MLB All-Star Game 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Fox

NC players make it all the way to MLB All-Star Game

cwright@newsobserver.comJuly 13, 2013 

  • MLB All-Star Game

    When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.

    Where: Citi Field in New York

    TV: Fox

  • 2013 All-Star Rosters AMERICAN LEAGUE

    STARTERS

    Catcher: Joe Mauer, Minnesota

    First Base: Chris Davis, Baltimore

    Second Base: Robinson Cano, New York

    Third Base: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit

    Shortstop: J.J. Hardy, Baltimore

    Outfield: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Adam Jones, Baltimore; Jose Bautista, Toronto

    Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Boston

    RESERVES

    Catcher: Jason Castro, Houston; Salvador Perez, Kansas City

    Infielders: Prince Fielder, 1b, Detroit; Jason Kipnis, 2b, Cleveland; Manny Machado, 3b, Baltimore; Dustin Pedroia, 2b, Boston; Jhonny Peralta, ss, Detroit; Ben Zobrist, 2b, Tampa Bay

    Outfielders: Nelson Cruz, Texas; Alex Gordon, Kansas City; Torii Hunter, Detroit

    Designated Hitter: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto

    PITCHERS

    x-Clay Buchholz, Boston; Brett Cecil, Toronto; y-Bartolo Colon, Oakland; x-Jesse Crain, Chicago; x-Yu Darvish, Texas; f-Steve Delabar, Toronto; Felix Hernandez, Seattle; Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle; Justin Masterson, Cleveland; y-Matt Moore, Tampa Bay; Joe Nathan, Texas; y-Glen Perkins, Minnesota; Mariano Rivera, New York; Chris Sale, Chicago; Max Scherzer, Detroit; Justin Verlander, Detroit

    NATIONAL LEAGUE

    STARTERS

    Catcher: Yadier Molina, St. Louis

    First Base: Joey Votto, Cincinnati

    Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati

    Third Base: David Wright, New York

    Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado

    Outfield: Carlos Beltran, St. Louis; Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado; Bryce Harper, Washington

    RESERVES

    Catcher: Buster Posey, San Francisco

    Infielders: Pedro Alvarez, 3b, Pittsburgh; Everth Cabrera, ss, San Diego; Matt Carpenter, 2b, St. Louis; Allen Craig, 1b, St. Louis; f-Freddie Freeman, 1b, Atlanta; Paul Goldschmidt, 1b, Arizona; Marco Scutaro, 2b, San Francisco; Jean Segura, ss, Milwaukee

    Outfielders: Domonic Brown, Philadelphia; Michael Cuddyer, Colorado; Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh

    PITCHERS

    Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco; Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati; Patrick Corbin, Arizona; Jose Fernandez, Miami; Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh; Matt Harvey, New York; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta; Cliff Lee, Philadelphia; Jeff Locke, Pittsburgh; Adam Wainwright, St. Louis; Travis Wood, Chicago; Jordan Zimmermann, Washington.

    (x-injured, will not play; y-injury replacement; f-final player fan vote)

Mariano Rivera, the career saves leader who will make his 13th and final All-Star Game appearance Tuesday night at Citi Field, wasn’t always the best the closer in baseball history.

He wasn’t even a closer as a youthful minor leaguer in Greensboro.

In 1991, when Rivera was just beginning to sculpt a career that will culminate with a bronze bust in Cooperstown, he started 15 games for the Hornets – still his most starts as a pro. He wasn’t Greensboro’s staff ace, either – not with a 4-9 record. Three other pitchers won 11 or more games.

Rivera started 10 more games for the Hornets in 1993, when their Class A infield included a shaky-fielding shortstop named Derek Jeter.

Based on what Rivera did in those two seasons as a Hornet (5-9 in 25 starts), few could have predicted all the parades that followed. The Yankees certainly didn’t. Rivera remained a starter all the way through their system – until Ken Griffey Jr. homered to help send him to the bullpen, for good, after the 10th and final start of his rookie season in New York.

That’s the beauty of the minor leagues: You never know.

For every can’t-miss star like former Carolina Mudcat Miguel Cabrera, who helped the Florida Marlins win the 2003 World Series four months after leaving the Triangle, there is an unheralded overachiever like former Durham Bull Ben Zobrist, who grinded his way all the way to Citi Field.

