Southern League All Star Game

July 18, 2008 at 1:35 am | Posted in Baseball, Minor Leagues | 3 Comments

After the great experience that I had at the Single-A South Atlantic League All Star game in June, I was excited to attend the Double-A Southern League All Star game on Monday night, July 14. The event took place at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, North Carolina, which is the home of the Carolina Mudcats, the Double-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins.

My wife and I had fun, but overall the event was not as great as the South Atlantic League All Star game. Five County Stadium pales in comparison to NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, and the Mudcats staff seemed to be far less skilled in putting on a great event than the employees of the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Still, I was able to get some good autographs and see some great prospects play.

I arrived at the stadium a little after 5:00 for the autograph session. This didn’t take place on the field with easy access to the players like the autograph session in Greensboro. Instead, the Mudcats staff made everyone stand in one long line and only about 10 people at a time had access to all of the players. This may have been good for people who wanted an autograph from every single player, but I really only wanted autographs from about 15 players who I considered to be legit prospects. They had the players from the South Division (which included the Montgomery Biscuits, the Rays affiliate) available from 5:00 – 5:30 and the players from the North Division from 5:30 – 6:00. I got in the line at about 5:05, and the wait was so long that I didn’t get to the front until right at 5:30. Once I was allowed in to the area where the players sat, I walked over to Wade Davis (a top prospect for the Rays and one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball) as quickly as I could. I was able to get him to sign a ball for me right before he had to walk away. I also got to congratulate him on his promotion to Triple-A Durham that was effective right after the game. Here’s the ball:

I also got an autograph from Justin Cassel, a White Sox prospect, right before the South Division players left and the North Division players sat down. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to get more autographs from the South Division players, but I did get autographs from almost the entire North Division roster: Chris Coghlan, Gaby Sanchez, John Raynor, and Chris Mobley (Marlins), Robert Manuel, Eric Eymann, and Ben Jukich (Reds), Nate Spears, Doug Deeds, and Donnie Veal (Cubs), Alcides Escobar, Angel Salome, David Welch, Patrick Ryan, Michael Brantley, and Cole Gillespie (Brewers), and Adam Moore, Ryan Ketchner, Marshall Hubbard, and Mike Wilson (Mariners). I was happy to get Escobar, Coghlan, Moore, and Veal, who are all very good prospects.

David Welch on his 2008 Bowman card:

Alcides Escobar:

Chris Coghlan:

Adam Moore:

If you’re interested in the cards on which I got the above three signatures, and would like to order some, check out this post on Bad Wax. I would highly recommend them.

After the autograph session, there was still an hour to go before the game. In Greensboro, this time was filled by a very exciting home run derby. In Zebulon, it was a game played by kids with physical disabilities. I certainly don’t have anything against kids with disabilities, but that type of event really could have taken place at any game, and it didn’t have the entertainment value of a home run derby.

Right before the All Star game, one of the highlights of the evening was the National Anthem, sung by Katherine Fritsch. Katherine is a nine-year old girl who is something of a local celebrity. She’s been singing the anthem at Carolina Hurricanes hockey games since the start of the 2007-08 season when she was only eight. She has an amazing voice and is one of the most talented singers of any age that I have ever heard. I predict that she will win American Idol in 2015 and become a major star. You heard it here first!

The players lined up during the National Anthem:

The game itself was very good. The pitching was better than what you’d expect in an All Star game. Dodgers pitching prospect James McDonald was particularly impressive to me. The North Division won it 6-1, led by home runs from Chris Coghlan and Doug Deeds. Here are some of the pictures that I took:

Wade Davis of Montgomery (Rays):

Chris Coghlan of Carolina (Marlins), who will replace Dan Uggla at second base once the Marlins trade him in a salary dump. This guy is very good in the field and at the plate:

Alcides Escobar of Huntsville (Brewers), who made some outstanding plays at shortstop and looks like he’ll be a future star:

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3 Comments »

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  1. The Marlins will not trade Dan Uggla!!! 😦

  2. Nice blog. My wife and I just moved to Winston Salem from San Antonio. Though I’ll dearly miss the Texas League, I’m looking forward to following the teams in the SALY and Carolina League. Thanks again for your excellent writing about minor league baseball.

    p.s.
    Are you going to check out Team USA in Durham? If so do you know any details about possible autograph sessions before or after the game?

  3. Mario, I figured that my comment about Uggla would get a reaction from you…

    PAB, welcome to NC! You moved to a good place because, as you’ve probably heard, Winston-Salem is opening a new stadium next year. I haven’t been to the old one, but I definitely want to check out the new one. Greensboro is pretty close to you too, and I think very highly of their team and stadium.

    I am planning to go to the Team USA game on 8/2. I don’t know if any autograph sessions are being planned, but I know that the Team USA players are usually very willing to sign autographs before the game. There will be some great prospects there. The guy at the Bad Wax blog has some good posts about autographs that he’s gotten at Team USA games in the past. Durham Bulls Athletic Park is one of the top minor league parks that I’ve been too, and I’d definitely recommend checking it out either for a Team USA game or a Bulls game sometime.


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