Eastern League's best set for All-Star Game

Bumgarner, Thole, Sanatana, Savery highlight rosters

Josh Thole, who's in his first year of Double-A ball, is hitting .346 for the B-Mets. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

By Josh Jackson / Special to MLB.com | July 1, 2009 6:04 AM

With four teams sending a league-high five players to the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game, the midsummer classic in Trenton should, at the least, be a well-balanced affair.

The Akron Aeros and Eerie Seawolves will each contribute five representatives to the Southern Division Team in the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game, and the Trenton Thunder and New Britain Rock Cats will add five players each to the Northern Division Team on July 15 at Trenton's Waterfront Park.

The Portland Sea Dogs and Connecticut Defenders each have four All-Stars, and the New Hampshire FisherCats and Binghamton Mets are each represented by three players in the Northern Division. In the Southern Division, the Bowie Baysox and Reading Phillies will send four representatives, and the Altoona Curve and Harrisburg Senators will send three apiece.

Connecticut starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (5-1, 1.96 ERA) and New Hampshire's Brian Dopirak (.315, 18, 58) highlight the Northern Division. Along with Portland's Junichi Tazawa (7-4, 2.92) and New Britain's Matt Fox (6-2, 2.95), Bumgarner poses quite an obstacle for Southern Division hitters. The Northern Division can also count on a strong performance from Trenton's Zach McAllister (5-3), who leads the league with a 1.76 ERA.

Binghamton's Josh Thole, who's second in the league with a .346 batting average, and Connecticut's Eddy Martinez-Esteve, who's hitting .316 and has 20 doubles, should help out the Northern Division in the offensive department.

The Northern Division infield options include five first basemen. Portland's Jorge Jimenez (.297, 8, 44) who predominantly plays third, and Lars Anderson (.258, 8, 36) may see some time there, as could New Britain's Whitney Robbins (.307, 7, 33) and Trenton's Jorge Vazquez (.321, 10, 32). Dopirak is most likely to start in that position.

The middle-infield duties on the Northern Division squad will be split between Trenton's Reegie Corona (.298, 3, 16), New Britain's Brian Dinkelman (.298, 4, 39), Trenton's Eduardo Nunez (.309, 4, 30) and Connecticut's Brock Bond (.326, 1, 20). Bond, who's tied for the league lead with a .421 on-base percentage, reached base in his 45th consecutive game on June 30.

New Britain's Rene Tosoni (.279, 10, 47), Binghamton's D.J. Wabick (.291, 1, 30) and Martinez-Esteve will platoon the Northern Division outfield. Thole will share catching responsibilities with New Hampshire's Brian Jeroloman (.251, 4, 16).

Reading's Joe Savery (10-1, 3.08), the only 10-game winner in the Eastern League, will buoy the Southern Division pitching staff, and he'll find help in the form of Akron's Hector Rondon (7-4, 2.59).

Backstop Carlos Santana (.269, 11, 47), one of the top prospects in the Indians organization, will join the Southern team from Akron as well. Santana's 50 runs scored are second only to Reading's Michael Taylor, who leads the league with a .348 average and will be Santana's teammate on the 15th.

Santana will split time behind the plate with Erie's Alex Avila (.289, 6, 35). The Southern Division infield options include Bowie's Miguel Abreu (.296, 3, 25), Harrisburg's Leonard Davis (.285, 11, 38), Altoona's Jason Delaney (.242, 4, 35), Akron's Beau Mills (.256, 6, 40), Reading's Neil Sellers (.300, 8, 44), Erie's Ryan Strieby (.293, 14, 46) and Bowie's Jonathan Tucker (.255, 24). It's possible that each of these players, with the exception of Mills, could spend a few innings in the outfield.

Taylor, Erie's Deik Scram (.274, 10, 38) and Akron's Nick Weglarz (.252, 12, 55) will likely make up the Southern Division starting outfield.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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