World notes: Starter has big dreams
Fruto trying to become third active Columbian in Majors
SAN FRANCISCO -- He could be the next Mariano Rivera or Francisco Cordero, but ask Emiliano Fruto about a future career in the big leagues and the power pitcher says he would prefer to be the next Edgar Renteria or Orlando Cabrera.
Emiliano, a Triple-A right-handed pitcher for the Columbus Clippers in the Nationals organization, is the lone player from Colombia on the World Team roster and on track to be the next player from his country in the big leagues. Renteria and Cabrera are the only players from Colombia on a Major League roster at the moment.
"I'm really happy to be representing my country, and I hope to be the next one to make it," he said. "I know there are a lot of good players in my country. We just need the opportunity and to take advantage of the opportunity when we get it. That is what I am doing."
It shows. Fruto is 3-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 41 innings pitched this season. He has waked 25 batters and struck out 36. He is a starting pitcher, but considered by some as a legitimate closer in the future.
He was slowed this season by inflammation behind his elbow on his throwing arm, but said he no longer feels any pain and expects a better second half of the season.
"I'm healthy, so that makes a difference," he said. "We'll see how the rest of the year goes."
Another Beltran? They share the same first name, and there are some that say Carlos Beltran and Diamondbacks prospect Carlos Gonzalez share the same game.
The right fielder at Double-A Mobile is considered one of the top prospects in the game and called a left-handed-hitting Beltran. He is currently hitting .253 with 19 doubles, two triples and eight home runs for the BayBears.
"My RBIs are getting up there and my home runs, but I still have to get better," Gonzalez said. "In the beginning of the year, the climate was not fun. It was very cool; now, it is getting a lot better. I come from a hot climate and it affected me."
The Venezuela native admits he loves the heat, and he shined in his home country during the Winter League because of it. He was named Baseball America's Winter Player of the Year for his efforts with Venezuela's Aguilas de Zulia last fall.
"It was huge surprise because there are so many good players there," Gonzalez said. "I never thought that would happen to me. It's a tough league."
He said it: "We grew up together, playing on the same teams in Little League and all the same All-Star teams and traveling teams. We still keep in touch. It's great to know that they are doing really well." -- Angels prospect Freddy Sandoval of Mexico, on growing up in San Diego with Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and his brother Edgar Gonzalez, an infielder in the Cardinals organization
Catching his eye: Orioles prospect Pedro Beato had a little extra something to catch Juan Marichal's attention in the crowded World clubhouse before Sunday's festivities: wearing Marichal's traditional No. 27, the right-hander relayed his respect and told the Giants great of meeting him once before in the Dominican Republic, a decade prior.
"The first time I met him, I was very excited," Beato said. "Meeting him today means even more because I'm playing pro ball now, and my life is more ahead than it was before."
Beato, 21, is a high-ranked right-hander pitching for Class A Delmarva in the Baltimore system and said he patterns certain aspects of his game against that of Marichal, even though the two were separated by generations: his aggressiveness, for one thing, is a trait to be admired; his consistency another.
For Beato, once drafted out of high school by the Mets before going undrafted and becoming property of the Orioles organization, the rise has come rapidly. Focusing on his fastball, changeup and curveball, Beato was 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA in 15 starts at Class A, earning him the memorable experience of spending another afternoon by Marichal's side.
"He's a Hall of Famer," Beato said. "Who wouldn't want to be next to a guy or play for someone who knows what baseball was like? He's had a life in baseball."
Venezuelan connection: Tigers outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, who is from Venezuela, credits his success this season to a long chat with countrymen Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez during Spring Training.
He says Guillen is his inspiration.
"The first thing he said was work hard; if I want to work hard, stay away from drugs and things that are bad for my health, I will make it," Hernandez said. "That's a big part. He said to focus every day."
It appears Hernandez has taken Guillen's words to heart. He is hitting .300 with 31 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. He leads the Midwest League with 28 stolen bases in 34 attempts.
Calling his shot: As Joey Votto trotted back into the World team dugout Sunday following a sixth-inning home run, he exchanged a laughing greeting from teammate Craig Stansberry.
"You're my idol," Stansberry told him.
An inning prior to Votto's solo blast off the U.S.' Clay Buchholz, the Reds farmhand revealed he had actually called his shot to Stansberry, telling the Padres infielder that he intended to hit a home run on his next at-bat.
"I was saying to him, 'I want to hit one in [McCovey] Cove,'" Votto said. "But if I don't hit one there, I want to hit one out. I wanted to hit a home run. I said, 'I don't care where I hit it. I'll hit it anywhere.'"
Even though the baseball landed past the left-center-field fence, not in splashdown territory past right field, it didn't diminish Stansberry's wonder.
"He's talented," Stansberry said. "A lot of hitters, if they try to hit a home run, they're not going to wind up doing it. But he said he was going to cut it loose and then he did. I was pretty impressed."
Votto, 23, was a repeat member of the Futures Game lineup, and said he hoped this would be his final experience -- not that he didn't enjoy suiting up with his teammates, but he'd prefer his next heroic home runs come in a Major League uniform. But Votto was quick to say that he had an "awesome time" in action.
"I honestly don't think something like this makes a big difference for the Reds' decisions," Votto said. "They watch me play all the time. They know how I play and what I'm about. I don't think hitting a home run today makes that much of a difference. I think they're happy I had a good time."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.