Despite failing to play their way back to .500 for the first time since April 27 Wednesday night, falling to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs 4-2, the the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders received some positive news earlier in the day.
Brandon Drury and Cody Carroll are Columbus bound. The dynamic duo were named to the International League All-Star team on Tuesday and will represent the RailRiders in the Triple-A All-Star Game, against the Pacific Coast League All-Stars, on July 11 at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio.
This is the fourth time Drury has been named a mid-season all-star and first since 2015, when he was with Double-A Mobile. This is the third straight season Carroll has made a mid-season all-star team, representing High-A Tampa in 2017 and Single-A Charleston in 2016.
“I think part of development — I’ve always felt like winning is part of development,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said during the RailRiders last homestand. “We’re here to get them better as players, but also their mindset when they step on the field is important. When you go to New York, you’ve got to step on the field and expect to beat anybody you’re playing any day. I think that’s what we need to do here and develop that type of attitude when they step on the field.
“They’ve done a good job.”
Drury’s all-star nod highlights what has been a frustrating season for the third baseman.
After winning the New York Yankees’ third base job out of spring training, Drury landed on the disabled list on April 7 with severe migraines and blurry vision due to a neck issue. He was batting .217 with a home run and four RBI at the time.
Aside from a six-game partial rehab stint with Double-A Trenton, the 25-year-old has been with the RailRiders ever since. Drury’s batting .315 with 13 doubles, a triple, five home runs and 28 RBI in 47 Triple-A games. He even holds the RailRiders’ record for consecutive games on base, reaching in 32 straight contests.
“Drury’s been pretty much as consistent as anybody,” Mitchell said. “Really our best hitter, consistently, throughout the year. He’s done a great job for us.”
Even though he’s an all-star third baseman for the RailRiders, Drury played in his fourth game at first base on Wednesday, making back-to-back starts at the position.
However, Yankees manager Aaron Boone downplayed the move on Tuesday, noting that it just adds to Drury’s versatility, even though Greg Bird is struggling with the big-league club. Drury hasn’t played first base in the majors and Wednesday was only the fifth time he played the position since 2012.
“He’s getting more and more comfortable,” Boone told NJ Advance Media. “He’s just working through footwork stuff. Those kinds of things. He’s a good athlete, so we know he can handle that kind of thing.
“We’re constantly evaluating things, but I wouldn’t say anything is (imminent). He’s getting reps (at first) that would prepare and help him and add to his versatility.”
Carroll has been stellar in his first season in Triple-A.
The hard-throwing right-hander has settled nicely into his role as the RailRiders’ closer. Carroll is 3-0 with a 2.76 ERA and team-high seven saves in 24 appearances. He has converted seven of his nine save opportunities, and ranks sixth in the International League.
“I think our bullpen has been really good (this season),” Mitchell said. “Cody Carroll has been really good as a closer-type. His stuff is really good. He’s improving his breaking ball and so forth.”
Cole sinks RailRiders
Making a rehab start for the RailRiders, A.J. Cole wasn’t able to make it out of the first inning, giving up three runs without recording an out to take the loss.
Pitching with a 1-0 lead, thanks to Drury’s first-inning solo home run, Dean Anna, Collin Cowgill and Mitch Walding all reached base before Lehigh Valley first baseman Joey Meneses shot a two-run single into center field to give the IronPigs a lead for good. With the bases loaded again after a Trevor Plouffe walk, Cole was pulled from the game in favor of J.P. Feyereisen.
Danny Ortiz capped off the inning after he knocked in Walding while grounding into a double play.
RailRiders southpaw Justus Sheffield pitched six scoreless innings to keep Scranton/Wilkes-Barre afloat.
However, with the tying run at the plate and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Zack Zehner struck out on three pitches to seal the defeat.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle