2006 Futures Game Rosters

Since 1999, Baseball America and Major League Baseball have selected the best young players in baseball to meet in the ultimate prospect game. The All-Star Futures Game, played on the Sunday before the major league All-Star Game, matches up prospects from the United States against prospects from the rest of the world in a seven-inning game.

The Futures Game alumni list already includes a wealth of major leaguers, not to mention more than a dozen players who have gone on to become big league all-stars, including Alfonso Soriano and Lance Berkman. This year’s game is scheduled for July 9 at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. To get the lowdown on this year’s group, view the rosters below. (United States player capsules by Will Lingo. World player capsules by Chris Kline.)

UNITED STATES
Kurt Suzuki, C, Oakland
Born: Oct. 4, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Cal State Fullerton, 2004 (2nd round). Signed by: Randy Johnson.
Suzuki has followed up a standout college career at Cal State Fullerton with a good performance in his first two years as a professional. He profiles as an above-average offensive catcher, and if he keeps his defense strong he could move quickly to Oakland.
Neil Walker, C, Pittsburgh
Born: Sept. 10, 1985. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HS—Gibsonia, Pa., 2004 (1st round). Signed by: Jon Mercurio.
Walker brings a bright ray of hope to Pirates fans as an athletic, switch-hitting catcher who could be the team’s first starting position player from the Pittsburgh area since Bill Robinson in 1975-82. Those fans hope he’ll return to PNC Park soon as a member of the big league team.
Joe Koshansky, 1B, Colorado
Born: May 26, 1982. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Virginia, 2004 (6th round). Signed by: Jay Matthews.
Koshansky has always hit but hasn’t gotten the respect he deserves until this season. He led Virginia in home runs and pitching wins as a junior in 2003 and wasn’t drafted, then was a senior bargain pick for the Rockies in 2004. He’s been making other teams regret their mistake ever since.
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles Angels
Born: July 12, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 180. Drafted: St. John’s River (Fla.) CC, 2002 (10th round). Signed by: Tom Kotchman.
Kendrick is simply one of the best hitters in the minor leagues. He came into the season with a.359 career average and had actually improved on it so far this year at Triple-A Salt Lake, while also getting his first taste of the big leagues with the Angels. It won’t be long before he’s up for good.
Eric Patterson, 2B, Chicago Cubs
Born: April 8, 1983. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 170. Drafted: Georgia Tech, 2004 (8th round). Signed by: Sam Hughes.
While Corey Patterson never panned out as Cubs fans hoped, his brother looks like he could give Chicago a standout Patterson yet. Eric won the Midwest League batting title last year and has jumped to Double-A this year, and he adds great speed and solid defense to round out his game.
Ryan Braun, 3B, Milwauke
Born: Nov. 17, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Miami, 2005 (1st round). Signed by: Larry Pardo.
The 2005 draft was loaded with premium third basemen, but don’t overlook Braun when you’re talking about Ryan Zimmerman and Alex Gordon. He has five legitimate tools, and while his defense is probably behind the other two, his bat speed could be the best of the group and should give him excellent power.
Josh Fields, 3B, Chicago White Sox
Born: Dec. 14, 1982. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Oklahoma State, 2004 (1st round). Signed by: Alex Slattery/Nathan Durst.
Casual fans are more familiar with Fields as the former quarterback at Oklahoma State. But he should make a bigger mark as a baseball player, where his physical ability and strong makeup have helped him move quickly in spite of his limited baseball experience.
Alex Gordon, 3B, Kansas City
Born: Feb. 10, 1984. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 215. Drafted: Nebraska, 2005 (1st round). Signed by: Phil Huttmann.
With another bleak season unfolding in Kansas City, Gordon looks like a bright light at the end of the tunnel for Royals fans. He’s a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter and a good defensive third baseman with little standing between him and the big leagues except experience.
Stephen Drew, SS, Arizona
Born: March 16, 1983. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Florida State, 2004 (1st round). Signed by: Luke Wrenn.
