They come from all over the world and are at different stages of their professional careers but have one thing in common -- Major League potential.
The 50 Minor Leaguers that adorn the rosters for the eighth annual XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game were announced on Wednesday in MLB.com's exclusive webcast.
The exhibition game pits a US team against a World squad, with both teams consisting of 25 of baseball's top prospects. Major League Baseball, in conjunction with all 30 clubs, combines with Baseball America to determine the players that will take the field as part of the All-Star Game festivities on July 9.
This year's group is especially young, with only three of the 50 players having any Major League experience. In comparison, the 2005 roster handled eight players who had seen some time in the bigs. Leading the US team will be second baseman and Triple-A batting leader Howie Kendrick (Angels) and pitcher Tom Gorzelanny (Pirates), who have both put in some time in the Majors.
Third baseman Joel Guzman (Dodgers) is not only the lone World player with Big League time under his belt, he's also the only player on either roster to have competed in a Futures Game before. The Dominican infielder played shortstop for the World in 2004 and contributed a single in the 4-3 loss to the US.
However, inexperience doesn't necessarily mean the chosen Futures players won't be breaking in any time soon. Last year's squads featured current full-time Major Leaguers such as Arizona's Conor Jackson and Atlanta's Jeff Francouer while past MVP's of the game include Cleveland's Grady Sizemore, Washington's Alfonso Soriano and New York's Jose Reyes.
The 2006 World team has representatives from 11 different countries with Venezuela and the Dominican Republic carrying most of the weight with six players each. Catcher Salomon Manriquez (Nationals), third baseman Pablo Sandoval (Giants), outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (Diamondbacks) and pitchers Edgar Martinez (Red Sox) and Carlos Carrasco (Phillies) all come from Venezuela, while fellow countryman Jose Tabata (Yankees) is at 17 the youngest player participating in the Futures Game.
Four of the six Dominican players are pitchers, with Humberto Sanchez (Tigers) and Radhames Liz (Orioles) highlighting the staff. This year's oldest participant, 28-year-old pitcher Juan Salas (Devil Rays), is also from the Dominican Republic. Mexico native and Florida State League ace Yovani Gallardo (Brewers) joins the DR-dominated pitching staff.
Looking to follow in the footsteps of Braves outfielder and hometown hero Andruw Jones, Wladimir Balentien (Mariners) of Curacao is the big name in the World's outfield. Taiwan occupies the middle infield with Yung Chi Chen (Mariners) and Chin Lung Hu (Dodgers) playing second base and shortstop, respectively.
There isn't a lack of big-time prospects on the US side either. The pitching staff is the most impressive attribute with top Minor League starters Phil Hughes (Yankees), Homer Bailey (Reds), Nick Adenhart (Angels) and Nick Pereira (Giants) joining Gorzelanny.
Playing alongside Kendrick in the US infield are third basemen Ryan Braun (Brewers) and Josh Fields (White Sox), as well as shortstop Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks) and first baseman Joe Koshansky (Rockies).
The Minor League leader in extra-base hits, Travis Buck (Athletics), highlights the US outfield along with Billy Butler (Royals), Hunter Pence (Astros), 19-year-old Cameron Maybin (Tigers) and Nolan Reimold (Orioles).
The 2006 Futures Game is held at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on All-Star Sunday and will be broadcast live at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Kristen Zimmerman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.