Future possibilities for Lofgren

Chuck Lofgren knows he is close. Playing at Class AA Akron, the Cleveland Indians’ prized left-handed prospect seems destined to soon realize his dream of pitching in the big leagues.

This is why being named to the United States roster for Sunday’s Futures Game at AT&T Park is doubly sweet, as Lofgren will be making his first Bay Area homecoming since turning pro.

“Coming home is a great feeling,” Lofgren said. “I’m super-excited about having my friends and family coming out to see me play. And it’s always fun to come home to the Bay.”

Considering 14 of the 25 players from last year’s U.S. Futures team have since made the big leagues, the odds are in Lofgren’s favor of soon advancing to the majors. Not that the Serra High School of San Mateo graduate is taking anything for granted.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder prides himself on hard work and has reaped the benefits by pitching five or more innings in 14 of his 15 starts for Akron while racking up a 7-5 record and 4.37 ERA. He got a taste of Triple-A action when he was called up for a start July 8, but allowed six runs in five innings. His Double-A performance has been a decent encore to last season, when Lofgren tied for the minor-league lead with 17 wins. In addition, the southpaw earned 2006 Carolina League Pitcher of the Year honors while leading the high Class A Kinston Indians to a championship.

Now, with the big-league club contending for the AL Central title, the trading deadline looms over all coveted prospects. Lofgren knows he is no exception, but says he simply keeps at his game day after day.

“I look at it like if I do well and I succeed, I’m going to get my shot,” Lofgren said.

Lofgren, taken by Cleveland in the fourth round of the 2004 draft, was rated the No. 2 Indians prospect by Baseball America prior to the season, trailing right-hander Adam Miller, not bad for a guy many scouts thought would be better off as a hitter after batting .413 for his career at Serra.

“He’s one of the better pitching prospects in the minors in general and definitely for the Indians,” Baseball America Editor in Chief Will Lingo said. “A lot of teams liked him better as an outfielder out of high school, but it seems like the Indians made a smart decision.”

Other players of local interest who will be playing in the Futures Game include A’s right-handed prospect Michael Madsen and a pair of San Jose Giants in right-hander Henry Sosa and shortstop Brian Bocock.

Futures Game

WHEN: Sunday, 1:07 p.m.

WHERE: AT&T Park

WHO: U.S. vs. World; each team is made up of 25 top prospects, not necessarily minor-leaguers having the best seasons.

TV: ESPN2


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