The 2008 Minor League All-Star Teams, as selected by Baseball America staff.
C Matt Wieters • Orioles
In The Year of the Catcher, the 6-foot-5 Wieters rose above the rest. Sure, switch-hitting Carlos Santana (Indians) nearly led the minors in both runs scored and RBIs, and J.P. Arencibia (Blue Jays) popped 27 home runs, but Wieters was just that much better than the field. The fifth overall pick in 2007 needed only one at-bat to acclimate himself to the pro game. He homered in his second and third at-bats for high Class A Frederick, and didn’t look back. The 22-year-old switch-hitter finished at .355/.454/.600 with 27 home runs in 437 at-bats, as he made his way to Double-A, and he ranked sixth among all minor leaguers in average, third in on-base percentage and ninth in slugging. Perhaps the best sign for Wieters’ future, though, was that he nailed 40 percent of basestealers.
1B Logan Morrison • Marlins
A 2005 22nd-round draft-and-follow from Maple Woods (Mo.) CC—Albert Pujols’ alma mater—Morrison entered the season with little fanfare. But the 21-year-old left it as the Florida State League’s MVP after leading the circuit with a .332 average, .402 on-base percentage, 162 hits and 38 doubles. The lefthanded-hitting slugger narrowly edged a crowded first-base field, which also included Lars Anderson (Red Sox), Kyle Blanks (Padres), Chris Carter (Athletics) and Freddie Freeman (Braves).
2B Chris Coghlan • Marlins
A top-of-the-order presence for Double-A Carolina all season, Coghlan may not have game-changing power or speed, but his disciplined approach and plus instincts could make him the successor to Dan Uggla in Florida. Drafted as a third baseman, the 23-year-old lefthanded hitter has made strides at second base, where his work habits have made his average-at-best defensive tools play up.
3B Mat Gamel • Brewers
Through the first three months of the season, the 23-year-old Gamel looked like a future batting champion in the making. The lefty batter was hitting .383 with 15 homers at Double-A Huntsville as July dawned, but a precipitous fall (.228/.300/.350 in 197 at-bats thereafter) took a bite out of Gamel’s season totals. He still ranked fourth in the minors with 281 total bases and seventh in with 172 hits and 99 runs scored. A late charge by Mike Moustakas (Royals), the Midwest League’s home run champ at age 19, nearly surpassed Gamel.
SS Alcides Escobar • Brewers
Mostly because of his youth, the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus, 19, gets most of the attention as the top shortstop prospect from Venezuela. But it’s Escobar, perhaps the best defender in the minors, who is the paradigm. And at age 21, the righthanded hitter may just be getting started. A strong runner, Escobar emphatically added the stolen base to his game this season (with 34), while his 179 hits ranked third in the minors and his 95 runs scored ranked 14th. It wasn’t easy relegating Brandon Wood (Angels) and his 31 homers and improved plate discipline to the second team, but he lost points for repeating the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and for getting an assist from some of the best hitter’s parks in the minors.
CF Mike Stanton • Marlins
With three representatives on this team, you know it was a good year for the Marlins down on the farm. Considering that it was his first full season, Stanton’s performance might be most impressive of all. The 2007 second-round pick won the South Atlantic League’s “power” triple crown, finishing first with 39 home runs, a .611 slugging percentage and 68 extra-base hits. He missed by two compiling the most total bases in the minors (286). Stanton derived a home run advantage from playing in Greensboro’s cozy park, but the 18-year-old righthanded batter hit nearly twice as many doubles on the road, giving him a higher slugging mark away from home. On the downside, he swung and missed frequently, compiling 153 strikeouts for the lowest contact rate (67 percent) of any of the 18 batters on either all-star team.
OF Jason Heyward • Braves
The prototypical corner-outfield prospect, Heyward displayed a wide-ranging toolset in the South Atlantic League, hitting for average and for power while showing strong contact skills, strike-zone judgment and aptitude in right field. The 14th overall pick in 2007 even managed to steal 15 bases in 18 attempts. The lefty-hitting Heyward turned 19 late in the season, suggesting that more offensive firepower could be in store as he matures.
