Carolina vs. California in Hi-A All Star Game

Baltimore Orioles prospect Nick Markakis, the Orioles number one prospect as ranked by Baseball America, had an all star game that people dream of. First he won the pre-game home run hitting contest, then he hit two home runs and drove in three runs during the game, which was easily enough to win him the most valuable player for the Carolina League All Stars, and in reality it was enough to win the game.

On a muggy night in Frederick, Maryland, just north of Washington DC, a record crowd of 7,734 people watched the Carolina League All Stars limit the California League All Stars to just four hits against 13 strikeouts on a very soggy field for an 8-0 drubbing of their west coast visitors.

Markakis, the starting right fielder for the hometown Frederick Keys, opened the Carolina League assault with a towering two run home run over the right field wall. The Carolina League All Stars added a run in the third and fourth inning, before another Markakis home run, this time a solo home run to dead center, helped contribute to three runs.  Third baseman Kory Castro of the Potomac Nationals (Washington Nationals) ended the scoring with a solo home run in the seventh inning.

All three representatives of the Lake Elsinore Storm struggled, as did the rest of the California League squad. Shortstop Juan Ciriaco flied out to left field and struck out in his only at bats, and catcher George Kottaras also struck out in his sole at bat.

The toughest night for any member of the Storm belonged to pitcher Jared Wells who was brought in with two outs in the fifth inning and gave up four straight singles to allow two runs.

The saving grace that Wells can take from the game was that three of the first four hits should have been caught, a fly ball off of the left fielders glove, a line drive slightly to the left of a very defensively challenged third baseman, Billy Butler of the High Desert Mavericks, and a twelve hopper past the second baseman. After allowing one more single, Wells ended his misery by striking out the next batter to end the inning.

Butler nearly beat Markakis in the now ritual pre-game home run derby by showing great power to all fields. Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 2004 draft, Butler has been all that San Diego Padres fans had hoped that Matt Bush would be. Currently, Butler is hitting .367 with 18 home runs and 60 RBIs, and he just turned 19 a few months ago.

While Butler is certainly advanced at the plate, the game demonstrated just how far he has to go in other aspects of his game. At third base he looked slow, and even muffed throws after strikeouts from his own catcher.  In the third inning he was doubled off of third base in the sole scoring threat that the Cal League all stars were able to put together by the second baseman on a shallow pop up into right field.

However, Butler's bat hides a multitude of sins, he is definitely someone to watch for the future.

San Diego County was well represented at the all star game with Rancho Bernardo's Danny Puttman (Stockton Ports, Oakland A's affiliate) on the Cal League side and Monte Vista's Leo Daigne (Winston-Salem Warthogs (Chicago White Sox) and Mission Bay's Mario Delgado of the Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles).

Ulbado Jimenez was named the MVP for the Cal League all stars by the press corps on the basis he was the only Cal League pitcher to retire the side in order.

Yes, it was that bad a night for the Cal League all stars.

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