Jeff Ellis

Rubberducks have a rough go in Double-A All-Star game at Canal Park

The Rubberducks might have been at home for their All-Star game, but the Akron players struggled.

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In front of a sellout crowd at Akron's Canal Park, Eastern League All-Star game took place to rave reviews. The East beat West 10-2 in a contest that was not close from the first inning on. The East All-Stars out-hit their counterparts 20 to five, and it was a complete romp led by strong performances of several Reading Fightin' Phils.

Regardless of the score, it was an amazing job done by everyone who works for the Akron Rubberducks. The event went off without a hitch. The monsoon rainstorm even managed to hit at a perfectly timed moment, after not just the game but after the fireworks as well. The Rubberducks are a first-class organization and anyone who witnessed the events the past two days would be hard-pressed to disagree on any level.

The Game and the prospects

In the first inning, it was several Reading players who opened the scoring barrage. After teammates Jorge Alfaro and Dylan Cozens reached base on a single and walk, Rhys Hoskins hit a deep shot to left off Tyler Beede. As it turned out, those would be the only runs the East would need, but they continued to pile on.

The Fightin’ Phils are in first place in the Eastern Division and their 63-27 record is the best in the entire Eastern League. Their star power was on display early and often. Jesmuel Valentin, Alfaro, Cozens, and Hoskins were a combined 7-for-13 with a walk, six runs scored, two doubles, and a home run.

The most dominant Phils performance though was Nick Pivetta, who is a 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher from New Mexico Junior College. Pivetta was acquired by the Phillies in the Jonathon Papelbon trade and looks like he could be the eventual Papelbon replacement. The radar gun at Akron is well-regarded as one that can be counted on. Pivetta was sitting 95-96, touching 97, and threw a perfect inning. A scout after the game mentioned Pivetta has increased his velocity and is sitting that high regularly now. He has a chance to start with his size, but needs to develop a third pitch. He has a pretty safe floor as a backend reliever, which is a great return for Papelbon - and the issues and salary that goes with him.

Matt Oberste took home the MVP belt. A member of the Bingham Mets, Oberste is a 24 year old third baseman who has put up steady numbers in the minors, but nothing that really grabs the eye. He was taken in the seventh round of the 2013 draft out of the University of Oklahoma. On Wednesday, he was the bell of the ball, the star of the show, etc. as he went 4-for-5 with a double and four RBIs. He played the entire game, which is often the number one requirement for the MVP award. His only other competitors were Jorge Alfaro and Jesmuel Valentin who each had three hits. 

As for the Rubberducks, it was a rough go for Clint Frazier, Bradley Zimmer, Nellie Rodriquez, and Jeremy Lucas as they were a combined 0-for-7 with four strikeouts. The pitchers didn’t fare much better as Louis Head gave up a run on three hits and JP Feyereisen gave up two runs on five hits. The top performance from the seven Akron representatives had to be the last addition in Grant Sides. The right-handed pitcher went one inning and allowed a single hit without a run scored.

In the past, after the All-Star break, the Cleveland Indians start to make promotions. So, get down to Akron soon before the player you have been hoping to see is gone. It is a star-studded team, but many of the players might be in Columbus before long. Eastern League resumes play on Friday.

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