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Yankees boast six All-Stars06/01/2007 8:01 PM ET
By Lisa Winston / MLB.com
If there had been any question as to whether the Class A Advanced Florida State League was "loaded" this year, a glance at the initial list of players for the All-Star Game puts that debate to rest in a hurry.
The 2007 Minor League All-Star season kicks off June 16 with a pair of star-studded rosters at the 46th annual Florida State League All-Star Game at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona.
Imagine a West Division outfield that features Detroit Tigers phenom Cameron Maybin and Cincinnati Reds blue chipper Jay Bruce, both 2005 first-round picks out of high school, playing alongside each other.
Picture an East Division pitching staff that can trot out Will Inman (Brewers), Wade Davis and Jacob McGee (both of the Devil Rays) for an inning apiece.
Those are just a few of the top prospects who have been selected to participate in the game, selections that are made on the basis of players' showing on the field in the first few months of the season rather than on "prospect status" alone.
Other recent first-rounders who earned spots in the game are Tampa ace Ian Kennedy, the Yankees' top pick in 2006; Palm Beach Cardinals pitcher Adam Ottavino; and Chicago Cubs outfield prospect Tyler Colvin, who will be representing the hometown Daytona club.
Colvin, taken by the Cubs with the 13th overall pick last year out of Clemson, was one of five members of the host team to earn spots on the East Division squad. In fact, three of the four East outfielders will be wearing the Cubbies' uniform: Colvin, Jesus Valdez and Chris Amador. Infielder Matt Matulia and pitcher Mitch Atkins join the host team's All-Star quintet.
Colvin, who was hitting .299 with a league-leading 39 RBIs, found out he'd made the team when Daytona hitting coach Richie Zisk shook his hand to congratulate him.
"I'm pretty excited about it because it shows that my hustle and how I'm helping the team out was good enough to get me selected to the All-Star team," said Colvin.
Of the 12 teams in the league, the most well-represented on the initial set of 23-man All-Star rosters was Tampa, with six players on the West squad.
Kennedy was no surprise at the top of the pitching list, as he leads the league with a 1.29 ERA and has 72 strikeouts over 63 innings while scattering 39 hits. He is one of three Yankees pitchers on the squad, joining Eric Wordekemper (1.35 ERA, 12 saves) and Daniel McCutchen (4-0, 2.00 ERA).
Also representing Tampa will be catcher Francisco Cervelli, whose .321 average ranks third in the league. The Tampa double-play combo of switch-hitting shortstop Reegie Corona (.277, 14 steals) and second baseman Kevin Russo (.278, nine steals) rounds out the Yankees' contingent.
Four other teams -- the Palm Beach Cardinals, Vero Beach Devil Rays, Sarasota Reds and Clearwater Threshers (Phillies) -- joined Daytona with five players on the squad.
On the East Division staff, several pitchers could make a case for the starting nod, but Manatees ace Inman would have to be the heavy favorite. Coming off of a 10-2 record and a 1.71 ERA last year at Class A West Virginia, the 20-year-old has been trading off with fellow Brewers prospect Yovani Gallardo of Triple-A Nashville for the Minor League strikeout lead. And Inman is 4-2 with a 1.33 ERA and 84 strikeouts against only 18 walks in 67 2/3 innings.
The Vero Beach duo of the right-handed Davis and left-handed McGee has been living up to billing as well, with Davis pitching a no-hitter earlier this season and boasting a 1.95 ERA vs. McGee's 1.97 mark.
Ottavino has a 3.31 ERA over his first 11 starts, with 56 strikeouts in 47 innings.
Bruce is hitting a torrid .322, second in the league, with 10 homers, 35 RBIs and a .590 slugging percentage, while Maybin wasn't far behind at .311 with six homers, 25 RBIs and 16 steals.
While the other 11 teams in the Advanced Class A league play in stadiums that host Major League clubs during Spring Training and possessing all the incumbent bells and whistles, Jackie Robinson Ballpark is the lone exception.
The park opened back in 1914 as Daytona City Island Ballpark and a few years later became a charter member of the Class D Florida State League. In 1946, it was the first park to host an integrated professional baseball game when Robinson and the Montreal Royals, the Brooklyn Dodgers' Triple-A farm team, played a Spring Training game on March 17.
Colvin, among others, is very much looking forward to the opportunity to help "host" the All-Star Game as it returns to Daytona for the first time since 1983.
"This park gives you a homey feeling, you feel comfortable when you're here and playing," he said. "The people here really enjoy the team and enjoy the ballpark and I'm glad we're playing it here."
All-Star festivities will kick off on June 15 with a Home Run Derby and skills competition.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.