All-Star Games are supposed to be a “showcase” of the top talent from around a particular league. Tuesday night June 18th in Biloxi, MS, the 47th Annual Southern League All-Star Game did not disappoint.
It certainly helps that the Southern League, which is comprised of ten teams, boasts AA affiliates from five of the top ten major league farm systems, according to MLB.com. The rosters for the North and South squads read as a veritable who’s who of ranked prospects. They featured two #1 ranked prospects, and several ranked amongst their Prospects1500 top 50 team lists. That does include Taylor Trammell, who was selected, but due to a hamstring strain, wasn’t able to participate. Long story short, The Southern League is stacked!
I need to take a moment to say, the venue for the All-Star festivities was magnificent! MGM Park, home of the Biloxi Shuckers, is nestled perfectly into Downtown Biloxi, Mississippi. The staff (first class), food, scenery, and nice breeze coming from the Gulf Coast, all make for a very enjoyable experience. If you’re looking for a fun, affordable outing, I highly recommend catching a Shuckers game.
Ok, back to the All-Star Game.
White Sox fans, still elated by the arrival of Eloy Jimenez, should take joy in the fact that another uber-talented outfielder is on the way soon. Luis Robert (Prospects1500 White Sox #3) had himself a night. The 6’3” 185 lb,. 21-year-old went 2-3 at the plate, with 2 RBIs, a double, triple, and a run scored, in front of the 4,209 in attendance at the Shuckers’ home MGM Park.
The North wasted no time getting the scoring started in the top of the first. After a one-out walk and subsequent steal by Jackson Generals’ catcher Daulton Varsho (Dbacks #4), Robert sent a screaming RBI double down the third base line. Biloxi’s Trey Supak (Brewers #14), settled down and got the last two outs, stranding Robert at second.
Mississippi’s Tucker Davidson (Braves #19), Southern League’s first half ERA leader (1.61), came in to pitch the top of the second. However, he would only be able to record two outs before being pulled. Tennessee’s Vimael Machin led off the inning with a single. After Home Run Derby champion Jeffrey Baez popped out, Davidson walked Montgomery’s Josh Lowe (Rays #24). Tennessee’s P.J. Higgins then smoked a double to left field, scoring Machin. With a man on second and third, Chattanooga’s Alfredo Rodriguez (Reds #41) hit a hard ground ball that second baseman Travis Blankenhorn (Twins #18) fielded and threw to first for the second out. That’s about the time the wheels really came off for Davidson. Varsho reached on a single, scoring Higgins. It was Robert’s turn again and he laced a ball to right center for a triple, scoring Varsho. Montgomery’s Jesus Sanchez (Rays #2) lined another single that scored Robert. That was all the batting practice they were going to allow Davidson to throw and he exited having given up five runs on five hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. Biloxi’s Johan Belisario came in to relieve Davidson. He would walk Jackson’s Drew Ellis (Dbacks #13) but got Machin to ground out to first for the final out.
— Jarrod Vickery (@jvickery55) June 20, 2019
The game would remain 6-0 until the bottom of the fourth. That’s when two Shuckers, Biloxi was well represented placing 9 players on the South roster, were responsible for the South’s first run. Trent Grisham (Brewers #17) walked and stole second. Then, with one out, his Shuckers teammate Patrick Leonard singled to left, scoring Grisham. The North would immediately strike back in the top of the fifth. Ellis walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Lowe then singled off of Jacksonville’s Robert Dugger (Marlins #15) bringing home Ellis. That pushed the lead back to six at 7-1.
The Atlanta Braves have a loaded farm system and Mississippi is no exception, placing seven players on the South roster. It seemed this game would end without much noise from any of the Braves’ prospects though. That is, until the bottom of the seventh inning. That’s when Drew Waters, Atlanta’s preseason #7 prospect although he’s shooting up those rankings this season and will likely be Top 5 in Braves system on our midseason update, sent an opposite field blast over the left field wall. That shot brought the South a little closer, making the score 7-2.
— Jarrod Vickery (@jvickery55) June 19, 2019
The South would add on a run in the bottom of the ninth on a Jaylin Davis RBI single that scored Jacksonville’s Justin Twine. It was too little too late. The North won by a final of 7-3, giving them their first victory over the South since 2015.
Daulton Varsho made a good case for MVP honors with a two hit, one RBI game of his own. Scott Moss (Reds #18) turned in a great performance for the North also. The Chattanooga lefthander didn’t allow a hit and had two K’s, but as so often is the case in these type games, he would only pitch one inning. However, it was clear that Robert’s performance stood out on this night and the voting for him as MVP, was unanimous.
Luis Robert barely dodges the powerade bath his teammates tried to give him after being named the #AllStar2019Biloxi #MVP Dont worry though, the award was not harmed! @Prospects1500 @SLeagueBaseball @BhamBarons @BiloxiShuckers pic.twitter.com/9ohizI7xk9
— Jarrod Vickery (@jvickery55) June 19, 2019
Robert, who got a $26 million bonus when he signed with the White Sox in 2017, began this season with Class A+ Winston-Salem. There he had a .453 batting average with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. Since being promoted to Birmingham, he’s batting .307 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 41 games.