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10/26/07 7:25 PM ET
Velez on the run in Arizona Fall League
San Francisco infielder will play in Rising Stars Showcase
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
Eugenio Velez hasn't stopped running yet. The slender infielder who made such a startling impression with his speed during the season's final month has continued accelerating while playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. Velez, 25, was a perfect 13-for-13 in stolen-base attempts through 14 games to earn a spot on the East roster in the league's annual Rising Stars Showcase, to be played Friday in Surprise. Velez's success on the bases will not stun anybody who watched him steal four bases in as many attempts during his promotion to the Giants. Given the team's renewed emphasis on manufacturing runs rather than waiting and hoping for the long ball, Velez's speed has led the Giants to ponder how he might fit into the lineup. To that end, they've tried him at both second base and the outfield. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy even has mentioned the possibility of playing Velez regularly while rotating him among various positions, much as the Angels have done with Chone Figgins. Velez, who's hitting .274 for Scottsdale, established himself as a first-class thief with the Giants' low Class A affiliate in Augusta, Ga., in 2006. Selected by the Giants from Toronto in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft the previous December, Velez stole 64 bases in 79 tries, hit .315 and was named Most Valuable Player of the South Atlantic League. This year, Velez was named an Eastern League All-Star with Double-A Connecticut, batting .298 with nine triples and 49 steals in 67 attempts. In four games with Triple-A Fresno, the switch-hitter batted .278 and went 5-for-5 in thefts. Outfielder Nate Schierholtz also has thrived for Scottsdale, hitting .333 in 10 games. Although Schierholtz had not homered in 42 at-bats, he owned a .500 slugging percentage thanks to five doubles and a triple. The organization's pitchers performing for Scottsdale have continued to distinguish themselves. Right-hander Brian Anderson, who has led his league in saves in all three of his professional seasons, remained unscored upon in six games spanning six innings. Right-hander Sergio Romo, named MiLB.com's Class A Reliever of the Year this season with San Jose, owned a 1.13 ERA and nine strikeouts in eight innings over five games. Right-hander Nick Pereira was 1-1 with a 1.54 ERA in three starts, and Scott Munter had a 3.18 ERA in six appearances. Ortmeier sidelined: Dan Ortmeier's Arizona Fall League stint ended recently when he fractured a finger on his right hand while playing first base. The injury, which isn't considered serious, occurred as Ortmeier dove for a ground ball, which hit the lip of the infield grass, took an odd hop and struck his finger. Ortmeier finished the fall league with a .409 average (9-for-22) and two RBIs in six games for Scottsdale. The Giants replaced Ortmeier on the Scorpions' roster with shortstop Emmanuel Burriss, their second selection (33rd overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Burris played for both of the organization's Class A affiliates this season, batting .321 in 89 games at Augusta and .165 in 36 games at San Jose. Cain recognized: Right-hander Matt Cain was ranked eighth on famed baseball analyst Bill James' list of the game's top 25 players under the age of 29. The feature appears in The Bill James Handbook 2008, which will be published next month. "His 7-16 record disguises one of the league's best pitchers," James wrote of Cain, 23. "He had the same number of quality starts last year as Brandon Webb, but whereas Webb was 17-2 with three no-decisions in those games, Cain was 6-8 with eight no-decisions."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.