NL All-Star balloting update: Melky in, Braun out

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Just like in Monday’s AL balloting update, one spot in the National League projected All-Star lineup changed hands this week. Melky Cabrera moved ahead of Ryan Braun into third place in the outfield.

Cabrera is deserving based on his performance this season, but one can’t help but notice that Giants fans have been awfully generous in voting for their favorites to date. Angel Pagan ranks ahead of Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gonzalez in the outfield, Brandon Belt is fourth at first base and even Brandon Crawford is fifth at shortstop.

CATCHER
Buster Posey, Giants: 2,445,005
Yadier Molina, Cardinals: 2,291,567
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies: 1,756,018

FIRST BASE
Joey Votto, Reds: 3,151,032
Freddie Freeman, Braves: 1,193,455
Lance Berkman, Cardinals: 1,159,418

SECOND BASE
Dan Uggla, Braves: 2,054,920
Brandon Phillips, Reds: 1,272,389
Jose Altuve, Astros: 1,074,993

THIRD BASE
David Wright, Mets: 1,977,388
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: 1,612,497
Chipper Jones, Braves: 1,547,221

SHORTSTOP
Rafael Furcal, Cardinals: 1,741,360
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: 1,647,235
Starlin Castro, Cubs: 1,006,333

OUTFIELD
Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 3,322,009
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals: 2,652,980
Melky Cabrera, Giants: 2,144,107
Ryan Braun, Brewers: 2,118,925
Andre Ethier, Dodgers: 1,517,218
Matt Holliday, Cardinals: 1,374,004
Hunter Pence, Phillies: 1,234,428
Michael Bourn, Braves: 1,201,215
Angel Pagan, Giants: 1,158,500

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.