A. McCutchen, Meek having All-Star years

A. McCutchen, Meek having All-Star years

OAKLAND -- With the All-Star Game about two weeks away, players and coaches across the league turned in their ballots on Sunday.

Toting a .288 average and a team-high 10 home runs and 46 RBIs entering Sunday, first baseman Garrett Jones appears to be the most traditional candidate for an All-Star nod.

But when third-base coach Tony Beasley was asked who he thought should represent Pittsburgh at the Midsummer Classic, he offered up two different possibilities: outfielder Andrew McCutchen and reliever Evan Meek.

McCutchen, 23, leads the team with his .300 average, 35 walks and 19 stolen bases, which is the second-highest total in the National League. He also had seven home runs and 23 RBIs heading into Sunday's action, while his 48 runs scored are eighth-best in the NL.

Selected 11th overall by the Pirates in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, McCutchen was long considered one of baseball's best prospects before his Major League debut on June 4, 2009.

Meek, meanwhile, has been a steady presence for the Pirates' pitching staff, which features the second-highest ERA (5.38) in the NL. After Meek gave up a two runs at Texas on Thursday, his ERA rose from 0.66 to 1.07. Still, the 27-year-old right-hander has the fourth-best ERA for an NL reliever with at least 25 innings pitched.

Beasley said Meek's role has been magnified, given he's usually used in tight-game situations.

"He's always in high-pressure situations and he's been pretty dominant all year getting the job done," Beasley said. "With our young guys that are really getting the job done, we feel good if we have a lead late in the ballgame. We really feel good about the bullpen in those situations and they've been good with preserving leads."