Baseball roundup: Booker, Intimidators win first-half title; Fraga sizzling for Freedom

Joel Booker earned All-Star honors in helping lead Kannapolis to a first-half division title (Kannapolis Intimidators photo).

Joel Booker will head to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game this week with a division title in hand.

Booker and the Kannapolis Intimidators handed West Virginia a 5-3 setback on Sunday in Kannapolis, clinching the SAL North Division first half title with the victory.

The division title completes a turnaround for a team that began the season 1-7, quickly falling five games back and into last place in the seven-team division. Under first-year manager Justin Jirschele, Kannapolis captured its first postseason berth since 2009 and third since the organization affiliated with the Chicago White Sox prior to the 2001 season.

Booker, the former Polk County standout, played a key role in the team’s success. He finished the first half hitting .312 with 10 doubles, two triples and three home runs. His average ranks seventh in the Sally League, and his 81 hits share the league lead with Colton Welker of Asheville. He also ranks second in the league with 50 runs scored.

Booker, who also stole 14 bases, is one of seven Intimidators set to play in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Columbia, S.C.

FRAGA SIZZLING FOR FREEDOM: In his third season with the Florence Freedom, Danny Fraga is certainly leading a charmed life at the plate.

The former Wolverine is hitting a sizzling .371 for the Freedom, good for second in the Frontier League behind teammate Andre Mercurio. The two have helped lead Florence to first place in the Frontier League’s West Division, the Freedom owning a five-game lead after Sunday’s 6-3 win over Joliet.

Through 33 games, Fraga leads the league in runs scored (31) and on-base percentage (.450) and is tied for fourth in steals (10).

Florence Freedom infielder Danny Fraga is among the league leaders in several offensive categories thus far in 2017 (Florence Freedom photo).