pelicans

By Joe Wedra

Pitching wins baseball games.

That’s a phrase that has certainly held true for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans over the course of the past few seasons. And for the second-consecutive year, the Grand Strand talent on the mound is being recognized on a larger scale.

Last year, pitchers Duane Underwood — now in double-A Tennessee — and current Pelican Jonathan Martinez made the Carolina League All-Star team. This year, Myrtle Beach will send a trio of starting arms to the mid-season event in Lake Elsinore, California.

Jake Stinnett, Zach Hedges and Trevor Clifton will represent the local team in this year’s California/Carolina League All-Star Game. Joining them, according to the team’s press release, will be athletic trainer Toby Williams and pitching coach Anderson Tavarez.

Hedges earns the nod after working through the first half of the season with ease, retiring opposing hitters better than anyone else on the Pelicans roster.

In just his second full season in pro ball, the California native holds a 2.25 ERA with six wins in 11 starts, second on the team behind only Erick Leal (eight wins). His 1.04 WHIP is far-and-away the best number amongst the starting rotation arms, pairing nicely with 42-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Similarly recognized as one of the best young pitching prospects in the Cubs organization, Clifton owns several eye-popping numbers himself.

He carries not only high strikeout totals (63 Ks in 57 innings) but also a 2.21 ERA that narrowly betters Hedges’.

Clifton is a former 13th round pick from Heritage High School in Tennessee. Last year, he tallied a 3.98 ERA with eight wins and 103 strikeouts in 23 starts for low-A South Bend.

For Stinnett, the 2014 second-round Cubs selection from the University of Maryland, the “big picture” numbers haven’t spoken to the totality of his works. While his ERA is quite a bit higher than Hedges and Clifton’s at 4.24, the right-hander has effectively kept runners off the basepaths over the course of his starts.

Stinnett’s issues have originated from “bad luck innings” and a few unfortunate breaks rather than consistent failures on the mound. In fact, he has allowed just 49 hits over 57.1 innings of work.

One of the Pelicans’ most consistent pieces and the Cubs’ most coveted prospects, the future is still a rather bright one for the intelligent 24-year-old.

The 2016 Carolina/California All-Star game takes place Tuesday June 21st at 9:30 p.m. eastern time. Information on the results of the game are expected to be readily available, as they were last season, on Minor League Baseball’s Carolina League website.

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