Minor League Roundup

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Associate Editor Kim Briggeman gives a quick overview of two 1st half champions, an All-Star, a returning veteran and more in a whirlwind tour of the D'Backs promising minor league system.

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special to FutureBacks.com from The Missoulian

First baseman Jesus Cota was named to a roster for the All-Star Futures Game, to be played by top U.S. and international minor league prospects July 11 in Houston. The game, part of All-Star Sunday in advance of the major league All-Star game on July 13, will be on ESPN2 at 2 p.m.

Cota is hitting .322 with four home runs at Double-A El Paso after batting over .400 in 13 games at High A Lancaster.

A native of Mexico, Cota played high school and junior college ball in Tucson, Ariz. He won the Pioneer League Triple Crown in 2001 with Missoula. He'll play for the World team, to be managed by former Dodgers All-Star pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. Goose Gossage, a nine-time All-Star reliever for the Yankees, will manage the U.S. team.

Cota's selection is the fourth straight former Missoula Osprey to the Futures Game. The first three: reliever Jose Valverde in 2001, first baseman Lyle Overbay in 2002, and pitcher Jorge de la Rosa in 2002 and 2003.

Valverde currently pitches for the Diamondbacks. Overbay is third in the National League in hitting for the Milwaukee Brewers, and de la Rosa is pitching for the Brewers' Triple-A in Indianapolis.

Roberto Alomar is back with the Diamondbacks, but Scott Hairston is still their second baseman. Alomar, who fractured his hand April 20, came off the 60-day disabled list Sunday. Manager Bob Brenly told him in a pre-game meeting that day that Hairston, who played for Missoula in 2001, would remain the starter.

"I respect that," Alomar, 36, told mlb.com. "I respect his honesty and we'll have to see what I'm going to do now. I think I still can play every day. I'm not going to sit here and play once a week, maybe. I have some goals. That's all I can say right now."

The 24-year-old Hairston took a nine-game hitting streak into Tuesday night's game at San Diego. He had a 10-game streak earlier. He's batting .295 with four home runs in 31 games at the major league level.

Casey Daigle pitched 7 1-3 innings Monday, allowing eight hits and four runs, to pick up his first victory since the Diamondbacks sent him down to Triple-A Tucson. Daigle, who opened the major league season as the D-backs' No. 4 starter, had lost his first three decisions for the Sidewinders before beating Salt Lake 9-4.

Daigle's cause was aided by the bats of other ex-Osprey. Craig Ansman clouted a two-run homer, while Vic Hall and Jerry Gil each chipped in run-scoring hits in a game played before 10,482 in Salt Lake City.

Daigle was the 2000 opening day starter for Missoula, and went 3-5 with a 4.90 ERA that season.

The South Bend Silverhawks, under manager Tony Perezchica, clinched the first-half championship of the Midwest League's Eastern Division last Thursday.

"It's exciting because we're in the playoffs," said Perezchica, who was Missoula's manager a year ago. "It's a tribute to my coaches and these players. It's exciting for me because I've never been in this position before, winning the first half of anything."

It was South Bend's first title as a Diamondbacks affiliate and only the franchise's second ever. South Bend won the first half flag in 1989 as a White Sox farm club.

One night earlier, on Wednesday, Arizona's other Class A full-season team, the Lancaster JetHawks, won the first half title for the South Division of the California League. It clinched the franchise's fifth playoff berth and it was the second time the JetHawks won the first-half title as a Diamondbacks' farm club.

When the first-half ended on Sunday, Arizona promoted six players from Lancaster to Double-A El Paso, six went the other way, from El Paso to Lancaster.

The El Paso Diablos finished a disappointing first-half of the Double-A Texas League with an even more disappointing night Saturday. Starting pitcher Dustin Nippert, twin brother of Missoula's Derik Nippert, had to leave in the fourth inning with a sore elbow.

According to the Diablos' Web site, Nippert (2-5) grimaced after walking a Wichita batter and let his right arm dangle. He was immediately ushered off the field by trainer Rodger Fleming. Later, he said he felt no pain and boarded the team bus with his elbow in a soft wrap.

Two innings earlier, Cota left the game with a sore heel sustained the night before. The Diablos lost 10-6 and finished the first half with a 24-45 record.


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