2005 Minor League All-Star Teams




Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Braves

Saltalamacchia's selection makes it back-to-back years that a Braves catcher occupies this spot. His combination of switch-hitting power, large, powerful frame and off-the-charts work ethic has earned him comparisons to Red Sox stalwart Jason Varitek. Saltalamacchia's power helped him post the highest slugging percentage in the history of the Myrtle Beach franchise.

First Base: Justin Huber, Royals

Another part of the Mets diaspora, Huber filled his trophy closet this year, taking home both the Futures Game and Double-A Texas League MVP awards. He also reached the majors and could be a major part of the Royals' significant rebuilding project. While his catching days appear to be behind him, Huber's power and patience have made him Australia's best hitting product since former all-star David Nilsson.

Second Base: Howie Kendrick, Angels

It's almost impossible to expect a hitter with a .355 career batting average to improve on that mark while at the same time facing the most difficult competition of his career. That's what Kendrick did in 2005, however, hitting .367 overall
(second in the minors) and throwing in a .614 slugging percentage that ranked eighth overall for good measure. Overshadowed in the first half because of the amazing season of his Rancho running mate, Brandon Wood, Kendrick was the one who got a promotion to Double-A and made the most of it.

Third Base: Andy LaRoche, Dodgers

LaRoche was in the running for the minor league home run title before the Dodgers promoted him from to Double-A Jacksonville after he ripped 20 homers in the first half at high Class A Vero Beach. With his combination of athleticism and strength, LaRoche fit right in with a prospect-laden Suns team and helped it win the Southern League championship. The Dodgers have no obvious short-term answer at third base in Los Angeles, but LaRoche is developing into the long-term solution.

Shortstop: Brandon Wood, Angels

The Angels' amazing depth up the middle is evident in the presence of Kendrick and Wood, who teamed together at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and team here on the Minor League All-Star Team. It's also evident in that Wood didn't get a promotion until September, when he got a late cameo in Triple-A Salt Lake. He certainly had earned the promotion, as no minor leaguer consistently crushed the ball like Wood, who led the minors with 101 extra-base hits.

Outfield: Jeremy Hermida, Marlins

Hermida's Double-A Carolina team sent six pitchers to the parent Marlins this season, but the pickings were slimmer in the Mudcats lineup, Hermida was pitched around all season--that and his excellent eye and advanced approach helped him rank third in the minors with 111 walks. When he got a pitch he could handle, Hermida rarely missed, even when rusty. He hit a grand slam in his first major league at-bat, even though he had not hit in a game for nine days due to a bone bruise in his wrist.

Outfield: Chris Young, White Sox

The White Sox sent an inexperienced team to Double-A Birmingham, so it was fitting that someone named Young led them to the Southern League playoffs. He skipped high Class A and wasn't fazed a bit, getting better as the year went on. He ranked tied for seventh in the minors in extra-base hits, his 26 homers tied for the SL lead, and his 41 doubles led the league. While the organization's outfield picture is crowded, the 22-year-old Young may have forced his way to the front with his big season.

Outfield: Delmon Young, Devil Rays

The Devil Rays' position of strength in the majors is outfield, and they have the best prospect in the minor leagues, who just happens to be an outfielder. Just their luck. Young might have won the Double-A Southern League's triple crown had he not been promoted to Triple-A, where he started and finished with a flourish. He missed a 30-30 season by two homers as he added speed
(as well as excellent defense) to his toolbox. The younger brother of Tigers slugger Dmitri Young didn't get a September callup, the subject of much controversy, but his stellar season earned him BA's Minor League Player of the Year award.

Designated Hitter: Billy Butler, Royals

In another difficult summer for the Royals organization, Butler stood out as perhaps its brightest spot. The 2004 first-round pick out of Jacksonville's Wolfson High pounded the ball from the start for High Class A High Desert, showing power away from the hitter's haven of Maverick Stadium as well. He kept hitting with a promotion to Double-A Wichita. His future position remains unclear, as he moved from third base to left field this year. He's most comfortable in the batter's box.

Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, Mariners

The whole world got to see the Venezuelan this season, and the minor leagues' worst-kept secret was revealed--Hernandez is for real. His season had two blemishes--a higher-than-expected walk rate as the 19-year-old found Triple-A hitters had better plate discipline, and a mild bout of shoulder bursitis. But in two-thirds of a season, Hernandez showed dominant stuff, three plus pitches and an uncanny knowledge of how to use them for a teenager.

