Perez Skippers Puerto Rican Prospects

Puerto Rico's roster for the host country's Pan Am Qualifier tournament has an interesting mix of prospects, such as 21-year-old Neftali Soto and 20-year-old Angel Morales, and ex-big league veterans, headed by Juan Gonzalez.

The 40-year-old Gonzalez hasn't played in the major leagues since 2005 but did play this summer in an amateur league in Puerto Rico. Gonzalez has yet to report to practice with the team, which is having voluntary workouts in Puerto Rico while manager Eduardo Perez is still in Connecticut, where he works as an ESPN analyst. Puerto Rico will join Teams Canada and USA in Cary, N.C., for scrimmages Sept. 25-28.

The prospects for Puerto Rico include Morales (Twins), who hit .280/.362/.405 between low Class A Beloit and high Class A Fort Myers while stealing 29 bases; Soto (Reds), who hit 21 homers at high Class A Lynchburg while batting .268/.319/.460; and outfielder Miguel Velazquez (Rangers), 22, who hit .272/.340/.428 between low Class A Hickory and high Class A Bakersfield with 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases.

The team's youngest players are pitchers: righthander Julio Rodriguez (Phillies) and lefty Luis Cruz (Astros). The 20-year-old Rodriguez put up gaudy numbers between short-season Williamsport and low Class A Lakewood, going 7-3, 1.89 overall with 126 strikeouts in 90 innings while walking 37. At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, he has a pitcher's frame and gets most of those strikeouts with his curveball while showing fringe-average, upper-80s velocity with his fastball. Cruz, also 20, is a 5-foot-9 lefty who put up solid numbers in the same South Atlantic League, going 8-5, 3.61 for Lexington due in large part to a good feel for pitching and strong changeup.

Big names among the veterans include ex-big league righthanders Fernando Cabrera (Red Sox) and Juan Padilla (free agent), outfielders Jorge Padilla (Mets) and Armando Rios (free agent), and infielder Ramon Vazquez (Astros).

The roster below contains 28 players and will have to be trimmed to a final 24-man roster:

Pitchers: Federico Baez (Reds); Hiram Burgos (Brewers); Fernando Cabrera (Red Sox); Hector Correa (Giants); Luis Cruz (Astros); Jose de la Torre (Mets); Nelvin Fuentes (Twins); Miguel Mejia (Tigers); Efrain Nieves (Brewers); Juan Padilla (free agent); Saul Rivera (Indians); Julio Rodriguez (Phillies).

Catchers: Carlos Corporan (Diamondbacks); Martin Maldonado (Brewers).

Infielders: Miguel Abreu (Orioles); Chris Amador (free agent), Irving Falu (Royals), Luis Figueroa (Angels), Gaby Martinez (free agent), Neftali Soto (Reds), Ramon Vazquez (Astros).

Outfielders: Angel Gonzalez (free agent), Brahiam Maldonado (Mets), Angel Morales (Twins), Jorge Padilla (Mets), Armando Rios (free agent), Miguel Velazquez (Rangers).

DH: Juan Gonzalez (free agent).

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