Dodger Of The Month: Rafael Furcal
Rafael Furcal, shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was born on Oct. 24, 1977, in Loma de Cabrera, Dominican Republic.
The 32-year-old Furcal attended Jose Cabrera High School and in 1996 he signed with the Atlanta Braves as an undrafted free agent. He was assigned to Gulf Coast Braves to play second base.
The following season he played for the Danville Braves where he hit .328 and stole a record 60 bases in 66 games. He was named Danville Player of the Year and played second base as an All-Star in the Appalachian League.
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After playing for the A Macon Braves in 1999, Furcal was transferred to the advanced A team in Myrtle Beach where he hit .293 and recorded 23 steals in 43 games. He led all minor league baseball players with 96 stolen bases, was named to Baseball America’s All-Star first team and was the Braves minor league player of the year.
Furcal made his major league debut April 4, 2000, against the Colorado Rockies filling in for the injured Walt Weiss. Furcal finished his rookie season with a .295 batting average, 40 stolen bases and won the National League Rookie of the Year.
Rafael Furcal recorded the 12th unassisted triple play in Major League Baseball history against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003 while playing with the Atlanta Braves.
He was selected to the 2003 All-Star team as a reserve, even though he had 31 errors, the most in the major leagues that year.
On Dec. 7, 2005, Furcal signed as a free agent with the Dodgers for three years for $39 million. In 2006, Furcal won the Roy Campanella award for showing great leadership and spirit. His fellow teammates voted Furcal as the winner of the award named after the Hall of Fame catcher for the Dodgers.
In 2007, Furcal became one of five players to get four hits in three consecutive games. In 2008, it was speculated that Furcal would re-sign with the Braves, but opted out and signed with the Dodgers for three years and $39 million.
Furcal was a big contributor for the Dodgers making it to the National League Championship Series in each of the past two years.
Furcal made the All-Star team this year as a reserve. He walked in the sixth inning during his only plate appearance and helped make a very important out during the ninth inning to give the National League its first win in an All-Star game since 1996.
As of July 21, 2010, Furcal has a career .287 batting average, 932 runs scored, 286 stolen bases and 99 home runs.