Trouble on the farm?

Sometimes it is an ultimatum, other times it is something that triggers a series of events. The San Diego Padres have issued a challenge to one of their prospects. How he responds will determine his future with the Friars.

LHP Clifford Bartosh's future with the Padres could be in jeopardy.

Things looked bright for the reliever going into last season when Bartosh earned a berth on the 40-man roster after posting a 3.18 ERA in 62 appearances with Double-A Mobile. But Bartosh was 2-5 with a 4.29 ERA in 64 appearances with Triple-A Portland this year and received a warning shot when he wasn't called up for a look by the bullpen-challenged Padres in September.

The Padres must also decide which players will stay with the team next year when the minor league season kicks into gear. It is not publicized, but several players will see their careers with the Padres end. The staff is working on the list of who will play where, who is a tradable commodity and who is untouchable.

Now he has allowed 10 runs in 11 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

"We're disappointed," was all Padres general manager Kevin Towers would say. Towers has never been afraid to mince words and tell it like it is.

In the good news department, C Nick Trzesniak, 23, and CF Kennard Jones, 22, were voted the Padres' top players in the Arizona Instructional League, and RHP William Ponce, 19, was named the most improved pitcher.

The early progress of Trzesniak, the 51st player taken in the 1999 draft, was slowed by injuries. He hit .245 in 109 with high Class A Lake Elsinore last year. Jones, taken in the third round in 2002, jumped from low Class A Fort Wayne (.307) to Lake Elsinore this season. Ponce was 1-11 with a 7.06 ERA with Idaho Falls at the rookie level.

2003 1st round draft pick, Tim Stauffer still hopes to pitch in the instructional league in November. If he's not ready then, he'll continue the rehab and report to spring training.

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