Castro steals show at All-Star Game

Cubs prospect goes 4-for-4 with inside-the-park home run

(Scott Jones/

By David Dorsey / Special to | June 20, 2009 7:34 PM

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Fort Myers Miracle center fielder Ben Revere heard his All-Star teammates shouting at him to run in on a ball hit hard by Daytona Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro.

The 5-foot-9 Revere should not have listened.

Leaping as high as he could -- more than three feet off the ground -- the 2007 first-round Draft pick missed the ball by at least a foot.

Castro, who turned 19 on March 24, rounded second and third, then beat the relay throw home for an inside-the-park homer, the first of six runs scored by the North Division during the fourth inning at Hammond Stadium.

The North went on to defeat the South, 6-4, in the 48th annual Florida State League All-Star Game before an announced crowd of 5,069, many of whom stayed through the pouring rain that arrived in the fourth inning and dissipated in the sixth.

"I thought the center fielder was going to catch the ball," Castro said. "After that, I just put my head down and go. I knew I was going to score."

"It was a hard-hit ball," Revere said.

North skipper Jody Davis, who managed Daytona to last season's league title and now works as the Chicago Cubs Minor League catching coordinator, noticed the backspin on Castro's hit almost immediately.

"The center fielder tried to read it, but the backspin on it created the elevation," Davis explained.

South manager Jeff Smith of the Miracle put it in simpler terms.

"The kid crushed it," he said. "The ball was backspinning. The ball was just crushed.

"Ben got up as high as he could possibly get, but I don't think anybody realized how hard that ball was hit."

South pitcher Kris Harvey of the Jupiter Hammerheads took the loss after retiring two batters and giving up five runs -- four earned -- on three hits and two walks.

The South rallied in the fifth as Revere doubled home St. Lucie Mets catcher Francisco Pena, the son of former Kansas City Royals manager Tony Pena. Miracle shortstop Chris Cates scored on a wild pitch. Revere scored on a base hit by Palm Beach Cardinals left fielder Shane Peterson, who came home on a sacrifice fly by Charlotte Stone Crabs third baseman Gregory Sexton.

All of those runs were surrendered by Daytona's Ryan Searle, an Australian right-hander who, according to Davis, had never pitched in the rain. Searle is 5-5 with a 3.90 ERA in 13 games, including 12 starts.

"He was really struggling," Davis said. "I told him he had better get used to it. We play in the rain quite a bit down here."

Castro went 4-for-4 with a homer and three singles on his way to earning Most Valuable Player honors. The native of the Dominican Republic entered the All-Star break with a .291 batting average, two homers, 20 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 59 games.

Although Revere came up short on Castro's drive in the fourth, he fared better at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, single, stolen base and run scored.

Smith got every player and pitcher on his roster some game action. He recalled doing the same thing two years ago at the Midwest League All-Star Game, despite having 17 pitchers.

Dunedin Blue Jays outfielder Eric Thames and Brevard County Manatees right-hander Amaury Rivas were the only members of the North squad who did not play.

"You should," Smith said of getting everybody in the game. "A lot of the players, their parents flew into town for this game. A lot of families are here. It's the right thing to do.

"It's a great group of ballplayers. There are a lot of guys who have played only one or two years of pro ball. You're going to find a few [future big league] stars from this game. You just don't know who they are yet."

Brevard County's Rob Wooten, who leads the league with 18 saves, did the honors in the All-Star Game by striking out one in the ninth.

Chris Parmelee of the hometown Miracle won the pregame Home Run Derby, blasting eight in the second round before outslugging St. Lucie Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, 3-2, for the championship.

"I'm happy for him," Smith said of Parmelee, a 2006 first-round pick by the Twins who entered the break with a .246 batting average, eight homers and 33 RBIs. "It's something that could jump-start him in the second half of the season."

David Dorsey 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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