (Athletics) looking and Cintron swinging on breaking balls.
Each side made a defensive play of note. For the North, Ramos made a jumping catch at the warning track in center field and slammed into the wall to rob Lancaster’s Ramon Marcelino (Rockies) of extra bases in the third inning. For the South, Rancho Cucamonga shortstop Jeter Downs (Dodgers) made a sliding stop to his left and spun around to make a strong, accurate throw to first base to rob Allen of a hit in the second inning.
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GOLDEN WINS HOME RUN DERBY
Golden won the all-star home run derby that took place prior to the game. The Rockies' 20th-round pick from UNC Wilmington in 2017 beat Visalia second baseman Duzenack, 7-5, in the finals.
Golden was rewarded with a wrestling-style championship belt.
"There’s a lot of home run hitters here, to win it is a really good feeling,” said Golden, who hit 34 home runs last year at low Class A Asheville and has nine homers this year through the all-star break. "My power is definitely something the last couple of years I tried to work on with coaches and coordinators. I think strength comes hand in hand with it and I think it’s come a long way.”
Golden hit seven home runs in the first round to advance out of the South Division bracket. Rancho Cucamonga catcher Connor Wong (Dodgers) hit two home runs and Lancaster first baseman Luis Castro (Rockies) hit none.
Armenteros hit seven home runs in the first round to lead the North Division bracket, but he did not advance to the finals because the players’ totals were added to the home run total of a local Little Leaguer they were paired with. Duzenack hit six home runs, but his Little League partner hit more home runs than Armenteros’ for a higher combined total, putting Duzenack in the final. Raleigh rounded out the North bracket with five home runs in the first round.
FINGERS, BELTRE JOIN HALL OF FAME
Rollie Fingers and Adrian Beltre were among four individuals inducted into the California League Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. Former Cubs minor leaguer Buddy Heslet and ex-California League president Joe Gagliardi were also inducted.
Fingers went 11-6, 2.77 with 152 strikeouts in 157 innings for the 1966 Modesto Reds before embarking on his 17-year major league career. A product of nearby Upland High School, 25 miles west of San Bernardino, Fingers attended the ceremony in person.
Beltre made his professional debut as a 17-year old with the 1996 San Bernardino Spirit. He hit 10 home runs in 63 games before being promoted and started his 20-year major league career two seasons later.
Heslet hit 51 home runs with 172 RBIs for the 1956 Visalia Cubs, both of which remain league records. Heslet, who advanced as high as Triple-A, died in 2012 and was represented by his son at the induction.
Gagliardi was the league president from 1981-2009 and oversaw expansion into Lancaster, Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore, among other markets that comprise the league’s present makeup.