Winter Ball Star: Robinson Cano

The idea of Robinson Cano being the future of the second base position for the Yankees is looking more and more like a reality these days. After a good regular season in 2004, Cano is now putting on an offensive show in the Domincan Winter League. <b>(Free Preview of Premium Content)</b>

Maybe it's about time someone got to know Robinson Cano other than as "the guy being offered in the Randy Johnson trade." The bottom line is that he is much more than that, and he is showing that while facing some excellent competition in the Dominican Winter League this year. After a slow start, Cano has become an offensive machine for Las Estrellas de Oriente. He has been named by his team, recently, as "La Estrella de Estrellas" or "The Star of Stars." The 22-year old second baseman plays for the "Estrellas", translated as the Stars. He has proven his title to be true, becoming one of the most consistent hitters in the league in 2004. Will his stellar performance have an impact on his 2005 status? It actually could have a significant impact, possibly even meaning a chance of seeing some Major League time late in 2005.

One would have to think that with all the trade rumors circulating that it may get in the way of Cano's performance. Well, not if you ask Cano himself though. "I never think about trades. I just let things happen," Cano told "I'm just happy to be here, but I don't get too excited. It's a long season. I just want to do my job." It has been a long season for Cano, who was prepared to play Winter Ball after his regular season ended. But, he sure did do his job in Trenton this season. In 74 games, he batted .301 with 7 home runs, 8 triples, 20 doubles and 44 RBI. Not too shabby by any standards. And despite his 12 errors in Trenton this season, he is considered to have above average defensive skills. His arm is very strong for a second baseman with extra soft hands and a quick release. Now, what does that spell out for the New York Yankees? It could spell the future of the second base position. He went on to play most of the second half with AAA Columbus, where he had his share of struggles but held his own, nonetheless. The 22-year old second baseman finally started to get the recognition he deserved during the 2004 All-Star break when he received an invitation to play in the Futures Game at Minute Maid Park. Cano accepted the invitation, obviously, and went along with fellow prospect, Dioner Navarro to the event. But, despite his numerous accomplishments in the regular season in 2004, his shining moments would come as "Una Estrella" in the Dominican Winter League.















Estrellas de Oriente












* *Winter League Stats as of 12/7/04

The above statistics are those of Cano thus far in his Winter League season. At the outset of the season, he was not receiving much playing time, giving way to older, more experienced players. However, with a few good games, Robinson suddenly found himself as a mainstay in the Estrellas lineup as their second baseman. Once he was in there, he caught fire with the bat. He even received the honor of being named the team's "Player of the Week" recently. In short, it certainly doesn't look like he'll be sitting out any more games any time soon. Cano really has become "The Star of Stars." Perhaps it is just the right medicine for a slightly disappointing end to the 2004 regular season, in which Cano had some struggles with the Columbus Clippers. If he continues to play the way he has of late, it will likely catapult him even higher on the prospect hot list. It is even possible that he could have earned himself a late season 2005 callup to the Bronx.

It hasn't become well known, until this season, the kind of talent that Robinson Cano has, mostly due to the fact that he has long been overshadowed by his prospect counterpart, Dioner Navarro. However, that is no longer the case. In fact, Cano seems to have surpassed Dioner in prospect status, entirely. With his showing in Winter Ball, this is all but a lock. Does it mean he'll be playing second base for the Yankees in 2005? In all likelihood, no. But, it sure does bode well for him to step in and be full time player in the Bronx in the not so distant future. There is simply no longer a reason nor an excuse to ignore this rising young star. He has been "The Star of Stars" in Winter Ball this season, but the 2005 season could have him as one of the biggest stars of the Yankee Minor League System.

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