It didn’t take long for Drew to establish himself as the Diamondbacks’ shortstop of the future, as he made it clear in 2005 that he was on the fast track. He nearly forced his way to the big leagues in spring training, but Arizona will let him get a few more at-bats in Triple-A before the inevitable happens.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado
Born: Oct. 10, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Long Beach State, 2005 (1st round). Signed by: Todd Blyleven.
As fellow Long Beach State shortstops, Tulowitzki draws natural comparisons with Oakland’s Bobby Crosby, and he has the potential to be better. He’s a better fit at shortstop and is both bigger and more athletic than Crosby and should be able to hit for both average and power as he gains experience.
Travis Buck, OF, Oakland
Born: Nov. 18, 1983. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Arizona State, 2005 (1st round supp.). Signed by: Jeremy Schied.
Buck had a disappointing draft year at Arizona State, dropping him to the 36th overall pick, but he quickly returned to form as a professional and has done nothing but rake in the Athletics organization and reached Double-A less than a year after signing. His ultimate value will be determined by how much power he develops.
Billy Butler, OF, Kansas City
Born: April 18, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 225. Drafted: HS—Jacksonville, Fla., 2004 (1st round). Signed by: Cliff Pastornicky.
Most clubs viewed Butler as a budget pick when Kansas City took him 14th overall in 2004, but he has proven to be worth the pick. He has hit better than .300 at every minor league stop while showing impressive power. The question is where he’ll end up on defense, with left field the Royals’ preference for now.
Cameron Maybin, OF, Detroit
Born: April 4, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Asheville, N.C. (1st round). Signed by: Bill Buck.
Maybin just made his minor league debut this season after signing with the Tigers late last summer for $2.65 million, and he has battled nagging injuries at low Class A West Michigan. He still has been able to show the amazing athleticism and power that made him such a hot commodity in last year’s draft and draw comparisons to Joe Carter and Andre Dawson.
Hunter Pence, OF, Houston
Born: April 13, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Texas-Arlington, 2004 (2nd round). Signed by: Rusty Pendergrass.
Pence was the Astros’ first pick in the 2004 draft after they lost their first-round pick for signing Andy Pettitte, and he has looked like a steal. He has quick hands that allow him to make consistent contact and show power to all fields, and he should be a strong defender in left field while playing center at times.
Nolan Reimold, OF, Baltimore
Born: Oct. 12, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 207. Drafted: Bowling Green State, 2005 (2nd round). Signed by: Marc Ziegler.
Reimold slipped in the 2005 draft because he had an inconsistent spring and some scouts didn’t see him at his best, so the Orioles got a bargain in the second round. He’s an athlete with size, speed and passion for baseball, and if he keeps hitting as he has in his first year as a pro he’ll move quickly toward Baltimore.
Nick Adenhart, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
Born: Aug. 24, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Williamsport, Md., 2004 (14th round). Signed by: Dan Radcliff.
Adenhart was one of the top pitching prospects in the draft class of 2004 until he had to have Tommy John surgery. The Angels used a late pick on him and signed him for $710,000, and he has paid quick dividends on the investment since returning, with a mid-90s fastball and good curveball.
Homer Bailey, RHP, Cincinnati
Born: May 3, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—LaGrange, Texas, 2004 (1st round). Signed by: Mike Powers.
Add Bailey to the long list of hard-throwing Texans with the stuff and swagger to pitch at the front of a rotation. He’s getting more work this season after the Reds handled him with care in his first season and a half, and he’s showing the dominant fastball and curveball that could cause him to move quickly from this point.
Gio Gonzalez, LHP, Philadelphia
Born: Sept. 19, 1985. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HS—Miami, 2004 (1st round supp.). Signed by: Jose Ortega (White Sox).
Gonzalez was the key prospect the Phillies obtained when they sent Jim Thome to the White Sox, and he has proven why this season as one of the younger pitchers in Double-A, holding hitters to a .220 average in spite of an unsightly win-loss record. His curveball is his out pitch, but he also shows easy low 90s velocity.
