On Wednesday, it was announced that former Crowder and current Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado) right fielder Sam Hilliard has been selected to start in the 2019 Triple-A All-Star Game.
Hilliard will represent the Pacific Coast League against the International League in the midseason classic July 10 in El Paso.
Fellow outfielder Yonathan Daza and third baseman Pat Valaika join Hilliard in giving the Isotopes their most AS starters since 2008.
On the season, entering Wednesday night, Hilliard owned a .253 batting average (75 for 297) with 61 runs scored, 17 doubles, five triples, 20 home runs, 58 RBI, 29 walks and 102 strikeouts, and 14 stolen bases in 16 attempts over 74 games.
At the time of the announcement, Hilliard ranked fourth in the Pacific Coast in home runs, fifth in RBI, second in runs scored, fourth in triples, second in strikeouts, and eighth in stolen bases.
Hilliard’s selection marks his fourth consecutive midseason all-star — following last season at Double-A Hartford (Eastern League), two seasons ago at Single-A Advanced Lancaster (California League), and three seasons ago at Single-A Asheville (South Atlantic League). He’s made the all-star game playing for teams in three different time zones.
Hilliard’s next homer will give him 75 for a professional career that started in 2015. The Rockies selected the 6-foot-5, 238-pound lefty in the 15th round that June and he’s worked his way up to the second-highest level in pro baseball and the No. 9 ranked prospect in the Rockies organization.
Hilliard played one season at Crowder — the Region 16 championship season of 2014 — before one season at NCAA Division I Wichita State.
All-star host El Paso features brother coaches Morgan and Lance Burkhart, both former professional baseball players themselves. Morgan coaches the hitters and Lance the fielders.
Morgan attended Hazelwood West High and Central Missouri and Southwest Texas in college. He played in parts of three MLB seasons for Boston (2000-01) and Kansas City (2003), logging 42 career games overall between the Red Sox and the Royals. Morgan hit five career homers, four of them in 2000 with the Red Sex.
Lance played 13 seasons overall (1997-2009) in pro baseball, including eight seasons in affiliated baseball and he reached as far as Triple-A on three different occasions. Lance played at Crowder.
The Burkhart brothers were recently featured in a MiLB.com story by writer Benjamin Hill.
“I don’t think we take it for granted,” Lance said in the story. “But then again, I don’t think we think about it. We’re both professionals. We’ve been around this game a long time. We just go about our business.”
“I’ll be honest with you, I never really thought about it,” Morgan added. “I never thought about playing [together]. You just go year to year. Then you end up getting into coaching. You go year to year. It never really comes to my mind, where we’re going to end up or are we going to end up together. It’s just the path that’s going on and we’re lucky to end up where we are.”
Both brothers gave a lot of credit to playing a lot of waffle ball for their baseball success.
— Former Crowder and current Single-A Advanced Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee) pitcher Aaron Ashby’s dominance of the Carolina League ended after two starts.
On Wednesday, facing the Down East Wood Ducks (Texas) from an organization that drafted Ashby two years ago but he decided to return to Crowder for his sophomore season, Ashby allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits with five strikeouts and three walks over 5 2/3 innings.
In his first two starts in the Carolina League, Ashby pitched 14 1/3 scoreless innings with 16 strikeouts and a meager five hits allowed.
After three starts with Carolina, Ashby owns a 1-1 record with a 1.80 ERA and 21 strikeouts and six walks over 20 innings.
Overall, this season, the 6-foot-2, 181-pound southpaw owns a 4-5 record with a 3.11 ERA and 101 strikeouts and 34 walks over 81 innings.
Ashby left the Midwest League as its strikeouts leader with 80 in 61 innings pitched.
The Brewers picked the former NJCAA Division I national strikeouts leader in the fourth round (125th overall pick) in last June’s draft.
Ashby’s ranked ninth overall prospect in the Brewers organization with his curveball rated the best in the entire system.
— Former Crowder pitcher Zach Matson has enjoyed his most successful professional season thus far and that’s why he was promoted on Monday from Single-A Delmarva to Single-A Advanced Frederick (Baltimore) in the Carolina League.
With the Shorebirds, Matson recorded a 4-0 record with a 2.55 ERA, four saves, and 65 strikeouts and 19 walks over 35 1/3 innings for 16.05 strikeouts per nine innings. For his efforts, Matson earned midseason all-star honors in the South Atlantic League.
Matson now joins fellow former Crowder pitchers Aaron Ashby (Carolina Mudcats, Milwaukee) and Andrew Schwaab (Salem Red Sox, Boston) in the Carolina League.
Matson made his Frederick Keys debut Wednesday in relief against the Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland).
Matson pitched two scoreless and hitless innings and he finished with three strikeouts and three walks, working through one in the seventh and two in the eighth.
Matson earned the hold in the Keys’ 4-3 victory. His performance lowered his overall seasonal ERA to 2.41.
The Orioles made Matson a 24th round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft.
— Former Crowder and current Single-A Advanced Salem Red Sox (Boston) pitcher Andrew Schwaab earned a save Wednesday night against the Fayetteville Woodpeckers (Houston).
Schwaab allowed one run (earned) on one hit with two strikeouts and one walk over one inning.
Schwaab tallied his fourth save overall of the season, his third with Salem, and his 40th career save.
On the season, Schwaab owns a 2-1 overall record with a 4.36 ERA, four saves in five opportunities, and 40 strikeouts and 21 walks over 33 innings.
Since his demotion to Salem, he’s 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, three saves in four opportunities, and 18 strikeouts and seven walks over 15 innings.
The New York Yankees signed Schwaab as an undrafted free agent in 2015.
— Former Crowder and current Single-A Hagerstown Suns (Washington) pitcher Trey Turner took his first loss of the season and surrendered his first run in over a month during his relief appearance Monday against the Hickory Crawdads (Texas).
Turner came on in the ninth against the Crawdads.
Before his outing Monday, Turner’s ERA stood at 0.68 and afterwards, his ERA bumped up to 1.23.
On the season, Turner owns a 1-1 record with that 1.23 ERA and 25 strikeouts and four walks over 14 2/3 innings.
The Nationals drafted the former Neosho High standout in the 10th round of the 2017 MLB Draft.
— Former Crowder standout and current AZL Athletics Gold (Oakland) shortstop Elvis Peralta hit the second home run of his professional career during Wednesday’s game against the AZL Reds.
Peralta also worked a walk, struck out twice, and scored two runs in the Athletics’ 17-10 victory. The A’s scored 11 runs in the seventh.
After seven pro games, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound middle infielder owns a .250 average (6-24) with seven runs scored, one double, two homers, two RBI, six walks and nine strikeouts, and two stolen bases in as many attempts.
The Athletics selected Peralta in the 26th round earlier in June.
Peralta’s former Crowder teammate Kyle MacDonald is on the roster of the GCL Yankees West at first base, his collegiate position at first Crowder and then Arkansas State. He’s listed as No. 99.
The Yankees selected MacDonald one round after Peralta came off the board.