Padres Minor League Notebook

While each team in the San Diego Padres system has its roster up in the air, things are beginning to clear up as players get shifted from one Low-A to High-A, Double-A to Triple-A and everywhere in between. The early signs point to plenty of player movement and the shuffling of coaching staffs within the system may have some effect.

The biggest news is the feeling by many within the Padres system that Freddy Guzman could make the Major League squad out of spring training. A member of the 40 man roster already, Guzman provides more speed than anyone in the organization. The switch-hitting centerfielder stole 90 bases for three different levels of the organization.

Jon Knott will stay in Portland after a solid campaign in 2003. He will again work with Craig Colbert who moved up in the system.

"I guess we have already had a year under our belts together and I got along with him fine," said Knott. "I thought he was great. I guess that is where they plan on me to go, Portland, and basically they say that league is a lot better for hitters so I am kind of looking forward to that."

There are a couple players who will have outside chances at making a particular roster this year. Kennard Jones may have a shot at the Mobile roster as new skipper Gary Jones is one of his biggest supporters.

Gabe Ribas also has an outside shot at Mobile this season, but may need to display some consistency at Lake Elsinore before that happens.

Ribas, unlike many players, considers the uncertainty a good thing.

"I think that is kind of the way baseball should be run," said Ribas. "We don't need to know. It is good to have guys who aren't necessarily in their comfort level all the time. We have chosen this lifestyle. We are sort of nomads, we travel all over and we know that is what we are getting. After that, I think it is kind of important to be a bit uncomfortable, to know you still have to prove yourself and earn a spot."

More certain is Justin Germano heading back to Mobile to anchor the rotation with Roger Deago. Brad Baker will also head to Mobile, likely as the closer.

In the no surprise category, Josh Barfield will man second base for the Mobile BayBears this season and his arrival is highly anticipated in the Southern League.

It appears Jake Gautreau will be back with the BayBears, but he will occupy third base with the addition of Barfield. Gautreau, a former first rounder, was left off the 40 man roster this year and went unclaimed in the Rule V draft. What will happen with Greg Sain is still in question if this comes to fruition. Sain is a candidate to play third or even catch.

Continuing with the Mobile trend, JJ Furmaniak will stick at short and the hole at first is huge for the club. None of the higher profile first basemen in the system figure to be in town to begin the year.

Lake Elsinore will likely keep Michael Johnson at first to begin the year, although he could be pushed up with Paul McAnulty garnering consideration for a promotion. Peter Stonard is expected to fill the hole opened as Barfield climbs the rungs. Stonard will have some big shoes to fill in Elsinore.

Luis Cruz is also in line for a promotion. The youngster has some serious potential and the Padres are reportedly considering moving him to the California League, a hitter's league, to boost his confidence at the plate.

David Pauley, a highly thought of youngster, will move up to Elsinore. Brian Whitaker could also follow him up and Dale Thayer could take over the closer's role. Also keep an eye on Wilmer Villatoro as he gets promoted. He is a candidate for a relief spot and the Padres brass are very high on him.

Colt Morton will stay in Fort Wayne after failing to impress in a short stint there.

Sean Thompson will be bumped up to the Wizards and Jared Wells, a draft and follow guy with the potential to be a top prospect in the system, is also a candidate to round out the rotation.

The rest of the maneuvering should become clearer as spring training hits.

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