Franklin Morales, lhp, Rockies: Morales lost his rotation slot in Colorado early in ’08 and struggled with command at Triple-A. But Venezuela looked a whole lot brighter.
Key stats: 37 Ks, 13 BB in 53 IP
Carlos Carrasco, rhp, Phillies: Philly’s top pitching prospect, Carrasco built on his big 2008 season with a fine showing in Venezuela.
Key stats: 45 Ks, 11 BB in 47 IP
Travis Blackley, lhp, Diamondbacks: Blackley parlayed a successful trip to Mexico into a trip to the World Baseball Classic and a spring invite from the Diamondbacks.
Key stats: 55 Ks, 19 BB in 63 2â"3 IP
Ian Kennedy, rhp, Yankees: Needing a jumpstart for what will be a must-have 2009, the Yankees’ 2006 first-round pick re-established his fastball and confidence and showed progress throwing his curve for strikes. This after a terrible run in the majors (0-4, 8.17 in six starts).
Key stats: 31 strikeouts, 21 walks in 34 2â"3 innings.
Juan Gutierrez, rhp, Diamondbacks: Traded by the Astros in December 2007 and then only 5-11, 6.09 at Triple-A Tucson, Gutierrez bounced back in the Venezuelan League, leading the league in strikeouts and ranking second in ERA.
Key stats: 5-2, 2.63 with 56 Ks in 65 IP
Shawn Kelly, rhp, Mariners: The former Austin Peay State Governor looks very much like a future set-up man after closing games at high Class A High Desert, Double-A West Tenn and then in Venezuela.
Key stats: 9-for-9 in SVO, 21 Ks in 14 2/3 IP
Pablo Sandoval, c/1b/3b, Giants: He hit .396/.449/.677 in 214 at-bats, leading Venezuela in batting and slugging.
Key stats: 12 HRs in 192 at-bats
Luis Valbuena, 2B, Indians: Valbuena’s 2008 season traversed from Double-A all the way to Seattle and his Venezuela tour featured five homers, giving him 16 for the year.
Key stats: .304/.381/.483
Gregorio Petit, ss, Athletics: Petit opened at Triple-A Sacramento in 2008, reached Oakland in mid-May and refined his game in Venezuela, where he got in more than 200 at-bats.
Key stats: .315/.386/.414 and 14 doubles
Fernando Martinez, of, Mets: Injured in the Caribbean Series, Martinez stood out in the Dominican League and even made a brief cameo in the Venezuela League playoffs.
Key stats: 18 extra-base hits, 153 ABs
Sam Fuld, of, Cubs: Fuld wheeled to the finish line with outstanding numbers, hitting .322/.425/.513 with 25 extra-base hits.
Key stats: 36 BB, 20 Ks in 199 at-bats
Max Ramirez, C, Rangers: Ramirez followed an outstanding minor league season by leading Venezuela in home runs and ranking second in slugging.
Key stats: 15 HRs, 220 plate appearances, .291/.391/.618
Juan Francisco, dh, Reds: Questions remain about his third base defense but he’s got the bat, adding six home runs in the Dominican League playoffs after cracking 12 in the regular season.
Key stats: .360/.419/.665 in 161 ABs
Jesus Guzman, 3b, Giants: Guzman decided not to return to the Athletics system after a big year in Double-A, signed with the Giants and put on a show in Venezuela with the second-best OPS (third in slugging). Defense remains a question mark, though.
Key stats: .304/.381/.483
Gerardo Parra, of, Diamondbacks: Scouts wonder if he’ll hit for power at the higher levels, but Parra showed better power in Venezuela, leading the league in doubles (20) while hitting .329/.404/.504.
Key stats: 7 HRs, 36 Ks, 31 BB