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Top Prospect Alert

Alfonzo Soriano -- By Robert Sherry

Alfonso Soriano,a 6'2",180 pound,five-tool talent was the New York Yankees third big foreign signee in recent years,joining Orlando Hernandez and Hideki Irabu.This 21 year old righthander has been considered one of the most exciting players at any level throughout his first U.S. season.

Alonso's journey began as a 16 year old when Japan's Hiroshima Toyo Carp signed him at their Dominican academy.The native of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, decided to "retire" in 1998 from playing in Japan so he could get out of his contract and began his American career.He had a couple of back-to-back seasons in Japan were he didn't put up good stats,but it was his potential that made all the scouts excited.The Yankees ended up beinging his choice to sign with as they outbidd the competition including, reportedly, the Cleveland Indians.

Alfonso's U.S. career began 1 year ago in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .254 with 6 HR's, 9 2B's, and 28 RBI in 34 games allowing he to be named player of the week twice.

His first full season began for the Gulf Coast Yankees where he hit .263 with 1 HR,and 5 RBI in just less than a full week.Alfonso was quickly promoted to the Norwich Navigators of Eastern League where he showed he belonged by hitting 15 HR's and 68 RBI with a .305 average.This allowed he to be selected to play in the inaugual "Future Star's" game at Fenway Park over the All-Star break.He ended up stealing the spotlight from all the other stars by going 2-3,with 2 HR's,2 Runs Scored,5 RBI and subsisquantly being named MVP.

His game is very polished for someone his age due to the fact that he was playing in Japan. In the field,he has the soft hands and quick feet like all the great one's have, but he has had some problems with errors.This will be corrected with continued experience.At the plate,Soriano has all the ability to be Jeter/Rodiguez/Garciaparra mold.He can hit for a high average as well as be a run producer,uncommon for a middle infielder until the last few seasons.His stay in Norwich earned him the label as the "Most Exciting Player" by Baseball America.

Throughtout his young career,Alfonso has been a SS but this will change when he lands in the Big Apple.Most expect either a most to 3rd base or,more likely,to 2nd Base. Some within the Yankees think he can also be an outfielder, possibly LF,but I don't see that drastic a move for him. My belief is that he will play 2nd and be an all-star for years to come.He is just starting to tap into all that talent he has,I expect much bigger things from hm in the future.


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