2007 Minor League All-Stars

Catcher: GEOVANY SOTO
Cubs

Soto became the first catcher to be named Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP since Sandy Alomar Jr. won back-to-back awards in 1988 and ’89. And it’s easy to see why Soto, 24, took home the hardware. He came to spring training 25 pounds lighter and went on to drive in 109 runs-seventh-most in the minors–in just 110 games. More impressively, he led all full-season minor leaguers with a .652 slugging percentage and missed winning the batting title by one measly point. Since the titlist, Portland’s Brian Myrow, also played in the PCL, Soto also came up short in his own league.

First Base: STEVEN PEARCE
Pirates

The only minor leaguer to amass 30 or more homers and 40 or more doubles for the season, Pearce easily distanced himself from other first basemen by doing a little of everything. He hit .333, stole 14 bases (in 16 tries) and drew 47 walks (against just 70 strikeouts) in stops at high Class A Lynchburg, Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis. The 24-year-old Pearce didn’t skimp on power, though, as he ranked second in the minors in slugging percentage (.622), third in total bases (303) and RBIs (113), fifth in extra-base hits (75) and seventh with 31 home runs.

Second Base: MATT ANTONELLI
Padres

After going homerless in 205 pro at-bats in 2006, Antonelli successfully made the switch to second base-and his overall game blossomed. While the 22-year-old did not always look smooth at the keystone (17 errors), his offense was not hindered in any way. In 534 at-bats for high Class A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio, Antonelli batted .307/.404/.491 with 21 home runs, 23 doubles and 28 steals (in 37 attempts). In addition to helping the Missions to the Double-A Texas League crown, Antonelli ranked second in the minors with 123 runs, 14th with 164 hits and 13th with 83 walks.

Third Base: EVAN LONGORIA
Devil Rays

The third overall pick in 2006, Longoria helped Double-A Montgomery to a Southern League crown last year, in his first pro season. He opened 2007 back with the Biscuits, but a late-season promotion to Triple-A Durham put Longoria in position to help back-to-back league champs. The Bulls came up one win short of winning the International League, meaning Longoria, 21, had to settle for SL MVP honors. He led that league with a .528 slugging percentage and finished with an impressive season line of .299/.402/.520 with 26 homers and 95 RBIs.

Shortstop: JED LOWRIE
Red Sox

Lowrie re-established himself after a disappointing and injury-marred 2006 season by clobbering both Double- and Triple-A pitching. The switch-hitter’s 47 doubles for Portland and Pawtucket was the fourth-highest total in the minors, and he ranked 10th with 68 extra-base hits. The 23-year-old Lowrie, a supplemental first-round pick in 2005, also flashed an above-average arm and solid range, suggesting the inevitable move to second or third base may not be so inevitable after all.

Outfield: JAY BRUCE
Reds

Were it not for the wind-aided exploits of high Class A Lancaster’s Zach Daeges, Bruce would have been the minors’ extra-base hits king. As it was, he finished second with 80, one behind Daeges, and second with 306 total bases, behind Triple-A Omaha’s Craig Brazell. The 20-year-old Bruce also ranked seventh with 46 doubles and a .590 slugging percentage, and 11th with 166 hits, as he progressed from high Class A Sarasota to Double-A Chattanooga to Triple-A Louisville. But at least Bruce finished first in one category: He was our Minor League Player of the Year.

Outfield: COLBY RASMUS
Cardinals

Rasmus trudged through the first half of the Double-A Texas League season with about the numbers you’d expect–.248/.344/.496–from a 20-year-old. Things changed in the second half, however, when Rasmus, who turned 21 in August, batted a scalding .312/.429/.624 to help lead Springfield to the TL finals. The Cardinals lost to San Antonio, but even that could not dim Rasmus’ accomplishments: He led the league with 29 home runs (14th in the minor leagues), 69 extra-base hits (ninth) and 93 runs.

