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McCann pumped about All-Star selection

When the Atlanta Braves signed Brian McCann out of Duluth High School in 2002, they hoped the left-handed hitting catcher had the potential to perhaps one day be an all-star caliber catcher in the major leagues.

That one day has arrived.

On Sunday, McCann was named to the 2006 National League All-Star team - less than 13 months after he made his major-league debut for the Braves.

"It was awesome," McCann said about hearing the news. "Words can't describe it. I mean, kids dream of this."

And in the baseball world, McCann is practically still a kid.

Born on Feb. 20, 1984, the Duluth grad has the notable distinction of being the youngest player on either roster for this year's Midsummer Classic.

The American League has two other 22-year-olds (Tampa Bay pitcher Scott Kazmir and Seattle second baseman Jose Lopez) but they are both older than McCann, who made his Atlanta debut on June 10 of last season.

Coming into this season, the Braves were counting on McCann to build on his solid rookie season (.278, 5 HR, 23 RBIs). But nobody, not even McCann himself, could have expected this kind of output.

Despite missing three weeks with a severely sprained ankle, McCann is hitting .357 with six home runs and 25 RBIs in 182 at-bats after Monday night's game against the Cardinals. Showing plate discipline that belies his age - he has more walks (21) than strikeouts (20) so far this season - McCann has a whopping on-base percentage of .417.

So it seemed like a no-brainer that the sweet-swinging lefty would be named to the team by Houston's Phil Garner on Sunday. Still, according to teammate and roommate Jeff Francoeur, McCann wasn't convinced he was going to make the squad on Saturday night.

Francoeur, also 22, sensed his longtime pal was nervous as they played video games together at their Duluth

residence.

"He's really had such a good season that he wanted it," Francoeur said. "He's been stellar all year long."

And on Sunday he finally got the good news he had been waiting for when he was called into Atlanta manager Bobby Cox's office after the Braves' 10-3 win over Baltimore.

"He asked me if my ankle was OK and I told him it was," McCann said. "He said, 'Good, because you're going to need to be healthy to catch a few innings in the All-Star game."

Currently, McCann's .354 average would be good for third in the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify (the minimum is 3.1 plate appearances per game).

New York Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca was elected by the fans to start the game.