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Stars set for Staten Island showdown

Short-Season's lone All-Star Game gets underway Tuesday
August 16, 2010
Yankees prospect Adam Warren, who was part of the winning American League team in last year's 2009 New York-Penn League All-Star Game, has some advice for this year's selected players:

Have fun.

"It's a great time," said Warren, who, after going 4-2 with a 1.43 ERA in 12 starts for Staten Island last season, is 10-7 with a 2.72 mark between Class A Advanced Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2010. "The atmosphere was great in State College last year."

The American League, led by Warren's MVP teammate Jimmy Paredes, notched a 4-2 win at Medlar Field.

"Combine all that goes on with an All-Star Game and put the game in Staten Island, and this is sure to be something," Warren added.

Tuesday night's game at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in New York City's outermost borough is bound to draw a capacity crowd of 7,171 and attract as much attention as any of the previous five All-Star contest the league has staged.

The inaugural edition of the game was hosted by Brooklyn in 2005, followed by Aberdeen (2006), Hudson Valley (2007), Tri-City (2008) and State College.

"There are always a lot of baseball people looking at you when you play in Staten Island -- or Brooklyn as a matter of fact -- and the fans are just outstanding," said Warren. "They both know the game and get into the game.

"Playing in New York, with all the attention you get, really prepares you for what you deal with at the upper levels. Obviously, when you go in for your inning, or your at-bat, you want to win and compete. Still, I advise anyone to just soak it all in and enjoy meeting players you didn't know previously."

The franchises in Staten Island and Brooklyn have brought added luster to the NYPL. One must remember, however, while the hustle and bustle of the nation's largest city is outside Richmond Bank Ballpark and MCU Park across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, inside those parks there's only the world of Short-Season Class A baseball and development.

Warren is more than glad to pass the torch to this year's five-man Staten Island contingent, led by right-hander Michael O'Brien, who has put together a 6-2, 2.08 effort so far this season.

O'Brien, a 20-year-old native of Roanoke, Va., has gone on record about how much he enjoys playing in Staten Island and in the Yankees system. Warren, who worked with O'Brien in Spring Training, is not surprised the Staten Island ace is having his best season after two years in the Gulf Coast League.

"Mikey was really starting to mix his pitches well in Spring Training and before he came to Staten Island," said Warren. "He has a good idea of what he wants to do with hitters. That's why he's getting guys out over there."

Host Staten Island is also contributing Jose Mojica, outfielder Eduardo Sosa and a pair of right-handed relievers -- Chase Whitley, second among NYPL saves leaders with 11, and Preston Claiborne -- to the American League contingent, which has won three of the last four All-Star Games.

AL manager Josh Paul (Staten Island) will also count on righties Casey Lawrence and Andrew Hutchinson (Auburn), Owen Drew and Alex Kaminsky (Mahoning Valley), Wilmer Almonte and Austin Hubbard (Hudson Valley) and Tim Adelman (Aberdeen). The AL staff is without a southpaw.

Offensively, the AL can count on Hudson Valley's Phil Wunderlich, second among NYPL hitters at .333; Aberdeen's Kipp Schutz, batting .316; and Lowell's Felix Sanchez, a .305 hitter who leads the circuit in stolen bases with 26.

NL manager Wally Backman (Brooklyn) has plenty of ammunition to challenge Paul's group, led by outfielder Darrell Ceciliani, the NYPL's leading hitter at .371 and one of eight Cyclones on this All-Star roster.

Infielders Ryan Sandoval, the NYPL's fourth-leading hitter at .330; Joe Bonfe, batting .323; and outfielder Cory Vaughn, a .316 hitter in a three-way tie for the league lead with 44 RBIs, should come up big. The Cyclones' Jeff Flagg adds 38 RBIs to this mix.

Add Jamestown's Marcell Ozuna, who leads the league with 15 homers and is in the 44-RBIs trio; State College's Matt Curry, batting .319; and Vermont's David Freitas, a .327 hitter, and the NL's attack appears formidable.

Vermont's Blake Kelso adds speed and a .316 average to the NL contingent.

League ERA leader Eric Pettis, a right-hander with a 7-0, 1.32 mark, anchors the starting staff. Williamsport teammate Chase Johnson, the circuit's save leader at 13, heads the bullpen. Backman can also utilize his talented Cyclones duo -- righty Yohan Almonte (7-3, 1.73) and southpaw Angel Cuan (5-0, 2.06) -- and Batavia lefty Justin Edwards (3-3, 2.57) in key spots.

Jed Weisberger is a contributor to