A quick scan of the International League's statistical leaders might provide fans with all they need to know about this year's All-Star team.
Thirteen elected players will head to Albuquerque's Isotopes Park on July 11 to take on the Pacific Coast League All-Stars, which will be announced on Thursday, and all 13 of those players rank in the top three of at least one IL statistical category.
Elected players were voted to the 2007 All-Star team by fans (one-third), teams' field and general managers (one-third) and the media (one-third), while 15 others were selected to the squad by the league.
Starting with the infield, Toledo third baseman Mike Hessman has been leading the way among IL sluggers all season. The 11-year veteran is in the midst of a career-best season and currently leads the league with 23 home runs, 75 RBIs and a .589 slugging percentage. To his left will be Indianapolis' shortstop Brian Bixler, who's currently pacing all of the Minors with eight triples and is fifth in the IL with 17 stolen bases.
On the other side of second base will be Rochester second baseman and the league's second-leading hitter, Matt Tolbert, as well as one of Cincinnati's top position-player prospects, first baseman Joey Votto. Tolbert is batting a career-high .349 while Votto is hitting .311 for Louisville and ranks third in the league with a .415 on-base percentage. Also selected to the team were Buffalo infielders Ryan Mulhern and Luis Rivas as well as Indy's Yurendell de Caster and the league's batting leader, Louisville's Jeff Keppinger.
Highlighting the All-Star outfield is fan-favorite Ryan Raburn. Toledo's left fielder led the fan balloting among all position players in the most recent vote totals and ranks in the top three in numerous offensive categories. Joining him will be Mud Hens' teammate Timo Perez, the league leader in hits and doubles, as well as Pawtucket's Brandon Moss and Syracuse's John-Ford Griffin, who was selected to the team by the league.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Shelley Duncan, a former second-round draft pick by the Yankees, is dominating in his first full Triple-A season and was elected as the squad's designated hitter. Duncan, a career .251 hitter entering the 2007 season, is batting .302 for the Yankees and ranks in the league's top three in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.
The All-Star team's starting pitchers consist of a pair of former first-round draft picks in Indy's Bryan Bullington and Durham's Jeff Niemann. Bullington, the 2002 No. 1 overall draft pick by the Pirates, leads the league with nine wins and has a 3.43 ERA. Niemann (8-4, 3.65) was the No. 4 overall pick in 2004 by the Devil Rays and ranks second in the league with 85 strikeouts. In the bullpen will be the league's top two closers, Columbus' Chris Booker, who leads the league with 21 saves, and Norfolk's Cory Doyne, who is a close second with 20.
And catching the league's All-Star pitching staff will be Norfolk's J.R. House, who's currently second in the IL in hits and fourth in RBIs. Ottawa backstop Jason Jaramillo and Rochester's Jose Morales were also selected to the squad.
Leading the way for the IL All-Stars in the Triple-A All-Star Game is Ottawa manager John Russell. Joining Russell on the coaching staff will be Rochester's Stan Cliburn and Buffalo's Torey Lovullo.
The 2007 Triple-A All-Star Game marks the 10th season in which the International League has squared off against the Pacific Coast League All-Stars, which will be announced on Thursday. The first pitch of this year's midsummer classic is slated for 7:35 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2.