Where is the next one?

Catcher had been a sore spot in the San Diego Padres organization for years until the team acquired Ramon Hernandez from the Oakland Athletics. Now that he has arrived, there was still a need to check through the organization for someone on the rise. Considering Humberto Quintero played for the big league club, he became ineligible during the search. Wiki Gonzalez also is ineligible because he figures to be in San Diego this year. Which left us in Fort Wayne:

What is the situation at catcher in Fort Wayne, we asked one Padres scout:

"Well, there isn't one," was his reply.


"I think the Padres were high on Andres Pagan," voice of the Wizards, Terry Byrom, said. "Andres is one of those guys that every year he has been with the Padres, I guess this coming year will be his fifth year, has hit .200."

He has been in the Padres organization for five years and hasn't hit above .223 since leaving Rookie-A ball. The former 18th round pick in the 1999 draft has not lived up to expectations. After a 2000 season where he hit .312 in Idaho Falls, the Padres thought he would continue to progress. Instead he saw his numbers go down every year since.

"This last year he had two extra base hits," says Byrom. "It is just one of those things and we have joked about it out here again with the coaching staff and even with Padre folks, if you put him in the major leagues right now he would probably do the same thing. He would hit .200 and he would run into a double or two."

Not a joke that Pagan would likely find funny.

"He is a good receiver and a good thrower, a good defensive catcher and he has a great body," Byrom said.

His 6-4 frame is one of the reasons the Padres were so high on him. That is in doubt now.

"I think they are still high enough on him to hope that maybe next year in Lake Elsinore, my assumption is he will be in Lake Elsinore and not back here, maybe something will just finally click. That he will hit the ball with a little bit more authority and put the ball in play a little bit more often than he has been."

The reason is Colt Morton is knocking on Fort Wayne's door and has twice the potential Pagan has at this stage.

Morton, a North Carolina State Alum, was selected in the third round of the 2003 draft. He has already eclipsed the power numbers put up by Pagan with nine homers in his first professional season. Pagan has had just six over the last five years.

Morton also has the frame the Padres covet and they feel he could be special given the time.

"Colt has some pop in that bat of his," said a Padres scout. "We thought enough of him to draft him in round three…that should tell you something."

Morton is starting to get noticed by those in other circles as a prospect. Recently rating the top 40 prospects at http://friarfan.com, three of the five participants rated Morton in their top 30 prospects list.

The Morton prospect report will be out tomorrow exclusively at MadFriars.com.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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