NC State’s previous trip to the College World Series — and the last time the Wolfpack were eliminated from college baseball’s championship on the field in Omaha — came in 2013. The Wolfpack were led by one of the best pitchers in the college game in left-hander Carlos Rodon, and sparkplug infielder Trea Turner.
Eight years and one month later, Rodon and Turner will again share space on one of baseball’s biggest stages. Now in the pros, the duo will be in opposite dugouts at the MLB All-Star Game next week.
Rodon was selected to his first career All-Star team for going 6-3 with a 2.37 ERA for the White Sox so far this season. He was selected by his MLB colleagues in the player vote and will be headed to the midsummer classic in Denver, Colorado.
Rodon, who played in high school in Holly Springs before spending three years with the Wolfpack, also was a fixture in the state of North Carolina at the start of his pro career. He spent part of the 2014 season with the Winston-Salem Dash and returned in 2017. Rodon played for the Charlotte Knights each season from 2014-18. He also made a stop in Kannapolis in 2018. All told, 18 of Rodon’s 20 career minor league starts came for teams in the state.
Turner was also selected for his first All-Star appearance in the player vote after hitting .321 with 15 home runs and a National League-leading 18 stolen bases for Washington in the first half.
They may not be as memorable as Rodon and Turner’s years with the Wolfpack, but 13 other 2021 All-Stars saw their path to Denver this season lead through North Carolina at some point in their career.
Only one other All-Star went to a North Carolina college — Baltimore’s Cedric Mullins, who was selected by the players for his first appearance. He spent 2013 and 2014 in junior college at Louisburg College then played for Campbell in 2015.
The other 12 All-Stars all played for minor league teams in the state, led by the American League’s manager. Tampa’s Kevin Cash, who got the job heading the All-Star team by leading the Rays to the World Series last year, played a total of 121 games for the Durham Bulls in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
He won’t be the only former Bull representing Durham next Tuesday night. Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, selected by MLB for his first All-Star appearance, went 0-1 for the Bulls in 2018.
San Diego’s Jake Cronenworth, chosen by the players for his All-Star debut, played for the Bulls in 2018 and 2019, hitting .334 with 10 home runs for Durham in 2019 while also starting a few games on the mound as a two-way player.
Two current Bulls will also get All-Star weekend started in the MLB Futures Game, which matches the game’s top prospects. Infielder/outfielder Vidal Brujan and pitcher Shane Baz will both participate in the game.
The Carolina Mudcats also have two alumni in the All-Star Game. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, selected by the players for his seventh appearance in the game, went 1-1 in five games for the Muddies in 2011. Brewers starter Corbin Burnes went 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA for Carolina in 2017.
Like Rodon, two other All-Stars played for the wide variety of White Sox minor league franchises in the state. Toronto’s Marcus Semien, voted a starter by the fans for his first All-Star selection, played 282 of his 395 career minor league games for North Carolina teams, including Kannapolis in 2011, Winston-Salem in 2012 and Charlotte in 2013 and ’14.
Arizona’s Eduardo Escobar, selected by MLB for his first All-Star trip, played 412 of his 548 career minor league games for teams in the state, including Kannapolis in 2008 and 2009, Winston-Salem in 2010 and Charlotte in 2011.
Charlotte and Winston-Salem each contributed a player to the Futures Game, as well. Jake Burger was selected as an infielder, although he’s since been called up to Chicago from the Knights. Dash outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes was also chosen.
Texas outfielder Joey Gallo was chosen by MLB for his second appearance. He played in 106 games for Hickory in 2013.
A current Crawdad, pitcher Cole Ragans, was chosen for this year’s Futures Game.
A pair of former Greensboro Grasshoppers are All-Stars. Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto was picked by the players for his third trip. He played 96 games for the Hoppers, hitting 12 home runs in 2011. Marlins pitcher Trevor Rogers, chosen by MLB to make his All-Star debut, pitched in 17 games for Greensboro in 2018.
Pitcher Quinn Priester, a current Hopper, will appear in the Futures Game.
The Asheville Tourists helped produce an All-Star — Cardinals infielder Nolan Arenado was voted in by fans to start for the fourth time, making him a six-time All-Star, and played for Asheville in 2010, hitting .308 with 12 homers in 92 games.
The final star with North Carolina ties comes from a team that is no longer with us. Royals catcher Salvador Perez, a seven-time All-Star, was voted by fans to start for the fourth time. He hit .325 for the Burlington Royals in 2008.