Jason Hirsh, RHP, Houston
Born: Feb. 20, 1982. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-8. Wt.: 245. Drafted: California Lutheran, 2003 (2nd round). Signed by: Mel Nelson.
Hirsh was little-known coming out of high school and blossomed at NCAA Division III Cal Lutheran, where his fastball climbed into the high 90s. He has settled into the low to mid-90s as a pro, with a hard slider, and has continued making progress as a potential workhorse starter.
Philip Hughes, RHP, New York Yankees
Born: June 24, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 220. Drafted: HS—Santa Ana, Calif., 2004 (1st round). Signed by: Jeff Patterson.
There’s nothing like being the top prospect in the Yankees organization, with constant debate among fans and industry insiders about your value either in the big leagues or as trade bait. Hughes is a legitimate premium arm, so all that’s left is for him to avoid nagging injuries and the Yankees to decide what to do with him.
Eric Hurley, RHP, Texas
Born: Sept. 17, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HS—Jacksonville, 2004 (1st round). Signed by: Guy DeMutis.
While the D-V-D trio (John Danks-Edinson Volquez-Thomas Diamond) has been more celebrated, Hurley could end up being better than any of them. He has a mid-90s fastball and a slider that have allowed him to strike out a batter an inning consistently as a pro.
Matt Lindstrom, RHP, New York Mets
Born: Feb. 11, 1980. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Ricks (Idaho) JC, 2002 (10th round). Signed by: Jim Reeves.
The Mets have prospects who get a lot more attention than Lindstrom, but he has shown this year that he’s an exciting bullpen arm in his own right. He’s old for his experience level because he spent two years on a Mormon mission in Sweden, so the Mets could move him and his high-90s fastball quickly.
Nick Pereira, RHP, San Francisco
Born: Sept. 22, 1982. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Drafted: San Francisco, 2005 (10th round). Signed by: Matt Nerland.
Pereira isn’t a fireballer, but he has still overmatched minor league hitters with a deceptive delivery and hard slider. A local product who attended high school, junior college and college in Northern California, Pereira is a former middle infielder who didn’t begin pitching until his sophomore year in college.
Josh Sharpless, RHP, Pittsburgh
Born: Jan. 26, 1981. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 235. Drafted: Allegheny (Pa.) College, 2003 (24th round). Signed by: John Mercurio.
Sharpless gives Pittsburgh fans another local product to cheer on, as he’s a Pennsylvania native whom the Pirates drafted out of Division-III Allegheny College. He has always pitched out of the bullpen, and he’ll be in line to make his major league debut in the second half.
Sean Smith, RHP, Cleveland
Born: Oct. 13, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 195. Drafted: Sacramento (Calif.) CC, D/F 2001 (16th round). Signed by: Chuck Ricci.
After signing with the Indians as a draft-and-follow in May 2002, Smith hadn’t made much noise until this season. Finally breaking through to Double-A, he already has eight wins.
WORLD
George Kottaras, C, San Diego
Born: May 16, 1983. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 190. Drafted: Connors State (Okla.) JC, D/F 2002 (20th round). Signed by: Lane Decker.
Kottaras speaks with his bat, though his defense has come a long way this season in the Southern League. The Canadian generates easy line-drive power with a fluid swing, and he has international experience, having played in the 2004 Athens Olympics for Greece.
Salomon Manriquez, C, Washington
Born: Sept. 15, 1982. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Signed: Venezuela, 1999. Signed by: Randy Kierce.
Manriquez jumps from the California League-Carolina League all-star game last year to the Futures Game this season, and the main reason is the emergence of his bat. While his play behind the plate remains a work in progress, Manriquez has made strides this season in Double-A.
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati
Born: Sept. 10, 1983. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Signed: HS—Toronto, 2002 (2nd round). Signed by: John Castleberry.
One of the hottest hitters coming into this year’s Futures Game, Votto has led Double-A Chattanooga’s offensive production this season. The Canadian has regained control of the strike zone this season, unlocking his power potential.
Yung Chi Chen, 2B, Seattle
Born: July 13, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 172. Signed: Taiwan, 2004. Signed by: Jamey Storvick.
