Five Salem players selected for Carolina All-Star game

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Salem Red Sox thirdbaseman Bobby Dalbec tags out Alec Keller of the Potomac Nationals in Monday night
Carolina League action at Haley Toyota Field. PHOTO BY JOHN WACHER

The Salem Red Sox will have strong representation at the 2018 Carolina League All-Star Classic ,with five players representing the team as part of the Northern Division roster for the festivities at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, NC on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.

Relievers Daniel Gonzalez and Matthew Gorst form the Salem pitching contingent, with catcher Roldani Baldwin and infielders Jerry Downs and Santiago Espinal providing the hitting representation for the team.

Gonzalez, 22, is in his second year with the Sox (and sixth pro season) and has been an indispensable piece of the pitching puzzle for the team all season. The Venezuelan righty matched a career-best and a Salem Red Sox record on Opening Day by fanning 10 batters over four innings of relief, and has posted stellar numbers all season; he enters Monday at 6-1 with a 3.13 ERA and two saves over 14 appearances.

Gorst, 23, has taken some of his college success with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and brought into the professional ranks. The righty is in his third pro season and second with the Red Sox, as he posted a 1.20 ERA in nine games with Salem in 2017. So far in 2018, Gorst is third in the league with eight saves, and has posted strong overall numbers by going 0-2 with a 1.78 ERA in a team-high 18 appearances.

Baldwin, 22, came to the Sox as a mid-season and postseason All-Star in 2017, and has built on that resume in 2018. The catcher entered Monday batting .264 with six homers and 15 RBI in just 28 games on the season, slugging .464 for Salem and throwing out 43.3% of would-be base-stealers.

Downs, 24, has been a mainstay of the Salem lineup all season long at first, making 55 starts at the position after he was limited to only 45 games in 2017 between Greenville and the GCL Red Sox. Downs has played excellent defense at first, making only three errors thus far, and hitting five homers while driving in 23 runs. In 2016, Jerry hit five homers and drove in 24 games over 45 games with the Lowell Spinners in Short Season-A Ball. The Colombian-born first baseman is a fourth-year pro and in his first year with the Sox.

Espinal, 23, has been a breakout sensation for Salem in 2018, batting .307 through his first 51 games while belting seven homers (three more than in his first 149 professional games) and driving in 31 runs for the Sox. His .857 OPS is tops on the Salem squad, and he has swiped five bases while being caught only once. In 2017, he finished second in the South Atlantic League with 138 hits, leading the Greenville Drive in hits and triples, and finishing the season with a 12-game hitting streak.

The Potomac Nationals placed a Northern Division leading six players to the squad, including C Tres Barrera, OF Carter Keiboom, OF Jake Noll and RHP Will Crowe, RHP Tyler Mapes and RHP Sterling Sharp.

The Carolina League’s top hitter, OF Ryan McKenna, is one of four Frederick Keys to earn a mid-season All-Star nod. He will be joined by teammates RHP Cristian Alvarado, LHP Alex Wells and NC State standout OF Pres- ton Palmeiro. Another local product in Fuquay-Varina star D.J. Burt is one of four Wilmington Blue Rocks on the Northen Division roster. Burt will man the Northern Division outfield and is joined by Wilmington teammates OF Khalil Lee, OF Kort Peterson and league saves leader RHP Bryan Brickhouse.

The Lynchburg Hillcats will supply the field staff for the Northern Division team with manager Rougie Odor leading the way. He will be joined by pitching coach Tom Arnold, hitting coach Justin Toole, bench coach Grant Fink, strength and conditioning coordinator Eric Ortega and athletic trainer Bobby Ruiz. The Hillcats additionally placed three players to the team including LHP Sam Hentges, RHP Dalbert Siri and OF Conner Capel.

The Carolina League’s top pitcher, LHP Cam Roegner is one of four Mudcats represented on the Southern Division roster. He is joined by fellow Carolina players in RHP Marcos Diplan, INF Tucker Neuhaus and C Max McDowell who leads all of Minor League Baseball in caught stealing this season.

The Down East Wood Ducks will supply a Southern Division high six players, including RHP Edgar Arredondo, INF Andretty Cordero, INF Chuck Leblanc, INF Anderson Tejeda, OF Leody Taveras and LHP C.D. Pelham.

The Winston-Salem Dash placed five players including RHP Dylan Cease, LHP Bernardo Flores, RHP Matt Foster, OF Luis Basabe and OF Joel Booker. LHP Brett Adcock, RHP Brandon Bielak, OF Ronnie Daw- son and DH Abraham Toro are among the four Buies Creek Astros named to the this year’s squad. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans will be represented by INF Aramis Ademan, C Johnny Pereda and RHP Tyler Peyton.

Players also named to the initial Southern Division roster, but unable to participate due to recent promotions include INF Keston Hiura (Carolina Mudcats), RHP Trey Supak (Carolina Mudcats), RHP Matt Swarmer (Myrtle Beach Pelicans) and RHP Jonathan Hernandez (Down East Wood Ducks).

The Southern Division team will be led by the Carolina Mudcats field staff, including manager Joe Ayrault, pitching coach Bob Milacki, hitting coach Bobby Bell, coach Edwin Maysonet, strength coach Jonah Mergen and athletic trainer Jeff Bodenhamer.

The initial roster is subject to change and will be updated as player transactions occur due to promotion, trade, or injury. Votes were collected from field managers, team general managers and local media for all 10 Carolina League clubs.

The 2018 Carolina League All-Star Classic presented by US Foods® is scheduled to begin at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19 at Five County Stadium. The game will be preceded by an on-field event hosted by the Miracle League of the Triangle, beginning at 6:15 p.m. Country music artist Jason Michael Carroll will perform the National Anthem. In game entertainment will feature the ZOOperstars from “America’s Got Talent” and BirdZerk. The All-Star Classic game will be followed by a post-game fireworks show.

Individual game tickets begin at just $13 and are available at www.carolinamudcats.com/ASC, by calling (919) 269-2287 (CATS) and by visiting the Five County Stadium front office in Zebulon, NC.

The Red Sox will conclude the first half of the season with four games in Lynchburg this weekend. The Sox were all but eliminated from contention in the first half race when they dropped a doubleheader to Potomac at Haley Toyota Field in Salem Monday, 9-4 and 4-0, putting them five and a half games out of first place with just seven to play.