06/25/09 12:56 PM ET
White Sox sending pair to Futures Game
Flowers, Viciedo standing out this season at Double-A
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
For now, they are leading a dominant Double-A Birmingham team, which won the first-half title in the Southern League South division, and representing the White Sox bright future. That little piece of analysis actually became official on Thursday, when Flowers and Viciedo were chosen to participate in the 11th annual XM All-Star Futures Game.
The 11th annual XM All-Star Futures Game, pitting the best Minor League prospects from the United States against the best from the rest of the World, will be held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on All-Star Sunday, July 12, at 1 p.m. CT. MLB.com will provide complete coverage before, during and after the game, which can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on Gameday.
Flowers, a catcher, will be part of the United States team. Viciedo, a third baseman who came over from Cuba, will be part of the World team.
When Flowers came over to the White Sox as part of the offseason deal that sent starting pitcher Javier Vazquez to the Braves, White Sox general manager Ken Williams mentioned that Flowers could probably hit Major League pitching at that point. Flowers has done nothing to alter that theory.
The 23-year-old backstop has a .281 average with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs. The right-handed hitter has walked 46 times in 61 games, but he also has fanned 63 times.
Flowers' biggest challenge during Spring Training was developing his skills as a catcher. But the White Sox don't see the 6-foot-4, 245-pound force moving to another position. He stands as the heir apparent to A.J. Pierzynski.
During the offseason bidding for the services of this powerful infield force, Viciedo's camp talked about the 5-foot-11, 240-pounder looking for an immediate chance to play at the Major League level. But the 20-year-old's time with the White Sox during Spring Training proved two things about Viciedo to be true -- he needed time in the Minors to work on baseball intangibles, but he also possessed the raw skills to someday be a star.
Viciedo marks the third top-notch player to make the move from Cuba to the White Sox, joining shortstop Alexei Ramirez and right-handed starter Jose Contreras. Viciedo agreed to a four-year, $10 million deal on Dec. 12, 2008.
As part of the Barons' starting lineup, Viciedo has a .274 average with six home runs and 43 RBIs. He also has knocked out 11 doubles and swiped five bases. Viciedo hit just .234 with one home run and 11 RBIs in April but has hit .293 and .286, respectively, in each of the past two months.
His current position remains third base, but Viciedo has the size to also play first base or even one of the corner outfield spots. Viciedo appears to be a free-swinger, much like Ramirez, with 50 strikeouts and 12 walks in 277 at-bats.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.