Chen is a veteran of international play, having started at third base for Taiwan in the 2004 Olympics, then moving to second and playing in the 2005 World Cup, and finally the World Baseball Classic this spring. He has average tools across the board, but his bat is his No. 1 asset.
Yunel Escobar, 3B, Atlanta
Born: Nov. 2, 1982. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: Miami (No school), 2005, (2nd round). Signed by: Gregg Kilby.
Highly touted as a shortstop coming into this season, Escobar has split time between short and the hot corner. The Cuban defector has solid all-around tools, above-average bat speed and power potential.
Joel Guzman, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Born: Nov. 24, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 225. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2001. Signed by: Pablo Peguero.
Guzman’s bat has always done the talking, and now he just needs to find a permanent position. He has moved from shortstop to third to left field to first base over the last two seasons. Guzman has tremendous power and remarkable plate coverage because of his long arms.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco
Born: Aug. 11, 1986. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2002. Signed by: Ciro Villalobos.
One of the best switch-hitters in the Giants system, Sandoval opened a lot of eyes in the organization when he batted .330 at short-season Salem-Keizer last year. He has moved from catcher to the corner infield spots this season as the Giants try to find a home for his line-drive bat.
Joaquin Arias, SS, Texas
Born: Sept. 21, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 160. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2001. Signed by: Victor Mata/Carlos Rios/Freddy Tiburcio (Yankees).
Best known as the minor leaguer involved in the Alfonso Soriano-Alex Rodriguez trade in 2004, Arias has steadily climbed through the Rangers system. A plus-plus runner with above-average arm strength and range at short, Arias makes tough plays look easy.
Luis Cruz, SS, San Diego
Born: Feb. 10, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Mexico, 2000. Signed by: Ray Poitevint/Lee Sigman (Red Sox).
Cruz, whom the Padres got from the Red Sox in a trade for Cesar Crespo in December 2002, was best known for his versatility coming into the season. But as his offense has improved, so has his ability to play multiple positions, which is his ticket to the big leagues.
Chin Lung Hu, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
Born: Feb. 2, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 160. Signed: Taiwan, 2003. Signed by: Pat Kelly/Vincent Liao.
The other half of Taiwan’s double-play tandem in the World Baseball Classic (along with Yung Chi Chen) and in this year’s Futures Game, Hu is also no stranger to international competition. An off-the-charts defender, Hu just has to provide average offense to be a productive big leaguer.
Wladimir Balentien, OF, Seattle
Born: July 2, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 210. Signed: Curacao, 2000. Signed by: Karel Williams.
Balentien, who was on the 2004 Dutch Olympic team, has outstanding power potential with an all-or-nothing approach at the plate. Though he missed time with a strained groin this season, Balentien should still be able to put on a show during batting practice.
Anderson Gomes, OF, Chicago White Sox
Born: March 12, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 175. Signed: Brazil, 2006.
Gomes originally signed at age 16 to play in Japan, and after his career as a pitcher there didn’t pan out, he moved to the outfield, and the White Sox signed him this spring. He started off the year at high Class A Winston-Salem before he was sent down to low Class A, where he flourished. He’s an above-average runner with a line-drive approach.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Arizona
Born: Oct. 17, 1985. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2002. Signed by: Miguel Nava.
Gonzalez somehow didn’t make the California League midseason all-star squad, but he ranks among the top young outfield prospects in the game. With quick hands and strong wrists, Gonzalez should hit for both average and power in the big leagues.
Trent Oeltjen, OF, Minnesota
Born: Feb. 28, 1983. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Australia, 2001. Signed by: Howard Norsetter.
It took Oeltjen two years to leave the high Class A Florida State League behind, and he’s making up for lost time and hitting for average in the Double-A Eastern League this season. An above-average runner with some pop, the versatile Aussie has played all three outfield spots in New Britain.
Jose Tabata, OF, New York Yankees
Born: Aug. 12, 1988. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 165. Signed: Venezuela, 2005. Signed by: Ricardo Finol.
