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Five Spokane Indians players selected to Northwest League All-Star team

UPDATED: Wed., July 31, 2019, 7:10 p.m.

The Spokane Indians won the first-half title of the North Division and have been in first place or tied almost every day of the Northwest League season.

It only stands to reason they would be rewarded with a bunch of All-Stars.

Five Indians have been selected to represent the Northwest League in the NWL-Pioneer League All-Star Game at Memorial Stadium in Boise on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Blaine Crim was selected to start as designated hitter. Catcher David Garcia, reliever Daniel Robert, outfielder Kellen Strahm and starter Ricky Vanasco were chosen as reserves in the midseason classic.

This is the second consecutive season that the Indians have had five All-Star representatives. The five picks are tied with the Hillsboro Hops for the most from a single team.

Crim has been raking since joining the Indians’ roster on June 21. He ranks second in the league with a .347 batting average and third in slugging percentage (.562) and on-base percentage (.400).

In his last 18 games, Crim is hitting .406 and has hit three home runs and 10 doubles with 11 RBIs. The 2019 19th-round pick out of Mississippi College was named the NWL player of the week for July 15-21.

Garcia is the Indians’ home run leader this season with five, ranking ninth in the league. The Venezuelan is second on the team in slugging percentage (.467). The catcher has continued to develop behind the plate, throwing out 15 of 40 stolen-base attempts – including three last Saturday. He is the Texas Rangers’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB.com.

Robert has been Spokane’s best arm out of the bullpen. He is 2-0 with two saves and a 0.42 ERA in 21 2/3 innings, with 31 strikeouts against four walks. The former Auburn Tigers two-way star is on a streak of 19 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.

Strahm leads the Indians with eight stolen bases, 24 runs and 17 walks despite joining the team two weeks into the season. The 2019 fifth-round pick has been in the top four batters of Spokane’s lineup in every game he’s played, including 20 games leading off. The outfielder had a 10-game hitting streak and 12-game on-base streak in July, the longest by an Indians player this season.

Vanasco has climbed up the Rangers’ prospects lists, reaching No. 23 in the midseason update by MLB.com. The right-hander is 3-1 in seven starts and sports a 2.27 ERA. He ranks second in the NWL with 48 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. His best start of the season came against Hillsboro on July 5, when the 2018 15th-round pick struck out a career-high 10 and allowed one hit over six scoreless innings.

The All-Star Game marks the fifth straight season that the NWL and Pioneer League have squared off. The first matchup occurred in Spokane in 2015, and the NWL leads the all-time series 3-1. The Pioneer earned its first win last season with a 13-10 decision in Grand Junction, Colorado.

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