Pirates' Skenes an All-Star just 8 weeks after debut, and 7 Phillies are picked for July 16 game

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes was picked for the All-Star Game on Sunday just eight weeks after his debut, and the major league-leading Philadelphia Phillies had a big league-high seven selections.

Skenes, who turned 22 in May, was selected by the Pirates as the top pick in last year’s amateur draft, two days before the All-Star Game in Seattle. He made his first big league start on May 11 and is 5-0 with a 2.12 ERA in 10 starts and 78 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings. He has thrown 74 pitches of 100 mph or more.

Skenes’ final outing before the All-Star break is likely to be midweek, so he could be a possibility to start for the National League.

“That’d be cool. No expectations,” he said. “I don’t know who gets to decide that kind of thing, but that’d definitely be cool."

Chicago Cubs pitcher Shota Imanaga joined Skenes and San Diego outfielder Jackson Merrill as the only rookie All-Stars for the July 16 game at Arlington, Texas.

Philadelphia pitchers Zack Wheeler, Ranger Suárez, Jeff Hoffman and Matt Strahm were picked to join three starting Phillies position players: first baseman Bryce Harper, shortstop Trea Turner and third baseman Alec Bohm.

Philadelphia has seven All-Stars for the first time, though Harper’s availability depends on when he returns from a hamstring strain that has sidelined him since June 27. Wheeler is lined up to pitch for the Phillies next weekend and the team told Major League Baseball he won't be available for the All-Star Game.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have six All-Stars after pitcher Tyler Glasnow, catcher Will Smith, first baseman Freddie Freeman, outfielder Teoscar Hernández and injured shortstop Mookie Betts joined starting DH Shohei Ohtani on the NL roster.

Cleveland topped the AL with five after first baseman Josh Naylor, closer Emmanuel Clase and designated hitter David Fry joined a pair of starters: third baseman José Ramírez and outfielder Steven Kwan. San Diego also had five.

Atlanta pitcher Chris Sale earned his eighth All-Star selection, the first for the 36-year-old left-hander since seven straight from 2012-18. The gap is the longest for an All-Star since Albert Pujols earned his 11th trip for his final season in 2022, his first since 2015.

“It is definitely satisfying. I appreciate it for sure,” said Sale, acquired by Braves from Boston in December. “They took a chance and I’m happy to be able to do this for them.”

Texas closer Kirby Yates at 37 is the oldest All-Star and will be joined by second baseman Marcus Semien of the host World Series champion Rangers.

Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez was picked for the ninth time, matching Houston second baseman Jose Altuve for the most among the 67 players on this year’s rosters.

Merrill at 21 is the youngest All-Star and among 32 first-time picks.

Skenes is scheduled to have one more start for Pittsburgh, and his 11 games put him on track to have the fewest for player in an All-Star Game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Detroit’s Mark Fidrych in 1976, the Dodgers’ Hideo Nomo in 1995 and Florida’s Dontrelle Willis in 2003 each had 13. (While Boston’s Don Schwall had 11 at the time of the first All-Star Game in 1961, he did not appear, and he had 15 when he pitched three innings three weeks later in that year’s second All-Star Game.)

San Diego outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr., elected by fans to start, will miss the game because of a stress reaction in his right thigh bone. Betts, voted in by players for his eighth straight All-Star appearance, has been out since breaking his left hand on June 16.

Cincinnati's 22-year-old speedster, Elly De La Cruz, got Betts’ spot after finishing second to him on the player ballot. Skenes and San Francisco outfielder Heliot Ramos were picked by MLB to replace Wheeler and Tatis.

Starting pitchers Corbin Burnes of Baltimore, Garrett Crochet of the Chicago White Sox, Tanner Houck of Boston, Seth Lugo of Kansas City and Tarik Skubal of Detroit were voted to the AL staff by players, managers and coaches along with Clase, Yates and Mason Miller of Oakland.

AL reserves picked by players included Fry, Naylor, Perez, Semien, shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. of Kansas City, third baseman Rafael Devers of Boston and outfielders Jarren Duran of Boston, Riley Greene of Detroit and Kyle Tucker of Houston.

MLB used four of its AL picks on players whose teams weren’t already represented: pitchers Tyler Anderson of the Los Angeles Angels and Logan Gilbert of Seattle, shortstop Carlos Correa of Minnesota and third baseman Isaac Paredes of Tampa Bay. Pitchers Clay Holmes of the New York Yankees and Cole Ragans of Kansas City also were selected.

Glasnow, Sale, Ranger Suárez and Wheeler were voted to the NL staff along with fellow starter Reynaldo López of Atlanta, while Hoffman, Strahm and Robert Suarez of San Diego won bullpen balloting.

NL reserves voted by players were Betts, Freeman, Hernández, Merrill, Smith, second baseman Luis Arraez of San Diego, third baseman Ryan McMahon of Colorado, outfielder Bryan Reynolds of Pittsburgh and designated hitter Marcell Ozuna of Atlanta.

All six of MLB’s NL selections were for players on teams still without All-Stars: pitchers Ryan Helsley of St. Louis, Imanaga, Tanner Scott of Miami and Logan Webb of San Francisco, along with shortstop CJ Abrams of Washington and first baseman Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, also an MLB pick last year.

Notable players left off include Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle, second baseman Jordan Westburg, who finished second in the final round of fan balloting, and outfielder Anthony Santander, fourth in fan voting.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto and DH Kyle Schwarber, both of Philadelphia, and San Diego third baseman Manny Machado were omitted despite finishing second in the last stage of the fan balloting. Schwarber has a strained groin.

De La Cruz was prepping for the All-Star trip in his own manner.

“I’m learning Japanese to speak to Ohtani,” he said through a translator.

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AP Sports Writer Mitch Stacy and AP freelance writers Wes Crosby and Bill Trocchi contributed to this report.

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