On Tuesday, the Bowling Green Hot Rods matched the South Bend Cubs with an Eastern Division-high six players selected to play in the Midwest League mid-season all-star game.
Of the six players, shortstop Jake Cronenworth headlines the bunch as the sole Hot Rods player named to the starting lineup for the East. In his first full season as a position player removed from his college days as a two-way player at the University of Michigan, Cronenworth is currently tied for the Midwest League lead in batting average (.342) and runs scored (41).
The all-star appearance is the second for the shortstop, as Cronenworth was named to the New York-Penn League mid-season all-star team in 2015 as a member of the Hudson Valley Renegades.
Infielders Michael Russell and Kevin Padlo, along with catcher Brett Sullivan, round out the position players for the Hot Rods selected to the East roster.
Russell, a fifth round selection by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2014 MLB Draft, is enjoying his best pro season to date while playing every single infield position this season besides catcher and pitcher. The University of North Carolina product is hitting .289 with four homers and 22 runs batted in while ranking tied for sixth in the Midwest League with 33 runs scored. Russell also leads the Hot Rods with 16 stolen bases, a mark that is tied for third-best in the league.
Padlo, who was dealt to the Rays organization in the offseason from the Colorado Rockies, is getting off to a stellar start with his new organization. The 19-year-old is tied for fourth in the league with eight homers and ranks second in the league with 35 walks.
For Padlo, the Midwest League all-star nod is a welcome addition to a career full of accolades, as the southern California native was named a Rockies organizational all-star in 2015 after being named a mid-season and post-season all-star in the Northwest League last year as a member of the Boise Hawks.
Sullivan, who converted to a catcher in the offseason, is continuing to put up prodigious power numbers to start off his professional career. After leading the Princeton Rays with 11 homers and 20 doubles in his first pro season last year, Sullivan is currently leading the Midwest League with 39 runs batted in and is tied for the league-lead with nine homers.
Along with the four position players selected to the East roster, both left-handed pitcher Genesis Cabrera and right-hander Diego Castillo will be representing the Hot Rods.
With four Hot Rods pitchers already promoted to high levels this season. Cabrera headlines the staff with a 5-2 record and a 2.23 ERA in 10 appearances (nine starts) this year. In game one of a doubleheader May 13 against Lake County, the 19-year-old threw the first seven-inning, complete-game for the Hot Rods in more than two years. He currently is tied for fourth in the league with five wins.
As the closer for Bowling Green, Castillo is the only member of the Hot Rods bullpen to get the all-star nod. In his second stint but first full-season in Bowling green, Castillo is 1-2 with a 2.10 ERA and a team-high four saves in 16 games this year. The 22-year-old has struck out 29 batters in 25 2/3 innings pitched and has not given up an earned run in his last five appearances.
In the eight seasons of Bowling Green Hot Rods baseball, this is the fourth time that six or more Hot Rods were selected to the Midwest League East All-Star roster. Bowling Green sent eight players last year while racking up a franchise-record nine in 2013.
The 2016 Midwest League All-Star Game is scheduled to take place June 21 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.