Pitching vs. power at SAL All-Star Game

Southern Division arms try to quiet potent Northern Division bats

(Tom Priddy/MiLB.com)

By Mason Kelley / Special to MLB.com | June 8, 2009 11:00 AM ET

To understand the dominance of the South Atlantic League Southern Division All-Star pitching, simply look at the circuit's ERA leaders.

Lexington Legends right-hander Robert Bono is third at 1.93, five spots ahead of Charleston RiverDogs righty Hector Noesi, who's two spots in front of Ross Seaton of the Lexington Legends (2.49). And that's not including Casey Kelly (1.12) and Jeff Kaplan (1.46), both of whom have been promoted out of the league.

Oh, and there's Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous RiverDogs closer who leads all of Class A with 18 saves.

Needless to say, the Northern Division's hitters will have their work cut out for them at the South Atlantic League All-Star Jamboree on June 23 at Appalachian Power Park in West Virginia.

However, the North has some stars of its own, most of whom just happen to stand out on offense. That group includes Hickory Crawdads outfielder Mike Bianucci, who leads the league with a .349 batting average, and Greensboro Grasshoppers first baseman Ben Lasater, who leads the league with 31 extra-base hits and 22 doubles.

The Lakewood BlueClaws (33-22), who sit atop the Northern Division, will send six players -- three pitchers and three position players -- to West Virginia. The pitchers include Tyler Cloyd, who is 6-2 with a 2.93 ERA, and Justin DeFratus, who is 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA over 19 relief appearances.

Noesi and Venditte are among five representatives of the RiverDogs (33-23), who lead the Southern Division. The Greenville Drive also boast five All-Stars, led by catcher Tim Federowicz, who is seventh in the circuit with a .319 average.

The South has its share of power, especially from Charleston outfielder Melky Mesa, who shares the league lead with 12 homers. He will try to outslug Hagerstown Suns catcher Derek Norris, who also has 12 homers and leads the league with 43 RBIs.

Drive manager Kevin Boles will lead the Southern Division All-Stars, while Dusty Wathan of the BlueClaws is the North skipper.

Mason Kelley 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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