A total of six Rome Braves players — four pitchers and two position players — were named to the SAL Southern Division team when the rosters were announced Tuesday by league president Eric Krupa. It’s one of the Atlanta Braves’ Class A affiliate’s best showings for the mid-season exhibition.
This year’s game is scheduled for June 19 at First National Bank Field in Greensboro, North Carolina, home of the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
A big part of the Rome Braves’ identity in recent seasons, the team’s pitching was given the most slots in the Southern Division’s 25-man roster, led by starter Bruce Zimmermann. He will be joined by relievers Freddy Tarnok, Walter Borkovich and Kelvin Rodriguez.
Rounding out Rome’s picks are two of the team’s most prolific hitters — shortstop Riley Delgado and outfielder Drew Waters.
“The Rome Braves are proud to have six players on the South Division roster,” Rome Braves General Manager Jim Bishop said in a release. “It is an honor for each of these young men to have their efforts on the field recognized by being selected for this prestigious event. They will represent themselves well in Greensboro, North Carolina, on June 19th.”
The six players are the most from any team on the Southern Division’s roster. Lexington has six players and Kannapolis has seven on the Northern Division squad.
Zimmermann, with a 2.12 ERA, has won his last five starts and is the SAL wins leader with a 7-2 record. He also leads the league with 84 strikeouts and has given up only two home runs in 63 2/3 innings. The Baltimore native has a 1.02 WHIP, which is the lowest on the team.
With a miniscule 0.98 ERA, Tarnok came into Tuesday night’s game at Asheville as the top reliever for Rome. He has a 3-0 record in 13 appearances and 39 strikeouts over 27 2/3 innings.
Borkovich is also 3-0 this season and has a 1.46 ERA and one save through 16 appearances. He has 19 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings pitched. Rodriguez is 2-0 this year in 18 appearances while owning a 1.71 ERA with 23 strikeouts.
Delgado is taking in all he can in his first full season in Rome. The 23-year-old was leading the team in batting average (.307), RBIs (32) and hits (59) prior to Tuesday night’s game. He also had 16 runs and 13 doubles to go with a .362 on-base percentage.
Waters, the former Etowah High School standout, has come on after a short stint on the disabled list last month. He is second on the team with a .305 average and is tied with Drew Lugbauer for the most home runs with six.
Half of his 46 hits are for extra bases, and he is second on the team with eight stolen bases to go along with 26 RBIs.
Players are selected to the All-Star Game by the votes of the teams’ managers and coaching staffs, local media and front office executives. First National Bank Field is hosting its second SAL All-Star Game. The first one in 2008 saw the Northern Division beat the Southern Division 13-4 in a game that featured then Rome Braves Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward.