Catching up with the Missions All-Stars

Two San Antonio Missions players were named recently to next week's Texas League All-Star Game, and InsidethePark's Joe Ruiz took the opportunty to chat with both about the tremendous honor. Be sure to check back in to InsidethePark next week as Ruiz hits the road and reports on location from Midland, Texas, the site of this year's Mid-Summer Classic.

A simple announcement graced the Texas League's official website one week ago. The league announced the rosters for the upcoming All-Star Game on June 21. On that list were two of the Seattle Mariners' top minor leaguers at the Double-A level.

The San Antonio Missions will send two position players to Midland, Texas next week; CF Dustin Delucchi was named a starter and 3B Greg Dobbs will fill in for recently promoted 3B Mark Teahan of the Midland Rockhounds (the Oakland Athletics Double-A affiliate).

Delucchi, a 26-year-old from Burlingame, Calif. has been the most consistent Mission from the lead-off position throughout the first half of the season. The outfielder has been a staple amongst the league leaders in hitting all year long, and is currently ninth in the league with a .320 batting average. He's on pace to eclipse his previous career highs in hits, runs, on-base percentage and home runs.

The move to the lead-off spot for Delucchi has paid off in numerous ways for the Missions. Earlier in the season, he put together a hitting streak that spanned 12 games and, more recently, he has reached base safely in 19 consecutive games.

"I'm just trying to get on base," said Delucchi. "As the leadoff hitter, you're going to see a lot of pitches, make the pitcher work a little bit. I'm just trying to get on base and score runs."

Not only is Delucchi scoring runs, but when allowed the opportunity to hit with runners in scoring position, he's capitalized. The 6-foot, 185-pound left-hander is batting .341 with runners in scoring position and .333 with runners on base.

The former Arizona State star has also improved remarkably with the glove while patrolling the center-fields of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas. During Sunday night's game, Delucchi backpedaled, turned 180 degrees, looked over his shoulder and made a run-saving catch in deep center field to keep the Missions' comeback hopes alive.

Dobbs, meanwhile, gets the honor of being an all-star after missing all but two games in the 2003 campaign with a torn Achilles heel. The 24-year-old from Los Angeles, Calif. has stayed amongst the league leaders along with Delucchi since the start of April. The third baseman's average is currently .328, enough for seventh in the Texas League, and he's batting .400 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

The range of emotions over the past two-and-a-half years has been tough for Dobbs, but he feels that all of his current success is a direct result of the work he put in to return to the lineup.

"I feel very fortunate and very happy to be representing San Antonio, representing my team and my teammates in the All-Star game," said Dobbs after Sunday night's 2-1 loss to the Frisco Roughriders. "It was definitely some good news.

"I would like to think that I put myself in a position to open some eyes. I feel fortunate more than anything. After last year, I didn't know what to expect and how I would rebound and how my leg would come back. All I knew is that every day I had to keep grinding at it and just hoping that it would come back the way it has. I just wanted to play again and play every day and help the team win."

With the big league club at the bottom of the American League West standings and hopes of a recovering fading fast, many are expecting the Mariners to bring last season's Missions (now Rainiers) up for major league time. With those possible moves, Dobbs is thought of as quite possibly the next position player who will receive plane tickets from San Antonio to Tacoma, joining five others who already have - RHP Jared Hoerman, C Jim Horner, RHP Gustavo Martinez and OF Greg Jacobs.

Joe Ruiz, your roving reporter in San Antonio, will make the 300-plus mile road trip to Midland, Texas for the Texas League's Midsummer Classic. Be sure to check back in to for Ruiz's in-depth reports on location from June 20-22.

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