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Padres U.

June 4, 2003
By John Maffei

SAN DIEGO--The goal is to rebuild the franchise as quickly as possible through the first-year player draft.

To accomplish that Padres general manager Kevin Towers and scouting director Bill Gayton feel they must take college players. On the first day of the 50-round draft Tuesday, the Padres made 20 selections and all were college players.

"With our new park opening next season, we're in a different situation," Towers said after the Padres took Richmond righthander Tim Stauffer with their first pick, the fourth overall in the draft. "We need to get players up here as quickly as possible. And to do that, we have to go the college route. We can't wait five or six years for players to develop."

In the second round, the Padres selected North Carolina lefthander Daniel Moore. North Carolina State catcher Colt Morton was the third-round pick and San Diego State second baseman Peter Stonard was taken in the fourth round. Stauffer, Moore and Morton all played together last summer for the Chatham A's in the Cape Cod League.

Towers and Gayton had targeted Stauffer since about midway through the college season.

He finished the season with a 9-5, 1.97 record. He had 10 complete games, walking only 19 while striking out 146 in 114 innings. Towers likens his over-the-top delivery to Giants ace Jason Schmidt.

"Tim has a solid makeup and great work habits," Gayton said. "His fastball is 92-93 mph with an 89 slider and a great changeup.

"He's very consistent, a workhorse. He's a guy who can eat up innings. He's a top-of-the-rotation guy."

Towers isn't sure where Stauffer will start his pro career once he signs, but said he'd prefer to start him a level or two below high Class A Lake Elsinore, let him have some success, then move him up.

"I think I'm close to the major leagues, and I hope the Padres think so, too," said Stauffer, a native of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., who was taken in the 36th round by the Orioles out of high school. "The Padres showed a lot of interest in me all season, and I'm excited about joining them."

Stauffer said his strengths are a two-seam fastball that he runs away from hitters.

"I don't consider myself a power pitcher," he said. "I don't blow the ball past hitters, but I can throw an offspeed pitch for a strike behind in the count 2-1 when a hitter is looking for a dead-red fastball."

When the Padres signed Clemson first baseman Michael Johnson on Monday, Towers said it allowed them to focus on pitching Tuesday and they didn't hesitate to take Moore in the second round.

Moore was 7-2, 3.39 in 16 games for the Tar Heels. His fastball has been clocked at 94 mph in the past, though he has been more in the high 80s this season with an improved breaking ball.

The Padres also addressed a lack of catching in the system by taking the 6-foot-6 Morton, a player Towers likens to former Padres catcher Mark Parent.

Stonard, who at one time was considered a first-round pick, was an interesting pick. He was dismissed from the San Diego State team after failing a midseason drug test, after having been kicked out of Alabama for the same reason. However, Stonard led the Cape Cod League in hitting last summer and has good speed.

"What happened to Stonard off the field is unfortunate," Towers said. "We think he's a fine offensive player, and we were surprised when he was there for us.

"He's going to start here with a clean slate, but we won't ignore his past. If we need to get him into counseling, we will."

In the 10th round, the Padres chose Fernando Valenzuela Jr. of UNLV. The slugging first baseman is the son of former big league pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.

Towers said Valenzuela was a tremendous defensive player for a man who stands 5-10 and weights 210.

"People may not remember, but his father was a tremendous athlete and a good hitter," Towers said. "He has a chance to be a good player."

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