From low-level Class A baseball all the way to the major leagues, South Carolina has footprints all over the All-Star festivities this year.
Voting in the big leagues is underway, but let’s get to that later since the Midsummer Classic is still about a month away.
Earlier this week, a few stars from Palmetto State teams shined bright.
While San Francisco Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner was recording his best outing of the season (and probably the last couple of years) on Thursday, the franchise’s South Atlantic League affiliate was celebrating their own pitcher’s performance.
He only threw one inning in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, but Augusta GreenJackets pitcher John Gavin was the winning pitcher Tuesday night in Greensboro.
In his short outing, Gavin allowed three hits, but limited the Northern division’s production to just one run. And lucky for him, his Southern division teammates put the game out of reach early, securing him the victory.
He’s not quite Bumgarner, the three-time World Series champ, who struck out eight batters and gave up no runs through eight innings on Thursday. But Gavin is on his way.
The 24-year-old has the sixth-best ERA in the Sally League, and nearly helped the GreenJackets reach first place in the first half of the season.
The Southern Division beat the North, 9-5, in the game. Two of those nine runs were scored by fellow GreenJacket Manuel Geraldo, the team’s shortstop who also recorded three hits and an RBI.
Jeremy Vasquez, the first baseman for the New York Mets’ affiliate Columbia Fireflies, added a hit, run, and RBI to the Southern team’s efforts.
In Class A-Advanced ball where Chicago Cubs’ affiliate Myrtle Beach Pelicans reside, the Southern Division edged out a 7-6 victory over the North in Tuesday's Carolina League All-Star Game.
It was a tight game that required a strong effort from C.J. Pelham, a Lancaster native and former student at Spartanburg Methodist College.
The relief pitcher plays for the Down East Wood Ducks, the Carolina League affiliate of the Texas Rangers. He picked up the save for the South, recording the final out of the game with a runner on base.
More Carolina love
Apparently, the love for those who have played baseball in South Carolina doesn’t stop in the minor leagues. The early stages of MLB All-Star voting tell the story.
Several former Charleston RiverDogs, the SAL affiliate of the New York Yankees, are among the top 5 in American League voting for their respective positions.
They include catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielder Aaron Judge, both of whom are among the league leaders in home runs. Also, Holly Hill native and former College of Charleston standout Brett Gardner is ranked seventh in voting for outfielders.
The Yankees’ nemesis Boston Red Sox are also doing well in the polls.
Mookie Betts, a former standout on the Greenville Drive, Boston Class A affiliate, leads all American League outfielders in voting.
And further down on the list, former Greenville outfielder and South Carolina Gamecock Jackie Bradley Jr. is among the top vote-getters. A five-year veteran, Bradley batted .331 with 133 RBIs through three seasons with South Carolina.