IL sends well-balanced group to All-Star Game

Buchholz, Duncan, highlight league's 2009 selections

(Ken Babbitt/Four Seam Images)

By Kira Jones / MLB.com | July 2, 2009 5:14 AM ET

This year's International League All-Star team is a study in paradoxes. The Norfolk Tides boast the highest batting average (.276) in the International League, yet the two Norfolk players invited to the midsummer classic are pitchers, not hitters. Conversely, Scranton Wilkes-Barre's pitchers lead the IL in ERA (3.33), but they will not be sending anyone to the mound come July 15.

Although the league's top teams may not be overly represented, the IL will nonetheless be sending a strong squad to PGE Park on July 15, where they will take on the PCL All-Stars, which were revealed Wednesday. As always the All-Star Game will showcase some of the strongest talent in the minors and fans who are unable to make the trip out to Portland, Ore. can watch the game live on ESPN 2 or MiLB.TV.

All of the league's 14 teams will be represented, with each squad sending between one and three players. The Northern Division will have the strongest presence at the All-Star Game as they are sending 13 players total. In addition to having two more teams than the Southern or Western divisions, the Northern Division also has three teams with a trio of selections. The South and West will be sending seven players apiece.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's Shelley Duncan (.290, 21, 65) and Lehigh Valley's Andy Tracy (.248, 14, 54) are expected to provide slugging power for the IL lineup. Duncan paces the circuit in homers, RBIs, extra-base hits (37) and runs scored (54). He also sports a .609 slugging percentage, good for second in the IL. Tracy ranks second in the league in home runs and RBIs and third in extra-base hits (32) and runs scored (47).

Jorge Padilla (.365, 2, 12), Barbaro Canizares (.325, 9, 42), Jordan Brown (.323, 9, 39) and Austin Jackson (.320, 3, 29) will add consistency to the lineup as they all own batting averages that rank in the top five in the league.

The roster also includes a speedster in Louisville's Drew Stubbs (.271, 2, 22). The outfielder's 28 stolen bases rank second in the IL.

Perhaps one of the biggest names on the roster is Pawtucket Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz, who led all Triple-A players in fan votes (fan votes accounted for 1/3 of the All-Star selection process). Buchholz has been absolutely dominant this season and has a 5-1 record and stellar 1.90 ERA to show for it. Batters are hitting just .173 against the right-hander. Other starting pitchers on the bill include Justin Lehr (11-2, 3.21) and J.D. Martin (8-2, 2.25) who have the most and second-most wins in the league.

Bolstering the bullpen will be the league-leaders in saves, Pawtucket's Fernando Cabrera (0-1, 1.03) and Norfolk's Jim Miller (2-2, 1.99). They have 16 saves apiece.

Kira Jones is an associate reporter for 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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