News release from the TinCaps:
Smith, Guerrero, and Mutz Named Midwest League All-Stars
(June 4, 2014) – Three TinCaps are set to represent Fort Wayne in the 2014 Midwest League All-Star Game on June 17 in Comstock Park, Michigan. Center fielder Mallex Smith has been selected as an Eastern Division starter, while right-handed relievers Tayron Guerrero and Nick Mutz also made the team. All-Stars were nominated and selected by the field managers of the Midwest League.
Smith, who led the Midwest League in stolen bases with 64 during the 2013 season with the TinCaps, has shown tremendous development in his second go-around in the Summit City. The 21-year-old from Tallahassee, Florida, has more stolen bases than anyone else in baseball this year. That’s counting Class-A, Double-A, Triple-A, and even Major League Baseball. Through June 3, Smith has swiped 42 bases. His closest competition is Los Angeles Dodger Dee Gordon, who has 34 stolen bags. Of other Minor Leaguers, John Andreoli (Double-A Tennessee Smokies — Chicago Cubs affiliate) has the second most with 28. No one else in the Midwest League has more than 27.
But Smith hasn’t just been a base-stealer in 2014. His .296 batting average (entering June 4) is a 34-point improvement from where it was at the end of 2013. During the month of May, the affable Smith hit .369 with a .470 on-base percentage. His season OBP of .396 is the seventh highest in the Midwest League.
A fifth round selection by the Padres in 2012’s draft, Smith has nine doubles and a TinCaps-best five triples. His 47 runs scored also lead the league. Primarily serving as Fort Wayne’s leadoff hitter, Smith has 12 runs batted in.
In addition to his accomplishments on the field, Smith has also been an active volunteer in Fort Wayne. Beyond just signing autographs for fans, Smith’s community involvement includes helping to clean Franke Park, speaking and offering advice to players from the World Baseball Academy, and raising awareness for strokes with the Strike Out Stroke non-profit.
“It’s a blessing and an honor,” Smith said of his All-Star starter status. “It wouldn’t be possible without God, and I’d also like to thank my family for their support over the years.”
For Guerrero and Mutz, their 2014 All-Star selections would have been difficult to predict at this time a year ago.
Guerrero began 2013 on Fort Wayne’s Opening Day roster. However, the 6-foot-7 hurler was placed on the disabled list with an arm injury just two weeks into the season and wouldn’t pitch in a game again until late June when he returned to the Arizona League and then finished his campaign with Short-Season Eugene.
Healthy in 2014, Guerrero has the lowest ERA (1.19) of any TinCap pitcher. The 23-year-old from Colombia has struck out a bullpen-best 37 batters in 30 1/3 innings pitched. Guerrero, whose fastball in recent games has been clocked at 101 MPH, has allowed a mere four earned runs and none in his last 8 2/3 innings, dating back to May 18. The 2009 signee of San Diego leads all Fort Wayne pitchers in wins with a 5-0 record, plus a save. The Midwest League is hitting a paltry .164 against him.
Meanwhile, Mutz wasn’t on an affiliated Minor League Baseball roster at this point in 2013. After he was selected by the Angels in the ninth round in 2009, Mutz pitched in the Midwest League in 2012 for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. But last spring, he was released and found himself working for the Trinidad Triggers of the independent Pecos League and the New Jersey Jackals of the unaffiliated Can-Am League. The Padres eventually signed Mutz late last August and assigned him to Eugene.
This year with the TinCaps, the 23-year-old from Santa Rosa, California, has been the team’s closer and has a team-high six saves. Like Guerrero, Mutz has only allowed a miniscule four earned runs in 25 innings pitched. In fact, he went his first 16 appearances of the season without yielding an earned run until May 18. Mutz has 21 strikeouts, as opponents have hit only .220 against him.
“The TinCaps are proud to have young men like Mallex, Tayron, and Nick representing Fort Wayne in all-star fashion on the field, and — even more so — off it,” TinCaps President Mike Nuter said.
The 50th Midwest League All-Star Classic will be hosted by the West Michigan Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark. For more information on the game, including rosters for both divisions, Box Score.