Huntsville had star-studded 2008

Stars place four on Topps' Double-A All-Star Team

(Tony Farlow/

By Minor League Baseball | November 19, 2008 9:10 AM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Topps/Minor League Player of the Year Mat Gamel leads a quartet of Huntsville Stars who have been named to the Topps' Double-A All-Star Team. The best performances in all Minor League Baseball classifications are again being honored by the Topps Company of New York, N.Y., in conjunction with Minor League Baseball.

Kila Ka'aihue (24) of Honolulu, Hawaii, hit .314 with 26 homers and 79 RBIs in 91 games for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The player of the year in the Texas League (TL) was promoted to Triple-A Omaha at the end of July. Ka'aihue ended his season by hitting .286 in 12 games with the Kansas City Royals, who drafted him in the 15th round in 2002 out of Iolani High School in Honolulu.

Drew Sutton (25) of Jackson, Tenn., paced the TL with 102 runs, 165 hits and 39 doubles. The leadoff hitter of the Corpus Christi Hooks also finished in the top five in the league in on-base percentage (.408), slugging percentage (.523) and walks (76). The Houston Astros selected Sutton in the 15th round in 2004 out of Baylor University.

Mat Gamel (23) of Neptune Beach, Fla., finished among the top five in nine offensive categories in the Southern League (SL). Topps named Gamel its 2008 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Minor League Player of the Year. The Huntsville Stars third baseman led the league with 96 RBIs, 61 extra base hits and 273 total bases. After a five game stint with Triple-A Nashville, Gamel appeared in two games with the Milwaukee Brewers, who took him in the fourth round in 2005 out of Chiploa (Fla.) Junior College.

Alcides Escobar (21) of Vargas, Venezuela, had 179 hits with the Huntsville Stars to lead the classification. He was third in the SL in hitting (328) and runs (95). Escobar also finished tied for second in the loop with 34 stolen bases. The Milwaukee Brewers signed him as a free agent in July 2003.

Michael Brantley (21) of Port St. Lucie, Fla., finished tied for sixth in the SL with a .319 batting average, 80 runs and 28 stolen bases in 106 games. The Huntsville Stars center fielder accomplished this despite missing all but four games in July with an ankle injury. The Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the seventh round in 2005 out of Ft. Pierce Central High School in Florida. In October, Brantley was sent to the Cleveland Indians as the player to be named later in finalizing Milwaukee's trade for CC Sabathia.

Lou Montanez (26) of Miami, Fla., captured the Eastern League Triple Crown, thanks to his .335 average, 26 roundtrippers and 97 RBIs for the Bowie Baysox. He led Double-A with a .601 slugging percentage and his 63 extra base hits were second best in the classification. After hitting in his first four August games, the Baltimore Orioles, who signed Montanez as a free agent in January, promoted him to the Majors. He then hit .295 in 38 games with the Orioles.

Mike Wilson (25) of Tulsa, Okla., hit 27 home runs for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx to lead Double-A. The outfielder was among the top four in the SL in slugging percentage (.549), RBIs (84) and extra base hits (55). The Seattle Mariners selected Wilson with their second round pick in 2001 out of Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Okla.

Angel Salome (22) of, New York, N.Y., hit .357 and .434 over the last two full months of the season for the Huntsville Stars. The catcher's overall batting average of .360 was the best in Double-A. Salome was second in the SL in slugging percentage (.559), third in on-base percentage (.415) and fifth with 83 RBIs. In September, he made three appearances as a pinch hitter with the Milwaukee Brewers, who drafted him in the fifth round in 2004 out of George Washington High School in New York City.

Kyle Blanks (22) of Edgewood, N.M., recorded 160 hits and drove in 107 runs for the San Antonio Missions, both second best in the Texas League. His .325 average ranked third. Blanks was also stellar in the field, with a league-best .993 fielding percentage among first basemen. The San Diego Padres took Blanks in the 42nd round in 2004 as a draft and follow. He signed with the Padres in May 2005 after attending Yavapai (Ariz.) Junior College.

Vince Mazzaro (22) of Rutherford, N.J., went 12-3 with a Double-A best 1.90 earned run average to win pitcher of the year honors in the Texas League. The right-hander tossed 137 1/3 innings in 22 starts for the Midland RockHounds. Mazzaro walked 36, struck out 104 and held opposing hitters to a .229 average. The Oakland Athletics selected him in the third round in 2005 out of Rutherford (N.J.) High School.

Phil Coke (26) of Sonora, Calif., made 20 starts and won nine games for the Trenton Thunder before being promoted to Triple-A, where he became a reliever. While with Trenton, Coke finished second in the Eastern League with a 2.51 ERA. The southpaw walked 39 batters in 118 1/3 innings, while fanning 115. Coke ended his season by going 1-0 with a 0.61 ERA in a dozen relief appearances for the New York Yankees, who drafted him in the 26th round in 2002 out of San Joaquin Delta Junior College.

Eddie Kunz (22) of Portland, Ore., recorded 27 saves in 30 opportunities for the Binghamton Mets, before being summoned to the big leagues in August. The right-hander made four appearances for the New York Mets and ended his year in Triple-A. Kunz was drafted in the second round in 2007 out of Oregon State University.

Class A All-Stars will be announced on Nov. 26.

Short Season/Rookie All-Stars will be announced on Dec. 3.

1BKila Ka'aihueNW Arkansas/TLKansas City.3142679
2BDrew SuttonCorpus Christi/TLHouston.3172069
3BMat GamelHuntsville/SLMilwaukee.3291996
SSAlcides EscobarHuntsville/SLMilwaukee.328876
OFMichael BrantleyHuntsville/SLMilwaukee.319440
OFLou MontanezBowie/ELBaltimore.3352697
OFMike WilsonWest Tenn/SLSeattle.2762784
CAngel SalomeHuntsville/SLMilwaukee.3601383
DHKyle BlanksSan Antonio/TLSan Diego.32520107
RHPVince MazzaroMidland/TLOakland1231.90
LHPPhil CokeTrenton/ELNew York-AL942.51
RPEddie KunzBinghamton/ELNew York-NL142.97

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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