The first-place Indianapolis Indians will send three representatives to tonight’s 28th annual Triple-A All-Star Game (presented by Gildan), as catcher Elias Diaz, second baseman Alen Hanson and closing pitcher Blake Wood help lead the International League against the top talent from the Pacific Coast League at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska. First pitch for the contest is set for 8:00 p.m. EST and coverage includes a live televised broadcast on both MLB Network and MiLB.TV, radio play-by-play on the Indians’ flagship station, Fox Sports 97.5 FM / 1260 AM, and additional online streaming options (broadcast and pitch-by-pitch tracking) at IndyIndians.com
Both Diaz and Wood have also been elected starters for tonight’s contest (Wood as the team’s official closer), ranking the Tribe as one of just three IL teams with multiple players voted to the starting lineup for the 2015 Midsummer Classic.
The starting backstop Diaz is a three-time Minor League All-Star selection (also 2014 Eastern League, Mid and Postseason teams) and is making his second career appearance in a Minor League All-Star Game. He entered the current season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 11 prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system and recently added to an invitation to the 2015 All-Star Futures Game, held Sunday at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, to his haul of accolades for the season. As of July 15, the 24 year old is ranked second among league backstops in hits (59), RBIs (27) and doubles (13).
Hanson’s selection marks his fifth honor to either a Mid or Postseason All-Star squad (also 2012 South Atlantic League, Mid and Postseason, 2013 Florida State League Midseason and 2014 Eastern League Midseason teams) and his fourth consecutive appearance in a Minor League Midsummer Classic. The 22 year old entered the 2015 season tabbed as the Pirates’ top-rated infield prospect and he stamped the exclamation mark on his still-early Triple-A debut by leading all Indians batters in hits (88), triples (8) and stolen bases (23. Hanson’s burst onto the scene also featured an award as both the Tribe’s and IL’s Player of the Month for May – the first Indians player to win the league’s monthly honors in 10 years – and reached this year’s halfway point riding an incredible streak of 240 games since his last stretch of going hitless in more than two straight games (last time was July 11-13, 2013).
Wood, who received his first All-Star selection of his Minor League career, currently leads the league in both saves (21) and games finished (30) during his Pittsburgh organization debut, The hard-throwing right-hander has successfully converted at least one save against 10 of 13 opposing IL clubs, and with a dominating fastball that tops out at triple digits on the radar gun, has recorded 39 strikeouts while allowing no home runs over 35 2/3 total innings of work. The 29 year old also wrapped up the 2015, pre-break stretch already ranked tied for the most saves in a single season for Indianapolis since Tim Wood in 2011 (23).
The Tribe trio will be joined in the dugout tonight by Indians’ athletic trainer, Bryan Housand, who last month became just the second trainer in team history selected to the IL’s field staff for an All-Star game.