Former Crowder and current Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado) right fielder Sam Hilliard leads the Isotopes in four key statistical categories entering the all-star break: 68 runs scored, 24 home runs, 69 RBI, and 16 stolen bases.
Those numbers are reflective of Hilliard earning his fourth straight midseason all-star honors, following the Double-A Eastern League last season, the Single-A Advanced California League in 2017, and the Single-A South Atlantic League in 2016.
All-star festivities began Monday and run through Wednesday with the game played Wednesday at El Paso’s Southwest University Park, pitting the Pacific Coast against the International League.
Hilliard knocked his 24th homer on Sunday, the final game before the break, and over his last 10 games, he batted .306 (11 for 36) with six runs scored, four homers, and 10 RBI.
At the break, Hilliard ranked second in the Pacific Coast in runs scored, third in homers, third in RBI, and seventh in stolen bases, as well as second in strikeouts.
The Rockies selected Hilliard in the 15th round in 2015 and he’s ranked No. 9 overall prospect in the Rockies organization.
— Making his second start for the Triple-A Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay), former Crowder pitcher Jalen Beeks took a loss with four runs allowed on three hits with five strikeouts and one walk Sunday afternoon against the Gwinnett Stripers (Atlanta).
After his first two starts, Beeks owns a 0-1 record with a 4.66 ERA and eight strikeouts and three walks over 9 2/3 innings.
Beeks made his debut with the Bulls on July 2 and he took a no-decision after one run allowed on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks over 4 2/3 innings recently against the Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox).
“I’m just trying to get better every day,” Beeks said in The Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina). “Trying to become a more competitive pitcher. … I enjoyed that. The last two or three innings, I had some fun. Hopefully get that (pitch count) back up and that’s a goal.”
Beeks made his first pro start since July 20 for Triple-A Pawtucket (Boston). Five days after that start, the Red Sox traded Beeks to the Rays for pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.
Beeks’ MLB debut was a start for the Red Sox against Detroit, but all 32 of his MLB appearances since his debut have been in relief.
Beeks earned a 5-0 record with a 2.79 ERA, one save, and 51 strikeouts and 22 walks in 61 1/3 innings this season for Tampa.
The Rays optioned Beeks to Durham on June 28, despite his success this season.
Since taking a loss in his debut against Detroit, Beeks earned 10 straight victories in his last 10 decisions and he stands at 10-1 with a 4.02 ERA and 93 strikeouts and 46 walks over 112 innings after the first 33 games of his MLB career.
The Red Sox drafted Beeks in the 12th round in 2014 and he worked his way steadily through the Red Sox system — including midseason all-star honors last year for Pawtucket — until his call ups last year.
— Former Crowder and current Single-A Advanced Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee) pitcher Aaron Ashby returned to his winning ways Saturday night against the Frederick Suns (Baltimore).
Ashby allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits with three strikeouts and four walks over seven innings, as Carolina earned a 8-3 victory.
Fellow former Crowder pitcher Zach Matson was the only Frederick pitcher to emerge unscathed from Carolina’s offensive onslaught.
Matson allowed two hits over 2 1/3 scoreless innings and he recorded two strikeouts and two walks.
Ashby moved to 5-6 overall this season with a 3.13 ERA and 106 strikeouts and 43 walks over 92 innings. Since his promotion to Carolina, he’s 2-2 with a 2.32 ERA and 26 strikeouts and 15 walks over 31 innings.
Ashby nipped a two-game losing streak in the bud with Saturday’s victory.
Ashby led the Midwest League in strikeouts before his June 8 promotion and he earned midseason all-star honors for the first time in his pro career with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Matson, who earned midseason all-star honors this season in the South Atlantic League pitching for the Delmarva Shorebirds, owns a 4-0 overall record with a 2.18 ERA and 69 strikeouts and 27 walks over 41 1/3 innings. He’s been spotless ERA wise in three appearances with Frederick, despite having more walks than strikeouts (8-6).
The Brewers selected Ashby in the fourth round in 2018 and in a year’s time, he’s ranked the No. 9 overall prospect in the Brewers organization.
The Orioles picked Matson in the 24th round in 2016 and the 6-foot-3, 225-pound southpaw has enjoyed his best season in the pros in 2019.
A third former Crowder pitcher, reliever Andrew Schwaab, currently pitches in the Carolina League and he’s been doing some of his best work this season in his last four outings, dropping his ERA for the Salem Red Sox (Boston) 71 points from 3.00 to 2.29.
Schwaab pitched a scoreless inning Saturday night against the Down East Wood Ducks (Texas).
After 15 appearances with Salem, Schwaab stood at 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA, four saves in five opportunities, and 22 strikeouts and eight walks over 19 2/3 innings.
On the season, overall, Schwaab is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA, five saves in six opportunities, and 44 strikeouts and 22 walks over 37 2/3 innings.
Schwaab began the season at Double-A Portland, where he started out strong before a couple bad outings ballooned his ERA to 5.50 and earned him a demotion to Single-A Advanced Salem.
Schwaab, a two-time midseason all-star during his time in the New York Yankees organization, originally signed professionally with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent in 2015.
— In his final outing before the all-star break, former Crowder and current Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes (Miami) pitcher Mike Kickham took a no-decision Saturday night against the San Antonio Missions (Milwaukee).
Kickham made the start and he allowed one run (earned) on three this with two strikeouts and two walks over four innings.
New Orleans and San Antonio were tied at 1 after Kickham left, but the Missions plated two in the sixth and two in the seventh en route to a 5-2 victory.
On the season, Kickham owns a 3-3 record with a 4.14 ERA and 50 strikeouts and 20 walks over 50 innings. He’s 0 for 3 in save opportunities this season and he’s also made six starts among 23 overall appearances for the Baby Cakes.
Kickham’s next victory would mark No. 45 for his professional career that began in 2010. The Giants selected Kickham in the sixth round that June.
— Former Neosho High and Crowder standout and current Single-A Hagerstown Suns (Washington) pitcher Trey Turner somewhat returned to his earlier season form Friday night against the Delmarva Shorebirds.
Over two innings pitched, Turner came on and struck out four Shorebirds. His outing Friday snapped a three-decision losing streak for the 6-foot-1, 195-pound righty.
Entering the week, Turner owned a 1-3 record and a 2.84 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 10 walks over 19 innings. His ERA was below 1.00 until that recent stretch of three straight rough outings bumped his ERA two full points.
The Nationals picked Turner in the 10th round in 2017.