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Florida State League pitchers continue to flex muscle

Tip of the hat: Former Blue Jay Carlos Delgado, who played for Dunedin in 1992, took his place in the FSL Hall of Fame this year.

Getty Images (2003)

Tip of the hat: Former Blue Jay Carlos Delgado, who played for Dunedin in 1992, took his place in the FSL Hall of Fame this year.

One of baseball's oldest aphorisms still rings true in the Florida State League — good pitching beats good hitting.

Though the game occasionally belongs to maulers who can tear down the fences, the FSL has gained a reputation for being a difficult place for hitters. Part of the reason is the spacious ballparks designed with the same dimensions as big-league stadiums.

But a more deciding factor has to do with the talent on the hill.

With a premium on good arms, parent clubs often stockpile their top prospects in the Advanced Class A league where they can pitch in Florida's warm weather to start the season.

And each area team has been able to stack its deck with aces.

Each area club has at least one pitcher on its staff ranked among the top 10 prospects for their organization by Baseball America.

Trevor May is the Phillies' No. 5 prospect. The Blue Jays' Henderson Alvarez also is No. 5. The Yankees' Andrew Brackman is No. 10.

But it's not just the high-ranking guys who are producing.

Besides Alvarez, three other area pitchers — Tampa's Adam Warren, Dunedin's Chuck Huggins and Clearwater's Jesus Sanchez — are among the top 10 in the league in ERA.

That's not all. Dunedin's Joel Carreno and Clearwater's Austin Hyatt are among the leaders in strikeouts. And the Blue Jays' Matthew Daly is tied for the league lead in saves with 15.

Tampa has performed the best as a staff, ranking third in the league in team ERA at 3.16 and second in overall strikeouts (499). Dunedin's staff is tied for the league lead in wins with 38.

So it's no surprise that because of their masters on the mound, the Blue Jays and Yankees are the top teams in the North Division of the FSL.

All-star selections: Clearwater, Dunedin and Tampa each had four players selected for last week's all-star game at Space Coast Stadium in Viera.

Three of the Threshers' four all-stars were pitchers — Hyatt, May and Justin De Fratus. The other Clearwater selection was infielder Cody Overbeck, who has since been promoted to Double-A Reading.

Tampa's all-stars were Warren, catcher Mitch Abeita, infielder Corban Joseph and outfielder Jack Rye. The Yankees' Hector Noesi was selected but was unable to play after being promote to Double-A Trenton.

Dunedin's all-stars were Alvarez, Daly and catchers Travis d'Arnaud and Yan Gomes.

Hall of fame: Former Blue Jays star Carlos Delgado, who played with Dunedin in 1992, was one of 10 inducted into the FSL Hall of Fame this year.

Delgado was one of the league's most dominant hitters in 1992, leading the league in home runs (30) and RBIs (100) en route to being named FSL MVP that year. His home run total from that season still ranks as fourth most in league history.

The other inductees were Felipe Alou, Frank Decker, Sid Fernandez, Marvin Goldklang, Ed Hickox, Stanley Karpinski, Dan Keith and Jim Leyland.

Since its inception in 1919, the Florida State League has offered a major glimpse of the future for many prospects.

More than 12,000 of the league's players eventually spent time on American and National League rosters, including Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Early Wynn, Al Lopez, Johnny Bench, Jim Palmer, Fergie Jenkins and Rollie Fingers.

Yet it was just five years ago that the FSL did something to honor those who starred in the league before going on to even brighter big-league careers.

The Hall of Fame is the brainchild of Don Miers, director of Florida operations for the Tigers. Miers started campaigning for the establishment of a Hall in the late 1990s, but it wasn't given serious consideration until 2003.

Player of the week: Dunedin's John Tolisano was named FSL offensive player for the week ending June 13. He hit .429 that week with two home runs and two RBIs.

A second-round pick by Toronto in 2007, Tolisano had never hit above .300 before this season. His average after last week was .309, up from .262 on June 1.

Florida State League pitchers continue to flex muscle 06/17/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 17, 2010 11:38pm]

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