Editor’s note: The content in this article is pulled directly from Press Release information from the two clubs.
Springfield Cardinals send five players to North Division Texas League All Star Roster, Northwest Arkansas Naturals send two.
Naturals’ do-it-all utilityman Anthony Seratelli and catcher Salvador Perez will represent the Naturals while first baseman Matt Adams and outfielder Alex Castellanos were elected starters at their positions. Shortstop Ryan Jackson was selected as a reserve infielder, and Maikel Cleto and Michael Blazek make up one-fifth of the All-Star pitching staff.
Despite battling an oblique strain since late May, Adams is still among the Texas League leaders in virtually every hitting category. His batting average (.354) is good for second in the Texas League, as are his 15 home runs. Add in Adams’ 47 RBIs (third in the league), and the Philipsburg, Pa. native is the obvious choice at first base. Just 21 years of age, Adams is enjoying one of his finest seasons as a professional.
Joining Adams in the starting lineup is 24-year-old outfielder Alex Castellanos. In his first year in Springfield, Castellanos has already eclipsed his home run total for all of 2010. His 14 home run total is third best in the league. Castellanos surely turned voter’s heads with his high average (.308), RBI total (41) and laser arm in right-field. The Miami, Fla. resident joins Tulsa’s Tim Wheeler and Arkansas’ Mike Trout to form an outstanding trio in the North Division outfield.
Seratelli, voted in as the starting designated hitter, has been a primary offensive catalyst for the Naturals this season, batting .320 with six homers and 27 RBI’s, second on the club, in 54 games. His six homers double the regular season total from 2010 for the 28-year old from Matawan, NJ. Seratelli has logged time all over the field, at first, second, shortstop, and outfield. He was originally acquired by the Royals in February of 2007 when they purchased his contract from an unaffiliated independent league team.
Rounding out the Cardinals position player All-Stars is shortstop Ryan Jackson. Although Jackson’s bat has been steady throughout (.265, 4 HRs, 26 RBI’s), it is his excellent glove work that sets the 23-year-old apart from other infielders in the Texas League. Jackson has routinely been cited for making the difficult look routine, a trait Springfield pitchers undoubtedly appreciate.
Perez will serve as a reserve catcher for the North Division squad. The defensive-minded backstop is batting .247 with three homers and nine RBI’s on the season as one of the youngest players in the circuit. More importantly, the 21-year old Valencia, Venezuela resident leads all Texas League backstops in games played (44) and assists (39), and leads all Texas League catchers in catching would-be opposing base stealers, gunning down runners at a 44.4% rate (24 CS in 54 opposing SB attempts). Perez was ranked prior to the season by Baseball America as the Kansas City Royals’ 17th best prospect.
Blazek, from Las Vegas, Nev., has quietly become the Texas League leader in wins. His impressive 7-2 record is a major reason Springfield has a chance at finishing first in the division at the halfway point. Blazek’s 64 innings pitched is best on the staff, as are his 52 strikeouts. A 35th round selection in the 2007 MLB Draft, Blazek’s impressive 2011 campaign is making a case for his baseball future.
The final Springfield Cardinals’ All-Star is also the only member not originally drafted or signed by the club. Maikel Cleto was acquired from the Seattle Mariners for former St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Brendan Ryan in a trade on Dec. 12, 2010. Possessing a plus fastball, Cleto has always been an intriguing big league prospect, but under the tutelage of Springfield Pitching Coach Bryan Eversgerd, Cleto has harnessed his potential into impressive results. In just five starts, Cleto is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 34 strikeouts.
The rest of the North Division All Star Team pitching staff includes Orangel Arenas, Ryan Braiser, Trevor Reckling, Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker from the Arkansas Travelers, and Juan Nicasio, Christian Friedrich and Stephen Dodson representing the Tulsa Drillers.
Accompanying Adams and Castellanos in the North Division starting lineup are catcher Wilin Rosario (Tulsa), second baseman Ryan Mount (Arkansas), third baseman Luis Jimenez (Arkansas), shortstop Darwin Perez (Arkansas), designated hitter Anthony Seratelli (Northwest Arkansas), and outfielders Wheeler and Trout (Tulsa and Arkansas, respectively).
Rounding out the 24-man roster are reserves Darin Holcomb, Ben Paulsen and Scott Beerer (Tulsa) and Salvador Perez (Northwest Arkansas).
Naturals’ skipper Brian Poldberg, in his fourth season with Northwest Arkansas, along with Hitting Coach Terry Bradshaw, Pitching Coach Larry Carter, and Athletic Trainer Tony Medina will also represent Northwest Arkansas in San Antonio. The most experienced coaching staff in the league, the quartet won the first Texas League Championship in Northwest Arkansas’ short Texas League history and has the Naturals fighting down the wire in the first half of this season for a playoff spot, as well.
The 24-man All-Star rosters were selected by a voting panel which includes the Texas League President as well as the league’s managers, coaches, radio broadcasters, and newspaper beat writers. For tickets to the All-Star game and further information, visit the San Antonio Missions’ website, www.samissions.com.