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Buchholz, Diaz highlight EL All-Stars07/02/2007 5:12 PM ET
By Jeff Birnbaum / MLB.com
There will be plenty of hometown talent to root for, regardless of fans' favorite Eastern League teams, at this year's All-Star Game on July 11 at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Conn.
The Northern Division and Southern Division have announced their 24-man rosters, and each of the league's 12 teams will be represented by at least three players. Fans had a direct say in who made the teams this year, with a pitcher and a position player from each team voted on by fans online and through text-messaging.
Both rosters include plenty of future stars; eight of the players heading to Norwich are ranked among their respective Minor League system's top-six prospects. Among the All-Stars, perhaps no two farmhands stand out more than Portland pitcher Clay Buchholz and New Hampshire catcher Robinzon Diaz, who will not only suit up for the Northern Division team, but will also appear in the Futures Game, which takes place on Sunday, July 8, at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Along with Buchholz, nine other pitchers fill out the Northern Division roster. The outstanding pitching duo of right-handers Alan Horne and Jeffrey Marquez is a big reason why Trenton leads the league in pitching. Horne is second in ERA (2.31), wins (8), and strikeouts (116). Marquez also has eight wins and an impressive 3.29 ERA. The rest of the pitchers will be Connecticut's Geno Espineli and Alex Hinshaw, New Britain's Timothy Lahey and Jose Mijares, Binghamton's Kevin Mulvey, New Hampshire's Tracy Thorpe, and Portland's Charlie Zink.
Connecticut catcher Steve Holm will split time with Diaz behind the plate. Diaz is hitting .321 for New Hampshire, while Holm boasts a .484 slugging percentage, including seven home runs, 10 doubles and 20 walks.
First baseman Brett Harper (11 home runs) and third baseman Mark Kiger (77 hits) will represent Binghamton in the infield. Portland's Jed Lowrie (seven triples) and New Hampshire's Sergio Santos (14 homers) will likely trade off at shortstop. Both second basemen Eugenio Velez of Connecticut and Luke Hughes of New Britain are All-Stars after leading their teams in batting average. Rob Cosby of New Hampshire (33 RBIs) also made the team as an infielder.
All five Northern outfielders represent different teams, with John Bowker of Connecticut, Matt Carson of Trenton, Jeff Corsaletti of Portland, Aaron Mathews of New Hampshire and Caleb Stewart of Binghamton. Bowker leads the league in hits with 95 and Mathews is tops in average, hitting a blistering .350.
As potent as the Northern team is, the Southern Division All-Stars may be just as lethal. The Akron Aeros, who have the league's best record at 50-31, are represented by a league-high six players, including shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who leads the league in runs scored (61) and is third in hitting with a .338 average.
Altoona sends two dangerous pitchers to the All-Star game that have been vital to the team's 41-38 start. Right-hander Luis Munoz is tied for second in the league with eight wins and posts a respectable 3.36 ERA. Closer Matt Peterson has been stellar all season, leading the league with 17 saves. The rest of the Southern Division pitchers are Collin Balester and Dan Kolb of Harrisburg, Jair Jurrjens and Dallas Trahern of Erie, Randy Newsom and Reid Santos of Akron, Radhames Liz of Bowie, and Matthew Maloney of Reading.
The catchers will be Reading's Jason Hill and Akron's Wyatt Toregas. Hill leads his team with 22 doubles and posts a .291 average.
Reading third baseman Michael Costanzo, who is tied for the league lead in homers (15) is expected to give the Southern Division lineup extra pop. He's joined by teammate Jesus Merchan, who is second in the league in average (.348) and tied with Harrisburg All-Star Josh Whitesell in slugging percentage (.417). The rest of the infield includes Akron's Jordan Brown, Altoona's Steven Pearce and Neil Walker, and Bowie's Oscar Salazar.
Reading's Greg Jacobs leads the Southern Division outfielders in batting, at .321, and is tied for fifth in the league with 84 hits. Brian Barton of Akron, Val Majewski of Bowie and Jackson Melian of Erie complete the lineup.
The Northern Division will be managed by the field staff of the host Connecticut Defenders, and the Southern Division will be managed by the defending division champion Akron Aeros.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.