See also: 2011 Classification All-Star Teams
The 2011 Minor League All-Star Team, as selected by Baseball America staff.
C Ryan Lavarnway • Red Sox
Triple-A Pawtucket (International)
Lavarnway stands well above the field, even in a season when seven other catchers hit at least 20 home runs—a group that includes Eastern League MVP Travis d'Arnaud and top prospects Wilin Rosario of the Rockies, Tommy Joseph of the Giants and Derek Norris of the Nationals. That's because Lavarnway batted .290/.376/.563 and mashed 32 homers at the two highest levels of the minors to earn his first taste of big league play. For a catcher to slug 30 homers in the minors is a rare feat. The Blue Jays' J.P. Arencibia hit 32 bombs for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2010; Mike Napoli struck 31 homers for Double-A Arkansas in 2005; and going further back, Todd Greene hit 40 at two levels in 1995.
1B Paul Goldschmidt • Diamondbacks
Double-A Mobile (Southern)
Promoted to Arizona on Aug. 1, Goldschmidt missed the final month of Mobile's season but still nearly led the Southern League in homers (30) and RBIs (94). In fact, only a late surge by Carolina's Neftali Soto knocked Goldschmidt off his home run perch, and they still shared the spotlight with 30 apiece. Goldschmidt had already added seven more home runs in the big leagues. Perhaps the biggest revelation during a breakout year was Goldschmidt's improved strike-zone management. He took giant strides forward in his strikeout and walk rates while jumping from the Cal to Southern League, and his .435 on-base percentage ranked fourth in the minors.
2B Jose Altuve • Astros
Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Coming into the season, not even the Astros knew what they had in Altuve, the 5-foot-7 engine that could. Things are different now after the 21-year-old Venezuelan hit .389 to capture the minor league batting title and propel himself to Houston. Aided by the friendly hitting conditions at high Class A Lancaster, Altuve batted .408 in 52 games—including a .464 mark at home—to earn the bump to Double-A, where the barrage continued. The Astros summoned Altuve on July 20 after he proved himself at Corpus Christi by batting .361/.388/.569 with 17 extra-base hits in 35 games.
3B Brett Lawrie • Blue Jays
Triple-A Las Vegas (Pacific Coast)
If the Canadian native felt additional pressure after being traded by the Brewers straight up for Shaun Marcum last offseason, it sure wasn't apparent in his performance in 2011. A position switch from second to third base also proved to be no problem. The 21-year-old Lawrie took full advantage of the friendly confines of Las Vegas to bat .353/.415/.661 with almost as many extra-base hits (48) as strikeouts (53) in 69 games for the 51s. Toronto might have called on the Vancouver native sooner than Aug. 5 had he not broken a bone in his left hand in late May.
SS Jurickson Profar • Rangers
Low Class A Hickory (South Atlantic)
Just two years ago, teams liked Profar more as a pitcher than as a position player. But Profar wanted to hit, and the Rangers were happy to oblige. Now he's one of the best shortstop prospects in baseball, having emphasized that point by hitting .286/.390/.483 and leading Hickory to the South Atlantic League's top record this season. Profar has the glove to stick at shortstop, plenty of arm and the power potential to hit 15-20 home runs a year. But his advanced approach at the plate may be his most impressive attribute. Profar walked more than he struck out this year and has the bat speed and hand-eye coordination to hit for average.
CF Mike Trout • Angels
Double-A Arkansas (Texas)
Considering the expectations he carried into the season, it would have been hard for Trout to wow fans with his numbers this year. But sandwiched around two callups to Anaheim, Trout put together an exceptional season that helped Arkansas to the Texas League playoffs. Considering that Trout played most of the year as a 19-year-old, his .326/.414/.544 season ranks as one of the best by a teenager in recent minor league history. And he did it while playing above-average defense in center field and stealing 33 bases in 43 attempts. All in all, he did everything you would expect from one of baseball's best prospects and our Minor League Player of the Year.
OF Gary Brown • Giants
High Class A San Jose (California)
After graduating Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt, the Giants can fairly say that they aren't just a team limited to developing pitchers. Consider Brown the next in line. His greatest assets include top-of-the-scale speed and above-average defense in center field. Brown's power numbers were aided by playing in the California League, but the high altitude and strong winds had nothing to do with his 53 steals in 72 attempts, and his .337 average and .407 on-base percentage both ranked among the league leaders. His ability to put the bat on the ball gives him a chance to profile as a top of the order hitter.
