For The Brazil Times
SALISBURY, Md. -- You will have to excuse Brady Shoemaker of Brazil if he seemed star struck on Tuesday. A minor league prospect in the White Sox farm system, Shoemaker was chosen as an outfielder on the North squad for the annual low Class A South Atlantic League All-Star game
held at Perdue Stadium on the Eastern Shore.
A 19th round pick of the White Sox in 2009 out of Indiana State, he was among a North outfield that included three former first-round picks: megastar Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals), Christian Yelich (Florida Marlins) and Anthony Hewitt (Philadelphia Phillies). Other North outfielders were taken in the second and 11th round and North shortstop Manny Machado, playing for All-Star host Delmarva, was a first-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles.
Harper and Machado are considered two of the top prospects in the South Atlantic League. So what was it like for Shoemaker to make the All-Star team? "It is a great accomplishment," he said before Tuesday's game, held about two hours east of Washington, D.C. "You are here with the best players in the league. It is fun to meet the guys you have been playing against and you get to know them."
And what about being around Harper, 19, and Machado, 18, who appear likely to be promoted to the high Class A Carolina League?
"They have a lot of pressure on them," said Shoemaker, 24, a right-handed hitter. "I have never been that way. They are young guys. I am not sure I could handle that. I think they have handled it very well. I don't think I could ever handle that."
Before Tuesday's game he attended the All-Star game luncheon and got to hear featured speaker Andy MacPhail, the general manager of the Baltimore Orioles. "He had a lot of good things to say and good stories to tell, and how he got involved in the game," Shoemaker said. "It was good to hear where he comes from and how (the Orioles) handle players."
Shoemaker was not listed among the top 30 prospects in the Chicago White Sox farm system prior to this season by Baseball America, the industry leader. But he still made the All-Star team, as he started in left field and batted seventh as the South team won, 6-3, before a sellout crowd of 7,410 fans. He had a double in three at bats among a crowd that included Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, who led the Orioles to the 1970 World Series win over the Reds.
Among those on hand were his father, mother, sister, aunt and uncle. "I had 10 family and friends here. Some of them drove and some of them flew in," he said. "I have had great support from family. I have been well supported."
He has also had family members on hand on regular-season home games in North Carolina earlier this season.
The South Atlantic League includes some of the longest bus ride in the minor leagues. "So far I feel I have done well. It is a grind," he said of playing every day. "You just want to relax and have a good time. You want to enjoy the moment." And he was able to do that Tuesday as part of an All-Star team at the minor league level.
Editor's note: David Driver is a free-lance writer in Maryland and can be reached at www.davidsdriver.com