Daytona Sends Five to All-Star Game

Five players from the Cubs' Class High-A affiliate on Thursday were named to this year's Florida State League All-Star Game, to be played June 14 at Space Coast Stadium in Brevard County.

Making an All-Star team gives a player an added boost of confidence and provides nice recognition from his league (meaning the managers and select media that vote on the selections), said Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita.

"I would think it's a great thing for a player's confidence and it's a nice way to get a nice little bit of respect, and a nice way of saying, ‘Thanks for your hard work and you caught somebody's eye,' because the coaches vote them in," Fleita said.

"I think it bodes well for their careers and from an organizational standpoint, we're real proud of the guys that are fortunate enough to be selected," added Fleita.

The five players from Daytona that were selected to this year's FSL All-Star team were outfielder Jim Adduci, catcher Welington Castillo, second baseman Tony Thomas, and pitchers Alex Maestri and Casey Lambert, the league announced Thursday.

Adduci, 23, batted .321 with 13 extra-base hits through his first 51 games this season. He led the Florida State League with 62 hits and leads the Daytona team in walks (28), average, runs scored (33), combining for a .406 on-base percentage.

The left-handed batting outfielder was drafted by the Marlins in 2003 and was traded to the Cubs in the fall of '06. He hit .292 in 107 games at Class-A Peoria a year ago.

"What a lot of people don't know about Adduci is that his dad is an ex-player," said Fleita. "A lot of these guys know the ins and outs of how things work because they've been surrounded by it their whole life. He was hurt for a while with the Marlins and then he got injured with us. He's finally healthy and has the upper hand again."

Castillo, 21, made the All-Star team and has batted .273 with eight doubles through 33 games. Behind the dish he has thrown out 30 percent of opposing runners (12 CS in 40 attempts), which places sixth in the league.

Considered one of the top defensive catchers in the system, the Cubs have even compared Castillo to St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina.

"I never really paid attention to Yadier's numbers at the minor league level, but he (Castillo) has always swung the bat," Fleita said. "Last year ... he hit .271 so he's no stranger to handling the bat and handling the bat (in certain situations) by knocking runners in, getting runners over and hitting with two strikes. He does a lot of things that you don't find a lot in a catcher and his catching and throwing speaks for itself."

Thomas, 21, got off to a hot start at Daytona by batting above .300 for much of the first month of play. Through 47 games, the Cubs' third-round draft pick from Florida State a year ago is hitting .269 with 16 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases.

Thomas spent last summer at Low-A Boise and was skipped a level this spring.

"He did exactly what you thought he'd do," Fleita said of Thomas. "We figured he might have some good weeks and bad weeks that first year out. It's his first long season, but all things considered we're very happy and pleased with his progress. I still think we've got a lot better days ahead with Tony."

Of the pitchers selected, Maestri, who turns 23 on June 1, is 4-2 with a 3.04 ERA through 10 appearances, including nine starts. The right-hander pitched most of last year in relief at Peoria but this year he has made an easy transition into the rotation.

"We had hoped that this would be an easy transition and he has certainly served it well," Fleita said. "We explained to him that getting into the rotation would allow him to become a more rounded pitcher and benefit him later in his career. Starting pitchers are hard to come by, guys that throw 200 innings plus. He's shown us that he looks resilient, durable and he has all the qualities to be that 200-plus inning guy."

Lambert, 22 the Cubs' sixth-round draft pick from Virginia last summer, rounds out the team's All-Star crop. In 22 games, the left-hander has nine saves in 10 chances and a 3.04 ERA. He has struck out 27 batters and walked only eight in 26 2/3 innings.

"He's a little left-hander that throws strikes and has a good curveball," Fleita said. "He's obviously got a lot of experience pitching late in the game. He did that in college so he's used to pitching when the game's on the line and at this point with us, he's done just that. He is kind of writing a nice little script for his career." staff writer Corey Ann Dobridnia in Daytona Beach contributed to this report.

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