Posted by Mack Ade at 4:00 PM
Savannah, Ga.- Savannah Sand Gnats star pitchers John Gant and Akeel Morris have both been named to the 2014 Annual South Atlantic League All-Star Team along with manager Luis Rojas and pitching coach Marc Valdes. Eric Krupa, President of the South Atlantic League, announced the selection of the 2014 Annual All-Star Team .
The ballot calls for just one right handed starter, and John Gant of the Gnats has earned the spot. Gant’s campaign includes a 10-5 record to go with 111 strikeouts and 2 complete games. He leads the league in shutouts (2) and ranks third in batting average against (.233) and ERA (2.59). In July, he was nominated SAL Pitcher of the Week twice when he flirted with a no hitter and then nearly recorded a perfect game a week later. The Savannah, Ga., native was also nominated to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game in June.
The ballot also includes just one spot for relief pitcher and the Sand Gnats closer Akeel Morris was able to win out over any other reliever. Morris has been incredible through 40 appearances, going 4-1 with a shiny 0.64 ERA and 88 strikeouts. The righty was honored as SAL Pitcher of the Week back in April and was named to the All-Star game in June. The St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, native has recorded 15 saves in 16 opportunities to lead the league.
The annual team is headed by manager Luis Rojas who led Savannah to the first half championship for the second season in a row. Rojas helped the Gnats rack up the most wins and highest percentage in the league going 86-48 thus far. Last season, Rojas brought Savannah their first SAL title in 17 years. Rojas is in his fourth year as manager of the Gnats and hails from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Pitching coach Marc Valdes join Rojas as an all-star selection, leading the young Savannah pitchers to the league’s best ERA (3.04), the most shutouts (16), the most complete games (11), and the least home runs surrendered (54). Valdes, a Tampa, Fla., native, spent 2013 with the short-season Brooklyn Cyclones.
The All-Star Team was voted on by the 14 South Atlantic League Team’s Field Managers, General Managers, Sports Writers and Broadcasters for a total of 56 votes. The team does not take the field together as it does in the mid-season all-star game.