The Triple-A All-Star game is a weird beast with a mishmash of talent. Then again, that basically sums up every Triple-A roster. Some of them are working their way up the major league totem pole; others are just trying to make it back to the bigs. Occasionally you get the superstar making a rehab trip, but they don't really count. When you try to collect an assortment of the league's "best" players, you get the following:
1. Promising players, such as Rays prospect Reid Brignac
2. Young guys that need some more work, like Clay Buchholz, who is far removed from his 2007 no-hitter with the Red Sox
3. Scads upon myriads of hangers-on
Hey, let's dwell on that third category. Three of the selectees on this year's Triple-A All-Star roster are former Detroit Tigers: Chris Shelton, Yorman Bazardo, and Eric Munson. Each one of those names, for no wholesome reason, causes me to laugh.
Shelton was the consummate Mr. April. In 2006, he bashed nine home runs in the season's 13 games, a league record, but then just seven more over the next 102. Those first two weeks put his name up with big boppers like Pujols and A-Rod, and that hot start had 14 percent of people believe he'd break Barry Bonds' record of 73 home runs that season. Chris freaking Shelton. Home run king. Hilarity. He didn't just lose that 2006 pace, he found it then burned it to the ground. He poked his head back into the big show last year in Texas, but now he's with the Mariners organization. As a reward for hitting .319 with 12 home runs and a .928 OPS with Tacoma, he'll be the PCL's designated hitter. Somewhere out there, a few folks are convinced he's the next Crash Davis.
Munson is one of those guys who, if you ever play Name The Failed Tiger*, always gets one of the best laughs. He was the third overall pick in the 1999 draft, but the promising young catcher morphed into a third baseman-slash-lineup vacuum, hitting a not-at-all-boiling .212 in 2004. He will always have a special place in my heart, as I personally watched him blast a baseball 457 feet into Comerica Park's center field shrubbery, the only MLB walkoff home run I have witnessed. But that's about it. Now he's back as a catcher in the Oakland organization, leading all PCL catchers with home runs (six) and OPS (.771). Yes, Sacramento has been Munsoned.
* - How to play Name The Failed Tiger: Everyone takes a turn naming a former bad Detroit Tiger. If someone else says "holy shit," and then his name, you score one point. (Example: "Holy shit, Shane Halter.") Whoever has the most points by the time everyone's attention wanes, you win.
Then there was Bazardo. Of this trio he represents the 2008 Tigers, as someone located in the bullpen because, well, I have no idea why. There's no particular scarring memory of him, but you never forget a guy named Yorman Bazardo. For Round Rock this year (in the Houston farm system), he's 7-2 with a PCL third-best 3.00 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.
The 2009 Tigers are nothing like the teams of yesteryear, but their legacies hang onto relevancy with their cursed talons in the minor leagues. Does it sting? Sort of, but in a humorous way. Yet at the same time, you're happy for them. It's kind of like going to Best Buy and having Kyle Sleeth help you pick out the perfect flat screen TV.