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Texas League tabs postseason All-Stars

Naturals first baseman Ka'aihue picks up Player of the Year honors
August 25, 2008
The Texas League postseason All-Star roster is a prominent reminder of the sheer quantity of talent that performed in the Double-A circuit this season.

In the South Division, the Frisco RoughRiders (82-50) have been the dominant team all year long, leading the league with an .621 winning percentage overall. Yet two clubs in the RoughRiders' own division had more players chosen to the All-Star squad -- an indication of the parity in the league.

The Midland RockHounds (71-61), currently two games behind Frisco in the second-half South Division standings, led the league with four All-Star representatives, including Texas League Pitcher of the Year Vince Mazzaro. The San Antonio Missions (68-63), who finished second in the division's first half, have three representatives.

Frisco had just two players honored, highlighting the skill with which Texas League Manager of the Year Scott Little guided the RoughRiders. Little juggled a rapidly mutating roster all season, as the parent Texas Rangers were active in promotions both above and beneath the Double-A level. Shortstop Elvis Andrus, currently second in the league with 50 steals, joined catcher Max Ramirez as RoughRiders postseason All-Stars.

In the North Division the Arkansas Travelers (60-72), who edged out the Springfield Cardinals (72-60) to win the first-half crown, surprisingly tied Corpus Christi for the league's fewest bids. Of course, the Travelers have stumbled to a 24-38 record in the second half. Only catcher Ben Johnson, second on his team with 20 home runs, was selected.

By contrast, the Tulsa Drillers (54-78), who finished last in the league in the first half and are currently third in the second half, received three selections. Drillers Matt Miller and Dexter Fowler make up two-thirds of the Texas League All-Star outfield. The two are currently first and second, respectively, in the league's batting race. Fowler and reliever Casey Weathers left the club on July 27 to join the USA Baseball Olympic team, earning a bronze model in the Summer Games this week.

Eric Young Jr., who has filled in for Fowler in center field, was named to the roster's utility spot. Young has been one of the league's best leadoff men, with 46 steals and a .391 on-base percentage.

The Cardinals -- who tied Arkansas in the season's first half only to lose in a tiebreaker -- earned the division's most selections with three. The pitching staff, which ranked second in the league behind San Antonio, is represented by closer Fernando Salas (who leads the league with 24 saves) and starter Jess Todd, who pitched only 17 Double-A games. Todd's season was split across three levels, beginning in Palm Beach of the Florida State League. He currently plays for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.

To no one's surprise, Northwest Arkansas (69-63) first baseman Kila Ka'aihue walked away with Player of the Year honors. Ka'aihue leads the league with 26 home runs and is also in the top ten in both batting average and RBIs. Both his on-base and slugging percentages lead the league. Ka'aihue was joined by Naturals pitcher Dan Cortes on the All-Star roster.

San Antonio's two strikeout artists, Will Inman and Matt Buschmann, who rank first and second in the league with 138 and 112 punchouts respectively, both earned All-Star selections. Teammate Kyle Blanks was named the league's Designated Hitter All-Star. Blanks is hitting .312 and his 92 RBIs are second in the league behind Ka'aihue.

Corpus Christi (51-80), which is likely to finish last in both halves of the season, received just one bid: second baseman Drew Sutton. Sutton's 251 total bases leads the Texas League and his .315 batting average is sixth-best.

Bryan Smith is a contributor to