The Friar Thermometer (9/7-9/13)

Who is hot and who is not on the big club, plus a special edition of the Friar Thermometer from MadFriars.com takes a look at the "shooting stars" in the Padres minor league system.

Majors

On-Fire Friars:

1) Mark Loretta - 7 for 21 (.333), HR, 2 RBI, stolen base
• Typically, hitting .333 for a week isn't going to earn you a spot on this list. But the Padres offense as a whole hit so poorly, the steady Loretta gets the nod here for the second straight week.

2) Mike Matthews – 2 appearances, 1 1/3 innings, 1 K, 1-0 record
• Matthews hasn't been what the Padres had hoped he'd be when they picked him up off the scrap heap in March. In fact, left-handed hitters are batting 48 points higher against the lefty than right-handers. But this past week, Matthews earned a win Thursday night against the Giants by throwing just one pitch. So what's so great about that, you ask? That one pitch induced Barry Bonds to pop up to third base with two men on.

3) Kevin Walker – 3 appearances, 2 2/3 innings, 2 hits, 1 strikeout
• The talented lefty is still trying to regain his form and his confidence after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in 2001. His results have been mixed, but he did pitch well Saturday night in relief of Kevin Jarvis.

Frozen Friars:

1) Phil Nevin – 2 for 21 (.095), HR, 4 strikeouts
• One week after being named the National League Player of the Week, Nevin had a dismal week. Though the news wasn't all bad for Nevin as he did stroke a solo home run and played very solid defense at first base.

2) Rod Beck – 1 appearance, 1 2/3 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 5.40 ERA
• Sorry Shooter, but you're on here for good reasons in the general scheme of things. Beck has allowed so few runs this season, that when he actually allows one, it's news. Beck coughed up a go-ahead homer to the Giants' J.T. Snow last Thursday, but fortunately for Rod, the Padres scored two in the bottom of that inning to bail him out.

3) Brian Lawrence – 1 start, 6 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 0-1
• The steady Lawrence had a poor start against the Giants at home and suffered his 15th loss of the season. Lawrence hasn't pitched as well in 2003 as he did in 2002, but truth be told, he still deserves a much better record than his current 8-15 mark.

Minors

2003 "Shooting Stars" from rookie league Idaho Falls, short-season Class A Eugene and Class A Fort Wayne.

Hitters

1) Kennard Jones - OF – The lefty, who will turn 22 in November, was drafted in 2002 in the third round out of Indiana University. Jones spent most of the 2003 season at Class A Fort Wayne where he was named to both the mid-season and post-season All-Star teams. The speedy leadoff man hit .307 with a .407 on-base percentage and 20 steals for Fort Wayne. Jones is a slap hitter who probably won't develop too much power, so he will need to rely on his speed and plate discipline if he is going to contribute eventually at the major league level.

2) Peter Stonard - 2B – Stonard was drafted this season in the 4th round out of Tony Gwynn's program at San Diego St. Many scouts felt he was a 2nd-round talent that fell into the 4th round because of his off-the-field troubles that led to dismissals at both Alabama and SDSU. The Padres took the chance and Stonard responded with a solid first year in professional baseball. The left-handed hitter batted .293 with a .338 on-base percentage. He does not have great power or speed, so those aspects of his game combined with the fact that he's playing a position where the Padres are extremely deep in prospects makes his battle to reach the majors an uphill one.

3) Billy Hogan - 3B – Hogan, a Padres' 5th-round pick from this year's draft, burst onto the scene at Idaho Falls before cooling off a bit at Eugene. Hogan hit .344 with 21 extra-base hits in only 45 games for Idaho Falls. The 20-year-old seems to have a bright future, but perhaps not a third base where Sean Burroughs, who is only Hogan's elder by two years, has a hold on the "hot corner" for the Padres.

4) Colt Morton – C – Morton, the 6'6" catcher, was drafted in the 4th round this June out of North Carolina St. The youngster has unlimited power potential and showed it off at Eugene before struggling after his call-up to Fort Wayne. For the Emeralds, Morton hit .278 with seven homers and 20 RBI with a .557 slugging percentage in 25 games. He also is apparently a very solid defender and forms one-third of the Padres' triumvirate of catching prospects along with Humberto Quintero and Nick Trzesniak.

Others deserving mention:
Paul McAnulty (1B), Alex Garcia (SS), Brian Wahlbrink (OF), Fernando Valenzuela Jr. (1B), Brett Burnham (2B), Brandon Kaye (1B).

Pitchers

1) Brian Whitaker – RHP – Whitaker, 23, was drafted in the 27th round of the 2002 draft. He has experienced nothing but success in professional baseball and compiled a 7-6 record and a 2.09 ERA in 26 starts for Fort Wayne. The right-hander recorded 121 strikeouts versus only 20 walks in 164 innings. Although he was a little old for this level of minor league baseball, those stats cannot be ignored.

2) Tom Lipari – LHP – Lipari, 24, signed as a non-drafted free agent last year. The 6'5" lefty pitched himself to a 7-6 record and a 2.52 ERA in 19 appearances (15 starts) this season at Fort Wayne. His low strikeout numbers suggest Lipari is not a hard thrower.

3) Dale Thayer – RHP – Thayer, 22, signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2002 and had a very successful first season of professional baseball. The right-handed closer was 1-3 with a 2.06 ERA with 25 saves in 45 games for Fort Wayne. Thayer struck out 72 batters in only 48 innings.

4) Sean Thompson – LHP – Thompson, 20, is one of the Padres' best left-handed pitching prospects. Drafted in the 5th round last season, the 5'11" southpaw was 7-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts for Eugene in 2003. Thompson struck out 97 in 80 innings.

5) Ryan Klatt – RHP – Klatt, 21, was selected in the 38th round in this year's draft, but has quickly shown he was deserving of a much higher selection. Pitching in rookie league, the 6'1" Klatt compiled a 2-3 record with 12 saves and a 2.12 ERA in 32 appearances. Amazingly, Klatt struck out 51 hitters while walking only 3 this season.

Others deserving mention:
Charles Bechtel (RHP), Bryan Edwards (RHP), Darwin Soto (RHP), Wilmer Villatoro (RHP), Clark Girardeau (RHP), Jose Oyervidez (RHP), Leonel Rosales (RHP), Grant Gregg (LHP), Greg Conden (RHP)

Dave Holtzman can be reached at dholtzman@hotmail.com

Check out Dave's website to find more information on the Friars. The news is always fresh and insightful at:

http://friarfan.com

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