Padres Minor League Notebook 04-06-04

Did you know the San Diego Padres have had a rookie start at the Major League level for three straight years?<br><br>Recent trades have cleared some space in Portland and the scouting reports are in.<br><br>Also, Fort Wayne added three more players to its roster. Just a few samples of what is in the notebook today.

Slated to be the every day shortstop for the Padres in 2004, Khalil Greene becomes the third rookie in as many years to be a member of the Padres Opening Day lineup. Greene joins Xavier Nady who opened 2003 in right field and Ramon Vazquez who started at third base last season for the then-injured Sean Burroughs. With his start in 2002, Vazquez became the first rookie to start on Opening Day for the Friars since Dave Staton opened at first base in 1994. In 35 NL seasons, San Diego had started 23 rookies on Opening day.

The Fort Wayne Wizards added three players to their roster Sunday: third baseman Greg Bochy, the son of Padres manager Bruce Bochy, and pitchers Sazi Guthrie and Ryan Klatt. After being drafted as a pitcher, Bochy moved to third base last year and hit .162 with the Class A Eugene Emeralds. Guthrie was 9-5 last year with a 4.00 earned-run average for the independent Gary Railcats. Klatt was 2-3 with a 2.12 ERA and 12 saves for the Padres' Rookie League team in Idaho Falls.

The Padres appeared to be clearing roster space from the Portland team with their deals late last week. The team needed some roster slots open for recent demotions. Here is a look at some of the players obtained in trades. Also, the Minor League rosters are set, and three players surprised by skipping a level.

Trino Aguilar was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for right-hander Clay Condrey. Aguilar, 20, batted .241 for the Gulf Coast Phillies in 2003. In 24 games Aguilar had 19 hits and three walks. He struck out 20 times in 79 at bats.

A scout within the Phillies organization had this to say about Aguilar: "He's pretty undisciplined in every aspect. Very much of a project sort of guy."

The Padres traded Rich Gomez, an outfielder with Triple-A Portland, to Detroit for utility INF Rob Watson.

Watson, 24, will start at Single-A Lake Elsinore. Watson was originally a 17th round pick by the Tigers in 2002. He is a Riverside native that had a terrible 2003 season after showing patience at the plate the year before.

Watson started out on fire for the Tigers Single-A Michigan team, hitting .343 before being sent to Single-A Lakeland. He then went on to hit .219 for Lakeland and was sent back down to Michigan where his struggles continued.

Three minor leaguers skipped a level within the system, all from the now defunct Idaho Falls team to Fort Wayne, bypassing Eugene in the process.

Here is a look at each:

George Kottaras was a draft and follow player selected by the Padres in the 20th round of the 2002 draft. He spent 2003 with Idaho Falls where he hit .259 with seven home runs and 24 RBI's in 42 games. Kottaras, 20, shows early signs of power and good plate discipline. He will need to work on his contact at the plate as he struck out 36 times.

Jim Callis of Baseball America told us, "I don't think he would jump into the top ten, but he is a real interesting guy who I think could move up."

Drew Macias is another draft and follow player the Padres picked in 2002. He was selected in the 35th round and was sent to Idaho Falls. He batted .251 in 61 games. The centerfielder out of Chaffey College is known for his speed. He swiped 15 bases, added four triples and ten doubles while scoring 42 runs in 61 games. He is a good bunter and is advanced on the base paths. Macias, 21, needs to work pitch counts further as he is a hacker. He puts the ball in play, but taking some pitches could enhance his .318 on base percentage.

Juan Ciriaco was a surprise addition to Fort Wayne given his progress. He hit just .223 in Idaho Falls and struck out 39 times in 49 games while walking just nine times. He had ten extra base hits, but no home runs. His game is built on speed and he had eight stolen bases without getting caught. His whole game needs work and he will likely start the year as a reserve infielder.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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