Outfield: JUSTIN UPTON
Diamondbacks

Upton didn’t stick around any league long enough to rank among the end-of-season leaders, but that didn’t stop him from ranking as the No. 1 prospect in the high Class A California and Double-A Southern leagues. It also didn’t stop the Diamondbacks from calling him to the big leagues in August . . . at age 19, just like the Devil Rays did with older brother B.J. And why not? Justin showed all five tools in the minors, batting .319/.410/.551 with 18 homers, 19 steals, 56 walks and six assists in 103 games.

Designated Hitter: TRAVIS SNIDER
Blue Jays

The 19-year-old Snider topped the low Class A Midwest League with 35 doubles, 58 extra-base hits, 93 RBIs and a .525 slugging percentage–and even finished second in the batting race with a .313 average–but did not win the league’s MVP award. That went to West Michigan outfielder Gorkys Hernandez in an . . . interesting selection. Snider, the 14th overall pick in 2006, was the only MWL batting title qualifier to slug more than .500–and he held nearly a 50-point advantage over No. 2 John Whittleman. One final fun fact: Neither Justin Upton (.413) nor Cameron Maybin (.457) eclipsed a .500 slugging percentage when they played in the league in 2006.

Starting Pitcher: CLAY BUCHHOLZ
Red Sox

The 23-year-old Buchholz likely will be remembered more for the no-hitter he twirled against the Orioles on Sept. 1 than for his minor league accomplishments. But few pitchers had seasons to rival what Buchholz accomplished for Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. He led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings (12.34), finished third in opponent average (.191) and ranked fifth in strikeouts (171). What’s scariest for opposing batters, though, is that Buchholz’ 90-93 mph fastball might be his third-best pitch, behind his curve and change.

Starting Pitcher: IAN KENNEDY
Yankees

While none of the 22-year-old Kennedy’s four pitches grade much better than average, he commands them so well it doesn’t seem to matter. Among prospects, only Triple-A Rochester’s Kevin Slowey showed anything like the plus command Kennedy displayed in his three-stop trek to the major leagues. In going 12-3, 1.91 in 146 innings between high Class A Tampa, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Kennedy ranked first in the minors in opponent average (.183), third in ERA and 13th in strikeouts (163).

Starting Pitcher: JOBA CHAMBERLAIN
Yankees

With 94-97 mph heat, two above-average breaking balls and a solid changeup, Chamberlain chewed through three minor leagues on his way to Yankee Stadium. The 21-year-old righthander did not accrue enough innings at any of his three minor league stop0-s-the same three Kennedy made–to qualify for a league Top 20 Prospects lists, thus missing what will likely be his only chance. But having earned the trust of manager Joe Torre, Chamberlain has already accomplished more than most rookie pitchers.

Starting Pitcher: JAMES MCDONALD
Dodgers

Talk about your deep sleeper. McDonald, 22, wasn’t even a pitcher two years ago, and last season he went just 5-10, 3.98 for low Class A Columbus. Staring at an assignment in the homer-happy California League to begin 2007, McDonald responded by going 6-7, 3.95 for high Class A Inland Empire before a promotion to the much friendlier Double-A Southern League, where McDonald went 7-2, 1.71 for Jacksonville. All in all, he finished eighth in the minors with 168 strikeouts and fourth with 11.24 strikeouts per nine innings.

Relief Pitcher: EDWAR RAMIREZ
Yankees

A former indy leaguer, Ramirez got results out of the Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre bullpens with his plus-plus changeup. He fanned a mind-boggling 16.2 batters per nine innings in the minors, while walking just 3.5 in 57 innings. The 26-year-old Ramirez may not have much in the way of primary stuff, but he’s not afraid to double-, triple- or even quintuple-up on his changeup, giving opposing batters a unique look.