There are 21 players who developed, struggled and starred in North Carolina gathered in New York. This is what they were like, before they were stars.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Everth Cabrera, SS,

San Diego Padres

2008 Asheville Tourists

Cabrera led the NL with 44 steals last season and is tops again this season with 32 as of Saturday morning. Add those two seasons together and you’ll understand how unstoppable he was in Asheville. Cabrera stole 73 bases that season. Little wonder Baseball America ranked him the best and fastest base runner in the South Atlantic League.

Andrew McCutchen, OF,

Pittsburgh Pirates

2006 Hickory Crawdads

McCutchen was 19 when he arrived in Hickory, a first-round pick already considered one of baseball’s 50 best prospects. After hitting .291 with 22 steals, 14 homers and 62 RBIs, he was named the best prospect in the South Atlantic League, jumped into Baseball America’s elite prospect category, and the countdown to Pittsburgh was on.

Brandon Phillips, 2B,

Cincinnati Reds

2000 Cape Fear Crocs

Phillips was born in Raleigh, but moved and became an amateur star in suburban Atlanta. The Montreal Expos drafted him in the second round in 1999. He returned to the Tar Heel state the following season, hitting 11 home runs with 72 RBIs for the Class A Crocs in Fayetteville. That was the most RBIs Phillips had with any team during his seven seasons in the minors.

Marco Scutaro, 2B,

San Francisco Giants

1997 Kinston Indians

At 37 and in his 12th season, Scutaro is among the oldest first-time All-Stars in baseball history. He also was among the last of the Kinston Indians’ run that started in the late 1980s with Albert Belle and later produced All-Stars Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Bartolo Colon, Sean Casey and Richie Sexson. Scutaro wouldn’t stand out in that reunion picture, however. He hit .272 with 10 homers and 59 RBIs on that Indians team.

Pitchers

Madison Bumgarner, SP,

San Francisco Giants

2007 South Caldwell HS

Two years after dominating North Carolina high school hitters at South Caldwell in Hudson, Bumgarner made his major league debut with the Giants in 2009. He since has become a dominant force in their rotation, helping them win two World Series titles in three years. Still just 23, Bumgarner is 2-0 in the World Series with a 0.00 ERA. He’s making the first of what many expect to be many All-Star appearances.

Aroldis Chapman, closer,

Cincinnati Reds

2011 Carolina Mudcats

The hardest thrower in baseball history, Chapman appeared in five games with the Mudcats during a rehab assignment. He struck out 11 batters in 7 1/3 innings. His first pitch as a Mudcat was clocked at 101 mph, and he later reportedly hit 105 mph with a fastball a few nights later at Five County Stadium in Zebulon.

Jose Fernandez, SP,

Miami Marlins

2012 Greensboro Grasshoppers

A first-round pick in 2011, Fernandez was just 19 last season when he arrived in Greensboro. He immediately overpowered South Atlantic League hitters, going 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA to earn a promotion to high Class A. He dominated there too and opened this season in Miami’s starting rotation after just 27 career minor-league starts.

Jason Grilli, closer,

Pittsburgh Pirates

2004 Charlotte Knights

Arguably (and a short debate at that) the most unlikely player in New York, Grilli is a first-time All-Star at age 36 – nine years after going 9-9 with a 4.83 ERA for the Charlotte Knights. He started 25 games for the Knights. He didn’t earn his first save in the minors until 2011. Thrust into that role with the Pirates, he leads the NL with 28 saves.

Matt Harvey, SP,

New York Mets

2008-10 UNC

Harvey didn’t pitch for one of the state’s minor league teams, but he didn’t pitch many places in the minor leagues. After twice helping UNC reach the College World Series, Harvey was the seventh pick of the 2010 draft and needed just two full seasons in the Mets farm system before becoming their staff ace.

Cliff Lee, SP,

Philadelphia Phillies

2000 Cape Fear Crocs

With his $120 million contract, the four-time All-Star could spend his offseasons anywhere he pleases. It’s doubtful he’d pick North Carolina, where his pro career got off to a rocky start in 2000. Lee went 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA for the Crocs in Fayetteville, in the South Atlantic League. He and Phillips were teammates.

