The World Team loaded up its roster with five middle infielders, and as a result, had to cut some corners. World Manager Juan Marichial heads into the 2007 Futures Game in San Francisco with exactly two natural corner infielders: one first baseman and one third baseman.
Freddy Sandoval will patrol the hot corner for the World Futures. The Mexican native has been a bit of a surprise this year, hitting .295 with 35 RBIs. Across the diamond from Sandoval will be Joey Votto of Canada for the second consecutive year. Not necessarily known for his fielding, Votto is considered one of the best hitting prospects in the game.
Sandoval and Votto will be joined by the versatile Geovanny Soto and Craig Stansberry. Soto, a catcher by training, has spent some time playing both first and third base. He is one of the few players on the World roster with any Major League experience. Stansberry, who is trying to become the first Major League player born in Saudia Arabia, plays second base for the Portland Beavers, but has experience at the hot corner.
Without cutting any more corners, here are the four corners of the world.
Link to full articleJoey Votto, Louisville (Triple-A, Reds)
Things can't get much better for Joey Votto. In the last year, the 44th overall pick in the 2002 Draft was named Southern League MVP, earned a promotion from Double-A to Triple-A and received his second invitation to the Futures Game.
The scary thing is he may not be done.
"I still feel I am improving each and every day," Votto said.
Votto struggled out of the gate this year in his first season in Triple-A with a .192 batting average in April. But the Canadian quickly turned his game around, proving why he's one of the Reds' top prospects.
In May, Votto hammered International League pitching, hitting .402 with six homers and 21 RBIs. The first baseman has continued to stroke the ball in June, batting .311. On the season, Votto ranks 10th in batting average (.311) and third in on-base percentage (.415) in the IL.
Of all the World players, Votto may be the most Major League-ready. Many experts think he could get the call to Cincinnati in September or even sooner if there's a trade that creates a vacancy at first base.
Votto had one hit in two at bats in the last year's Futures Game in Pittsburgh.