07/10/11 9:33 PM ET
Silverio homers for World in Futures Game
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Signed by the Dodgers at age 16 in 2003 out of LaRomana in the Dominican Republic, Silverio traveled a long, winding road to the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game, through Minor League towns and personal struggles in search of the consistency to exploit his athletic ability.
At 24, Silverio is finally getting noticed as he stands at a fork in the road with the Dodgers, hoping to knife his way into the big time.
Representing the World, Silverio's two-run homer to left center in the sixth inning at Chase Field against U.S. southpaw Drew Pomeranz was one of the shining moments of the Futures Game, claimed 6-4 by the U.S. It was the latest installment in a season of highlights for Silverio, a late bloomer from the Dominican Republic.
"I'm having my best year since I led the Gulf Coast League [in 2007] in hitting [.373] and RBIs [46 in 51 games]," Silverio said. "It means a lot to be here with all these guys. I've been working hard, and it's paying off."
Silverio had struck out and grounded out before launching a 93 mph fastball for the first two World runs. He flied to right in his final at-bat.
At Double-A Chattanooga, the 6-foot, 205-pound athlete is batting .314 with a .566 slugging mark built on 28 doubles, 12 triples and 10 homers, with 57 RBIs.
Improved bat speed and pitch selection have Silverio on his way to his best professional season.
Silverio is described by Lorenzo Bundy, manager of the Dodgers' Triple-A Albuquerque affiliate, as "an all-around player with a good bat who plays all three outfield positions.
"This is his free agent year," said Bundy, a coach for the World team. "We're going to have to decide [this winter] whether to put him on the 40-man roster or let him go to free agency.
"He's having a really good year in Double-A. He's the kind of guy who can lead off or hit in the middle of the lineup."
Bundy got to know Silverio when the outfielder was recovering from an elbow injury during extended Spring Training in Arizona in 2010.
"He was having arm problems, throwing problems," Bundy said. "He worked really hard on his rehab with the rookie league and extended guys. He's a really nice kid."
Silverio hopes to build on his strong first half and convince the Dodgers he has a future in Los Angeles. The instability associated with the franchise of late clearly hasn't had a negative impact on the young outfielder.
"It's a great organization," Silverio said. "I want to make it with the Dodgers."
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, he had no shortage of heroes.
"I can give you five," he said, grinning. "Robinson Cano. Nelson Cruz. Jose Bautista. Vladimir Guerrero. And Raul Mondesi."
He shares his primary goal with every player in the Minor Leagues.
"I want to play in the big leagues," Silverio said.
As bridges go, the All-Star Futures Game can be an important structure.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.