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Background: In 1997, Konerko hit .323-37-127 at Triple-A Albuquerque and was named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. In 1996 as a 20-year-old, he hit 31 home runs at Double-A San Antonio in one of the more difficult home run parks in the minors. Yes, he can hit. Konerko made his major league debut at 21, more than three years earlier than the obvious player to compare him to, Mike Piazza. Strengths: There doesn't appear to be much Konerko can't do with the bat. He hits for power and average, takes a high number of walks and rarely strikes out for a power hitter. His makeup and work ethic are unsurpassed by any player. Weaknesses: Drafted as a catcher, Konerko has slow feet and a hip condition that will limit his range and speed. He has played first base and third base the past two years and is considered adequate at both. He has an above-average arm and good hands, both legacies from his catching background. The Future: Konerko's status in relation to Eric Karros and Todd Zeile remains fluid. The Dodgers see it as a no-lose situation. Their plan is to be patient and see how things play out between now and Opening Day.
Background: Beltre was the Florida State League's top prospect after contending for a Triple Crown. The Dodgers, who have often rushed their position prospects, have shown unusual patience with Beltre, letting him spend two full years in Class A. Strengths: Beltre may be the most gifted player in the minors. All his tools are at least above-average. His hitting and power are on par with Paul Konerko's. He has above-average speed and the strongest arm in the organization outside of Raul Mondesi. Weaknesses: Any weakness in Beltre's package would be a matter of comparison with his own tools. He hasn't shown any weaknesses in two years of minor league ball. The Future: Beltre would be considered the top prospect in just about any organization. The most likely scenario is for Beltre to take over third in 1999 with Konerko at first.