Chattanooga Lookouts third baseman Corey Smith has been an all-star before.
He's even been a Southern League all-star before, but that didn't result in him taking Tuesday's invitation to the July 12 game at Huntsville's Joe Davis Stadium for granted. The 11-year minor leaguer was among five Lookouts selected to the North Division roster.
"This one feels a little different because I started off the year and wasn't playing every day, so I kind of had to play myself into the lineup," Smith said. "I was able to overcome some things, get out there on a consistent basis and put up some numbers. It's always nice to be recognized for playing well, and hopefully it will ultimately open up some eyes and create some opportunities for me."
Center fielder Trayvon Robinson and closer Kenley Jansen also are scheduled to compete in the all-star game, while shortstop Dee Gordon and starting pitcher Jesus Castillo were voted to the team but will be unable to participate. Gordon will be enjoying Major League All-Star Game festivities in Anaheim, Calif., after playing in the Futures Game on July 11, and Castillo was promoted last Wednesday to Triple-A Albuquerque.
The Lookouts finished third in the North's first-half race behind Tennessee and West Tenn, which had nine and seven selections, respectively.
"We're really happy," Lookouts manager Carlos Subero said. "We always preach that it's a team mindset, but there are some individual accomplishments which are recognized and show the fruits of being diligent day in and day out. I would say those were the guys who stuck out a little bit for us."
Smith, who represented Birmingham as the South Division's designated hitter in the 2006 Southern League All-Star Game, entered Tuesday night hitting .284 in 68 games with 20 doubles, eight home runs and a league-leading 57 RBIs.
"There is some growth for him at the plate," Subero said. "There have been years when he has struck out 130 or 140 times, and if you see the pace he's got, it's definitely below that. I hope he can build from this and become a big-leaguer, which is what he wants."
Jansen didn't join the Lookouts until May 15 but has dominated, going 4-0 with a 1.42 earned run average and six saves in his first 15 appearances.
Robinson is the No. 9 prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, according to Baseball America, but struggled to stay above .200 in April. He entered Tuesday night hitting .280 in a team-high 73 games with 14 doubles, six homers, 31 RBIs and 21 stolen bases.
"It shows you the character when a guy doesn't get off to a good start and then puts the numbers together," Subero said. "He did not let the bad start bury him to where he had a wasted year."
Said Robinson: "Last year was my first all-star selection, and I'm proud to make it again this year. It shows that I'm making progress."