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17 All-Stars played on Tennessee teams

Former Overton High School star Mookie Betts, last year’s American League Most Valuable Player, is one of 17 All-Stars this year who played for teams in Tennessee before reaching the major leagues. (photo by Mike Morrow)

Seventeen players on the American League and National League All-Star rosters this year played for high school, college or minor-league baseball teams in Tennessee.

Six of the players who made the teams once played for the Tennessee Smokies, a Class AA Chicago Cubs affiliate. All nine minor-league teams in Tennessee are reflected on the two rosters.

Vanderbilt University has two players on the teams, including pitcher Mike Minor, who is also one of two players on the rosters who played high school baseball in the state. Minor played at Forrest High in Chapel Hill, and Mookie Betts played at Overton High in Nashville. The other former Vanderbilt player is pitcher Walker Buehler.

The All-Star Game will be played July 9 in Cleveland. The starting lineups of non-pitchers, chosen by fans, were announced last Wednesday. The remaining players on the rosters, including pitchers, were announced on Sunday, chosen by player balloting and the commissioner’s office.

The 2019 All-Star players with at least some time on rosters of Tennessee teams are:

National League

(* denotes starter)

Walker Buehler, pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers

Buehler pitched from 2013-15 at Vanderbilt, where he compiled a 21-7 record. He is 8-1 with the Dodgers this season with a 3.43 earned run average.

Jacob deGrom, pitcher, New York Mets

DeGrom pitched in six games in 2010 for the Kingsport Mets of the Rookie-level Appalachian League. He was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA. Last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner, deGrom is 4-7 this season with the Mets with a 3.47 ERA. He has 128 strikeouts, which ranks third in the league behind Max Scherzer and former Brentwood High School star Robbie Ray.

Zack Greinke, pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

Greinke started two games for the Class AAA Nashville Sounds on a rehab assignment when he was in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He had an 0-1 record in 7 2/3 innings. This year he is 9-3 with Arizona with a 2.90 ERA.

*Willson Contreras, catcher, Chicago Cubs

Contreras played 126 games for the Tennessee Smokies in 2015, batting .333. This season he is batting .285 with the Cubs.

*Ketel Marte, second base, Arizona Diamondbacks

Marte played 109 games for the Class AA Jackson Generals in 2014, batting .302, plus two games in 2015, batting .429. This season Marte is batting .309 for the Diamondbacks.

*Javier Baez, shortstop, Chicago Cubs

Baez played 54 games in 2013 for the Smokies, batting .294. This season he is batting .285 for the Cubs.

Paul DeJong, shortstop, St. Louis Cardinals

DeJong played 10 games in Rookie-level Johnson City, a Cardinals affiliate in the Appalachian League, in 2015, batting .486. He played 48 games for the Class AAA Memphis Redbirds in 2017, batting .299, and four more games in Memphis in 2018, batting .308. This season he is batting .260 with the Cardinals.

Kris Bryant, third baseman, Chicago Cubs

Bryant played 68 games in 2014 for the Tennessee Smokies, batting .355. He also played two games on a rehab assignment in 2018, batting .333. This season he is batting .289 with the Cubs.

Jeff McNeil, second baseman and outfielder, New York Mets

McNeil played 47 games in Rookie-level Kingsport in 2013, batting .329. This season he is batting .348 with the Mets.

American League

(*denotes starter)

Mike Minor, pitcher, Texas Rangers

Minor starred at Vanderbilt and was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Braves in 2009. He is 8-4 with a 2.40 ERA this season for the Rangers.

Daniel Vogelbach, first baseman, Seattle Mariners

Vogelbach played 76 games in 2015 with the Tennessee Smokies as part of the Cubs organization, batting .272. He was dealt to the Mariners the next season. This year, he is batting .244 with 20 home runs and 48 RBIs for Seattle.

*DJ LeMahieu, second baseman, New York Yankees

LeMahieu played 50 games in 2011 for the Tennessee Smokies batting .358. He was dealt to the Colorado Rockies the next season. He signed with the Yankees as a free agent this year and is batting .345 with 61 RBIs.

Tommy La Stella, second baseman, Los Angeles Angels

La Stella played in 10 games in 2015 for the Smokies in the Cubs organization on a rehab assignment, batting .250, and two more games at Tennessee in 2016, batting .500. This season he is batting .304 for the Angels.

*Jorge Polanco, shortstop, Minnesota Twins

Polanco played 51 games in 2012 in Elizabethton of the Appalachian League, batting .318, and 95 games in 2015 with the Class AA Chattanooga Lookouts, batting .289. Both Elizabethton and Chattanooga were Twins affiliates. (Chattanooga is now an affiliate of the Reds.) This season Polanco is batting .320 with the parent club Twins.

Matt Chapman, third baseman, Oakland Athletics

Chapman played 18 games for the Class AAA Nashville Sounds in 2016, batting .197, and 49 games with the Sounds in 2017, batting .257. This season he is batting .270 with the Athletics.

Mookie Betts, outfielder, Boston Red Sox

Betts, last season’s American League Most Valuable Player, played at Overton High School in Nashville and was drafted by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. Betts is currently batting .261 for Boston.

J.D. Martinez, designated hitter, Boston Red Sox

Martinez played 19 games in 2009 for Rookie-level Greeneville in what was then an affiliate of the Houston Astros, batting .403. He later played for the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks before joining the Red Sox as a free agent in 2018. Martinez is batting .298 with 18 home runs and 47 RBIs for the Red Sox this year.

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