FIRST TEAM
Pos. Player, Team (Organization) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
C Geovany Soto, Iowa (Cubs) .353 .424 .652 385 75 136 31 3 26 109 53 94 0
1B Steven Pearce, Lynch./Alt./Ind. (Pirates) .333 .394 .622 487 94 162 40 4 31 113 47 70 14
2B Matt Antonelli, L.E./S. Antonio (Padres) .307 .404 .491 534 123 164 25 5 21 78 83 94 28
3B Evan Longoria, Mont./Durham (Devil Rays) .299 .402 .520 485 97 145 29 0 26 95 73 110 4
SS Jed Lowrie, Portland/Pawtucket (Red Sox) .298 .393 .503 497 82 148 47 8 13 70 77 91 5
OF Jay Bruce, Sara./Chat./Louisville (Reds) .319 .375 .587 521 87 166 46 8 26 89 47 135 8
OF Colby Rasmus, Springfield (Cardinals) .275 .381 .551 472 93 130 37 3 29 72 70 108 18
OF Justin Upton, Visalia/Mobile (Diamondbacks) .319 .410 .551 385 75 123 23 6 18 70 56 79 19
DH Travis Snider, Lansing
(Blue Jays)
.313 .377 .525 457 72 143 35 7 16 93 49 129 3
Pos. Pitcher, Team (Organization) W L ERA G GS SV IP H HR BB SO G/F AVG
SP Clay Buchholz, Port./Pawtucket (Red Sox) 8 5 2.44 24 23 0 125 87 9 35 171 1.09 .193
SP Ian Kennedy, Tam./Trenton/SWB (Yankees) 12 3 1.91 26 25 0 146 91 6 50 163 0.88 .182
SP Joba Chamberlain, Tam./Tren./SWB (Yankees) 9 2 2.45 18 15 0 88 62 4 27 135 1.57 .198
SP James McDonald, I.E./Jacksonville (Dodgers) 13 9 3.07 26 25 0 135 121 13 37 168 0.79 .240
RP Edwar Ramirez, Trenton/SWB
(Yankees)
4 0 0.79 34 0 7 57 26 1 22 102 1.06 .135
SECOND TEAM
Pos. Player, Team (Organization) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
C Taylor Teagarden, Baker./Frisco (Rangers) .310 .426 .586 394 94 122 28 0 27 83 75 128 2
1B Jordan Brown, Akron (Indians) .333 .421 .484 483 85 161 36 2 11 76 63 56 11
2B Adrian Cardenas, Lakewood (Phillies) .295 .354 .417 499 70 147 30 2 9 79 47 80 20
3B Chase Headley, San Antonio (Padres) .330 .437 .580 433 82 143 38 5 20 78 74 114 1
SS Chin-Lung Hu, Jack./Las Vegas (Dodgers) .325 .364 .507 517 89 168 40 6 14 62 32 51 15
OF Desmond Jennings, Columbus (Devil Rays) .315 .401 .465 387 75 122 21 5 9 37 45 53 45
OF Adam Jones, Tacoma (Mariners) .314 .382 .586 420 75 132 27 6 25 84 36 106 8
OF Cameron Maybin, GCL/Lake./Erie (Tigers) .316 .409 .523 323 68 102 15 5 14 53 51 91 25
DH Ryan Royster,
Columbus (Devil Rays)
.329 .380 .601 474 90 156 31 4 30 98 36 121 17
Pos. Pitcher, Team (Organization) W L ERA G GS SV IP H HR BB SO G/F AVG
SP Wade Davis, V.B./Montgomery
(Devil Rays)
10 3 2.50 27 27 0 158 128 8 51 169 1.30 .223
SP Gio Gonzalez, Birmingham (White Sox) 9 7 3.18 27 27 0 150 116 10 57 185 1.46 .216
SP Brandon Hynick, Modesto (Rockies) 16 5 2.52 28 28 0 182 170 13 31 136 1.08 .243
SP Jake McGee, V.B./Montgomery (Devil Rays) 8 6 3.15 26 26 0 140 105 10 52 175 0.85 .207
RP Jonathan Meloan, Jack./L.V. (Dodgers) 7 2 2.03 49 0 20 67 36 5 27 91 1.10 .156

Minors | #2007 #Awards #Minor League All-Stars

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