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Rafael Furcal

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Rafael Antoni Furcal[1] (born October 24, 1977 in Loma de Cabrera, Dominican Republic),[2] nicknamed "Fookie", is a Major League Baseball shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Early careerEdit

Furcal attended Jose Cabrera High School and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Braves on November 9, 1996.

He began his professional career as a second baseman with the Gulf Coast Braves in 1997. The following season, with the Danville Braves he hit .328 and stole a league record 60 bases in only 66 games. He was named Danville's Player of the Year and Appalachian League All-Star Second Baseman.

In 1999, he switched to short stop and joined the Macon Braves in "A" ball and hit .337 with 73 stolen bases in 83 games. He was transferred to the advanced "A" team in Myrtle Beach and hit .293 for them with 23 steals in 43 games. He led all of minor league baseball with 96 steals total. He was named to Baseball America's first team All-Star team and the South Atlantic League All-Star team. In addition, he was the Braves Minor League Player of the Year, the South Atlantic League Most Outstanding Prospect and a Class A All-Star.

Major league careerEdit

Atlanta BravesEdit

An injury to Braves shortstop Walt Weiss prior to the 2000 season led to Furcal improbably making the jump from "A" ball to the Major League roster. He made his Major League debut on April 4, 2000 against the Colorado Rockies, getting 2 hits in 4 at-bats. His first hit was against Rockies pitcher Rolando Arrojo.

Furcal went on to hit .295 with 40 stolen bases for the Braves and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award that year.

He missed most of the 2001 season because of a dislocated left shoulder, suffered while stealing second base in a July 6 game at Boston.

Returned to the starting lineup in 2002 and tied a modern Major League record with three triples in a game on April 21 against Florida.

Furcal completed an unassisted triple play for the Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 10, 2003. It was the 12th in baseball history. In the fifth inning, the shortstop caught pitcher Woody Williams' liner with the runners moving in a hit and run attempt, stepped on second base to retire catcher Mike Matheny and tagged Orlando Palmeiro before he could return to first.[3] Still, at the end of the year he led all Major League shortstops with 31 errors, and had the lowest fielding percentage among them (.959).

Selected to the National League All-Star Team as a reserve in 2003.

On the Braves, Furcal was a valued leadoff hitter due to his speed and ability to get on base. Furcal is regarded as one of the best basestealers in baseball. He is an accomplished bunter, once bunting the ball past Robin Ventura for a double in 2001. Furcal has one of the strongest throwing arms in the league and is known for spectacular defensive plays mixed with occasional mental lapses on easy plays.

In his final season with the Braves, he violated probation on a drunken driving charge, and was ordered to serve 21 days in jail. In an unusual arrangement, the beginning of the jail term was contingent upon the Braves' situation on the playoffs. Once the Braves were eliminated from post-season action, Furcal served his time.[1]

Los Angeles DodgersEdit

On December 7, 2005, Furcal signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers for three years and $39 million. In September 2006 Furcal was selected as the inaugural winner of the Roy Campanella Award, given to the Dodgers player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher. The award was voted on by only his fellow teammates.

In May 2007, he became one of only five Major League players to get 4 hits in 3 consecutive games.

In April 2008, he posted a .381 batting average, the best start in his career.

File:0308furcal.jpg

On December 19, 2008, Furcal signed a 3-year $30 million contract to stay with the Dodgers[4]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Awards
Preceded by:
Scott Williamson
National League Rookie of the Year
2000
Succeeded by:
Albert Pujols
Preceded by:
Carlos Beltran
Baseball America Rookie of the Year
2000
Succeeded by:
Albert Pujols
Preceded by:
Preston Wilson
Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year
2000
Succeeded by:
Albert Pujols
Preceded by:
Preston Wilson
Players Choice NL Most Outstanding Rookie
2000
Succeeded by:
Albert Pujols
Preceded by:
Cesar Izturis
Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day
Shortstop

2006
Succeeded by:
Ramon Martinez

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