|Frederick Keys (High A/Orioles)|
Born: Oct. 27, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 210. Drafted: St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC, 2006 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Nick Presto.
Beato was born in the Dominican Republic but attended high school in Brooklyn. The Mets drafted him in 2005 but did not sign him, so the Orioles pounced in 2006. Beato threw as many as six pitches as an amateur, but the Orioles have him focused on his mid-90s fastball, curveball and changeup. Improving his command will be the key to ascent through the system.
|Reading Phillies (Double-A/Phillies)|
Born: March 3, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2003. Signed by: Sal Agostinelli.
Carrasco rebounded from a rough 2005 as an 18-year-old in low Class A by going 12-6, 2.26 last year at the same level, and he has now established himself as one of the best pitching prospects in the minors. He features a 90-92 mph fastball and one of the best changeups in the organization, and before his promotion to Double-A he had a three-game stretch when he yielded eight hits and one run over 24 innings while striking out 20 at high Class A Clearwater.
|Fautino de los Santos||rhp|
|Kannapolis Intimidators (High A/White Sox)|
Born: Feb. 15, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 210. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005. Signed by: Marino de Leon and Denny Gonzalez.
De los Santos would qualify as one of this year’s breakout prospects, considering he wasn’t among the White Sox’ top 30 prospects coming into the season and was unknown to most people outside the organization. But he’s averaging better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings and flashing a mid-90s fastball with good life and a plus slider this season, so he’s getting attention.
|Columbus Clippers (Triple-A/Nationals)|
Born: June 6, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 235. Signed: Colombia, 2000. Signed by: Curtis Wallace.
Acquiring Fruto from the Mariners this offseason looks like it might have been a good move by the Nationals. Fruto gets batters out with a lively fastball in the 92-96 mph range, which helps set up his best pitch, an outstanding changeup. Fruto is big and athletic, and has always been especially good against righthanded hitters, and he could jump to the big league bullpen soon.
|St. Lucie Mets (High A/Mets)|
Born: April 17, 1989. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 200. Signed: Venezuela, 2005. Signed by: Rafael Bournigal.
Guerra showed in his 2006 debut that he had the pitches and the command to succeed. He didn’t begin to dominate until this season, when he added the five miles an hour to his fastball–up to 95 mph–that his 6-foot-5 frame suggested he would. Yet the most impressive thing about Guerra might be that he turned 18 just this season.
|Lynchburg Hillcats (High A/Pirates)|
Born: Feb. 1, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Signed: Cuba, 2007.
The Pirates signed Linares, a Cuban defector, in February and he has shown he could move through the organization quickly even though he hadn’t been able to pitch competitively since 2005. He showed a 92-94 mph fastball this spring, with a hammer curveball, and gets a good downward plane on his pitches.
|Tulsa Drillers (Double-A/Rockies)|
Born: Jan. 24, 1986. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2002. Signed by: Francisco Cartaya.
A lefthanded power pitcher, Morales throws mid- to high-90s heat and complements it with a sharp curveball. In the last three years, he has grown three inches, which has helped boost the quality of his stuff. Morales gets an above-average number of strikeouts and groundballs and has all the elements.
|San Jose Giants (High A/Giants)|
Born: July 28, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2004.
The latest power arm in a Giants system that specializes in producing pitchers, Sosa emerged this season by dominating the South Atlantic League with a fastball that reaches 97-98 mph and a hard curveball that he has learned to throw for strikes. His 0.73 ERA led the minors in late June, and he registered 61 strikeouts in 62 innings before being promoted to San Jose.
|Arkansas Travelers (Double-A/Angels)|
Born: July 1, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Australia, 2002. Signed by: Grant Weir.
As a reliever, Thompson succeeds by striking batters out and using his improved command to his advantage. Righties have a hard time hitting against Thompson, mostly because his curveball can give them fits. In addition to the Futures Game, Thompson also represented Australia in last year’s World Baseball Classic.
|Rick Vanden Hurk||rhp|
|Carolina Mudcats (Double-A/Marlins)|
Born: May 22, 1985. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 195. Signed: Netherlands, 2002. Signed by: Fred Ferreira.
This season has been Vanden Hurk’s best since signing with the Marlins at age 17 out of their Dutch academy. He made his major league debut in April, and the highlight of his season came in June when he held the Braves to one hit in six innings. Vanden Hurk succeeds with a fastball that can reach 94 mph, a curveball and a changeup.
|New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Double-A/Blue Jays)|
Born: Sept. 19, 1983. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 220. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2000. Signed by: Hilario Soriano.
An athletic receiver and uncanny bad-ball hitter, Diaz has been remarkably consistent as he’s climbed the organizational ladder. He won the Rookie-level Appalachian League batting title in 2003 and has an average over .300 for his career. Though Diaz doesn’™t hit for power, his arm is strong and accurate, and his game-calling acumen has come a long way.
|Kinston Indians (High A/Indians)|
Born: Oct. 11, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 175. Signed: Venezuela, 2002. Signed by: Rolando Petit (Braves).
Ramirez moved slowly through the Braves organization before coming to the Indians in the June 2006 trade for Bob Wickman, but he has shown this season he has the bat to move up quickly. He was signed as a third baseman and moved behind the plate in 2005, though some scouts aren’t sure he has the ability to remain at catcher in the long term.
|Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High A/Braves)|
Born: Aug. 26, 1988. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2005. Signed by: Rolando Petit/Julian Perez.