OF Tim Wheeler • Rockies
Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
If the minors selected a comeback player of the year, then Wheeler very well might win that award for his work this season. The Rockies' 2009 first-rounder had a forgettable full-season debut in the Cal League in 2010, batting .249 with 12 homers and a .384 slugging percentage for Modesto. Wheeler reversed course in the Texas League this season, leading the loop with 33 homers (five behind Bryan LaHair for the minor league lead), 161 hits, 67 extra-base hits and 105 runs. Just about the only thing putting a crimp in Wheeler's style were lefthanded pitchers. He hit .236 and struck out in nearly 31 percent of at-bats versus southpaws.
DH Bryan LaHair • Cubs
Triple-A Iowa (Pacific Coast)
The Mariners let LaHair walk as a minor league free agent following the 2009 season because they weren't satisfied with his ability to turn on inside fastballs for home runs or to hit lefthanders. He hit .231 and slugged .366 versus southpaws for Triple-A Tacoma that season, which compounded with a lackluster 45-game trial for Seattle in 2008 hastened his departure from the organization. LaHair refashioned himself as a slugger upon signing with the Cubs. In two seasons with Triple-A Iowa, he has mashed 63 homers while batting .320/.396/.613. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: LaHair led all minor leaguers in homers (38), slugging (.664) and OPS (1.070) this season, while winning Pacific Coast League MVP honors and receiving a September audition with the Cubs. The 28-year-old first baseman/corner outfielder could carve out a larger role for 2012.
SP Matt Moore • Rays
Triple-A Durham (International)
Rays ace David Price wrote on Twitter that Moore has the "easiest 96 (mph) I've ever seen." Minor league hitters agree. Moore finished a close second in the minors among qualified pitchers with a 1.92 ERA, .184 opponent average and strikeout rate of 12.2 per nine innings. With 210 strikeouts, Moore trailed leader Edwar Cabrera by a mere seven whiffs, narrowly missing out on his third consecutive minor league strikeout crown. The 22-year-old lefthander instead settled for a September callup to Tampa Bay to pitch out of the bullpen.
SP Shelby Miller • Cardinals
Double-A Springfield (Texas)
Miller weathered a two-week summer suspension by the Cardinals to leave the Texas League in style, racking up 18 strikeouts and allowing three runs on eight hits in his final 17 innings. He fanned nine and held Tulsa to two hits over eight innings on Sept. 2, in possibly his final turn at the Double-A level. Miller features easy mid-90s heat and an often-plus curveball, allowing him to rack up 11 strikeouts per nine innings and permit just four homers in 25 starts. Enhanced feel for pitching is the only thing standing in the way of Miller and ace-dom.
SP Brad Peacock • Nationals
Triple-A Syracuse (International)
Peacock led the Double-A Eastern League in strikeouts, with 129 in 99 innings, at the time of his promotion to Syracuse. He pitched his way to the big leagues after nine impressive starts for the Chiefs, where he continued to foil batters with fastballs in fastball counts and two strong secondary offerings. On the season, Peacock held opponents to a .188 average (to rank fourth in the minors) and a 0.99 WHIP (fifth), while finishing seventh with 177 strikeouts. The organization's rotation of the future began to take shape in Washington, where Peacock joined Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann in September.
SP Tyler Skaggs • Diamondbacks
Double-A Mobile (Southern)
An Angels supplemental first-round pick in 2009, Skaggs became property of the Diamondbacks in the summer 2010 trade for Dan Haren. Let's just say he's mastered the art of making a strong first impression. His 3.22 ERA in the California League would have ranked second if he had enough innings to qualify. Instead, a midseason promotion gave him a chance to pitch in the much friendlier confines of Mobile's Hank Aaron Stadium. He responded by lowering his ERA to 2.50 while improving his strikeout-to-walk ratio to nearly 5-to-1 and finishing fourth in the minors in strikeouts. If he continues to develop he could be the rare lefty with multiple plus pitches to go with above-average command.
SP Julio Teheran • Braves
Triple-A Gwinnett (International)
Teheran allowed six runs in three innings in his final start for Gwinnett, costing him the International League ERA title—but just barely. He fell behind Columbus' Jeanmar Gomez by a margin of 2.549 to 2.550, but Teheran still topped the IL with 15 wins and a .230 opponent average. With a plus fastball/changeup combo and the making of a third—his curveball—Teheran has the poise and control of the strike zone that portend good things. Not bad for a pitcher who doesn't turn 21 until January.
RP Addison Reed • White Sox
Triple-A Charlotte (International)
In a move straight out of the Dan Hudson playbook, Reed shot from the third round of the 2010 draft to Chicago in little more than a year, making ever-so-brief pit stops at all four levels of full-season ball this season. Reed's minor league ratios may elicit a double-take—12.8 strikeouts, 1.6 walks, 4.9 hits per nine innings—but he backs them up with mid-90s heat and a power slider. The 22-year-old Reed naturally struck out eight of the first 21 big league batters to face him.