Cesar Valdez is certainly no surprise to make this team of California League
stars. He currently paces the entire California Leagu in innings pitched
(87.0) and wins (9), while ranking third in ERA (2.59), fifth in WHIP (1,07),
and tying for second in shutouts (1). He has come away with a victory in
six of his past seven starts and owns a 4.7 K/BB ratio (66/14) through his first
Valdez is no stranger to awards and honors. He won Diamondbacks
Pitcher-of-the-Month honors for July by going 3-1 with 25 strikeouts and a 1.53
ERA that month. For his performance in the final full week of that July,
Valdez was also honored as the California League's Pitcher-of-the-week.
Overall, Valdez posted an excellent 3.41 ERA in 2007, though his tough-luck
record of 7-10 combined with his sub-par velocity combined to get him overlooked
as a prospect.
Pedro Ciriaco makes the All-Star squad despite a somewhat disappointing
season offensively. Repeating the Hi-A level, Ciriaco's current OPS of
.653 represents but a modest improvement over the dismal .608 mark he managed
this year. After batting .321 in April, Ciriaco hit just .211 in May,
though he is rebounding with a strong June so far. He is also tied for 4th
in the league with 46 runs scored and tied for 7th with 19 stolen bases, both
marks pacing the Oaks.
The real reason that Ciriaco made the cut is his flashy defense. The
wiry shortstop has the best range of any Diamondbacks prospect since Alberto Gonzalez, and probably the strongest infield arm ever wielded in the
Diamondbacks organization. Whereas last year Ciriaco would often overrun
balls with his great speed or dart throws out of his first baseman's reach, he
is much more fluid and under control this season. His fielding percentage
at shortstop has improved from .938 to .964 so far, with an additional four
errorless games at second base pushing his overall fielding percentage up to
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