The rosters for the Florida State League All-Star Game have been announced and the Palm Beach Cardinals have three representatives among the 27 players who will suit up for the East Division squad on June 14. They are catcher-third baseman Tony Cruz, shortstop Donovan Solano and outfielder Daryl Jones.
In addition, three others would have been on the team except for circumstances beyond their control. One was for a positive reason, the other not. Pitchers Jess Todd and Jon Mikrut were promoted to Double-A Springfield recently and outfielder Tyler Henley will be unable to play in the All-Star Game due to an injury suffered earlier this month.
A fixture in the important third spot in manager Gaylen Pitts’ order, Tony Cruz’ ten doubles and 28 RBI each lead the Cardinals. Defensively, he is playing regularly at both third base and behind the plate for the first-place club.
The 21-year-old played at four levels of the Cardinals’ system in 2007 after having been drafted in the 26th round last June. With a .299/.347/.451 line for the season, Cruz made my personal Cards top 40 list last winter, and just missed the group’s overall recognition. That may change this year.
It is a special pleasure to see shortstop Donovan Solano, often overlooked in the Cardinals’ system, receive All-Star recognition. It seems like the Colombian has been in the organization forever, yet he is still just 20 years of age.
Initially signed by the Cardinals in 2005, the defensively-steady Solano first joined Palm Beach last July, promoted from Quad Cities. This season, Solano is batting .305 in the FSL and his 62 hits lead the team.
Outfielder Daryl Jones was drafted at 17 years of age as the Cardinals’ third-round pick in 2005 and despite excellent physical gifts, struggled to put it all together in his first three seasons in the minor leagues. Like Solano, Jones was ranked among our top Cardinals prospects in 2006 and 2007 before dropping off the list last winter. Perhaps we were too hasty.
Now 20 years old, Jones is showing everyone what he can do. His current line is .299/.383/.456. The left-fielder has just one error on the season and has been successful in six of seven in stolen base attempts. He still needs to cut down on his strikeouts, a team high 43 in 147 at-bats, but if this continues, 2008 will have to be considered Jones’ breakout season.
Tyler Henley, 22, suffered a broken finger after being hit by a pitch and is out indefinitely. The centerfielder has not appeared since April 28, but made a major splash before his injury.
In 96 at-bats leading off for the Cardinals this season, Henley posted a stellar .313/.370/531 (BA/OBP/SLG) in the pitching-oriented FSL.
He was selected by the Cardinals in the eighth round of the 2007 draft from Rice University.
Right-handed starter Jess Todd, 22, was a Cardinals’ second-round pick in last June’s draft from the University of Arkansas. He quickly became our Scout.com 2007 Starting Pitcher of the Year for the short-season Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League and was a league All-Star.
This season, Todd skipped Quad Cities and proved the move was justified, going 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA over seven games, three starts as part of Palm Beach’s tandem rotation. The Texan fanned 35 and walked just seven in 27.1 FSL innings, holding opposing hitters to a collective .184 average. Todd received the well-deserved call to Double-A Springfield on May 5.
The FSL All-Star Game will be held at 7:30 P.M. Eastern time on Saturday, June 14. The location is Viera, FL, the home of the Brevard County Manatees (Washington Nationals).
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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