OF Matt LaPorta • Indians
The top prospect received by Cleveland when it traded C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers, LaPorta’s plus-plus righthanded power and strong plate discipline served him well in Double-A. The 23-year-old missed a month while he played for Team USA in the Olympics, but that didn’t stop him from finishing runner-up among all corner outfielders on our all-star teams in home runs (22) and slugging (.539). A college first baseman picked seventh overall in 2007, LaPorta showed solid instincts in left field, though his range is just playable.
DH Kila Ka’aihue • Royals
The Royals’ 15th-round pick in 2002 out of a Honolulu high school, Ka’aihue had shown a firm grasp of the strike zone in the past (.368 career on-base percentage entering the year), but nothing like this. The 24-year-old lefty hitter quietly assembled perhaps the best overall season in the minors, batting .313/.457/.629 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs in 396 at-bats. Ka’aihue led the minors in on-base percentage, ranked second in slugging and first with 104 walks. It must run in the family—his brother Kala, a Braves farmhand, ranked eighth with 88 walks. A late power burst catapulted the 6-foot-3, 233-pound Kila Monster to fourth on the minor league home run list.
SP Madison Bumgarner • Giants
The SAL’s triple crown champ with 15 wins, a minor league leading 1.46 ERA and 164 strikeouts, Bumgarner’s premium control of his low-90s fastball was just too much for low Class A batters to handle. The lefthander walked just 21 batters in 24 starts on the year and surrendered a mere three home runs—none to lefthanded batters. A first-round pick in 2007, Bumgarner did not turn 19 until the season’s final month, but you wouldn’t know it by his extended dominance: He went five consecutive starts from July 28 to Aug. 21 without giving up a run, throwing 38 straight scoreless frames overall.
SP Jhoulys Chacin • Rockies
Embarking on his first full season, Chacin established himself as one of the most durable, efficient and effective starters in the minors. Despite his tender age, and despite pitching in inhospitable home parks in Asheville and Modesto, the 20-year-old Venezuelan compiled 1772â"3 innings, falling two shy of the minor league lead. The righthander’s 18 wins were tops, however, and his 2.03 ERA and 160 strikeouts weren’t far off the pace, both ranking sixth. The secret to Chacin’s success was command of the lower regions of the strike zone, as he used his fastball/changeup combo to register a strong 2.83 groundouts for every fly out.
SP Tommy Hanson • Braves
Double-A Southern League batters had the unenviable task of trying to hit the 6-foot-6 Hanson this season. Not only did the 22-year-old righthander fire a no-hitter against Birmingham on June 25, but he also held opposing batters to a .175 average, lowest in the minors. Couple that with Hanson’s 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings, the second-highest rate in the minors, and you have the recipe for a future frontline starter. Oh yeah, he also posted a 2.41 ERA (12th-best in the minors) and 163 strikeouts (fourth-best).
SP Derek Holland • Rangers
Righthanders Jordan Walden (Angels) and Mat Latos (Padres) got the attention as being the top arms from the final draft-and-follow class of 2006, but Holland may turn out to be the best. The little-known 25th-round lefthander from Wallace State (Ala.) CC-Hanceville rocketed from low Class A Clinton to Double-A Frisco this summer, seemingly getting better at each stop. With command of easy mid-90s velocity and a killer changeup, the 21-year-old Holland ranked 10th in the minors with 157 strikeouts, a 2.27 ERA and a .209 opponent average.
RP Daniel Bard • Red Sox
The 23-year-old Bard gained traction this season in his inconsistent career, two years after going 28th overall in the 2006 draft. The righthander entered the season with a career minor league ERA of 7.08 and more walks (78) than strikeouts (47) or innings (75). But that was in a starting role. Converted to relief at low Class A Greenville, Bard needed just a month to adjust, and soon he was blowing high-90s heat past Double-A batters. He struck out 12.4 batters per nine innings and, among minor league relievers, his .158 opponent average ranked second.
