Hey Now: All-Stars that may or may not have broken the mold

Who doesn’t love All-Star games? Well, many people, for numerous reasons, but that’s beside the point. The major league All-Star Game is the true cream of the crop, literally the best of the best of the best. The Triple-A International League vs. Pacific Coast League All-Star Game is… similar. That roster typically comprises legitimate prospects close to the majors, players who have already spent time there and are having a good prove-it or recovery year in the minors, and prospects who are wearing that label thin (for examples of all the above, this year’s roster includes Yoan Moncada, Johnny Giavotella, and Rusney Castillo).

As in the majors, every team in the league contributes at least one player to the roster. Going through old Knights teams and remembering all the names that never panned out has been a fun(?) part of writing this column this season, and going through the Knights’ most recent All-Star selections is no different. Let’s go on a nostalgic journey, one that abruptly ends in 2010, before which it’s surprisingly difficult to find full rosters.

2017: This year’s reps are the aforementioned Moncada (maybe you’ve heard of him), Lil Nicky Delmonico, and Danny Hayes. The game will be played on July 12th, the day after the MLB All-Star Game.

Matt Davidson (FutureSox)

Matt Davidson (Brian Bilek / FutureSox)

2016: Charlotte hosted the All-Star Game, and Matt Davidson and Leury Garcia were chosen as representatives. However, Leury was injured and Davidson was busy breaking his foot during his first call-up of the season, so relief pitcher Brad Goldberg stepped in. Here in the future, we know that Goldberg continued his International League dominance that season and this one, and we also know that he has a 108.00 ERA in his one appearance with the Sox this season, but we can’t warn 2016-him, thanks to the rules of time travel.

2015: It was a banner year for Knights in the stars, as four players were selected:  Zach Phillips, Davidson, Trayce Thompson, and International League starting pitcher Erik Johnson. To recap, Phillips only ever threw around 55 innings with the organization, and now pitches for Acereros de Monclove of the Mexican Baseball League. Davidson is currently hitting dongs and striking out a lot for the big-league Sox (he struck out two times in four at-bats during this All-Star Game), and Thompson is batting .213 between the majors and minors since the Sox traded him to the Dodgers after the 2015 season. Johnson bounced between the Knights and the Sox for years before becoming part of the James Shields trade with the Padres in 2016. He will miss 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Incidentally, Gregory Infante also made the IL team that year, pitching for the Blue Jays affiliate in Buffalo. So did Alen Hanson, during his time in Indianapolis with the Pirates club.

Despite having four All-Stars, the Knights went 74-70 and finished tied for 7th place in the league.

Tyler Saladino (Chicago Tribune)

Tyler Saladino (Chicago Tribune)

2014: Tyler Saladino and Josh Phegley were the proud representatives. Saladino, of course, is currently steadfastly refusing to shave his mustache in Chicago, where’s he’s DL’ed with a back injury, and Phegley is right on the Mendoza line with the Athletics, where he’s been since the ill-fated Samardzija Event of 2014.

In case you have forgotten about Wilson Betemit, Wilson Betemit was there too. In fact, he drove in two runs.

2013: Phegley and David Purcey were originally slated to represent the Knights, but they were both called up by the Sox the week before. Steve Tolleson took their collective places. It was Purcey’s penultimate year in baseball. 2013 was Tolleson’s sole year with the organization; he has bounced around since then and is currently a free agent.

Fresh off an IL championship defeat in the 2012 playoffs,  two Charlotte coaches were assigned to help manage the squad: Joel Skinner and Brandon Moore, neither of whom are still in the organization.

2012: Phegley, Charlie Leesman, and Dan Johnson. Yes, Josh Phegley made the Triple-A All-Star team three years in a row. To jog your memory on Dan Johnson, he’s the guy that hit the game-tying home run for the Tampa Bay Rays in the bottom of the 9th against the Yankees in 2011, which led to the Rays making the playoffs in what was probably the most exciting single day of baseball in history.

This was a much less exciting day, as neither of the two got a hit. Johnson is now playing for the Mexican Bravos de León. He’s trying to reinvent himself as a knuckleballer at age 37, the tail end of what was really an interesting and accomplished pro ball career. Unlike most of these players, Johnson performed admirably well during his 14 games for the big-league Sox in 2012, slashing .364/.548/.818.

Leesman made a couple spot starts for the Sox, but has not made a major-league appearance since 2014 and now pitches for the incredibly-named Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association.

Surprising nobody, Adam Eaton was the spark plug for the PCL All-Star team that year, scoring what would eventually be the winning run in the very first inning. Zach Duke and Miguel Socolovich also made appearances, as did John Ely and Chris Beck.

Originally selected was Knight Greg Golson, who was injured before the game and who is now playing in the Mexican League with several former Knights All-Stars.

Dayan Viciedo

2011: Who else would be a starting outfielder other than Dayan Viciedo? Shane Lindsay represented Charlotte in the bullpen and Rich Dotson was selected to coach. In fact, Viciedo went 1-4 with a run scored, a better performance than most of his Charlotte All-Star peers. In 2017, he’s 28, and is hitting .246 with 13 home runs for the Chunichi Dragons of the Japan Central League. Lindsay, an Australian, has since returned to Australia, undergone Tommy John surgery, made a brief comeback in the Australian Baseball League, and apparently retired.

Also in the starting lineups for that All-Star Game were Ray Olmedo, who would later appear for the Sox in 2012, Stefan Gartrell, who was in the first post-Sox year of his career, and J.B. Shuck, who’s currently in Triple-A with the Twins.

2010: Dan Johnson made the team this year, but with the Rays rather than the White Sox. Carlos Torres ended up being the sole Charlotte representative kind of by accident. Tyler Flowers was initially named and then removed, as was Dan Hudson, who was called up before he could play.

Torres actually was the IL starting pitcher, and gave up one run in two innings. Nowadays, he can be found pitching out of the bullpen for the Milwaukee Brewers, if anyone wants to drive up to say hi. Tyler Flowers is now catching for the Atlanta Braves after struggling through parts of seven seasons with the Sox, and Hudson pitches for the Pirates.

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