Three members of the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds will play in tomorrow’s New York-Penn League All-Star game at Mahoning Valley in Niles, Ohio.
All three were drafted this year from the college ranks. They are 10th-round pick Joel Hutter, Aberdeen’s shortstop out of Dallas Baptist University; 18th-round pick Sam Kimmel, a catcher from Stetson; and 26th-round pick Lucas Herbst, a right fielder from Santa Clara.
The 22-year-old Hutter is batting .306 with no homers, 23 RBIs and an OPS of .750 over 44 games. He recently hit .364 during a 13-game hitting streak and is batting .328 with runners in scoring position.
“He has swung the bat pretty good,” Aberdeen manager Gary Allenson said of Hutter. “One thing he does well as a hitter is he keeps his hands back and that helps him with the off-speed pitches. A lot of guys at this level are swing and missers on breaking balls and he’s not. His swing can get a little long at times. He has kind of been a guy that hits the fastball the other way and hits the off-speed in the gap and occasionally pulls it.
“He’s done a decent job at shortstop. He’s a worker is what he is. He works hard every day to improve his game. He doesn’t have great range, so he’ll have to learn to position himself and learn the hitters. He has probably been our most clutch hitter.”
The 22-year-old Kimmel is batting .286 with one homer, 11 RBIs and an OPS of .696 in 27 games. He is batting .333 in eight August games.
“He’s come around swinging the bat,” Allenson said of Kimmel. “He hit with a golf grip when we got him with interlocking fingers and we got him out of that. He’s raw behind the plate and needs work there - just reading pitches, reading balls in the dirt. He’s got a ways to go defensively. He’s a bat right now. He’s got above-average speed for a catcher.”
The 21-year-old Herbst is batting .295 with one homer, 16 RBIs and a .750 OPS in 33 games. The lefty hitter is batting .323 versus right-handed pitching and is batting .354 in 12 games this month.
“It didn’t look like he had much of a bat for the first few weeks but it’s come around,” Allenson said of Herbst. “Maybe the transition from college to pro ball was an issue for him. At times he takes some swings and the ball really comes off his bat. He is probably an underrated outfielder who gets some good jumps and it looks like he’s got an accurate arm.”
Aberdeen is off today and tomorrow for the All-Star break and resumes its season Wednesday at Lowell with Lex Rutledge on the mound.