Starting Pitcher: Chuck James, Braves

The Braves' farm system had an amazing season, helping the big league club in unprecedented fashion while producing more elite prospects to replace the Atlanta graduates. James emerged more than anyone, using savvy, command and above-average secondary pitches to dominate three levels on his way to the majors. James ranked third in the minors in ERA, fourth in strikeouts
(and sixth in ratio with 10.77 strikeouts per nine innings) and first in average against at just .179.

Starting Pitcher: Francisco Liriano, Twins

Likened to 2004 American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana, Liriano put up un-Santana like numbers in the first half at Double-A New Britain, going just 3-5, 3.64. Like Santana, though, Liriano was unhittable in the second half, even with a promotion to Triple-A Rochester. His combination of an upper-90s fastball, plus changeup and feel for the strike zone helped him lead the minors with 204 strikeouts overall.

Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander, Tigers

Verlander's best record in college was 7-6, but his live right arm, which produces high-90s fastballs and power curves, got him drafted second overall in 2004. His record was significantly better in 2005. The Tigers improved his command by softening the front leg in his delivery, and Verlander harnessed his power repertoire. In the first half of the season, he helped Lakeland on its way to the minors' best record, then he started the Futures Game in Detroit, dominated Double-A and pitched in the big leagues before ending his season early due to a tired arm.

Relief Pitcher: Jamie Van Buren, Cubs

It's been a long time coming for Van Buren, a second-round pick in 1998 out of a Mississippi high school. He never made it out of A-ball with the Rockies, his original organization, and the Cubs signed him prior to 2004 after he spent a year in the independent Central League. They moved him to the bullpen, and his rise has been rapid, culminating in a September callup this year. He picked up 46 saves the last two seasons and held Pacific Coast League hitters to a .181 average as the minors' top closer in 2005.

FIRST TEAM

Pos.PlayerTeam
(Org.)
AVGOBPSLGABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSB
CJarrod Saltala-
macchia
Myrtle
(Braves)
.314.394.51945970144351198157994
1BJustin HuberWichita/
Omaha
(Royals)
.330.425.5674488714829423977010310
2BHowie KendrickRancho/
Arkansas
(Angels)
.367.406.6144691041724381989206225
3BAndy LaRocheVero/
Jacksonville
(Dodgers)
.304.371.55347695145261309451928
SSBrandon WoodRancho/
Salt Lake
(Angels)
.321.379.66755511017853543116481347
OFJeremy HermidaCarolina
(Marlins)
.293.457.5183867711329218631118923
OFChris YoungBirmingham
(White Sox)
.277.377.54546610012941326777012932
OFDelmon YoungMont./
Durham
(Devil Rays)
.315.354.527558921762672699299932
DHBilly ButlerHigh Desert/
Wichita
(Royals)
.340.404.611491841673923011049980

Pos.PlayerTeam
(Org.)
WLERAGGSCGSVIPHHRBBSOAVG
SPFelix HernandezTacoma
(Mariners)
942.251914008862348100.196
SPChuck JamesM.B./Miss./
Rich.
(Braves)
1372.12292900161103936193.179
SPFrancisco LirianoN.B./Roch.
(Twins)
1272.632727001681261050204.208
SPJustin VerlanderLake./
Erie
(Tigers)
1121.2920200011981426136.197
RPJermaine Van BurenIowa
(Cubs)
231.98520025553352265.181

SECOND TEAM

Pos.PlayerTeam
(Org.)
AVGOBPSLGABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOSB
CRussell MartinJacksonville
(Dodgers)
.311.430.42340983127171961786915
1BConor JacksonTucson
(Diamondbacks)
.354.457.5533336611838287369323
2BAndy GreenTucson
(Diamondbacks)
.343.422.5875301251824613198068829
3BKory CastoPotomac
(Nationals)
.290.394.51050086145364229084986
SSB.J. UptonDurham
(Devil Rays)
.303.392.4905459816536618747812744
OFTodd LindenFresno
(Giants)
.321.437.68234081109254308062976
OFNick MarkakisFred./
Bowie
(Orioles)
.310.390.50447478147413159261952
OFShane VictorinoScranton/
W-B
(Phillies)
.310.377.5344949315325161870517417
DHPrince FielderNashville
(Brewers)
.291.388.56937868110210288654938

Pos.PlayerTeam
(Org.)
WLERAGGSCGSVIPHHRBBSOAVG
SPJon LesterPortland
(Red Sox)
1162.612626301481141057163.215
SPRicky NolascoWest Tenn
(Cubs)
1432.892727101621511346173.245
SPJeremy SowersKin./Akron/
Buff.
1442.372727001591411329149.235
SPJoel ZumayaErie/
Toledo
(Tigers)
952.742626101511011076199.189
RPChris BrittainFrederick
(Orioles)
601.60460067947523110.172