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Barons, BayBears pace SL South All-Star picks06/30/2009 2:22 PM ET
By Bailey Stephens / MiLB.com
Birmingham's first-half championship obviously made a strong impression as the Southern League's South Division All-Star roster was full of Barons.
Including the five players elected to the team that will be unable to participate because of recent promotion or selection to the All-Star Futures Game, 11 Barons were selected to the roster and six will participate in the contest to be held in their home park July 13.
The Barons who lead the league in team batting (.273) and team pitching (3.23) contribute some of the league's strongest players to the squad. League home run leader David Cook (.253-15-53) will anchor a lineup that also includes two other Barons, CJ Retherford (.283-6-41) and Stefan Gartrell (.279-13-53). Gartrell and Cook currently share the league lead in RBIs. Retherford was the only unanimous selection to the squad.
On the mound for the Barons will be starter John Ely (6-1, 3.36), reliever Jhonny Nunez(3-0, 2.23) and closer Fernando Hernandez (2-3, 1.63).
Joining the trio of Barons on the pitching staff will be Mississippi pitcher Kyle Cofield (5-2, 3.08), who ranks among the league leaders in ERA. Cofield's teammates Matt Young (.275-2-19) and J.C. Boscan (.250-2-15) will join him in Birmingham.
Jacksonville, who has pulled ahead to an early second-half lead, will contribute six players, including another trio of pitchers. Kasey Olenberger (7-1, 1.41), Matt Peterson (1-2, 3.68) and Graham Taylor (4-5, 3.56) will represent the Suns, who have the second-lowest team ERA (3.33). Peterson currently leads the league in saves with 18.
Joining their Suns teammates on the South squad will be catcher Brad Davis (,230-6-28), outfielder Lorenzo Scott (.285-6-33) and infielder Chris De La Cruz (.270-1-15).
The strength of the BayBears' lineup, which ranks second in the league at .263, reflects their selections as Mobile will provide five members of their explosive offense to the Southern cause. Outfielder Cyle Hankerd (.316-4-43), whose batting average is good for fourth in the league, will be joined by teammates Sean Coughlin (.300-11-38), Ricardo Sosa (.267-7-35), Pedro Ciriaco (.262-1-23) and Chris Rahl (.296-4-28).
Although this year's roster does feature some of the league's top talent, there are more than a few players that were selected to participate but are unavailable because they were either promoted to a higher level or selected to the All-Star Futures Game, which takes place the day before in St. Louis. In the South Division alone, 10 players fell into this category, including many league leaders and top prospects.
Notably, Montgomery's Desmond Jennings (.323-6-35), the league's leader in a number of offensive categories -- including hits, triples, stolen bases -- will be unable to participate because he'll be playing in the Futures Game. His former teammate Rhyne Hughes was also named to the SL's team but has been promoted to Triple-A.
Two players from Birmingham were also elected to play in the Futures game and thus cannot participate in the SL All-Star game, including catcher Tyler Flowers (.292-11-40) and third baseman Dayan Vicideo (.276-6-43). Lucas Harrell, Brandon Allen and Brian Omogrosso were also selected to the SL All-Star roster but have since been promoted to Triple-A.
Mobile's Jarrod Parker (5-3, 2.36), the 2007 first-round selection of the Diamondbacks, was also elected to the All-Star squad and the Futures game. Parkers' Bay Bears teammate Orlando Mercado was also selected but will be unable to participate because of promotion.
The All-Star contest between the North Division and the South will be played at Regions Park in Birmingham. Starting rosters are scheduled to be announced July 1 (North) and 2 (South).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.