14 Appy League Standouts MLB All-Stars

Published 9:43 pm Wednesday, July 15, 2015

By Collin Brooks



Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A rare off-day swept through the Appalachian League on Tuesday as the Major League Baseball All-Star game was being held in Cincinnati.

14 of those players that made the all-star rosters, stepped foot in the Appalachian League before they made it to the Big Show. While it would be nice to see an actual Appalachian League All-Star Game, that would put the best against the best, it doesn’t seem like it is a priority of the league. 

“We were going to play the Pioneer League, this was probably the second year that Greeneville was in the league (2005) ,”  Appalachian League President Lee Landers  said. “But the directors of this league, the Major League Baseball Farm Directors, they are against it. 

“The problems that you have, is that you have to pick a time, when would you play it? And with all the player moves that we had, it was going to cause a burden, and they voted it down and it hasn’t come up again.”

In order for it to come up again, the directors or a local club could bring up the idea of an All-Star game for vote, but Landers doesn’t think that it would work out, due to poor attendance.

“Fans in this league for some reason, and we have tried everything, don’t even come out to the playoffs,” Landers said. “That would kind of play into the directors that don’t want an all-star game, for many different reasons, but I could make an argument with both sides.

“I’m all for it if the director want to do it, I just don’t see it on the front burner right now.”

In the Appalachian League, unlike the Pioneer League, the decision are made by the big league organizations that own the teams. In the Pioneer League, a league that is the same level as the Appalachian, the decisions come down to the local team owners. 

The Appy League’s counterpart in the west, the Pioneer League, has announced that they will have an all-star team that will play against the Northwest League All-Stars on Aug. 4. The Northwest League is a step above the Appy and Pioneer Leagues, and is a short-season Single-A affiliate. Each of those leagues have eight teams.

Another short season league that has an all-star contest is then New York-Penn League, which will play their contest on Aug. 18. Their 14-team league had their inaugural all-star contest in 2005.

So with short-season leagues starting all-star contests, it seems like an Appy League All-Star Game isn’t such a long shot. It had even been talked about almost a decade ago.

Allen LaMountain, author of “Appalachian League Baseball: Where Rookies Rise”, has been covering the league for over a decade and feels starting an all-star contest would be a rewarding event for all involved.

“I think it would be an exciting event for the fans,” he said. “There are so many great names that come through there, it’d be neat to see some of them on the same team, battling it out for bragging rights.”

The only draw back might be, by having it at the end of the year, that all the true all-stars will be gone from the Appy League and onto the next level. But perhaps a date could be scheduled to make it exciting for the fans, players and organizations.

But there is no doubt that a slew of MLB All-Stars have made their way through the Appy League. 

For the 2015 season, the Elizabethton Twins had two players that came through their ranks in pitcher Glen Perkins and second baseman Brain Dozier. Perkins had a short stint in cowtown back in 2004, when he pitched 12 innings for Elizabethton. Dozier’s time was a little longer and not too long ago, as he played in 53 games for Elizabethton in 2009. 

Just around the bend, the Johnson City Cardinals have a former catcher, that seems to be a staple in the MLB All-Star Game in Yadier Molina. He wore the red of the Johnson City Cardinals in 2001 for 44 games and has been named to every all-star team since 2009. Pitcher Trevor Rosenthal also played in Johnson City back in 2009, where he pitched in 10 games. 

The 2015 MLB All-Star that had the most appearances in the Appy League is former Greeneville Astros standout Jose Altuve. He played in 95 games during the 2008-2009 season and he made such an impact in Greeneville that they will honor him on Saturday night with his own bobble head. 

Another former Appy Leaguer that will be having a replica bubblehead passed out to fans this season is former Kingsport Mets’ starting pitcher Jacob deGrom. Fans will receive the bobble head with entry in their July 24contest against the Elizabethton Twins at Hunter Wright Stadium. DeGrom tossed 26 innings in six starts for the K-Mets, before making the jump and being named the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. 

All-star pitcher A.J. Burnett made his first appearance in the Appy Leaguer almost two decades ago, when he took the mound in 1996 for the Kingsport Mets. He will appear in the MLB Alll-Star Game for his first time and will be wearing the Pittsburgh Pirates emblem, his fifth-team.

Other Burlington Royals have the most players that have worn their uniform with three, but only one of them, pitcher Kelvin Herrera is still with the organization. He tossed 50.2 innings for Burlington in 2008. The other two former Royals are Chris Archer (Tampa Bay Rays) and Salvador Perez (Toronto Blue Jays). 

Another player that is no longer with the team he appeared for in the Appy League is Detroit Tigers’ pitcher J.D. Martinez, who appeared in 19 game for the Greeneville Astros in 2009. Other pitchers that have appeared in the Appy League and were on the MLB All-Star roster are Wade Davis (Princeton), Zach Britton (Bluefield) and Hector Santiago (Bristol).

With all of those names being mentioned, there was a reason for Appy League fans to watch the game, but what if they could see an Appalachian League All-Star Game for themselves. 

For now though, we can just cheer on the players of Appy League pasts, and attend Appy League contests to see the all-stars of the future.