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Mariners prospect comes on strong
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05/25/2004 10:50 AM ET
Mariners prospect comes on strong
Balentien leading Single-A team in most categories
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Wladimir Balentien has a bright future ahead of him. (Seattle Mariners)
Wladimir Balentien has traveled a long way in the first 19 years of his life. A native of Willemstad, Aruba, Balentien currently resides in Appleton, Wis., where he is playing for the Mariners' Single-A affiliate, the Timber Rattlers.

In his past five games, Balentien hit .500 in 16 at-bats. He also had three home runs and 10 RBIs, earning him Minor League Player of the Week honors in the Mariners' organization.

Wisconsin's center fielder was slowed at the beginning of the year, according to Greg Hunter, Mariners director of minor league operations. "He had a bit of an injury, plus he's a Latin kid playing in Wisconsin," said Hunter. "He has a lot of power and has been coming on strong as of late."

Despite the change of scenery and the early injury, Balentien is among the team leaders in almost every offensive category. He is second on the team in batting average (.268) and doubles (6), and leads the team in slugging percentage (.549) and home runs (5) going into Wisconsin's game on Monday.

To the 6-2, 165-pound righty, power is not a new thing. In fact, Balentien has put up power numbers at every level so far.

Signed in 2000, Balentien played his first year in the Dominican League and then logged two years with Aguirre of the Venezuelan League. While there, he was named as the Venezuelan team's MVP with a .283 average, 10 home runs and 39 RBIs in 58 games.

Last year, he played with Peoria, where he recorded a hit in 33 of his 50 games, including 16 multihit games. Balentien led the league in home runs (16), slugging percentage (.685) and extra-base hits (33). He finished second in RBIs with 52. For his efforts, Balentien was named Peoria's MVP by the Mariners.

Balentien is by no means a one-dimensional player, as demonstrated by his six stolen bases.

For someone who is still a teenager until his birthday on July 2nd, Balentien continues to meet every challenge presented to him. With some more experience, he may turn into a very solid player in a few years.

C.J. Bowles is a contributing writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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