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New York-Penn League pitchers stand out08/18/2009 6:35 PM ET
By Bill Albright / Special to MLB.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- There is an old adage that pitching can dominate good hitting. The 2009 New York-Penn League season has been proving the point to date.
Just prior to this year's All-Star Game at State College's Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, there were 19 pitchers who had an ERA of 3.00 or less, while the number of hitters batting .300 or better was just 10.
Four of the top pitchers in the league this season have been Staten Island's Adam Warren (4-1, 1.05 ERA), Hudson Valley's Alexander Colome (5-2, 1.95) and the Mahoning Valley duo of Marty Popham (5-1, 2.59) and Clayton Cook (4-2, 2.06).
"I think this is just a good year for pitchers," Warren said. "There are a lot of pitchers in the league this year who just pound the zone, and I think that (pitching ahead) is one of the reasons for the success."
Mahoning Valley is currently leading the Pinckney Division and Popham and Cook are two of the main reasons why.
"Actually, I have just been trying to build off what I did last year," Cook said. "I am just trying to progress as much as I can each year and show signs of improvement. I just take each start one at a time and try to do whatever I can to take care of business in between those opportunities."
"I am just going about my business day-to-day," said Popham. "I just try to keep my head on straight and do the good things a professional needs to do. You can't look at what happened. You just have to keep your focus, go out and pitch every inning by taking every batter one at a time, one pitch at a time."
WILLIAMSPORT TAKING CUTS: Although third in team batting behind Oneonta (.260) and Staten Island (.256), the Williamsport Crosscutters (.253) feature two of the top five hitters in the league in league leader Leandro Castro and Sebastian Valle (fifth). Castro was hitting .348 with 14 doubles, five triples, five home runs and 30 RBls, while Valle was hitting .320 with 14 doubles, five triples, four home runs and 34 RBIs.
TRUEBLOOD TRULY MISSED: Although picked to participate in the game, Sequoyah Trueblood Stonecipher of Jamestown had to miss the event due to a season-ending injury. Stonecipher was named after his native American great-grandfather. According to the Jammers, Stonecipher has already headed to Florida to begin his rehab.
OLD GUARD IN EVIDENCE: Two veterans of the Major Leagues -- former Baltimore Oriole outfielder Al Bumbry and Pittsburgh relief pitcher Kent Tekulve -- were in attendance. Bumbry patrolled the outfield for 14 years as an Oriole, while Tekulve's best seasons came in 1978 and 1979. In the 1979 World Series, "Teke" saved three games, including the series winner over the Orioles, of which Bumbry was an integral part.
THE LONE KEYSTONE COP: Although the game was played in Pennsylvania, only one of the participants was from the Keystone State. Zach Foster, the 49th-round pick in 2008 by Pittsburgh, calls Bradford home. Foster, a right-hander for the host State College Spikes, is 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA in 15 appearances.
"Yes, it definitely makes it a little special to have the opportunity to play in this game," said Foster. "Being from here, having family members coming in definitely makes it a honor for me to represent the National League."
NL WINS HOME RUN DERBY: The National League, led by former Pittsburgh Pirates Sid Bream and John Wehner won the Home Run Derby, 37-23. Staten Island slugger Neil Medchill, who totaled 12 individual points, was the only slugger to hit a home run in the Derby.
THE NEXT GENERATION: -- During his heyday, Bumbry could be seen roaming the outfield for the O's at Memorial Stadium. Some 24 years later, the next generation is on his way. Al's son, Steven, is an outfielder for the Aberdeen Ironbirds of the New York-Penn League. His father acted as the honorary manager of the AL All-Stars on Tuesday.
"It feels great. It really feels great," Al Bumbry said about his son. "I know he has always wanted to play. Fortunately, he had the opportunity to go to Virginia Tech and then was drafted by the Orioles. I am really happy for him to have this opportunity."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.