Travis Wood, SP,

Chicago Cubs

2009 Carolina Mudcats

Wood won the Mudcats’ Triple Crown, leading the staff in wins (9), ERA (1.21) and strikeouts (103). Baseball America ranked him as Cincinnati’s No. 7 prospect after that season. He’s just 5-6 this season but don’t blame him, blame the sub-.500 Cubs. He leads MLB with 16 quality starts.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Jose Bautista, OF,

Toronto Blue Jays

2002 Hickory Crawdads

Bautista spent his first full season in the minors in Hickory, where he finished second on the team in hits and third in RBIs. He’s one of the majors’ top sluggers now, but he hit just 14 homers that season. His .301 average was his best until he hit .302 for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011.

Miguel Cabrera, 3B,

Detroit Tigers

2003 Carolina Mudcats

Cabrera, who turned 20 in April of that season, dominated Class AA pitching. He hit .365 with 10 home runs and 59 RBIs in just 69 games and was promoted straight to the majors, where he helped the Marlins win the World Series. Despite being called up on June 20, Cabrera finished second in the Southern League in RBIs in 2003. During that season, Baseball America named the future MVP the No. 1 prospect in the Southern League.

Robinson Cano, 2B,

New York Yankees

2002 Greensboro Bats

Cano spent most of 2002 with the Class A Bats, where he started to develop his power, hitting 14 home runs in 113 games. That was the most home runs Cano hit in a season during his six-year minor league career.

Jason Kipnis, 2B,

Cleveland Indians

2010 Kinston Indians

Kipnis played in 54 games for Kinston, hitting .300 before being promoted to Class AA Akron in June. Baseball America named Kipnis as a Minor League All-Star and after the season and ranked him the No. 54 prospect.

Jhonny Peralta, SS,

Detroit Tigers

2001 Kinston Indians

Peralta was just 19 when he arrived in Kinston. He hit .240 and drove in 47 RBIs. The free-swinging Peralta struck out 148 times in 125 games, the most in his five-year minor league career.

Ben Zobrist, 2B,

Tampa Bay Rays

2006-08 Durham Bulls

Zobrist spent parts of three seasons in Class AAA before becoming an everyday player for the Rays. In 99 games as a Bull, Zobrist hit .301 and drove in 41 runs, but he already was showing signs of what the Rays value most: his high on-base percentage (.416) and versatility (he played second, shortstop and third base for the Bulls). After injuries ended his 2007 campaign, Zobrist began the 2008 season back in Class AAA but he hit .366 in his 20 games in Durham before being called up permanently.

Pitchers

Bartolo Colon, SP,

Oakland

1995 Kinston Indians

Colon delivered one of the most dominant seasons in Carolina League history. He went 13-3 with a 1.96 ERA and struck out 152 batters in only 128 2/3 innings. Baseball America named Colon to its Minor League All-Star team and after the season ranked him as the No. 15 prospect in baseball. The Cy Young Award-winner later made two rehab starts in North Carolina with Kannapolis and Charlotte, going 1-1 in three starts.

Matt Moore, SP,

Tampa Bay Rays

2011 Durham Bulls

Entering 2011 in Durham, Moore was named the No. 15 prospect in baseball by Baseball America. The left-hander spent most of the second half of the 2011 season in Durham, starting nine games and posting a 4-0 record with a 1.37 ERA. The Rays called up Moore in September.

Mariano Rivera, closer,

New York Yankees

1991, 93 Greensboro Hornets

“Mo” came to Greensboro as a starting pitcher, posting a 4-9 record with a 2.75 ERA. His 15 starts that season were the most Rivera ever made for one team in a season during his professional career. After spending 1992 in high Class A ball, Rivera returned to Greensboro in 1993, again as a starter. That year, he went 1-0 and posted a 2.06 ERA in 10 starts. The Yankees didn’t convert Rivera to a full-time relief pitcher until 1996.

Chris Sale, SP,

Chicago White Sox

2010 Winston-Salem Dash, Charlotte Knights

Sale’s trip through the minors was quick, playing for both the high Class A Winston-Salem Dash and Class AAA Charlotte Knights in 2010. During that season, Sale appeared in 11 games, and posted a strikeout per nine innings ratio of 16:5. Sale was called up to Chicago later that year, and is one of five players to play in the majors in the same season in which he was drafted.

Staff reporter Wade Rupard contributed to this report.

Wright: 919-829-4643

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