General | Professional | 9/20/2011

2011 PG Minor League All-Stars

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

While most of our efforts here at Perfect Game are focused on amateur baseball, we do continually keep tabs on what the players that we have crossed paths with are accomplishing at the professional level.

These efforts include our Major League Player of the Day feature as well as looking at the number of alumni that participated in the 2011 Future's Game. Each and every year the number of players that have participated in a Perfect Game showcase and/or tournament event continues to grow, and we are proud to be affiliated with so many talented baseball players.

For the past several years I have compiled a minor league team of notable performers, made up of players that have previously attended one of our events. Recent collections of such players have included young stars such as Jeremy Hellickson, Jason Heyward, Eric Hosmer, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey. Mike Trout makes the team for the second year in a row, and represents another wave of promising talent.

Similar to past years, I am going to stack up my lineup like a batting order, with nine hitters followed by three starting pitchers and a short relief prospect.

CF – Mike Trout (Angels)
The most dynamic player in the minor leagues last year received a call-up from the Angels after hitting .326/.414/.544 with 18 doubles, 13 triples and 11 home runs in 91 games at the AA level. He also showcased his exciting blend of power and speed by stealing 33 bases. Only Bryce Harper has the same kind of can't-miss prospect stardom written all over him like Trout does, and while he didn't fare as well at the big-league level, it's only a matter of time before he's a household name.

LF – Gary Brown (Giants)
Brown, who starred at Cal State Fullerton prior to being the Giants' first-round pick in 2010, spent the entire year with San Jose in the California League. He posted numbers similar to Trout's, with a .336/.407/.519 slash line in a league that favors offense. Brown showed there is more to his game than his electrifying speed, hitting 34 doubles, 13 triples and 14 home runs to go along with his 53 swipes. After seeing other former first-round picks of the Giants such as Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner fast-tracked to the big-leagues, it was a little surprising that Brown spent the entire year at high-A. Next year may prove differently.

3B – Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays)
Third base posed the most difficult decision among the individual positions outside of the three starting outfielders, as Nolan Arenado, Bobby Borchering, Nick Castellanos, James Darnell and Taylor Green all put up numbers worthy of this selection. Lawrie got the nod given his incredible numbers (.347/.414/.647, 24 doubles, 6 triples, 18 home runs) at the upper levels at the age of 21, and he has continued to produce at a high level at the big-league level for the Blue Jays. Acquired from the Brewers for starting pitcher Shawn Marcum, Lawrie looks poised to be a star for a long time.

1B – Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)

Another tough call, although among a smaller pool. Goldschmidt may have played a level below both Anthony Rizzo and David Cooper, but posted big offensive numbers (.306/.435/.626, 30 home runs, 82 RBI) in the Southern League, a league known for suppressing power. Rizzo did make the team as the DH as listed below, while Cooper showed exceptional plate discipline (67 walks vs. 43 strikeouts) while hitting 51 doubles. Goldschmidt has also made the smoothest transition to playing in the big-leagues as a member of the NL West leading Arizona Diamondbacks.

RF – Tim Wheeler (Rockies)
Left-handed slugger Tim Wheeler has an exciting blend of power and speed, hitting .287/.365/.525 at the AA level with 33 home runs and 21 stolen bases. Colorado's first-round pick in 2009, Wheeler will be a phone call away next season with a profile similar to that of all-time Rockies great Larry Walker.

Choosing three starting outfielders wasn't easy given the number of worthy candidates. Michael Choice, Bryce Harper, Jake Marisnick, Kent Matthes, A.J. Pollock, Eddie Rosario and Mason Williams were among those considered that just missed.

C – Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox)
Hitting has never been a problem for Lavarnway, who hit .384 with 33 home runs in three years at Yale. While his upside as a prospect has been questioned, he has continued to hit as a pro, posting a .290/.376/.563 slash line with 32 home runs and 93 RBI between the AA and AAA levels prior to him being called up to join the Red Sox. He edged out other promising catchers including Tommy Joseph, who hit 22 home runs and 95 RBI at the high-A level for the Giants, and Devin Mesoraco, who was rewarded for his comeback season by receiving a call-up with the Reds.

DH – Anthony Rizzo (Padres)
For the designated hitter I simply chose who I felt was the best hitter among those that just missed at their usual position. Rizzo got the nod over outfielders Michael Choice, Bryce Harper, Kent Matthes and Eddie Rosario for hitting .331/.404/.652 with 26 home runs and 101 RBI at AAA prior to being called up by the Padres. He may make the trade of Adrian Gonzalez pretty easy to swallow in a few years once he has adapted himself to life in the big-leagues.

2B – Jeff Kobernus (Nationals)
Selecting a second baseman at the minor league level isn't always an easy task, as many eventual players at the position play shortstop in the minors. Kobernus' numbers aren't as eye-popping as others on this list, as he hit .282 with 22 doubles, but really stood out with the 52 bases he stole during the 2011 minor league season. He is considered a good athlete and a steady infielder that has some versatility.

SS – Billy Hamilton (Reds)
Overall I really like the way I have stacked my lineup with speed at both the top and bottom of this lineup, as Trout, Brown, Kobernus and Hamilton combined for 241 stolen bases this past year. Hamilton's need for improved plate discipline (133 strikeouts) has him at the bottom instead of the top, but his 103 stolen bases in 123 attempts on the year allowed him to get the nod ahead of a pair of former PG All-Americans in Ryan Jackson and Derek Dietrich.

SP – Tyler Skaggs (Diamondbacks)
As they continue to enjoy success at the big-league level, it didn't take long for the Diamondbacks to quickly re-stock the shelves in their minor league system, with Skaggs standing as one of the most promising members of their youth movement. The tall, projectable left-hander went 9-6 with a 2.96 ERA across two levels this summer, posting 198 strikeouts in 158 innings. He may get another tune-up at the AA level to open the 2012 season, but it won't be long until he's pitching in the big-leagues for a team that wasn't expected to contend this year.

SP – Brad Peacock (Nationals)
Peacock went 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA between the AA and AAA levels prior to receiving a September call-up with the Nationals. He proved to be particularly tough to hit, allowing only 98 hits in 146 innings, and also struck out 177 batters. Like Skaggs, he may return to the minors to open the 2012 season, but it shouldn't be long until he's a regular in the Major Leagues pitching as part of a potentially dynamic staff that includes Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman.

SP – Drew Hutchison (Blue Jays)
With a 14-5 record, Hutchison posted the most wins among the starters that made this team. He also posted a 2.53 ERA collectively over three levels, opening the year at the low-A level in the Midwest League and finishing the season in the Eastern League at the AA level. He exhibited great command with each of the three teams he played for, with a 171-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 149 innings. The lanky right-hander likely will open 2012 back at AA, but could make a similar, rapid ascent next year.

It would be easy to round out a full pitching staff for this team, as Chad Bettis, Graham Godfrey, Trevor May, Shelby Miller, Julio Rodriguez, Keyvius Sampson and Eric Surkamp all received consideration.

RP – Shawn Tolleson (Dodgers)
This was a tough decision between Tolleson and Addison Reed. Tolleson got the nod simply for posting better numbers, although Reed soared across four levels in the minors prior to making his big-league debut with the White Sox earlier this month. Tolleson's numbers are reminiscent of closers of old, going 7-2 with 25 saves and a 1.17 ERA, striking out 105 and walking only 18 in 69 innings of work across two levels. He has always succeeded more due to the heavy movement on his fastball than the pitch's velocity, as not only is he difficult to hit, he's especially difficult to hit hard.

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