Better reinforce the left field fence at Coca-Cola Field. Mike Hessman is coming back to town.
Hessman, the slugger who tortured the Buffalo Bisons while playing for the Richmond Braves in the early 2000s and then starred for the Herd in 2010, was the headline name elected to the Pacific Coast League team for the July 11 Triple-A All-Star Game, the PCL office announced Thursday.
Hessman, 34, was chosen as the first baseman. He is batting .281 with a PCL-leading 23 homers and 50 RBIs for Oklahoma City, the top affiliate of the Houston Astros.
Hessman, who played last season in Japan, batted .274 with 18 homers and 58 RBIs in 64 games for the Bisons in a season limited by injuries and a 32-game call-up to the New York Mets.
Before coming to Buffalo, Hessman killed the Bisons as an opponent. He homered in all four games of a series here in 2002 while playing for Richmond and then cranked a first-inning grand slam to send the R-Braves on their way to an 11-4 victory in Game One of the 2004 International League finals (the Bisons won the next three games to take the series).
Hessman will be joined in the PCL starting lineup by three players from Reno (Arizona). Second baseman Jake Elmore leads the PCL in batting at .390, third baseman Ryan Wheeler leads the league with 72 RBIs and outfielder Adam Eaton is two points behind Elmore at .388.
The outfield also includes repeat choice Andrew Brown of Colorado Springs and 21-year-old Wil Myers of Omaha, a top Kansas City prospect who has 12 homers, 35 RBIs and a .638 slugging percentage in 40 games since getting promoted from Double-A.
The PCL starting pitcher will be 27-year-old right-hander Graham Godfrey of Sacramento (Oakland), who is 7-0 with a 2.18 ERA in 11 starts after going 14-3 for the River Cats last year. Oddly enough, Godfrey is just 1-6 in eight starts with Oakland the last two years.
Also elected were catcher Tim Federowicz and relief pitcher Josh Wall of Albuquerque, designated hitter Luis Jimenez of Tacoma, and starting pitcher Eric Hacker and relief pitcher Heath Hembree of Fresno. The most well-known reserve is Reno reliever Jonathan Albaladejo, who has spent time with the New York Yankees.
As previously announced, the PCL staff consists of Las Vegas manager Marty Brown — who directed the Bisons to the 2004 IL championship — and a pair of former Bisons, Fresno hitting coach Russ Morman and Memphis pitching coach Blaise Ilsley.