Add This Name To The Second Base List

Time was that a second baseman was mostly valued for the work he did with the glove he wore on his left hand. Nowadays, though, baseball people like men at that position to borrow at least half an expression from Teddy Roosevelt. They don't care if they walk softly but they do like them to carry a big stick. They certainly are doing that in the Dodger organization.

At Las Vegas, there's two that fit that description Willie Aybar, who also plays a lot of third, and Joe Thurston, who may be something of an oldie but is still a goodie, hitting close to .300. At Jacksonville, there's Delwyn Young. Oh, he may wind up playing another position someday but right now he's doing what he always does, playing second and driving the ball hard.

At Vero Beach, there's the fast-rising Tony Abreu, who seems to be able to do it all. At Columbus, there's the home-run hitting Travis Denker. Quite a crowd. But we're not done yet for out there on the western horizon looms another -- Jesus Soto.

Soto's one of those discovered by Camilo Pascual in Venezuela and he seems to fit right in with the others who've made good. He won't be 19 until September but by then he will have finished two years as a pro and it would appear that he's becoming someone you just have to notice.

Skipping the usual indoctrination in the Caribbean, he played his first year in the Gulf Coast League where he put up solid numbers .292-4-18. This season, he's at Ogden where he hits No. 2 in the batting order and is doing it with gusto.

You want consistency -- he currently has a .311 mark. You want some juice, how about five homeruns, 13 doubles and a slugging percentage of .526. You want some speed when he gets on- he's tried nine stolen bases thus far and made it every time.

The only fault that can be found so far is 11 errors in the field. They're the result of trying to force things, not uncommon among young players. He has the requisite soft hands, quick feet and strong arm to more than handle the position. In fact, he was a shortstop when he entered pro ball but was moved over to team with Juan Rivera, something he's been doing for both seasons now.

He's very much a kid but was playing the game against some tough opposition back home and hasn't faltered at all. He's compact enough at 5-11, 180 but will probably grow and become more solid as he matures.

As they're learning to their delight at Ogden, he's quite a prospect. He may be in the back of that crowd the Dodgers have at second but he's moving forward quickly.