New talent comes into Major League Baseball every year, which means that there are players whose names appear on the All-Star ballot for the first time every year. And this season is no exception.
They may be touted prospects whose names are widely known. They may have been around for awhile but are now just getting the opportunity to play regularly. They may be international stars who have come to the United States to play against the best talent. They may be under-the-radar newcomers.
It doesn't matter. Each has the opportunity to be voted into the starting lineup of this year's Midsummer Classic at Minnesota's Target Field, as fans can make their choices on the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian. Here's a look at some of the more interesting debut candidates:
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies: He batted .236 in Spring Training and there was some speculation he wouldn't make the Opening Day roster. Blackmon did, had six hits in a game against Arizona on April 4 and now has the second-highest batting average (.359) in baseball, plus a .988 OPS.
Jose Abreu, 1B, White Sox: A year ago, he was still months away from defecting from his native Cuba. Some wondered about the wisdom of giving the 27-year-old a six-year, $68 million deal, despite his huge numbers with the Cuban National team, but Abreu set a Major League record for home runs (10) and RBIs (31) in April. He hit his 12th homer on Sunday.
Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals: When Carlos Beltran departed as a free agent, Allen Craig moved to right field and Adams stepped in at first. The transition has been seamless. Adams is hitting .339 with an .847 OPS.
Evan Gattis, C, Braves: His offensive production last season opened eyes, but Gattis started just 38 games behind All-Star catcher Brian McCann, getting the bulk of his playing time in left and at first and DH. After McCann signed as a free agent with the Yankees, Gattis became the regular receiver and has continued to show his power, with seven home runs and an .816 OPS.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies: After winning a Gold Glove as a rookie in 2013, his bat is starting to live up to expectations as well. Arenado has a 24-game hitting streak going, the second longest in franchise history and the longest in MLB this season.
Yasiel Puig, RF, Dodgers: He didn't even play his first big league game until June 3 last season, but Puig made such a dramatic impact after he arrived that he almost made the All-Star team via the Final Vote with barely a month of service time. He didn't, but this year, fans can to vote him into the starting lineup.
Anthony Rendon, 2B, Nationals: Rendon leads the team in hits, extra-base hits and RBIs, even though he's just 23 years old and in his first full big league season.
Christian Yelich, LF, Marlins: Yelich, the two-time Marlins Minor League Player of the Year is in his first full big league season. He's already had a 17-game hitting streak and ranks among the best National League outfielders in hits, OBP and average.
Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins: Dozier's 26 homers since the start of the 2013 season are second among American League second basemen only to Robinson Cano. And he's scored 31 of the Twins' 149 runs, an amazing 20.8 percent.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox: Bogaerts got national exposure by starting every game of the World Series at third base last October. Now his .394 OBP is tops among all AL shortstops.
Wil Myers: RF, Rays: Myers gained national notice for being the centerpiece of the trade that sent James Shields to the Royals, and he is in his first full big league season. His inside-the-park homer and four RBIs lifted the Rays over the Yankees on Sunday.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Fans this year once again can participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The 2014 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 14.
The 2014 AL and NL All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities. The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less