Padres Minor League Notebook

Several more San Diego Padres prospects have unofficially found out where they will head in 2004. With older players getting pushed down to Portland this year, some of the younger guys who were due promotions will suffer. Part of the reason stems from the Padres willingness to keep the Kingsale's and Hunter's close by should they be forced to call upon the well. Injuries severely dampened a promising season a year ago and they are attempting to avoid that in '04.

2B Josh Barfield, the son of former major league slugger Jesse Barfield, is headed to Mobile – no surprise.

Josh was so impressive in spring training a year ago that the Padres came close to skipping him a level to Double-A Mobile but decided to wait instead. He responded with a monster year, winning the California League MVP. He led the minors in RBI and hits, and tied for the lead in doubles. The fourth-rounder from 2001 came off a 2002 season in which he batted .306 with eight homers and 57 RBI at low-A Fort Wayne.

His hamstring won't limit him when he gets to Mobile.

RHP Ben Howard's .243 opponent average at Triple-A was third among Pacific Coast League starters.

Howard, a second-round pick in 1997, came off a catastrophic 2002 season in which he was the lone survivor of a spring car crash that killed two of his friends, including outfielder Mike Darr. He also injured his elbow that summer but made his major league debut. A fastball once clocked at 99 mph is down to the low 90s, but he has three plus pitches and has greatly improved his control after leading his league in walks in each of his first four seasons.

Howard is 1-0 with a 13.50 ERA in 4.2 innings of work this spring and will head to Portland.

OF Freddy Guzman is a strong defensive outfielder and grounded into just one double play in 2003.

For the second year in a row, Guzman made three separate stops on his minor league journey, winding up at Triple-A for the postseason. Formerly known as Pedro De Los Santos, Guzman actually ranked among the top five basestealers in two leagues in 2003, finishing fifth in the California League and third in the Southern League. In 2002, he stole 69 bases in 89 games.

Guzman has a right elbow ligament sprain and will be limited in action to start the year.

Guzman has already been shipped out to Mobile, a surprise to more than a few people. One of the reasons is some veterans are expected to make the Portland roster and there is some in the organization who are not happy about it.

1B Tagg Bozied is limited to first base and could wind up in the AL as a DH eventually.

Bozied, the Padres' third-round pick in 2001 out of the University of San Francisco, made his pro debut that summer at Sioux Falls of the independent Northern League while holding out, hitting .307 in 58 games there. In 2002, he hit .298 at Lake Elsinore but just .214 at Mobile, however his combined power numbers of 24 homers and 92 RBI led the organization. He went on to the Arizona Fall League, where he set a league record with 12 homers.

This spring, Bozied is hitting .300 with two homers and five RBI's in 12 games played (some as a pinch hitter). Bozied will head to Portland this year.

2B Bernie Castro finished second in the organization in both steals and average in 2003. He also led the Pacific Coast League in stolen bases. That was despite a knee injury that ended his season a few weeks early and will probably cost him the first week or two of 2004.

Acquired from the Yankees before the 2002 season, he stole 53 bases at Mobile in 2002 and 75 between short-season Staten Island and low-A Greensboro in 2001.

Castro has already been sent to Portland and is reportedly healthy, but the team is being cautious with his return.

RHP Justin Germano, a 13th-rounder from 2000, has command of three pitches, that's including a plus curveball and a changeup. He finished third in the system in ERA and strikeouts and first in wins. His control is outstanding, and he led the Midwest League with fewer than one walk per nine innings in 2002.

In 2003 he was not as effective but still won eleven games over two levels. In Elsinore his ERA was inflated by what all consider a hitter's league. His promotion to Mobile offered no relief however.

Germano will be the opening day starter for the BayBears in '04.

Random Hits

Ben Risinger will man third base for Portland. Greg Sain will play third, first and catch for Mobile. Nick Trzesniak will catch for Mobile. Michael Johnson will stay in Lake Elsinore as previously confirmed.


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