The Clinton LumberKings had four players named Tuesday to the Midwest League All-Star team, including starter Vinnie Catricala.
Catricala will start at designated hitter for the West Division squad in the All-Star Game set for June 22 at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Clinton shortstop Nick Franklin was named a reserve for the West and will be joined by pitchers Brian Moran and Erasmo Ramirez, both having solid seasons for the LumberKings.
“You always want to be recognized by your league,” Clinton manager John Tamargo said. “It’s a showcase. You get to get out there and play against the best of the best. It’s a fun thing.”
Catricala, a 10th-round pick last year by the Seattle Mariners, has been consistent in his first full professional season. The former standout at the University of Hawaii is hitting .286 with 17 doubles, four home runs and 28 RBIs. The 17 doubles tie him for third in the league.
A native of Sacramento, Calif., Catricala, 21, was the offensive MVP of short-season Pulaski (Va.) last season, hitting .301 with eight home runs, 14 doubles and 40 RBIs in 59 games.
“It’s not like I started the season just wanting to be an all-star,” said Catricala, who has played first base and served as the DH this season for Clinton. “It’s just happened. ... It’s pretty big. My family is proud of me, and I’m proud of myself.
“I think I’ve been a pretty solid player the first half this year. I think that’s what I brought to the table.”
Franklin was Seattle’s top pick in last year’s draft and has been one of the more productive players in the league this season. He was beaten out for a starting all-star spot by Peoria’s Hak-Ju Lee.
Lee is hitting .252 with 10 doubles and three triples. He’s driven in 16 runs and committed 18 errors in the field.
Franklin, a switch-hitter, ranks second in the Midwest League with 128 total bases, 29 extra base hits and is tied for second with 12 home runs. The 19-year-old ranks third in slugging percentage (.577), fourth in total hits (70) and ninth in batting average (.315).
“There’s no way Franklin shouldn’t be starting,” Tamargo said. “I don’t know what the process is, but they need to check into that. It’s beyond me how a guy can hit .320 with that many home runs and RBIs and less errors and not be starting in the all-star game.”
Moran, a left-handed reliever for Clinton, is 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 16 appearances and has converted two of three saves chances. A 21-year-old, Moran was a seventh-round pick by the Mariners last season out of North Carolina. He has 36 strikeouts in 29 innings and has walked just three batters.
Ramirez, who joined the LumberKings after the start of the season, is 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA in 10 appearances, including seven starts. The 20-year-old right-hander ranks eighth in the league in ERA and has 36 strikeouts and just three walks in 531⁄3 innings.
Ramirez was the Mariners’ minor-league pitcher of the year in 2009, playing with a summer-league team in Venezuela.
“Moran has had a great first half, and with his stats, he definitely deserves to be on the all-star team,” Tamargo said. “Both those guys have done well for us.”
Clinton has nine all-stars the past two seasons, including last season when it hosted the game. The LumberKings had eight all-stars in 2007.