Booker earns selection to South Atlantic League All-Star Game

Former Polk County standout Joel Booker

The Kannapolis Intimidators are sending five players, including former Polk County standout Joel Booker, to the 58th Annual South Atlantic League All-Star Game on June 20 at Spirit Communications Park in Columbia, S.C.

Booker will be joined by starting pitchers Alec Hansen and Jimmy Lambert, closer Mike Morrison and catcher Seby Zavala as members of the Northern Division team that will face the Southern Division squad in the intra-league exhibition.

Booker, 22, has been a consistent table-setter at the top of the Intimidators line up in 2017. The team’s centerfielder and leadoff man is batting .313 (63-201) through his first 51 games, seventh best in the SAL, and he ranks second in the league in runs scored (42) and fourth in hits. He has an on-base percentage of .379 while slugging .408 and leading the Intimidators with 12 stolen bases this season. The White Sox selected Booker in the 22nd round of the June 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Iowa.

Booker was also named to the Arizona League All-Star team last season.

Hansen, 22, has continued to pile up strikeouts in his first full season, ranking second in the SAL with 74 strikeouts through his first 11 starts. He finished the month of May with consecutive double-digit strikeout games, including a career-high 15 with no walks over 7.0 innings against Greensboro on May 28. Hansen, the White Sox No. 10 Prospect, is 5-3 with a 2.82 ERA (19 ER/60.2 IP) in 11 games with Kannapolis in 2017. The White Sox selected Hansen in the second round of the June 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Oklahoma.

Lambert, 22, leads a strong Intimidators pitching staff with a team-high six wins, including a four-start winning streak earlier in the season. He is 6-2 with a 2.63 ERA (18 ER/61.2 IP) and 37 strikeouts compared to just seven walks in 10 games (10 starts) including a complete game in 2017. The Intimidators Opening Night starter not only ranks third in the SAL in innings pitched, he leads all starting pitchers in lowest walks/9 IP ratio at 1.02 (7 BB/61.2 IP). The White Sox selected Lambert in the fifth round of the June 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Fresno State.

Morrison, 23, has been one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the minor leagues in 2017, opening his season with 25 consecutive scoreless innings over his first 17 appearances. He has posted a 0.67 ERA (2 ER/27.0 IP) and 36 strikeouts compared to five walks in 18 games for the Intimidators. Morrison, the White Sox 27th round pick in the June 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Coastal Carolina, ranks second in the SAL in saves and tied for fifth in games for pitchers. Among the league’s relievers, he has the lowest batting average (.071) and fewest base runners per 9 IP ratio at 4.33 (13 base runners/27.0 IP).

Zavala, 23, earns his second straight SAL Mid-Season All-Star selection. While Zavala made his name known around the league for his defense in 2016, this season, he has emerged as one of the league’s most dangerous home run threats. He leads Kannapolis and ranks tied for second in the league with 10 home runs and leads the league in best HR/at-bat ratio at 1/14.30. After a slow start to the season at the plate in April, he came on strong in May, batting .311 (23-74) in 21 games that month to bolster his case to make his second straight All-Star Game. The White Sox selected Zavala in the 12th round of the June 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of San Diego State University.