Tyler Smith, Edwin Diaz take home biggest accolades
By Cheyne Reiter
The Appalachian League all-star ballots were submitted over the past week, and the Pulaski Mariners had a league-high four players named to the roster.
Starting pitcher and staff ace Edwin Diaz represented the league as a right-handed pitcher, Emilio Pagan was selected as the best relief pitcher, Ian Miller was named to the utility outfielder slot, and Tyler Smith was honored as the top shortstop.
To add to the Mariners’ success on the ballot, Diaz was named the “Pitcher of the Year” while Smith was named the “Player of the Year.”
Although Miller and Pagan are no longer with Pulaski – having been promoted to Class A Short-Season Everett – they did plenty of damage during their Appy League tenures.
Miller was a spark plug atop the M’s order and utilized his speed in many ways. Miller – a former Wagner Seahawk and 14th round selection by Seattle in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft – hit .297 in 155 at-bats with five doubles and one home run. He scored 30 runs and had 13 RBI. At the time of his promotion, Miller led the Appy League with 14 stolen bases in 20 attempts.
Pagan was tabbed as the Pulaski closer from day one and simply dominated opposing batters. In 20 1/3 innings pitched, the Belmont Abbey College product never allowed a single run. The 10th round pick of Seattle in the 2013 draft allowed just nine hits and five walks while striking out 27 batters. Pagan left with a 1-0 record and an Appy League-high 12 saves in 12 tries.
Diaz – Seattle’s 3rd round pick from the 2012 draft – has been nothing short of spectacular since opening day. The hard-throwing right-hander has stifled opposing batters all season to the tune of a .195 batting average against. Diaz is at or near the top in many categories in the Appy League as well. The Puerto Rican leads in ERA (1.41), games started (12), and is second in innings pitched (64) and WHIP (0.94). Diaz leads the league in strikeouts (76) and has walked just 17 batters — an impressive 4.47 to 1 K/BB ratio. He last outing – August 20th – was his best outing, and he did so against the best team record-wise in the league, the Bluefield Blue Jays. Diaz threw a season-high seven shutout innings, allowing just five hits and one walk. He matched his season-high in strikeouts with 10 – done previously in a five-inning outing on July 29th against the Bristol White Sox.
Smith has been on a terror at the plate ever since joining the Mariners a couple weeks late at the beginning of the season. Smith, an 8th round selection in the 2013 draft out of Oregon State, joined the team late due to the Beavers’ post-season success which saw them reach the final four teams in the College World Series. Smith has translated that success to the Appy League where he leads all hitters with a .327 batting average. In 171 at-bats, Smith has accumulated 56 hits – 19 of them for extra-bases (14 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR). The smooth shortstop has scored 29 runs and driven in 30 predominantly out of the three-hole in the Mariners’ lineup. He’s also swiped 12 bases in 17 tries which ranks him in a tie for sixth in the league.
Bluefield and Johnson City had the second-most representatives on the team, both with three. The Blue Jays had third baseman Mitch Nay, designated-hitter Matt Dean, and left-handed pitcher Jairo LaBourt named to the squad. The Cardinals’ catcher Rowan Wick, outfielder Vaughn Bryan, and utility infielder Kenny Peoples-Walls represented Johnson City.
Burlington first baseman Sam Bates, Kingsport second baseman Yeixon Ruiz, Bristol outfielder Nolan Earley, and Elizabethon outfielder Zack Granite rounded out the remaining four slots.
Greeneville manager Josh Bonifay was named as the “Manager of the Year.”