The Northwest League announced its postseason All-Star team on Tuesday, and heading the list of the circuit's star players is Drew Biery of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
Biery, a 23-year-old Giants prospect, was named the MVP of the Class A Short-Season circuit. The 22nd-round draft pick, dubbed "Biery Bonds" by his teammates, has exceeded all expectations by hitting .344 with six home runs, 42 RBIs, and 38 runs scored as a member of the first-place Volcanoes. The Kansas State product has fared particularly well in the friendly confines of Volcanoes Stadium, erupting for a 1.153 OPS over 23 ballgames.
Representing the All-Star team as both a third baseman and designated-hitter, Biery is the marquee player on the NWL's 13-man All-Star roster. He is joined by teammate Jorge Bucardo, who was selected as the league's premier right-handed pitcher. The rail-thin Nicaraguan, who packs just 155 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame, is 4-3 with a 2.79 ERA over 13 starts. He has struck out 58 batters while walking just 19.
The Volcanoes rule the roost in the NWL's West Division, while the Tri-City Dust Devils have a comfortable seven-game lead in the East. As a result of such stellar play, Dust Devils skipper Freddie Ocasio has been named the league's Manager of the Year. Ocasio is currently in his fourth season at the helm in Tri-City, after spending the five seasons prior to that as the club's hitting coach. The 2009 campaign marks his first with a winning record as manager.
Two of Ocasio's charges were also named to the club -- the bullpen tandem of left-hander Craig Bennigson and right-hander Charles Ruiz. Bennigson leads the league with eight wins, while his 1.69 ERA would pace the circuit if he had enough innings to qualify. Ruiz, meanwhile, leads the league with 16 saves, with no other pitcher accumulating more than 10. The 19-year-old Californian has struck out 42 batters over 28 1/3 innings while holding opponents to a .194 average.
In addition to Salem-Keizer and Tri-City, the Spokane Indians and Eugene Emeralds are both represented by more than one player. Catcher Vincent DiFazio and outfielder Miguel Velazquez received the nod for the Indians, while second baseman Vincent Belnome and left-handed pitcher Nicholas Greenwood hail from Eugene.
On the other end of the spectrum, the only team to not have at least one player included on the roster is the Vancouver Canadians. On an individual level, perhaps the most prominent omission is Everett's Gerardo Avila. The first baseman is batting .335 and leads the league with 11 home runs, but was left off the team in favor of current batting leader Ryan Wheeler of the Yakima Bears.
|2009 Northwest League Postseason All-Star Team|
|POS.||PLAYER NAME||TEAM||POS.||PLAYER NAME||TEAM|
|C||Vincent DiFazio||Spokane||OF||Ryan Royster||Everett|
|1B||Ryan Wheeler||Yakima||OF||Miguel Velazquez||Spokane|
|2B||Vincent Belnome||Eugene||OF||Jose Valdez||Boise|
|3B||Drew Biery||Salem-Keizer||LHP||Nicholas Greenwood||Eugene|
|SS||Hak-Ju Lee||Boise||LHSP||Robert Ross||Spokane|
|DH||Drew Biery||Salem-Keizer||RHSP||Jorge Bucardo||Salem-Keizer|
| || || ||LHRP||Craig Bennigson||Tri-City|
| || || ||RHRP||Charles Ruiz||Tri-City|
|MVP: Drew Biery, Salem-Keizer|
|Manager of the Year: Freddie Ocasio, Tri-City|
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MLB.com.