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Revere highlights Midwest League All-Stars

Strong starts by Gac, Frey, Figaro earn postseason acknowledgment
August 26, 2008
As expected, it was the Ben Revere show on Tuesday when the Midwest League announced its postseason All-Star roster and individual awards. Revere walked away with an All-Star selection in addition to being named both the league's Most Valuable Player and Prospect of the Year.

Historically, the Midwest League has proven to be a difficult assignment for young hitters in their first full Minor League season. In fact, the Minnesota Twins had planned to handle their 2007 first-round pick with care, assigning him to extended Spring Training with the expectation that he would finish up in the Appalachian League. However, when a roster spot emerged in Beloit in late April, the Twins opted to challenge Revere, who hit .325 in his pro debut in the GCL last year.

Was he challenged? Revere's .379 batting average ranked first among all full-season Minor Leaguers, and first in the Midwest League by an astounding margin of 62 points. His 44 steals atop the Snappers lineup were second in the league. Revere was Beloit's lone representative (67-64) on the postseason All-Star list.

In fact, no Midwest League team captured more than two All-Star squad slots, an accomplishment achieved by four teams. The most well-represented team is probably the South Bend Silver Hawks (73-59), whose skipper, Mark Haley, won the league's Manager of the Year award. Two players also earned All-Star spots, catcher Sean Coughlin (.239-15-79) and outfielder Evan Frey. The latter did so despite earning a July promotion thanks to his .327 average, .401 on-base percentage and 20 stolen bases. At that time, only Revere had been more productive out of the leadoff spot.

The West Michigan Whitecaps (67-63), whose 3.31 team ERA ranked second in the league, swept the two starting pitcher awards, with Alfredo Figaro and Jonathan Kibler earning the right- and left-handed spots, respectively. Figaro did so despite not having played with the Whitecaps since July 24, when his ERA tipped past two to 2.05 in his final start in the league. The Dominican had 12 wins in 19 starts for West Michigan.

Teammate Jonathan Kibler never received a promotion, but through five months was unquestionably the most consistent starter in the league. Only Madison Bumgarner in the South Atlantic League had a lower ERA than Kibler's 1.75 among full-season pitchers. With a league-leading 14 wins, only his 126 strikeouts -- sixth in the MWL -- kept Kibler from the league's pitching Triple Crown.

At midseason, it looked as though there could be a batting Triple Crown winner, as slugger Ian Gac led the Clinton LumberKings (73-57) to a first-half Western Division crown. The Rangers promoted him on June 25, but Gac earned a spot as the league's postseason All-Star designated hitter on the strength of his first two months, when he batted .310 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in 67 games.

When Gac was promoted, Mitch Moreland moved from the outfield to take his position at first base. Remarkably, the LumberKings didn't see much of a drop in production at the position, as Moreland has slugged .557 in the second half. Overall, he hit 17 home runs, with his 231 total bases ranking first in the league.

Joining Moreland in the Midwest League All-Star infield is a pair of Dayton Dragons (62-69) on the left side. Third baseman Brandon Waring had a big April (7 HR, 18 RBIs) and never looked back -- his 18 home runs ranking fourth in the league. Shortstop Zach Cozart proved that in addition to flashing a good glove, he can swing the bat, with his 14 long balls being the most for an everyday shortstop.

The hitting class rounds out with an infielder and an outfielder, Larry Cobb of Kane County and Great Lakes' Andrew Lambo, who was recently promoted to Jacksonville. Cobb earns points for his leadership, but also did a bit of everything offensively, batting a respectable .276, clubbing 12 home runs and stealing 18 bases. Lambo was a force in his first full season, batting .288 with 15 home runs and 79 RBIs. His 218 total bases ranked fifth in the league.

The team rounds out with the relievers, both coming from Indiana-based Eastern Division teams. The right-handed slot goes to the league saves leader, Jackson Quezada of the Fort Wayne Wizards (68-65), whose 26 saves were six ahead of the next closest closer. Quezada had a 2.26 ERA this season, and has been near unhittable, with opponents batting just .188 against the Dominican.

Lansing Lugnuts (73-60) middle reliever Edgar Estanga was the league's best left-handed reliever, playing every role for the Lugnuts. Estanga earned nine saves, but ended up pitching 98 innings in his 43 appearances, often pitching in long-relief. His 98 strikeouts were tops in the league for a reliever without a start this season.

In total, five Western Division teams were unrepresented in the postseason All-Star list, most notably the first-place Burlington Bees (69-62).

Bryan Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com.