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Edwin Rios Headlines Tulsa’s Nine All-Star Drillers

Photos by Tony Capobianco

The Tulsa Drillers have sent nine of their own to the Texas League All-Star Game this season. Leading the way is Los Angeles Dodgers No. 21 prospect Edwin Rios, who is among the Texas League leaders in batting average, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage.

“I’ve just been enjoying it,” Rios told MiLB.com, “soaking it all in, and I’m trying to keep going.”

At Florida International, Rios ranked fourth in NCAA Division I in 2015 with 18 homers, after hitting just two the previous year. Finding his power got Rios drafted by the Dodgers in the sixth round that June. Since then, he’s completed his first full season in 2016 with 27 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .301 batting average at three different levels, starting at Single-A Great Lakes and ending at Double-A Tulsa.

“It was a really fun year,” Rios said, reflecting on receiving the Branch Rickey Award as the organization’s top Minor Leaguer last year.

Rios’ biggest source of motivation is his father, who played professional baseball in Puerto Rico but ended it early when the family moved to Florida so that his kids can have a better education.

“He left in his prime, because he said he wanted a better education for us,” Rios said. “I don’t want what he did for us to go to waste.”

He is also Rios’ greatest teacher.

“He seems to see it all,” Rios said. “If I have a bad game, it’s ‘you’re doing this.’ It’s unbelievable what he sees. I just listen to him because he’s one of the reasons I’m here now.”

With just a few weeks to go before the All-Star Game, Rios is almost half way to hitting 30 home runs on the season. While it is a number that doesn’t dwell on his mind, it is a goal for him to accomplish this season.

“I set my standards high,” Rios said. “This year, I would love 30. It’s something I don’t really think about. I set a goal and if it happens, great. If not, I just want to keep working harder, enjoy the game and do what I can.”

Along with Rios, Michael Ahmed was also voted into the North Team starting lineup as the designated hitter. Ahmed earned his Texas League All-Star status by hitting a .292/.367/.509 slash line. He is looking to build on a breakout season last year in the California League in which he hit 19 home runs and 52 RBIs for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.

Paul Hoenecke, Matt Beaty, Tim Locastro, Kyle Garlick round out the North bench. Locastro leads the Drillers in stolen bases and runs scored. Pitchers Scott BarlowCorey Copping and Walker Buehler made the North pitching staff. Buehler is the Dodgers’ No. 2 pitching prospect and started the season with the Quakes and allowed only two earned runs in five starts.

Outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo didn’t make the All-Star team, but showed on Wednesday why he can be an All-Star with a three homer night against the Springfield Cardinals.

“This is the first time I’ve ever homered three times in one game, and the feeling was just incredible,” Scavuzzo told MiLB.com. “After I hit the first one, I knew it was going to be a good day. It was an early game and I felt like my body was moving the way I wanted it to. I clipped the first one pretty good. The wind was blowing out a little bit, and it gave me even more confidence to keep trying to put some more out.”

Scavuzzo played through injuries last season and has worked with Drillers hitting coach Terrmel Sledge to improve his mechanics to possibly prompt a strong second half of the season. The Drillers brought out a similar handful to the All-Star Game last year, and, while most of them are now with the Oklahoma City Dodgers, Tulsa still has the bats to compete this season.

These guys can still hit,” Scavuzzo said. “We’re a very streaky team, it seems like when we’re winning or losing, they come in bunches.”

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