Washington Nationals Prospects Danny Espinosa, Derek Norris Named to Topps' Class A All-Star Team

The Topps Company, in conjunction with Minor League Baseball, named their 2009 Class A All-Stars today, and two Washignton Nationals prospects were on the team.

Danny Espinosa, for Potomac of the Carolina League, was named at shortstop for the team.  From the press release: 
Danny Espinosa (22), of Santa Ana, Calif., scored 90 runs for the Potomac Nationals, tops in the Carolina League. He also led league third baseman with a .965 fielding percentage. Espinosa ranked in the top five in the circuit in homers (18), walks (74), on-base percentage (.375) and extra base hits (53). The Washington Nationals tabbed him in the third round in 2008 out of Long Beach State (CA) University.
Derek Norris, catcher for Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League, was named at designated hitter.  HIs press bio: 
Derek Norris (20), of Goddard, Kansas, finished among the top five in the South Atlantic League in homers (23), extra-base hits (53), RBI (84), runs (78) and slugging percentage (.513). The Hagerstown Suns catcher led the league with a .413 on-base percentage and 90 walks in being named the SAL’s Most Outstanding Major League Prospect. The Washington Nationals tabbed Norris out of high school in the fourth round in 2007.
Espinosa is fresh off his experience in the Arizona Fall League, where he acquitted himself quite well.  Norris was supposed to play in Arizona as well, but broke his hamate bone and had surgery to remove the bone. He was thus forced to miss the top off-season prospect league.  He is expected to be ready for spring training.
Koby Clemens was named at catcher on the squad.  Son of Roger Clemens, the 22 year old catcher was not protected by the Houston Astros and as such, is available in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.  I'm just sayin'.  Can't have too many good-hitting catchers.
The full press release with the rest of the team, and their statistics, after the jump...

Lancaster Sluggers Clemens, Gaston
Among Topps Class A All-Star
s 

   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.--Lancaster JetHawks Koby Clemens and Jonathan Gaston, who combined to lead, or tie for the lead, in seven classification offensive categories, are among the players named to the Topps Class A All-Star Team.  The best performances in all Minor League Baseball classifications are again being honored by the Topps Company of New York, N.Y., in conjunction with Minor League Baseball.

   Joe Dunigan (23), of Chicago, hit .294 with 30 homers and 104 RBI for the High Desert Mavericks.  The first baseman finished among the top five in the California League in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage (.570).  The Seattle Mariners drafted Dunigan in the fifth round in 2007 out of the University of Oklahoma.    

   Alexi Amarista (20), of Barcelona, Venezuela, led the Midwest League with a .319 batting average with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He also finished second in the league with 39 doubles and 10 triples.  The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed the second baseman as a free agent in January 2007.

   Josh Vitters (20), of Anaheim, Calif., hit .316 in 70 games for the Peoria Chiefs.  He was then promoted to the Daytona Cubs, appearing in 50 games for the Florida State League club.  The third baseman’s combined Class A numbers were a .284 batting average with 18 homers, 19 doubles and 68 RBI.  The Chicago Cubs selected him with the third overall pick in the 2007 draft out of high school.

   Danny Espinosa (22), of Santa Ana, Calif., scored 90 runs for the Potomac Nationals, tops in the Carolina League.  He also led league third baseman with a .965 fielding percentage.  Espinosa ranked in the top five in the circuit in homers (18), walks (74), on-base percentage (.375) and extra base hits (53).  The Washington Nationals tabbed him in the third round in 2008 out of Long Beach State (CA) University.

   Jonathan Gaston (23), of Boise, Idaho, led Class A with 35 homers, 81 extra-base hits and 119 runs.  The Lancaster JetHawks outfielder finished second in the classification with a .598 slugging percentage.  The Houston Astros took Gaston in the second round in 2008 out of the University of Arizona.

   Thomas Neal (22), of San Diego, Calif., paced the California League with a .431 on-base percentage and finished third in the loop with 102 runs.  The San Jose Giants outfielder hit .337, fifth best in Class A.  The San Francisco Giants selected Neal in the 37th round in 2005 out of Riverside (CA) Junior College.

   Kyle Russell (23), of Magnolia, Texas, hit 26 roundtrippers and drove in 102 runs, both best in the Midwest League. The Great Lakes Loons outfielder also led the league with a .545 slugging percentage in winning the circuit’s MVP honor.  The Los Angeles Dodgers picked Russell in the third round in 2008 out of the University of Texas.

   Koby Clemens (22), of Houston, Texas, hit a Class A best .345 and also paced the classification with 121 RBI and a .636 slugging percentage.  The Lancaster JetHawks catcher’s 45 doubles tied for best in Class A.  The Houston Astros took Clemens in the eighth round in 2005 out of high school.

   Derek Norris (20), of Goddard, Kansas, finished among the top five in the South Atlantic League in homers (23), extra-base hits (53), RBI (84), runs (78) and slugging percentage (.513).  The Hagerstown Suns catcher led the league with a .413 on-base percentage and 90 walks in being named the SAL’s Most Outstanding Major League Prospect. The Washington Nationals tabbed Norris out of high school in the fourth round in 2007.

   Rudy Owens (22), of Mesa, Ariz., went 10-1 with a 1.70 ERA for the West Virginia Power in being chosen as the South Atlantic League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher. The left-hander then went 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA for the Lynchburg Hillcats.  Overall, Owens was 11-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 124.0 innings. He fanned 113, while walking only 17.  The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Owens in the 28th round in 2006 out of Chandler Gilbert (AZ) Community College. 

2009 TOPPS/MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL CLASS-A ALL-STAR TEAM

POSITION PLAYER CLUB(s)/LEAGUE(s) AFFILIATE  AVG. HR RBI
First Base Joe Dunigan High Desert/California Seattle .294 30 104
Second Base Alexi Amarista Cedar Rapids/MWL LA-AL .319 4 49
Third Base Josh Vitters Peoria, Daytona/MWL/FSL Chicago-NL .284 18 68
Shortstop Danny Espinosa Potomac/Carolina Washington .264 18 72
Catcher Koby Clemens Lancaster/California Houston .345 22 90
Outfield Jonathan Gaston Lancaster/California Houston .278 35 100
Outfield Thomas Neal San Jose/California San Francisco .337 22 90
Outfield Kyle Russell Great Lakes/Midwest LA-NL .272 26 102
Des. Hitter Derek Norris Hagerstown/S. Atlantic Washington .286 23 84
      W L ERA
Pitcher Rudy Owens W.Va., Lynchburg/SAL/CAR Pittsburgh 11 2 2.10

(Statistics do not reflect players’ performances in other leagues) 

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