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Eight Suns join all-star club

June 11, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Membership - and success - has its privileges.

And because of their first-half success, the Hagerstown Suns earned the privilege of having eight members selected to the South Atlantic League North Division All-Star team Friday.

With the eight-man contingent - including three starters - the Suns have the most representitives in the North Division and are tied for the most chosen from any one team in the league for the June 28 game at Lake Olmstead Stadium in Augusta, Ga.

"I think it's great that those kids showed enough through the league and warranted being selected," said Suns manager Gene Richards, who was selected to manage the North team. "They got picked by us, but they were selected by their peers. It was important that they were able to impress the other organizations and the teams."

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Richards, who has guided the Suns to first place in all but two days this season, will have his three most consistent hitters in his lineup - left fielder Dante Brinkley, first baseman Mike Carp and third baseman Grant Psomas. Pitchers Jose Sanchez and Gabriel Hernandez were also selected to the team.

Rounding out the Suns' group are pitching coach Shawn Barton and trainer Matt Hunter.

Brinkley, Carp and Psomas have been the focal points of Hagerstown's offense all season, each taking care of different aspects that have been blended together to get the Suns to their 37-24 record heading into Friday.

Brinkley, the New York Mets' 23rd selection in the 2003 draft, has exploded on the SAL scene while becoming the Suns' most recognizable leader. He is in the top five in batting average (first, .377), on-base percentage (first, .493) and slugging percentage (second, .654).

The testament of Brinkley's value has been proven in the last two weeks as the Suns are 4-6 since he landed on the disabled list with a severely sprained ankle.

Carp is considered the power man-child in the Mets' organization. The 18-year-old was the ninth pick in the 2004 draft coming out of high school. He is second in the league in home runs (15) and is third in RBI (44).

"It's awesome," Carp said. "We worked so hard. It seems like we just started yesterday and we are already halfway through the season. I've been up and down ... everyone has slumps, but it's not what I think (if I should have made it), it's what they thought."

Psomas may be the biggest surprise after becoming the Mets' 15th pick in the 2004 draft out of West Virginia University. Psomas started the season as Hagerstown's No. 8 hitter, but quickly moved up in the lineup because of his consistency.

He is now a fixture in the third or fifth spot as the eighth-leading hitter in the SAL (.322), while leading the league with 20 doubles. Psomas is in the top five in hits (fourth, 68), slugging percentage (fourth, .597) and runs scored (fifth, 41), while playing steady defense at third base.

Sanchez, who signed with the Mets as a free agent in 2003, leads the SAL with nine wins while acting as the Suns' stopper. He is 9-1 in 12 games with two no-decisions and a 3.03 ERA.

Hernandez, the Mets' third pick of the 2004 draft, was Hagerstown's opening day starter and is 10th in the league with a 2.72 ERA. The 19-year-old is 3-1 with 62 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings.

"I think this is a big honor to represent my teammates and the organization," Brinkley said. "This is big for my family and friends. I'm going to go in and try to do my best to represent the team."

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