September 19 - The magazine honors the top farmhands from Northern Virginia with our second annual Minor League All-Star Team, which is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
The 25-man roster includes a short bench as we kept 13 pitchers, which means we’d have to utilize the versatility of Brandon Snyder, who has played every defensive position during his professional career. This year’s All-Star Team features six players who reached Triple-A - could they reach the Major Leagues next year? - and that group doesn’t include Khalil Lee, J.B. Bukauskas and Joe Rizzo, each of whom is among his organization’s top-rated prospects.
Below is this year’s team, with their highest level reached in 2018. Players from both Major League Baseball affiliated and independent minor leagues were considered.
1B - Ryan McBroom, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A): The Courtland grad shuttled between Double-A Trenton and the RailRiders, hitting .302 with a .328 on-base percentage, 15 homers and 60 RBI in 121 games between the two teams. Spent the majority of the season at Triple-A, where he had 30 extra-base hits and drove in 46 runs in 96 games.
2B - Kent Blackstone, Martinez Clippers (Independent): The Marshall grad hit .336 with a .452 on-base percentage with 29 doubles, 12 home runs and 65 RBI in 79 games with two independent league clubs, High Desert of the Pecos League and Martinez of the Pacific Association. The second-year pro finished his season by hitting .349 over 23 games with Martinez.
SS - Alfredo Rodriguez, Somerset Patriots (Independent): The Oakton grad was one of the Atlantic League’s best all-around players, hitting .303 with a .395 on-base percentage, 55 RBI and 17 steals while committing just 14 errors in 122 games. The former Milwaukee Brewers draft pick was named to the league’s All-Star Game, where he had a walk-off single.
3B - Brandon Snyder, Durham Bulls (Triple-A): The Westfield grad hit .254 with a .329 on-base percentage, a team-high 18 homers and 61 RBI in 107 games to help the Bulls to a second straight International League championship. The former first-round pick has accumulated 147 homers and 696 RBI in the minor leagues. Went 1-for-6 after being called up for two games in April by the Tampa Bay Rays, the fifth Major League club he has appeared with.
OF - Johnny Bladel, Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A): After four-plus seasons spent in independent leagues, the Stone Bridge grad had his contract with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs purchased by the Boston Red Sox in June. He struggled adjusting to Eastern League pitchers, hitting .170 in 49 games after batting .341 with a .417 on-base percentage in 37 games with the independent Atlantic League’s Blue Crabs.
OF - Khalil Lee, Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Double-A): The Flint Hill grad, regarded as one of the Kansas City Royals’ top prospects, had his season cut short with a back injury but will make up for the lost playing time when he participates in the Arizona Fall League. The left-handed swinging outfielder hit .263 with a .382 on-base percentage, 28 extra-base hits, 51 RBI and 16 steals in 100 games with HIgh-A Lexington and the Naturals. Hit .245 in 29 games at Double-A, last playing on Aug. 1 before being placed on the disabled list.
OF - Logan Farrar, Beloit Snappers (Single-A): The Woodbridge grad hit .235 with a .316 on-base percentage, 12 homers and 57 RBI in 117 games with the Midwest League club. The second-year pro has proved to be a value pick for Oakland, which selected him in the 36th round out of Virginia Commonwealth University last year.
DH - Joe Rizzo, Modesto Nuts (High-A): The Oakton graduate earned California League All-Star honors and finished his third pro season hitting .241 with a .303 on-base percentage, 27 extra-base hits and 55 RBI in 123 games. The former second-round pick is ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the No. 12 prospect in the Seattle organization.
Starter - J.B. Bukauskas, Corpus Christi Hooks (Double-A): The 2017 first-round pick of the Houston Astros and graduate of Stone Bridge got off to a slow start after being injured in a car accident during spring training, but quickly returned to the form that made him the Washington Post’s All-Met Player of the Year in 2014 and an All-American at the University of North Carolina. The right-hander spent time with five clubs, finishing his season by striking out seven in six scoreless innings in his lone start with the Hooks. He went a combined 4-2 with a 2.14 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 59 innings.
Reliever - Bobby Wahl, Las Vegas 51s/Nashville Sounds (Triple-A): Part of the trade that sent closer Jeurys Familia from the New York Mets to Oakland, the West Springfield grad excelled over 38 relief outings between the two organizations’ Triple-A affiliates, compiling a 2.20 ERA and striking out 73 to just 19 walks in 45 innings while converting 12 of 13 save opportunities. Made seven appearances with the Mets before being placed on the disabled list earlier this month with strained hamstring.
Bench: Joey Bartosic, OF, Grand Junction Rockies (Rookie); Brian Mims, 2B, Clearwater Threshers (High-A); Steven Kraft, OF, GCL Pirates (Rookie) … Notes: Bartosic (Oakton) and Mims (Forest Park) both came back from injuries and excelled in short stints at the end of the season, while Kraft (Battlefield) hit .321 in 31 games in rookie ball after being signed by Pittsburgh as an undrafted free agent.
Other Starting Pitchers: Taylor Clarke, RHP, Reno Aces (Triple-A); Jake Kalish, LHP, Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A); Nick Wells, LHP, Modesto Nuts (High-A); Connor Bach, LHP, Windy City Thunderbolts (Independent) … Notes: Clarke (Broad Run) and Kalish (George Mason University) both posted good seasons in the Pacific Coast League, former third-rounder Wells (Battlefield) had a bounce-back year after a rough 2017, and big left-hander Bach could find himself back in affiliated ball after a good campaign in the Frontier League.
Other Relievers: Andre Scrubb, RHP, Tulsa Drillers (Double-A); Josh Sborz, RHP, Oklahoma City Dodgers (Triple-A); Tommy Doyle, RHP, Asheville Tourists (Single-A); Billy Lescher, RHP, West Michigan Whitecaps (Single-A); Brandon Withers, RHP, Beloit Snappers (Single-A); Tyler Zombro, RHP, Bowling Green Hot Rods (Single-A); Mitchell Aker, RHP, Evansville Otters (Independent) … Notes: Scrubb (C.D. Hylton) and Sborz (McLean) might one day be teammates in the big leagues with the Dodger, Doyle (Flint Hill) was dominant while compiling a 2.31 ERA and 18 saves in the South Atlantic League, Lescher (West Potomac) compiled an impressive 0.74 ERA in 22 appearances, Withers (Osbourn) and Zombro (George Mason University) posted big seasons while competing with Lescher in the Midwest League, and Aker (Paul VI Catholic) was among the Frontier League’s top closers with 19 saves.
Note: No catcher was selected to this year’s team. Hopefully, Brandon Snyder would have his gear with him because he would have to suit up!
Photos of Ryan McBroom, J.B. Bukauskas and Khalil Lee courtesy of Minor League Baseball