Bell, Hynick top Cal League All-Stars

Blanks, Freese among four from Storm on postseason team

(Damon Tarver/

August 25, 2007 7:41 PM

Bubba Bell needed only three months to leave his mark on the California League.

More than a month after he was promoted to Double-A, Bell has been named California League Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year and is one of three Lancaster JetHawks on the postseason All-Star Team.

The 24-year-old center fielder batted .370 with 22 homers and 83 RBIs in 76 games with the JetHawks before moving up to the Eastern League on July 6. He also stole 10 bases and scored 95 runs.

Bell never looked back after going 13-for-25 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in his first five games of the season.

Joining him on the All-Star team are JetHawks left fielder Zach Daeges and first baseman Aaron Bates, who joined Bell in Double-A Portland earlier this month.

Daeges is batting .326 with 18 homers and 94 RBIs and leads the league with 49 doubles and 115 runs scored. The 6-foot-4, 232-pound Bates showed impressive power while batting .332 with 24 homers and 88 RBIs in 98 games with Lancaster. On May 19, he became the first player in Cal League history to hit four homers in one game.

Chad Epperson guided the JetHawks to the first-half Southern Division title and was named Manager of the Year. Last season, the former Minor League catcher led the Class A Advanced Wilmington Blue Rocks to the best record in the Carolina League Northern Division.

The Lake Elsinore Storm are chasing the JetHawks for the second-half title and lead all teams with four All-Stars. Kyle Blanks is batting .298 with 22 homers and 95 RBIs in 113 games, and the 6-6, 280-pound designated hitter doesn't turn 21 until next month.

Matt Buschmann and Manny Ayala earned two of the three starting pitcher spots. Buschmann is 12-6 with a 2.87 ERA, while Ayala went 11-3 with a league-leading 2.22 ERA before earning a promotion to Double-A San Antonio.

Storm third baseman David Freese shares a spot on the team with Chris Davis of the Bakersfield Blaze, who set league records with six grand slams and a 35-game hitting streak.

For such a dominant perfomance in a hitter-friendly league, Modesto Nuts right-hander Brandon Hynick was a unanimous choice as Pitcher of the Year. The 22-year-old (15-4, 2.30 ERA) can become the league's first 17-game winner since 1996 and has 131 strikeouts in 172 1/3 innings.

Other Nuts All-Stars are second baseman Eric Young Jr. and shortstop Chris Nelson.

High Desert Mavericks catcher Adam Moore is second in the league with 100 RBIs and is joined by teammates Jesus Guzman (utility player) and Michael Saunders (outfielder).

San Jose Giants right-hander Taylor Wilding is the All-Star reliever after going 4-1 with 12 saves and a 2.18 ERA.

Peter Spadora is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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