Fixing the High-A All-Star game

Bee Staff WriterJune 16, 2013 

— A few notes to finish the first half of the California League season:

As reported in Sunday’s Modesto Bee, Dan Winkler will finish the first half as the league leader in wins (he’s 9-2,) innings pitched (83 ⅔,) WHIP (0.81,) strikeouts (98,) and batting average against (.163.)

Winker’s WHIP leads all starters in every level of professional baseball. The major league leader is the Mets’ Matt Harvey at 0.91.

But the report out of San Jose, which I wrote yesterday, that Giants’ lefty Ty Blach (7-2, 2.64) would be starting Tuesday’s All-Star Game as a tip of the hat to the host team appear to be incorrect. It looks like the nod will go to Stockton righty Drew Granier (6-3, 3.25) who trails Winkler by slim margins in most categories, but also leads the California League in walks (40.)

The Nuts will have three pitchers in Tuesday’s game: Winkler, fellow starter Chris Jensen (2-4, 3.74 but with a whip of 1.13 that ranks third in the league,) and closer Scott Oberg, who is tied for the league lead with 15 saves.

Bear with me for my annual rant against the format of this game.

If the California and Carolina leagues were the only two High-A loops in the country, this game might make some sense as being a showcase for the best High-A players in the country.

But such is not the case. There is a third league, the Florida State League, which is the largest High-A league in pro ball. The Carolina League has only eight teams, and the California League has 10, leaving the other 12 teams in Florida.

So, to start with, the California-Carolina format excludes 40 percent of the High A players

Next, if you really want this to be a showcase, what’s wrong with showcasing your own players? Go back to a North vs. South game, a format that served the California League well from 1984-95. The added bonus here is the elimination of cross-country travel costs for an entire team.

The argument against that particular arrangement is that it forces each team to supply 4-5 players, and not all teams will have 4-5 players worthy of selection. Frankly, I just don’t see that as a problem.

I’m all for a mid-season All-Star Game. When Modesto hosted the exhibition two summers ago the front office put on a terrific, memorable and profitable two-day celebration of baseball.

Let’s keep the game going, but let’s take the proper steps to focus our celebration on the California League.

SKILLS CAMP _ The Nuts’ annual skills camp is set for July 22-24. The basic baseball camp for boys and girls ages 6-14 stresses the fundamentals of hitting, pitching, fielding and baserunning.

The camp runs from 9 a.m.-noon each day, with lunch provided at noon. All instruction is handled by Modesto Nuts players and coaches.

Every child will be given with a camp t-shirt and a ticket to the game on July 24, before which they will be awarded a graduation certificate on the field. The cost of the camp is $125. For information and reservations, call the Nuts at (209) 572-4487.

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