Mobile BayBears 2004 Season Preview

The BayBears will be a different team in 2004 as compared to2003. The BayBears will have some big bats in Josh Barfield, Greg Sain and Jake Gautreau, but will struggle with starting pitching.

Mobile BayBears 2004 Season Preview:

Projected Line-Up

1b - Jesse Roman/Greg Sain SP - Justin Germano (RHP)
2b- Josh Barfield SP - Duncan McAdoo (RHP)
SS- JJ Furmaniak SP - Steve Watkins (RHP)
3b - Jake Gautreau/Greg Sain SP- Chris Rojas (RHP)
C- Nick Trzesniak/Greg Sain SP- Chris Hensley (RHP)
RF - Ben Johnson RP - Roger Deago (LHP)
CF - Todd Donovan/Freddy Guzman RP - Matt Hampton (LHP)
LF - Josh Carter Closer - Brad Baker (RHP)


Pitching - The weakest part of the team. Justin Germano is the only real prospect among the starters, and even Justin projects as a back of the rotation starter. There are some questions if he has the "stuff" to move up, specifically questions about the velocity on his fastball, which is clocked in the high eighties. Germano, however, is still physically developing and it is conceivable that his velocity will increase with his physical development. The good news about Germano is that he does seem to know how to pitch, and his control is excellent. Germano has performed at every level within the Padres organization; it will be interesting to see how he adjusts this year.

Roger Deago had a brief call-up with the Padres last year, and may have some future as a middle relief pitcher, but there is little else to write about for the starting staff. We should see at least two of the Lake Elsinore starters in Mobile by the end of the year.

The bullpen should be better, led by Brad Baker, who really turned it on in Lake Elsinore after being demoted from Mobile. Baker will assume the closer's duties after Bryan Gaal was traded this week. Also look for Matt Hampton and Jack Cassel to have good years.

Position Players - Josh Barfield is the Padres second baseman of the future. Josh ended the season as the Padres number one ranked prospect by Baseball America, and the Padres 2003 minor league player of the year. The numbers he put up in the California League were staggering, .337/.530/.389, with 46 doubles, 16 HRs and 128 RBIs in 135 games. A couple of minor areas of concern are his defense and his walk totals, but he increased his walks from last year twofold. Rated by many as one of the top, or the top, second base prospects in baseball.

Greg Sain put up some very good numbers in Lake Elsinore, finishing at.274/.471/.336, with 35 doubles, 19 home runs and 100 RBI in 123 games. From what I have heard, he is a lot bigger than 200 lbs too. Sain, as noted above, plays three positions and his power numbers and versatility are too much for the organization to pass up. This year Greg is scheduled to shuttle between 1B, 3B and catcher. If Sain continues to hit, he could be with the Padres in 2006. A guy that can play both corners and catch will make the team, but his defense is going to have to improve.

Shortstop JJ Furmaniak, catcher Nick Trzesniak and outfielders Ben Johnson and Josh Carter are all solid players capable of making a big jump this year. An outside pick could be Josh Carter, 22, a right handed hitting outfielder from Fallbrook, who played centerfield for the Storm in 2003 finishing with at .300/.362/.417, with 6 Hrs and 56 RBIs. Carter had a solid year, but doesn't seem to have any spectacular "tool" in his speed, power or defensive abilities. He did, however, have a better season than either Ben Johnson or Kennard Jones, who were much more highly touted.

Freddy Guzman has been hurt all spring, and so far has only appeared as a designated hitter from the left side in spring training games. Midway through the season the Padres promoted Freddy, a.k.a. Pedro de los Santos from last year in Fort Wayne to Mobile. Guzman started out on fire in Mobile, but then cooled down to finish at .271/.368/.339 with 1 home run and 11 RBIs before being promoted to Portland. Guzman's biggest strength is his speed, which the Padres believe could give them the speedy lead off hitter that they have always coveted. In Mobile last year, Guzman stole 38 bases in only 46 games. Guzman a switch hitter, 5'10" and 160 lbs. and is one of the two main "speed" guys within the organization next to Bernie Castro. A lot of attention will be on Guzman this year; it will be interesting to see how he handles it. Freddy needs to prove that he can hit consistently above Single A.

Todd Donovan will be given a chance to rebound from a bad 2003 season, it could be his last chance.

MadFriars.com Top 40 Prospects - Eight - #2 Josh Barfield, #11 Justin Germano, #14 Freddy Guzman, #18 Jake Gautreau, #23 JJ Furmaniak, #27 Brad Baker, #32 Nick Trzesniak, and #36 Greg Sain.

Baseball America's Top 30 Prospects - Five - #1 Josh Barfield, #3 Freddy Guzman, # 15 Justin Germano, # 24 Greg Sain and # 27 Jake Gautreau. Also keep an eye on Ben Johnson, Nick Trzesniak and Josh Carter.

BayBears Insider Commentary - "Our goal is go out on a daily basis prepared to play, if we do that the end result usually is winning," said Gary Jones, the new BayBears manager. Jones stated that he planned to play quite a few players and keep everyone fresh, seeing that his job is not only to win games, but to prepare the players for the next level. The BayBears daily routine will usually consists of weight training, a morning workout and then the game, which makes a fairly busy existence for the players. When asked about the upcoming season, Jones stated "that he likes his current team, but there is still a good amount of work to do."

Prediction - Unlike last year, the BayBears should be able to hit; the real question is will their starting pitching hold up? We could see two of Lake Elsinore's pitchers up in Mobile by mid-season, probably Tim Stauffer and Brian Whitaker. After Barfield, look for Sain to have a big year and maybe even Gautreau. Essentially, Mobile will be the opposite of Lake Elsinore, an offensive team in a pitcher's league.

John Conniff can be reached at Conniff@sandiegosports.net

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