All-Star Countdown: Visalia Rawhide

Our preview of potential California League All-Stars concludes today with a look at the Visalia Rawhide (High-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks). The Rawhide is right in the middle of the North Division, but just a game over .500. Visalia did catch the attention of all of Minor League baseball back on May 15, when the team scored 26 runs in a win over the High Desert Mavericks. Outside of that eye-popping final score, the Rawhide are a team that has received solid contributions from its offense and pitching staff. With the help of Visalia broadcaster Donny Baarns, here are a few players likely to fill out the roster for the California League in Winston-Salem.

LHP Andrew Chafin - Arizona selected three pitchers in the first round of the 2011 draft and while Chafin might not yet get the hype of fellow arms Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley, the 43rd overall pick has dominated the California League. Baseball America puts Chafin as the 13th best prospect in the system, and the left-hander has shown why in the first half of the year. He has a 3-0 record and 3.20 ERA in the hitter-friendly league. Chafin also ranks second in the league with 66 strikeouts.

“He utilizes his wipeout slider, which is the best in the Arizona system and possibly one of the deadliest in the minors,” Baarns said. “He can throw it with different tilts and locations in different situations and is particularly brutal against lefthanders.”

LHP David Holmberg - This is a familiar name for White Sox fans. Holmberg was selected by Chicago in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft and spent that season in rookie-level Great Falls, compiling a 2-2 record with a 4.73 ERA.  He was included in the 2010 trade which sent Daniel Hudson to the Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson.

This season, the left-hander has a 6-3 record with a 3.25 ERA and a strikeout to walk ratio of 5-to-1. He has recorded a win in each of his last five starts. Baseball America lists Holmberg as the sixth best prospect in the Diamondbacks organization.

“He has been steady and consistent as Visalia’s number one starter by keeping the ball low in the zone and inducing ground balls while also racking up strikeouts,” Baarns said.  “He has also shown the ability to make in-game adjustments when he does not have his best stuff.”

SS Chris Owings -The Diamondbacks first pick in the 2009 draft (41st overall) is hitting the ball well in his second season at the High-A level. The shortstop is batting .325 with 62 hits, nine home runs and 21 RBI. Baseball America ranks Owings as the seventh best prospect in the Arizona system.

The Diamondbacks have high expectations for Owings to be a mainstay at the big league level. “He has made great strides at the plate this year while showing great tools at shortstop,” Baarns said. “Arizona considers him a possible successor to Stephen Drew in the future.”

Any shortstop in the California League not named Billy Hamilton is unlikely to start in the All-Star Game, but Owings will certainly be a strong candidate to be in attendance.

Thanks for following along with our California League All-Star previews. The All-Star ballots will be out shortly and in a few weeks we will know the definitive list of players who will be in Winston-Salem for the 2012 All-Star Game festivities.

Meanwhile, the Dash begin a big series tonight in Zebulon against the Carolina Mudcats. First pitch is slated for 7:15. Join us on the Pre-Game Dash starting at 7:00.

-Mike

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