An All-Star team for non-All-Stars

Finally, a way to recognize the deserving but unrecognized

(Joy R. Absalon/

By Lisa Winston / | July 21, 2006 5:03 AM ET

If I'd been a cartoon character, my eyes would have popped out of my head with one of those "boing-oing-oing" sounds.

That is how shocked I was when I read -- and re-read and re-read once again just to make sure I had read it right the first two times -- the roster for the California League squad at last month's Carolina-California League All-Star Game in Salem, Va.

The team had only 22 players representing 10 teams, so obviously, there were going to be some deserving players who were going to miss out on the chance to spend their All-Star break flying 2,500 miles from California to Virginia (oh, and the 2,500 miles back again).

But how was it possible that utilityman extraordinaire Mark Reynolds of the Lancaster JetHawks (Diamondbacks) didn't make the cut? Or JetHawks outfielder Carlos Gonzalez? Or JetHawks second baseman Emilio Bonifacio?

Reynolds, who was promoted to Double-A Tennessee on July 11, had been a legitimate contender for the California League Triple Crown for at least a month before his move up to the Southern League, ranking not only among Cal League leaders in home runs and RBIs but among the overall Minor League leaders in those categories. He was hitting .337 with 23 homers and 77 RBIs at the time of his promotion.

Gonzalez, the 20-year-old phenom who may be the best of a very deep crop of Arizona outfield prospects, was good enough to be named to the 2006 Futures Game World Team, representing his native Venezuela, but despite actually leading the Minors in RBIs for much of June, he, too, was overlooked for a spot on the Cal League squad. He remains at Lancaster, where he was hitting .315 with 15 homers, 78 RBIs (fourth in the Minors), 31 doubles (eighth), 49 extra-base hits (sixth) and 14 steals. The only knock on those stats might be his 24 errors. So they could have used him at DH.

Bonifacio, 21, is hitting .311 with 40 steals for the JetHawks. His 113 hits are among the Minor League leaders, and his 75 runs scored are second among all Minor Leaguers. One of the top stolen base threats in the system, he swiped 55 bases at Class A South Bend in 2005 while hitting .275.

And while I understood that southpaw Greg Smith, who was 9-0 with a league-leading ERA at the time (in fact, a month later, he still leads the league in ERA) had been promoted to Double-A Tennessee two days earlier, it might have been nice had he been named to the team and then replaced, if for no other reason so he could say he'd been a California League All-Star.

So I decided that even if Smith and several other deserving players can't say they were midseason All-Stars, they can officially say they were "Lisa's Midseason All-Stars Who Weren't All-Stars."

I am sure this will make them feel much better.

Mark Reynolds, Carlos Gonzalez, Emilio Bonifacio, Greg Smith, welcome to MY M-SA-SWWA-S Team. I'm afraid this honor does not come with any fireworks, home run derbies, lunch banquets, golf tournaments or other perks. But I felt it necessary to single out a few individuals who, for a variety of reasons (and in a few cases no evident reasons at all), were not named to any of the official midseason All-Star teams.

Like the three JetHawks mentioned above, there is no apparent reason for the glaring exclusion of Columbus Catfish (Dodgers) right fielder Sergio Pedroza from the South Atlantic League Southern Division All-Star team, since he was among the league leaders in homers and RBIs. So, Sergio, welcome to MY team. We are proud to have you and your .281 average, 21 homers and 75 RBIs at Columbus on our squad and congratulate you on your recent promotion to Class A Advanced Vero Beach.

Come on down, Portland Beavers (Padres) first baseman/DH Jon Knott. Your 21 homers rank seventh in the Minors and your 76 RBIs are tied for seventh overall, but you still managed to slip through the cracks when it came time to select the Triple-A Pacific Coast League squad.

Not every member of my Not-All-Star team was blatantly overlooked, however. Some, like Greg Smith, had the "misfortune" of being so darned good that they were promoted before their original league's All-Star Game and too late to have amassed enough stats or time to qualify for their new league's game.

For example, Cleveland Indians outfield prospect Ryan Goleski was on a Triple Crown pace at Class A Kinston with a .331 average, 10 homers and 43 RBIs before being promoted to Double-A Akron on May 27. There, he has hit .307 with nine more homers and 32 RBIs but no All-Star designation by his name.

In fact, we will compose our entire pitching rotation of players who fit that bill. Joining Smith on the mound are Detroit right-hander Humberto Sanchez, Oakland hurler Jason Windsor and another Arizona prospect, right-hander Micah Owings.

Sanchez has combined, between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo, for 10 wins and a 2.50 ERA, and his 125 strikeouts between the two stops rank fifth in the Minors. He was on hand to enjoy the Triple-A All-Star Game festivities in Toledo anyway since he lives in an apartment across the street from Fifth Third Field. And even though he didn't make the Eastern or International League squads, he received the honor of being the starting pitcher for the World Team in the Futures Game at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.

Owings was 6-2 with a 2.91 ERA at Double-A Tennessee before moving up in early June to Triple-A Tucson, where he's gone 6-0 with a 3.92 ERA (combined 3.26). And his 12 wins between the two stops have him tied for second in the Minors.

And Windsor, who went 4-1 with a 2.97 ERA at Double-A Midland and 8-0 with a 4.07 at Triple-A Sacramento following an early May promotion, could probably care less about this incredible honor, because he got called up to the Majors earlier this week and made his big-league debut Monday night, allowing one earned run in five innings.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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