Minor League Notebook

Another round of cuts from the current 47 players in camp is expected to take place on Sunday. Beyond that, the word is several trades are being explored to ensure prospects are getting their due promotions at the minor league level. There is a fear by some in the San Diego Padres organization that a cluster of prospects may have their futures derailed if the team insists on keeping several players and putting them in Portland. The shockwave will reverberate throughout the system.

OF Kennard Jones has a good eye and has shown leadership skills. Though Jones' season ended early with a broken hand shortly after his promotion to Lake Elsinore, the third-rounder from 2002 is an exciting player with good tools.

Jones, who hit .295 at Eugene in 2002, then .286 upon a promotion to Fort Wayne, needs to better translate his speed into basestealing skills as his 21 times caught stealing in 2003 would indicate. His problem is his lack of recognition of a pitcher's delivery, but the club remains very high on his future.

Many within the Fort Wayne organization cited Jones as their catalyst and the team reportedly fell apart when he was promoted to Lake Elsinore. He will begin the year in Elsinore in 2004 and could find his way to Mobile with a quick start.

The Padres believe he will eventually push Freddy Guzman in centerfield.

1B/OF Jon Knott has torn up opposing pitching the past two seasons. In 2003, he led the organization in homers and finished third in RBI, while finishing second and third in those categories, respectively, in the Southern League.

In his pro debut at Lake Elsinore in 2002, he won the California League batting title with a .341 average, leading the system in average and finishing second in RBI with 91 to go with 45 doubles.

In spring training this year Knott has continued to hit – in limited action. He has a .353 average with four of his six hits going for extra bases. Knott still must cut down on his strikeouts to seriously entertain the notion of playing in the Majors where first base and the outfield are his sole options. Knott will likely play with Portland this year, but the outfield could be crowded there.

OF Henri Stanley has made a name for himself with his tremendous makeup and hustle. He has consistently ranked among his league leaders in many categories.

He can do a little of everything and in his Triple-A debut in 2003 he ranked among the Pacific Coast League top five in hits and runs in a stadium considered to be the toughest place to hit, a year after batting .314 with 16 homers, 72 RBI and 36 doubles at Double-A Round Rock.

His only weakness is his throwing arm. Yet, he gets no play from major league clubs. He has already been optioned to Triple-A, but he could be in the mix later this year if any injuries befell the big club.

RHP Chris Oxspring has a plus slider, a fastball in the low 90s, a curve and a changeup. The Australian-born Oxspring was signed out of the Independent Frontier League.

He finished second in the system in ERA and fifth in strikeouts. Oxspring moved from the Mobile bullpen to the rotation in late May, posting a 2.47 ERA as a starter and his .201 opponent average ranked third among Southern League starters.

Oxspring originally baffled the Padres when he declined to move into the rotation in 2002 and his confidence could be the only thing that will hold him back. Because of his age, Ox will head to Portland for '04.

RHP David Pauley has walked just 80 over 266 innings in three pro seasons. Pauley, drafted in the eighth round out of high school, missed a month of the 2003 season with tendonitis, but he is reportedly healthy this year.

His out pitch is a plus curveball. In his pro debut at Idaho Falls, he posted a 6.03 ERA but lowered that to a 2.81 the next summer at Eugene and 3.29 in Fort Wayne.

RHP Gabe Ribas is not overpowering but has excellent command. In his two pro seasons, the 2002 14th-rounder out of Northwestern has been remarkably successful. In 2002 he went 8-1 with a 1.97 ERA coming out of the Eugene bullpen, limiting batters to a .194 average. As a starter in 2003 he shared the minor league lead in wins between two stops and led the organization in strikeouts.

Ribas is a tough mental competitor who could continue his rise through the organization as the reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Year. His cerebral approach to the game reminds of other players who do not hit 90 consistently on the radar.

LHP Sean Thompson is an intense competitor with outstanding stuff -- most notably a great curve. He also has good control.

He finished second in the Northwest League in strikeouts and fifth in ERA, adding a fastball at nearly 90 mph. Thompson posted a 3.83 ERA in his pro debut in 2003 at Idaho Falls but also threw 13 wild pitches, a total he cut to just one in 2003.

Thompson will face his first test this year with Fort Wayne in his first stint in a full season league. He has been held to just 136 innings over his first two minor league seasons.

RHP Tim Stauffer's repertoire features a low-90s fastball, a cutter, changeup and overhand curve. The polished University of Richmond pitcher made his pro debut this spring.

He signed late in August for less than the usual going rate for a fourth-overall pick after weakness was detected in his shoulder, and the Padres will be cautious with him.

Stauffer will debut in Lake Elsinore this year.

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