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Game Thread: July 3, 2006

New York at Cleveland, 7:05 PM (WKYC)

Starting Pitchers:

Cleveland: Jeremy Sowers (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
New York: Chien-Ming Wang (8-3, 4.01 ERA)

Ordinarily, the thought of sending a fresh-faced rookie starter up against the Yankees would be a discouraging one.  But for the moment, the Yankees lineup, while still boasting a fearsome Top 5, features a Bottom 4 full of no-names, has-beens and never-weres.  Added to which, Giambi and Posada are not particularly scary against lefties, so maybe Sowers' odds aren't that long after all.  Wang has been consistently good but unspectacular all season long.

ESPN Deportes is reporting that the Indians have signed Venezuelan third baseman Balbino Fuenmayor, 17, who receives a $1 million signing bonus.  The Indians are also one of several teams vying to sign catcher Francisco Pe?a, 16, son of former Indian Tony Pe?a.  The Yankees and Red Sox have signed several of the best young Latin American prospects but are not reportedly among the teams with whom Pe?a is negotiating.

Despite a relative lack of press coverage, the international free agent market, most notably players from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, has become a source of quality prospects rivaling and perhaps even surpassing the American draft.  Two of our best players, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta, were signed out of Latin America as undrafted free agents, in addition to almost our entire current bullpen.  This is the first week of the year that international players who will be 17 in the fall can be signed.