The Braves shortstop of the future held his own as a 17-year-old in the South Atlantic League last season and is again facing players three or four years his elder in the Carolina League. The team loves Andrus’ soft hands, range and plus arm strength as well as his enthusiasm. He is also starting put his plus speed to better use and should easily set a career high in steals this year.
|Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A/Rangers)|
Born: Aug. 26, 1988. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Weatherford (Texas) JC, 2005 (6th round). Signed by: Jay Eddings.
A native of Mexico, Duran was drafted by the Rangers out of a Texas junior college in 2005 and made the Northwest League all-star team in his professional debut. He has started to pass some of the Rangers’ more heralded middle-infield prospects and was showing a potent bat with legitimate power in Double-A this season.
|Huntsville Stars (Double-A/Brewers)|
Born: Dec. 16, 1986. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 165. Signed: Venezuela, 2003. Signed by: Epy Guerrero.
A hand injury derailed Escobar’s 2006 season but he made a nice comeback this year in his second stint with Brevard County in the Florida State League. His defensive skills have been ahead of his bat thanks to soft hands and plus arm strength, but he hit .325 with 18 steals in high Class A before a late June promotion to Double-A.
|Jacksonville Suns (Double-A/Dodgers)|
Born: Feb. 2, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 150. Signed: Taiwan, 2003. Signed by: Pat Kelly/Vincent Liao.
Hu stands out because of his defense at shortstop, as both his arm and glove are above-average. His work will be at the plate, but he succeeds when he hits line drives up the middle and to the opposite field. He is also a disciplined hitter who can get on base, and this year he has shown more power to drive balls into the gaps despite his small frame.
|Arkansas Travelers (Double-A/Angels)|
Born: May 22, 1985. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 205. Drafted: San Diego, 2004 (8th round). Signed by: Tim Cocoran.
The combination of plate discipline and an ability to hit for contact have been the major factors in Sandoval’s batting average and on-base percentage going back up this season. The number of walks and strikeouts he has this year are nearly identical, which is consistent with his 2005 performance rather than the regression he endured last year.
|Iowa Cubs (Triple-A/Cubs)|
Born: Jan. 20, 1983. B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 230. Drafted: HS–Rio Piedras, P.R., 2001 (11th round). Signed by: Jose Trujillo.
Soto is in his third season at Iowa and has done it all at the plate this season, hitting for average and power and getting on base at a high rate. He is a well-rounded player who is solid behind the plate and at first base. The biggest improvement in Soto’s hitting this year has been his increased power, which has added another dimension to his game.
|Portland Beavers (Triple-A/Padres)|
Born: March 8, 1982. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Rice, 2003 (5th round). Signed by: Tom Barnard (Pirates).
Claimed on waivers from the Pirates last December, Stansberry, who was born Dammam, Saudi Arabia, has adjusted nicely to his new organization. With speed, some power, outstanding instincts for the game and a good glove at both second and third base, Stansberry has what it takes to be a big league utility player, or maybe more.
|Louisville Bats (Triple-A/Reds)|
Born: Sept. 10, 1983. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 220. Drafted: HS–Toronto, 2002 (2nd round). Signed by: John Castleberry.
How has Votto followed up on his MVP campaign in the Double-A Southern League? By being one of Triple-A’s best hitters, of course. The burly first baseman started slow, but rattled off a 17-game hitting streak to get him back on track. With a line-drive stroke that enables him to hit for average and a discerning batting eye, Votto is more than a one-dimensional slugger.
|Tacoma Rainiers (Triple-A/Mariners)|
Born: July 2, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 190. Signed: Curacao, 2000. Signed by: Karel Williams.
Balentien has gotten himself under control this season and thrived. Determined to decrease his strikeouts–which numbered as high as 160 in 123 games–Balentien has unlocked his full power potential this season and is poised to breeze past his previous high for home runs. With one of the best outfield arms in baseball, Balentien has big league right fielder written all over him.
|Mobile BayBears (Double-A/Diamondbacks)|
Born: Oct. 17, 1985. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Signed: Venezuela, 2002. Signed by: Miguel Nava.
One of this year’s repeat performers in the Futures Game, Gonzalez had a great winter in Venezuela but has not performed as well in Double-A this year. Still, his tools are those of a prototype right fielder, with above-average power and one of the strongest arms in the minor leagues.
|West Michigan Whitecaps (Low A/Tigers)|
Born: Sept. 7, 1987. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 175. Signed: Venezuela, 2005. Signed by: Ramon Pena.
Hernandez dominated the Gulf Coast League as an 18-year-old last summer, leading the circuit in hitting (.327) and runs (41), while finishing second in steals (20). The burner has not slowed down in his first full professional season, leading the Midwest League in steals with 28 in 34 attempts in late June. His defense remains a strength and he had committed just three errors in 63 games in center field.
|High Desert Mavericks (High A/Mariners)|
Born: Nov. 19, 1986. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Drafted: Tallahassee (Fla.) CC, D/F 2004 (11th round). Signed by: Phil Geisler.
The multi-sport athlete growing up in British Columbia may have had a future in the NHL before choosing baseball. Saunders hits for power with a natural fluid swing but still needs to find consistency at the plate: He ranked among the California League leaders at the all-star break in RBIs (51) and total bases (133) as well as strikeouts (65).
Born: Aug. 7, 1984. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4.
Wt.: 210. Drafted: Cal Poly, 2006 (8th
round). Signed by:
teammate of U.S. Futures Gamer
Garrett Olson, Van Ostrand has shown outstanding versatility by
playing three different positions at Lexington this season. The
Canadian native’s average this season has hovered around the .300
mark for the Legends. Offensively, Van Ostrand features an easy,
line-drive stroke and has emerging power.
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