|Pos||Player, Levels (Organization)||Age||AVG||OBP||SLG||G||AB||R||H||2B||3B||HR||RBI||BB||SO||SB|
|C||Matt Wieters, AA/HiA (Orioles)||22||.355||.454||.600||130||437||89||155||22||2||27||91||82||76||2|
|1B||Logan Morrison, HiA (Marlins)||21||.332||.402||.494||130||488||71||162||38||1||13||74||57||80||9|
|2B||Chris Coghlan, AA (Marlins)||23||.298||.396||.429||132||483||83||144||32||5||7||74||67||65||34|
|3B||Mat Gamel, AA/AAA (Brewers)||23||.325||.392||.531||132||529||99||172||35||7||20||99||57||121||6|
|SS||Alcides Escobar, AA (Brewers)||21||.328||.363||.434||131||546||95||179||24||5||8||76||31||82||34|
|OF||Mike Stanton, LoA (Marlins)||18||.293||.381||.611||125||468||89||137||26||3||39||97||58||153||4|
|OF||Jason Heyward, LoA/HiA (Braves)||19||.316||.381||.473||127||471||91||149||29||6||11||56||51||78||15|
|OF||Matt LaPorta, AA (Indians)||23||.279||.386||.539||101||362||62||101||24||2||22||74||49||75||2|
|DH||Kila Ka’aihue, AA/AAA (Royals)||24||.313||.457||.629||123||396||89||124||14||0||37||99||104||66||3|
|Pos||Pitcher, Levels (Organization)||AGE||W||L||ERA||G||GS||SV||IP||H||HR||BB||SO||G/F||AVG||WHIP|
|SP||Madison Bumgarner, LoA (Giants)||19||15||3||1.46||24||24||0||142||111||3||21||164||0.86||.216||0.93|
|SP||Jhoulys Chacin, LoA/HiA (Rockies)||20||18||3||2.03||28||28||0||178||143||6||42||160||2.83||.221||1.04|
|SP||Tommy Hanson, AA/HiA (Braves)||22||11||5||2.41||25||25||0||138||85||9||52||163||0.71||.175||0.99|
|SP||Derek Holland, LoA/HiA/AA (Rangers)||21||13||1||2.27||26||26||0||151||111||3||40||157||1.20||.209||1.00|
|RP||Daniel Bard, AA/LoA (Red Sox)||23||5||1||1.51||46||0||7||78||42||4||30||107||2.18||.158||0.93|
|Pos||Player, Levels (Organization)||AGE||AVG||OBP||SLG||G||AB||R||H||2B||3B||HR||RBI||BB||SO||SB|
|C||Carlos Santana, HiA/AA (Indians)||22||.326||.431||.568||130||463||125||151||39||5||21||117||89||85||10|
|1B||Lars Anderson, HiA/AA (Red Sox)||20||.317||.417||.517||118||439||85||139||32||1||18||80||75||107||1|
|2B||Ivan DeJesus, AA (Dodgers)||21||.324||.419||.423||128||463||91||150||21||2||7||58||76||81||16|
|3B||Mike Moustakas, Low A (Royals)||19||.272||.337||.468||126||496||77||135||25||3||22||71||43||86||8|
|SS||Brandon Wood, AAA (Angels)||23||.296||.375||.595||103||395||82||117||21||2||31||84||45||104||6|
|OF||Dexter Fowler, AA (Rockies)||22||.335||.431||.515||108||421||92||141||31||9||9||64||65||89||20|
|OF||Michael Taylor, LoA/HiA (Phillies)||22||.346||.412||.557||132||492||76||170||39||4||19||88||50||89||15|
|OF||Travis Snider, AA/AAA/HiA (Blue Jays)||20||.275||.358||.481||132||484||88||133||31||0||23||91||61||153||3|
|DH||Pablo Sandoval, HiA/AA (Giants)||22||.350||.394||.578||112||448||90||157||38||2||20||96||31||59||2|
|Pos||Pitcher, Levels (Organization)||AGE||W||L||ERA||G||GS||SV||IP||H||HR||BB||SO||G/F||AVG||WHIP|
|SP||Trevor Cahill, HiA/AA (Athletics)||20||11||5||2.61||21||19||0||124||76||5||50||136||2.43||.179||1.01|
|SP||Neftali Feliz, LoA/AA (Rangers)||20||10||6||2.69||27||27||0||127||89||3||51||153||1.19||.201||1.10|
|SP||David Price, AA/HiA/AAA (Rays)||23||12||1||2.30||19||19||0||110||92||7||32||109||1.45||.228||1.13|
|SP||Chris Tillman, AA (Orioles)||20||11||4||3.18||28||28||0||136||115||10||65||154||0.82||.227||1.33|
|RP||Rob Delaney, AA/HiA (Twins)||23||3||3||1.23||46||0||18||66||44||3||11||72||0.71||.189||0.83|