Craig, Gallagher on All-Star Nods

Class A Daytona first baseman Matt Craig, starting pitcher Sean Gallagher and catcher Jake Fox were named to the 2006 Florida State League All-Star team on Thursday.  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp  &nbsp

The game will take place June 17 from Lakeland, Fla., home of the Detroit Tigers' affiliate in the Florida State League.

None of the three Cubs selections are strangers to minor league all-star rosters. For the second time in as many years of full-season ball since being drafted in 2004, Gallagher earned all-star honors after posting a 4-0 record and 2.48 ERA in 11 starts for Daytona.

Last year at Class Mid A Peoria, he shared the organizational lead in wins with 14 and boasted a 2.71 ERA in 26 starts. Those numbers earned the right-hander the Cubs' second annual Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.

"Being named to the all-star team is a privilege because it's voted on by other players and other managers in this league," said the 20-year-old Gallagher. "As players, we can't vote for our teammates. We have to vote for other players on other teams."

In his 11 starts for Daytona, Gallagher has racked up 67 strikeouts to 16 walks in 65 1/3 innings. The strikeouts are third most in the league this season. He has seven no-decisions, but has allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his starts.

"I'm having some games where I just make too many mistakes that I know are correctable," Gallagher said. "I've let things get away from me a little bit, but overall I feel I've had a good year."

Craig, meanwhile, earned mid-season All-Star honors for Double-A West Tennessee two years ago in a season that saw him bat .275 in 112 games. Now 25 and playing in Class A for the first time since '03, he is batting .316 in 48 games.

He ranks ninth in the league in batting average and finished May with six homers and 23 RBIs for the month, while batting .372. Craig also has the league's third best on-base percentage at .415. He came to Daytona planning to get some work behind the plate, but has thus far appeared exclusively in the field at first base.

"Being an all-star is more of a reflection on how the other team's view you as a player, which is great," Craig said in agreement with Gallagher. "I've been working on a bunch of things this year, just picking up on where I left off last year at Double-A. I hit really well the last couple of months up there and worked very hard this offseason on continuing those things."

Craig says he doesn't mind being at Daytona after two consecutive seasons at Double-A, because he feels Florida State League pitching is equally as sound as that at the levels above him.

"The parks are big. There aren't many hitters ballparks, either," Craig said. "I've been very impressed by the guys we've gone up against and it's really no different at all. There may be an occasional guy off a pitching staff that you can tee off of, but I haven't seen very many weaknesses."

For his part, Fox was picked as a reserve player for the 2004 Midwest League All-Star team at Class A Lansing. This year, he leads the Cubs' farm system with 44 RBIs and is batting .292 in 52 games in what is his second straight season with the Cubs' Advanced A affiliate.

Excluded from the original all-star selections were OF Sam Fuld and reliever Adalberto Mendez. Fuld leads the Cubs' farm system and the Florida State League with a .353 batting average in 51 games. He has the league's second best on-base percentage at .428.

Mendez has appeared in 24 games and has 11 saves, plus a 0.82 ERA in 33 innings.

"Guys like Sammy can get a second chance because of promotions, or if someone gets hurt," reminded Craig. "It happens."

Fuld drove in the team's only run and scored two hits to extend his consecutive on base streak to 28 straight games Thursday. The Cubs blanked Fort Myers, 1-0, to improve to 27-26 overall. They are currently 2.5 games behind first place St. Lucie in the Florida State League East.

Starter Mark Holliman tied a season-high seven innings pitched and gave up no runs on just three hits in a no-decision. He struck out four and walked two and has a 3.36 ERA in 11 starts.


Northsiders Report Top Stories