The Triple-A All Star Game is upon us. Each year, the International League and the Pacific Coast League meet in a game filled with the future stars of baseball. A lot of future major leaguers, including Derek Jeter, Bronson Arroyo, Dan Haren, and Joey Votto, have played in the game. Here are my selections for the International League All Star Team. Please note that all stats are current going into Friday’s games.
C – Ryan Lavarnway – Pawtucket Red Sox – Lavarnway has been steady all year and has caught fire in June. The 24 year-old catcher from Burbank, CA is hitting .306/.397/.481 with seven homers and 32 RBIs. His 15 doubles are tied for sixth in the league. Lavarnway has been very durable for the Paw Sox, catching in 53 of the team’s 74 games. Lavarnway is one of the offensive leaders for a team that holds the best record in the league at 45-29.
1B – Ernesto Mejia – Gwinnett Braves – Mejia has been a force in Gwinnett’s lineup all season, belting out a league-high 82 hits that include 13 homers, 18 doubles, and one triple. His 49 RBIs are third in the league and his .536 slugging percentage is seventh. After a slow start in April, Mejia is hitting .333 in May and June combined for an overall average of .312. That average is the best on his team. He also leads his team in homers, doubles, and RBIs.
2B – Tyler Kuhn – Charlotte Knights – Louisville native Kuhn is in his first full season in Triple-A and is not disappointing. He has a slash line of .278/.314/.412 in 63 games with the Charlotte Knights. Although his numbers have dropped from last year when he made his Triple-A debut late in the season, Kuhn has made up for it with his glove, committing just four errors while rotating between second, third, and the outfield for the Knights. The Trinity High School alum has a career fielding percentage of 97.3%.
3B – Carlos Rivero – Syracuse Chiefs – Rivero, in a way, fell into this spot. He’s merely the best third baseman of those qualified to be selected to the All Star Game. In 65 games, Rivero is hitting .278/.303/.374 with two home runs and 26 RBIs. The Venezuela native is in his second season in Triple-A and his first full season at the highest level in the minors. One thing Rivero needs to work on to make it to the next level is fielding. The 24 year-old has a career fielding percentage of 94.5%.
SS – Pedro Ciriaco – Pawtucket Red Sox – Ciriaco has pushed himself to the forefront this season by outhitting Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias. Ciriaco is hitting .304/.322/.406 with four homers and 19 RBIs compared to Iglesias’ .269/.317/.317. Ciriaco, who played with the Pittsburgh Pirates in parts of 2010 and 2011, looks able to help the big league club but may not get his chance as he is not on the 40-man roster. The speedy Dominican has swiped ten bags this season.
OF – Corey Brown – Syracuse Chiefs – Corey Brown, put simply, has been mashing all season. In 67 games this season, he already has more homers (16) and RBIs (42) than he did in 124 games last season. Brown is just 18 hits shy of his total from last year. Brown’s line of .292/.384/.576 has him off to his best start since the 2010 season. He is ninth in on-base percentage and third in slugging percentage in the league. He leads his team in average, on-base, slugging, home runs, triples, RBIs, stolen bases, walks, and is third in doubles. Brown is having an amazing season and will likely be with the Nationals before long.
OF – Greg Golson – Charlotte Knights – a former first round pick by the Phillies in 2004, Golson is having a stellar 2012 campaign with Charlotte. The Texas native is hitting .278/.312/.420 with three homers and 35 RBIs. He is tied for the league lead in hits (82) and doubles (21), is tied for third in triples (6) and is also tied for third in stolen bases (16). Golson is one of the main reasons the Knights are 43-32 and will likely enter the All Star Break in first place in the South Division.
OF – Matt Carson – Rochester Red Wings – Carson has been the one constant good this season for a Rochester club that has struggled. Carson is hitting .288/.366/.447 with five homers and 26 RBIs. The California native is tied for fifth in the IL with seventeen doubles and has also legged out a pair of triples. Carson is looking to make it back to the big leagues, this time with Minnesota. He spent parts of the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Oakland Athletics. In 46 combined games with the A’s, he hit .200 with five home runs and 14 RBIs.
DH – Brad Eldred – Toledo Mud Hens – Without a doubt, Brad Eldred would be the favorite to win the International League Most Valuable Player award if he were still in a Mud Hen uniform. After a scorching hot April in which he hit 13 homers in just 20 games while hitting .388, Eldred cooled off a little bit. Nevertheless, you can’t argue the numbers. In 63 games with the Hens, Eldred hit .305/.374/.695 with 24 homers, 65 RBIs, and 18 doubles. His home run total, RBI total and slugging percentage all lead the league. Recently, though, at his request, the Detroit Tigers released Eldred so he could sign with Hiroshima of Japan’s Central League. Eldred still gets the nod as an All Star because that’s exactly what he was this season with Toledo.
SP – Justin Germano – Pawtucket Red Sox – Germano has been outstanding for the Paw Sox this season. He is 8-3 with a 2.40 ERA. In 90 innings pitched, Germano has only been charged with 24 earned runs. He has struck out 56 and walked just 12. He tossed a complete game against Gwinnett June 10, giving up one run on three hits. Speaking of June, the 29 year-old right hander is 3-0 in June with a 1.30 ERA.
RP – Anthony Slama – Rochester Red Wings – In a play on words, Anthony Slama has slammed the door shut on opponents this season. Out of San Diego University, the 6’3” right hander has given up just one earned run in 22-2/3 innings of work. He has nine saves and has struck out 37 batters. Unfortunately, Slama may not be able to pitch in the All Star Game as he is currently on the disabled list.
Honorable Mentions (a.k.a. Close But No Cigar List)
C – Dioner Navarro – Louisville Bats
1B –Leslie Anderson – Durham Bulls
2B – Jordy Mercer – Indianapolis Indians
3B – Lonnie Chisenhall – Columbus Clippers
SS – Kristopher Negron – Louisville Bats
OF – Jordan Danks – Charlotte Knights
DH – Steve Pearce – Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
SP – Brandon Duckworth – Pawtucket Red Sox
RP – Doug Slaten – Indianapolis Indians
And there you have it; my ballot for the 2012 International League All Star Team. The Triple-A All Star Game will be held Wednesday July 11 at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo, NY.
Photo Credit: sportslogos.net