Publish date:


WHILE Venezuela has emerged as a productive pipeline of Latin
American talent, it can't exactly boast the hordes of
established big leaguers that the Dominican Republic and Puerto
Rico can. Hence the Venezuelan Dream Team is long on potential
but short on achievement. At catcher, Hernandez, who hit just
.149 with the Dodgers last year, gets the job by default. Things
improve elsewhere in the infield with Galarraga at first, Garcia
at second and Alfonzo at third, but if any of them should get
hurt, the team is in trouble--they are not only the best players
at their respective positions but also the only decent players
at their respective positions. Like just about every other Latin
Dream Team, Venezuela is deep at shortstop. National hero
Guillen is the sentimental favorite, but Vizquel is better with
the glove and was better at the plate last year (.266 with 29
steals to .248 with six steals). The team is thin in the
outfield, relying on a trio of impressive Triple A prospects;
Petagine, who hit just .234 for San Diego in '95, gets the DH
job simply because he's the best of a weak bunch. On the mound,
Alvarez and Lira give the team a pair of promising starters, but
the two had better pitch a full nine every time out, because
Torres and Castillo are not up to the heady competition.


COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT CLARKE With bigger dreams for the future, Venezuela would have to rely for now on veterans like Galarraga (below) to lift youngsters like Lira. [Andres Galarraga]

COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON [See caption above--Felipe Lira]

CF Roger Cedeno, Dodgers*
SS Omar Vizquel, Indians
LF Bob Abreu, Astros*
1B Andres Galarraga, Rockies
DH Roberto Petagine, Padres
RF Richard Hidalgo, Astros*
3B Edgardo Alfonzo, Mets
2B Carlos Garcia, Pirates
C Carlos Hernandez, Dodgers
Bench Ozzie Guillen, White Sox
Robert Perez, Blue Jays
Luis Sojo, Mariners

P Wilson Alvarez, White Sox
P Felipe Lira, Tigers
P Dilson Torres, Royals
P Tony Castillo, Blue Jays
*minor leaguer