Tuesday’s South Atlantic League All-Star Game at Whitaker Bank Ballpark will offer fans a chance to take an early look at several young players who could become household names in Major League Baseball.
But MLB fans attending the festivities will likely already be familiar with several of the names on the Northern and Southern Division rosters.
The game will feature the sons of former big leaguers Mariano Rivera, Lenny Dykstra and Charlie Hayes as well as the son of current St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
Pitcher Mariano Rivera of the Hagerstown Suns shares the same name as his father, the all-time Major League saves leader and 13-time All-Star with the New York Yankees.
The 22-year-old reliever will pitch for the Northern Division. He was originally drafted by the Yankees in the 29th round in 2014 but didn’t sign a contract, leaving him eligible to be drafted the following year. He signed with the Washington Nationals after they selected him in the fourth round in 2015.
With the Suns this year, Rivera has posted a 3-0 record and a 3.73 earned run average in 18 relief appearances and has secured four saves.
The Southern Division roster features second baseman Luke Dykstra of the Rome Braves. The 20-year-old son of former Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets star Lenny Dykstra was drafted by Atlanta in the seventh round in 2014. In 55 games for Rome this season Dykstra is batting .319 with 29 RBI.
He’s joined on the Southern Division team by Greenville Drive outfielder Tate Matheny, whose father, Mike Matheny, spent 13 seasons in the majors as a catcher with the Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants before taking over as Cardinals manager following the retirement of Tony La Russa in 2011. The elder Matheny became the first manager in MLB history to lead a team to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons.
The younger Matheny was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2015 first-year player draft after being named a Baseball America Freshman All-American at Missouri State in 2013. This year for Greenville, Matheny is batting .293 with four home runs and 27 RBI.
Finally, the Northern Division roster features West Virginia Power third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, whose father, Charlie, spent 14 years in the majors and made the catch for the final out in the 1996 World Series for the New York Yankees, securing the club’s first World Series title in 18 years. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 19, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round in 2015 and is ranked as the sixth-best prospect in the Pittsburgh organization by MLB.com. He’s batting .276 with six home runs and 31 RBI, and last week he spoke with the Herald-Leader about how growing up as the son of a former professional player has shaped his approach to the game.
“It’s given me a unique perspective and it’s definitely been an advantage for me since he played in the majors and the minors,” Hayes said. “He’s always tried to put me in situations that were gonna match up to what I’d be doing down the road in baseball.”
Hayes said his father coached him from age 7 through his high school career. These days dad lets his son’s coaches do the heavy lifting, but he’s still happy to impart his wisdom.
“Every once in awhile he’ll see something and pull me aside. He’ll tell me I’m not being aggressive or he’ll see something at the plate and help me out,” Hayes said. “Anything he’s been able to tell me I’ve always tried to take as much as I can and remember it and use it to my advantage.”
It appears that strategy has paid off, with Hayes’ All-Star selection in his first year as a pro. But Hayes said after learning of the achievement his father was quick to remind him not to rest on his laurels.
“When he heard I’d made the team he was definitely happy, but he didn’t say a whole lot. He just said ‘Congratulations, now you’ve got to keep working hard.’”
South Atlantic League All-Stars
Manager: Patrick Anderson (Hagerstown)
Coaches: Amaury Garcia and Sam Narron (Hagerstown)
Athletic trainer: Dom Cappozzo (West Virginia)
Pitchers: Garrett Cleavinger and Ryan Meisinger (Delmarva), Mariano Rivera and Jefry Rodriguez (Hagerstown), C.J. Robinson (Greensboro), Pedro Payano, Jeffrey Spring and Erik Swanson (Hickory), Zach Thompson (Kannapolis), Mitch Keller (West Virginia), Luke Leftwich (Lakewood)
Catchers: Yermin Mercedes (Delmarva), Tyler Sanchez (Hickory), Seby Zavala (Kannapolis)
Infielders: Daniel Arribas, 1B (West Virginia); Max Schrock, 2B (Hagerstown); Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B (West Virginia); Yeyson Yrizarri, SS (Hickory); Danny Mendick, utility IF (Kannapolis); Josh Tobias, utility IF (Lakewood)
Outfielders: Jose Pujols, RF (Lakewood); Victor Robles, CF (Hagerstown); Tito Polo, LF (West Virginia); Landon Lassiter, utility OF (Kannapolis); Isael Soto, utility OF (Greensboro)
Designated hitter: Alex Murphy (Delmarva)
Manager: Luis Dorante (Charleston)
Coaches: Omar Ramirez (Lexington), Justin Pope (Charleston)
Athletic trainer: Mark Keiser (Lexington)
Pitchers: Cody Carroll, Andrew Schwaab and Christian Morris (Charleston); Jake Cosart and Anyelo Leclerc (Greenville); Caleb Smith (Augusta); Mike Soroka and Patrick Weigel (Rome); Emilio Ogando (Lexington); P.J. Conlon and Alex Palsha (Columbia)
Catchers: Jonathan Morales (Rome), Matt Winn (Augusta), Austin Rei (Greenville)
Infielders: Brian Mundell, 1B (Asheville); Vinny Siena, 2B (Columbia); Mitchell Gunsolus, 3B (Greenville); Brendan Rodgers, SS (Asheville); Luis Alejandro Basabe, utility IF (Greenville); Luke Dykstra, utility IF (Rome)
Outfielders: Sam Hilliard, LF (Asheville); Yonathan Daza, RF (Asheville); Ray-Patrick Didder, CF (Rome); Dylan Davis, utility OF (Augusta); Tate Matheny, utility OF (Greenville)
Designated hitter: Josh Ockimey (Greenville)
South Atlantic League All-Star events at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Tuesday:
▪ 2:45 p.m.: Northern Division team signs autographs, Southern Division takes batting practice.
▪ 3:45 p.m.: Southern Division team signs autographs, Northern Division takes batting practice.
▪ 4:45 p.m.: Legendary Derby featuring All-Stars and local celebrities.
▪ 6 p.m.: Halfway to Hazard concert.
▪ 7:05 p.m.: South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
South Atlantic League All-Star Game
Who: Northern Division vs. Southern Division
When: 7:05 p.m.
Where: Whitaker Bank Ballpark
Tickets: Range from $6 to $18. Available on Lexingtonlegends.com or at the ballpark