Bangor native Josh Pressley is still in the swing of things as a first baseman for the Somerset (Mass.) Patriots.

The former Bangor American Legion Baseball standout is still collecting a paycheck playing ball and chasing big league dreams in the independent Atlantic League.

Pressley, 28, was recently selected as an Atlantic League All-Star and made the most of his All-Star Game appearance, going 2-for-4 with a single, an RBI double and a run scored.

If that wasn’ t enough to make him smile, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound lefthanded batter won the Atlantic League home run contest, hitting seven in the first round and seven in the second. Runner-up Jesse Hoorelbbeke hit nine round-trippers.

Through Sunday, Pressley was leading the Patriots with a .344 average, 18 homers and 58 RBIs. He has 105 hits — also tops on the team — in 78 games.

Pressley joined the Patriots in 2007 after splitting the 2006 season between the Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston’ s Triple-A affiliate, and the Double-A affiliates of the St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins. Last season, he hit .281 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs in 102 games. In six playoff games, he hit .333 with two homers and six RBIs.

Now a resident of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Pressley was picked in the fourth round of the 1998 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by Tampa Bay. He turned down a full baseball scholarship from the University of Florida to sign with the Devil Rays.

The 1996 Maine American Legion Zone 1 Player of the Year was suspended for 15 games during the 2005 season after a banned substance was found in his system following a routine urinalysis test in May mandated by Major League Baseball’s steroid-substance abuse policy.

Pressley said it wasn’t a steroid, but something he took over the counter, either a supplement or an anti-inflammatory product, that produced the positive test. He was taking it for pain and inflammation in his right knee after offseason arthroscopic knee surgery.

After his suspension, he went on to bat .311 with a single-season best 22 home runs and 88 RBIs while earning Texas League All-Star honors in his best overall season.

Somerset is one of eight teams in the 11-year-old independent minor league headquartered in New Jersey. The Patriots are currently 7-8, 1? games out of first place in the Freedom Division, in the second half of the season and 47-48 overall.

From Curacao to the Cardinals

Curt Smith, a former Senior League World Series participant from Curacao, is enjoying a solid first season of pro ball with the St. Louis Cardinals Rookie League (Single-A) team.

Smith, who also starred at the University of Maine as a first baseman and outfielder, was hitting .362 with six home runs and 29 RBIs and two stolen bases in 29 games through Sunday as a first baseman with the Johnson City Cardinals.

The 6-foot, 205-pound native of Willemstad, Curacao, is currently riding a five-game hitting streak and is 7-for-18 in that stretch.

The 21-year-old Smith was drafted by St. Louis in the 39th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June. He helped lead Curacao to the 2002 Senior League World Series championship in Bangor.