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Arms vs. bats: MWL All-Stars revealed06/05/2009 4:09 PM ET
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
All-Star Games typically pit the best against the best. But rarely is it the case that a game features a stockpile of the league's best pitchers on one team against another team with many of the league's best hitters. That scenario came to fruition today as the Midwest League released their All-Star Game rosters. The coincidental divide, which will take place on June 23, will pit many of the league's best pitchers (playing for the Western Division) against many of the league's most feared hitters (Eastern Division).
The Western team is highlighted by a fierce pitching staff that features four of the league's toughest pitchers -- Dan Meadows (8-1, 3.62), Kenny Smalley (5-1, 1.69) , Brett Lorin (4-2, 2.06) and Tyler Chatwood (3-2, 1.94). Chatwood and Lorin, both early-round Draft picks by their respective clubs will be joined on the Western pitching staff by Aaron Pribanic (4-2, 2.60), who was a third-round selection by the Mariners in 2008.
Cedar Rapids (33-20), currently on a 13-game winning streak, will contribute six players to the All-Star roster, four of whom are pitchers. In addition to Chatwood, the Kernels will send lights-out reliever Mike Kohn (4-0, 0.94) to the game. Kane County (33-20), tied with Cedar Rapids for first place in the West, will send seven starters to the contest.
The Eastern team will counter with some of the league's biggest bats, including highly touted Cubs prospect Josh Vitters (.348-13-34). The 2007 No. 3 overall Draft pick, Vitters will get the start at third base for the Eastern squad in his first full Class A season.
Joining Vitters will be league home run leader Kyle Russell (.289-15-43) of Great Lakes. Russell is also tied for first in the league in RBIs. Russell's teammate and stolen base leader (29), Dee Gordon (.290-1-15), will get the start at shortstop for the East.
Serving as the DH for the Eastern squad, Peoria's Josh Harrison will bring his .349 batting average, which ranks second in the league, to the starting spot.
Not surprisingly, the three teams who lead the league in batting average: West Michigan (.274) , Peoria (.270) and Great Lakes (.263) all operate in the Eastern Division. Great Lakes led the Eastern Division with a franchise-high seven players named to the squad, taking up three of the five infield spots.
The divide between offense and defense is not absolute, however as Quad Cities catcher Charlie Cutler, who leads the league with a .348 batting average, will start for the pitching-heavy West. In addition, Dayton's Matt Fairel (4-2, 2.20), who owns the league's third-lowest ERA, will suit up for the hard-hitting East.
The Midsummer Classsic will be held at Alliant Energy Field, home of the LumberKings. Directing the Western Division will be LumberKings coaches led by manager Scott Steinmann. Heading up the Eastern Division will be South Bend coaches including manager Mark Haley.
Starting pitchers have yet to be named for the game but Fairel, Smalley and Loria are all distinct possibilities for their respective sides.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.