Aces shortchanged on All-Star picks; here’s our dream team
Aces outfielder Socrates Brito has been selected to the 33-man 2018 Pacific Coast League All-Star Team
Brito, 25, tops the PCL with a .358 batting average. He leads the Aces in runs scored (51) and stolen bases (10). A left-handed flyball hitter, Brito has benefited from the wind that blows toward right field at Greater Nevada Field. He had two home runs on Wednesday and is tied with Kevin Cron with 11 for the team best.
He’s adequate on defense and has played all three outfield positions, but has seen most of his action in right.
This is the second straight Triple-A All-Star appearance for Brito. The Dominican Republican native has nine home runs in June.
Brito was called up for a couple of weeks with the Aces big league team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had two hits in 17 at bats. He’s been in the pros for seven years and has played in 66 major league games.
The PCL will face the International League on Wednesday, July 11, in Columbus, Ohio.
The Reno Aces, 36-43, have struggled with pitching in the first half of the season but they have plenty of players who deserved all-star consideration. Last season, four Aces were on the All Star squad.
Using a slightly different criterion, Tahoe Onstage’s beat writer for the Reno Aces, Isaiah Burrows, gave us his lineup. To honor the authentic minor leagues, players who have been called up to the majors this season, such as Brito, are not eligible for Burrows’ all-star team.
Here’s the team:
Catcher: Michael Perez (Reno Aces)
Perez serves as the guardian behind the dish for the Aces. Reno has 21 wins when Perez is in the starting lineup. He isn’t afraid to tear off the mask and display his cat-like instincts with a cannon arm from the squat. He’s nailed a team-leading 10 runners stealing in 31 attempts.
First Base: Brett Nicholas (Fresno Grizzlies)
Nicholas is launching baseballs in the heart of Chukchansi Park, with 14 homers on the season. His 55 RBIs rank fourth in the PCL to go along with a .549 slugging percentage. Nicholas appeared in 21 games for the Texas Rangers in 2017.
Second Base: Nate Orf (Colorado Springs Sky Sox)
Orf’s 76 hits and 37 RBIs complements his .993 fielding percentage this season. Orf also has a team-leading 16 doubles on the season and three triples.
Shortstop: Ildemaro Vargas (Reno Aces)
Vargas’ gold-glove worthy defense speaks for itself. He gets his jersey dirty stopping line drives in the gap with his cat-like reflexes that leave fans and teammates in awe. It’s rare a ball gets that past Vargas. He has 147 assists to just five errors and a .989 fielding percentage. The switch-hitter had a 16-game hitting streak and he has 25 extra base-hits and 34 RBIs.
Third Base: Josh Fuentes (Albuquerque Isotopes)
Playing behind Colorado Rockies’ perennial all-star Nolan Arenado must be tough, but Fuentes is putting together quite the season in Albuquerque. His 101 hits and 58 RBIs rank first and second in the PCL. The smooth hitting third baseman is no slouch on the field, either, with 104 assists and a .981 fielding percentage.
Left Field: Cesar Puello (Reno Aces)
Simply put, Puello knows his way around the base paths. His .434 on-base percentage is tied for first in the PCL. Puello has drawn a team-leading 26 walks to go along with a .328 batting average and 22 RBIs.
Center Field: Eric Young Jr. (Salt Lake Bees)
Young Jr. packs quite the punch in his 5-foot, 10-inch frame, with 71 hits at a .296 clip. He’s also a pest on the bases with a team-leading nine stolen bases. Signing a minor league contract with the parent club Los Angeles Angels in 2017, Young Jr. has logged 610 career games with five big league teams. Two of them reside in the Big Apple.
Right Field: Kyle Tucker (Fresno Grizzlies)
After a slow start, the Houston Astros’ slugger is making noise in Fresno. Rated the No. 9 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, Tucker, 21, has crushed 12 homers and a PCL-leading 59 RBIs. Tucker may aim for the fences, but he won’t turn down an infield single. He has 92 hits on the season, good for third in the PCL.
Designated Hitter: Zach Borenstein (Las Vegas 51s)
Borenstein brings his bat to any ballpark on the schedule, and 10 of his 16 homers have been launched on the road. The former Aces bomber has two home runs at Greater Nevada Field this season.
Starting Pitcher: Taylor Clarke, RHP (Reno Aces)
The Dbacks’ prospect has won six-straight games for Reno. He has a team-high 8 wins and has held opposing batters to a .240 batting average. His 79 strikeouts are fourth in the PCL. He lowered his ERA to 4.10 in a 13-2 victory over the Bees Tuesday.
Starting Pitcher: Manny Banuelos, LHP (Oklahoma City Dodgers)
The southpaw is off to a scorching start, with an 8-4 record and a PCL-leading 91 strikeouts. Banuelos, 27, has a 3.14 ERA in 77.1 innings pitched.
ABOUT Isaiah Burrows
Tahoe Onstage sportswriter Isaiah Burrows also is a general assignment reporter for CarsonNow.org, an online news source in Carson City. He is a journalism major at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he writes sports for the Sagebrush student newspaper. He is the Reno Aces beat writer for Tahoe Onstage.