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Red Sox prospects take center stage

Red Sox prospects take center stage

DETROIT -- Though it was the Futures Game that brought Red Sox Minor Leaguers Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez together with some the best young baseball players in the world on Sunday, both players were more engulfed by the present on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.

Talk about two youngsters soaking in the moment.

Ramirez, the five-tool prospect who has had Red Sox fans buzzing with anticipation, seemed as concerned with getting his picture taken with his teammates from the World Team as he was with having a strong performance in the game.

And who could blame him? Playing at Comerica Park in a nationally televised game was more glamorous than the average day at Double-A Portland.

"I'm excited, there's a lot of stars. I'm proud to be here with those guys," said the shortstop, who turned a triple play for the Red Sox during Spring Training.

Ramirez is the pride of the Dominican Republic, the country that has already graced the Red Sox with Pedro Martinez (now with the Mets), David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.

"Today, I'm representing my country, the Red Sox, everything," Hanley Ramirez said proudly.

Ramirez made a strong showing in the game, successfully executing a sacrifice bunt in his first at-bat and then lacing a single to left in his second (and final) at-bat.

Sanchez said before the game he didn't know if he'd get to pitch, but he got that chance in the bottom of the sixth, retiring the final batter of the inning. He had a chance to close out the win for his team, but was removed after allowing the first two batters to reach in the seventh.

While Ramirez has seemingly been on the fast track ever since the Red Sox signed him at the age of 17 in July 2000, Sanchez has had the type of adversity that gave him a deep appreciation of the type of showcase he was at on Sunday.

The hard-throwing right-hander from Venezuela underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, missing all of the 2003 season. Now he is one of the best in a batch of talented youngsters in the Boston farm system.

He was asked what the best part of his season has been to date. Sanchez then looked around the clubhouse and said, "Right now."

Sanchez, 21, was promoted to Double-A Portland at the end of June. If he has his way, it won't be his final promotion of 2005.

"Everything is going really fast and that's good, I think," said Sanchez. "I hope to pitch this year for the Red Sox, maybe September."

Ramirez isn't setting any hard and fast goals.

"I don't have any goals but to play hard," Ramirez said. "I just have to keep doing, do what I have to do, play the best I can, every day."

But for a day at least, he felt like he was on a Major League stage.

"This is a big league stadium, it's great," said Ramirez.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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