The youngest player in the Futures Game, Tabata has plus tools across the board and has an advanced approach at the plate for his age. Tabata missed time this season with a minor right wrist sprain, but he has the total package as the Yankees’ top hitting prospect.
Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Philadelphia
Born: March 21, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2003. Signed by: Sal Agostinelli.
Carrasco, who signed for $300,000 out of a Venezuelan tryout camp in 2003, has been essentially a two-pitch pitcher until this year, when he gained more command of his curveball. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and his changeup might be his best offering overall.
Yovani Gallardo, RHP, Milwaukee
Born: Feb. 27, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HS—Fort Worth, Texas, 2004 (2nd round). Signed by: Jim Stevenson.
A power pitcher with good life on his fastball, Gallardo has been one of the minors’ most consistent starters this season. In two of his three losses, Gallardo whiffed 22 in 10 innings, and he ranks second in the minors in strikeout rate, behind high Class A Brevard County teammate Mark Rogers.
Jamie Garcia, LHP, St. Louis
Born: July 8, 1986. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS—Mission, Texas, 2005 (20th round). Signed by: Joe Almaraz.
Garcia was born in Mexico but came to high school in Texas so he could get drafted. The Orioles took him in the 30th round in 2004 but didn’t sign him, and when scout Joe Almaraz moved to the Cardinals organization he got the team to grab him in 2005. He has been dominant in his first professional season.
Jose Garcia, RHP, Florida
Born: Jan. 7, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 175. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2001. Signed by: Cesar Santiago.
Garcia separated himself from the rest of a prospect-laden staff at high Class A Jupiter by dominating Florida State League hitters. He moved up to Double-A Carolina and continued to impress with a power fastball, plus changeup and above-average slider.
Radhames Liz, RHP, Baltimore
Born: Oct. 6, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2003. Signed by: Carlos Bernhardt.
Liz has extremely long arms, which allow him get a lot of deception in his delivery. He is still working on mechanics with his offspeed pitches, but he’s already one of the best strikeout pitchers in the minors and one of the most intriguing arms in the Futures Game.
Edgar Martinez, RHP, Boston
Born: Oct. 23, 1981. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 222. Signed: Venezuela, 1998. Signed by: Levy Ochoa.
A converted catcher, Martinez spent six years behind the plate before the Red Sox moved him to the mound in mid-2004. He has a power fastball that tops out at 96 mph, helping him make fast progress as a reliever, and he could provide big league bullpen help before too long.
Davis Romero, LHP, Toronto
Born: March 30, 1983. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 160. Signed: Panama, 1999. Signed by: Giovany Miranda.
The Blue Jays ‘other’ Romero, Davis Romero throws harder (91-92 mph) than 2005 first-round pick Ricky Romero, even though he’s smaller. He’s a strike-thrower who can command and control his fastball, changeup and sweeping curveball.
Jae Kuk Ryu, RHP, Chicago Cubs
Born: May 30, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Signed: Korea, 2001. Signed by: Leon Lee.
When Ryu reached the big leagues this season, it helped put his unfortunate osprey-beaning incident further behind him. Signed for $1.6 million in 2001, his biggest asset his ability to locate all four of his pitches: a 91 mph fastball, slider, curve and changeup.
Juan Salas, RHP, Tampa Bay
Born: Nov. 7, 1978. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 210. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1998. Signed by: Rudy Santin.
The second converted hitter to make the World pitching staff, Salas signed for $600,000 in 1998. His bat never developed but he had a cannon at third base, so the Rays moved him to the mound in mid-2004. He has taken off as a reliever and had not allowed an earned run this season.
Humberto Sanchez, RHP, Detroit
Born: May 28, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-6. Wt.: 230. Drafted: Connors State (Okla.) JC, D/F 2001. Signed by: Rob Guzik.
While the quality of his pitches might be a shade behind that of young Tigers hurlers Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya, Sanchez also has power stuff that starts with a 93-95 mph fastball. He could find himself back with the other young power arms in the big leagues soon.

Minors | #2006 #Futures Game

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