Three Quad Cities River Bandits players became All-Stars on Tuesday, as Pete Kozma, Charlie Kingrey, and Mark Diapoules were selected by league managers to participate in the Midwest League All-Star Classic on June 17 in Midland, Michigan.
Due to the unequal division sizes, every year one club from the eight-team Western Division participates in the All-Star festivities as a member of the six-team Eastern Division squad. This season it was Quad Cities switching over, so the three River Bandits All-Star representatives will be playing for the Eastern Division during the All-Star festivities that will take place at the Dow Diamond, home of the Great Lakes Loons.
Both Kozma and Kingrey were named to the All-Star Team as starters at shortstop and outfield, respectively, while Diapoules was one of 15 pitchers named to the Eastern Division staff.
“I think they are all very deserving,” said River Bandits manager Steve Dillard. “Kozma, Kingrey, and Diapoules all deserved it, they all did well. This will be a great experience for those guys.”
Kozma, the Cardinals’ first-round pick in the 2007 draft, is hitting .274 with three homers and 19 RBI through 51 games this season. He has added a team-high 33 runs scored and five stolen bases while showing a strong throwing arm and well above-average range at shortstop. The 20-year-old from Oklahoma opened the season on a tear with a .341 batting average in April, and within the first month of the season had already put together a pair of eight-game hitting streaks. Kozma was taken by St. Louis with the 18th overall pick in the draft after a stellar career at Owasso High School in Oklahoma in which he set a school record with a .533 batting average as a junior before leading his team to a state title as a senior.
Kingrey, a 23-year-old outfielder from Kinder, Louisiana, has emerged as the most consistent bat in the River Bandits lineup. A sweet-swinging lefty, he currently ranks seventh in the league with a .308 batting average while leading the team with 32 RBI, 15 doubles, 17 multi-hit games, and eight multi-RBI games. Kingrey was a 22nd-round pick by the Cardinals in the 2007 draft after his senior season at McNeese State was cut short by a broken wrist, and following a brief stint in the Gulf Coast League last year he is getting his first real professional experience in 2008.
Diapoules is the only one of the River Bandits three All-Stars that did not begin the season with Quad Cities, but the 20-year-old right-hander hit the ground running upon joining the squad on April 24. The sinkerballer has allowed more than one earned run just once in nine appearances, going 4-0 with a 1.83 ERA, two saves, and 39 strikeouts in 39.1 innings of work. The River Bandits are 4-1 when Diapoules starts and 7-2 in games that he has pitched, as he has played a part in three of the staff’s four shutout wins this season. Taking one shaky start on May 20 against Peoria out of the equation, Diapoules is 4-0 with just a 1.00 ERA in his eight other appearances.