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Baseball 2001: The Top Rookies


Pedro Feliz, 3B, San Francisco: The 23-year-old power-hitting Dominican will get a shot to replace the departed Bill Mueller. He hit .298 with 33 home runs and 105 RBI at Triple-A last season and has had a strong spring.

Ryan Kohlmeier, RHP, Baltimore: One of the few young, bright spots on an aging Orioles roster. Had a 2.39 ERA and converted 13 of 14 saves as a late-season call-p last year to earn the closer's job.

Jose Ortiz, 2B, Oakland. Just the latest in a long line of prospects developed by the Athletics in recent years. Ortiz is a compact power hitter who should replace Randy Velarde, who was dealt to Texas in the off-eason. Ortiz hit .351 with 24 homers, 108 RBIs and 22 steals to win MVP in the Pacific Coast League. Still needs work in field.

Corey Patterson, OF, Cubs: The Cubs are banking much of their future on their star 20-year-old outfielder. Could team with Sammy Sosa and Rondell White to give the Cubs a formidable outfield. Has great power and speed but needs work on plate discipline. Could be making impact at Wrigley Field by summer.

Luis Rivas, 2B, Minnesota: Moved from shortstop to second base and could team with Cristian Guzman as double-play partners of the future for Twins. Very quick, Rivas still needs more discipline at plate. Hit .310 in 58 at-bats in late-season call-p for Twins.

Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia: Showed some pop in spring training and should get a chance to prove himself in the majors on an everyday basis. The cousin of former big leaguer Tony Tarasco, could be the answer to the Phillies' longtime woes at shortstop.

C.C. Sabathia, LHP, Cleveland. Indians want to bring 6-foot-7 left-hander along slowly, but it might be hard to keep his overpowering fastball in minors for much longer. He struck out 159 in 146 1-3 innings last year, but hasn't started a game higher than Double-A.

Ben Sheets, RHP, Milwaukee: The hard-throwing right-hander pitched three-hit shutout vs. Cuba to win the gold medal for the United States at the Sydney Olympics. Sheets has shown why at times in the spring. Brewers haven't had much success developing young pitchers in the past, but Sheets could be real deal.

Alfonso Soriano, 2B, Yankees: The Yankees have been unwilling to trade this super-prospect in recent years despite having Derek Jeter entrenched at shortstop. Soriano has shown why this spring, with a lively bat. Will likely play second base because of Chuck Knoblauch's throwing problems.

Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Seattle: The seven-time Japanese batting champion is trying to become the first Japanese position player to make it in the majors. A line-drive contact hitter who has been compared to Tony Gwynn, Ichiro must adjust to big league pitching. Called the Michael Jordan of Japan because of his immense popularity at home, Mariners hope he hits the curve better than Jordan.

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