Team USA Who's Who
Compiled by John Manuel
Ages as of Sept. 15
BRENT ABERNATHY, 2b, Devil Rays
Ht: 6-1. Wt: 185. Age: 22. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Drafted: Blue Jays, 1996, second round (The Lovett School, Atlanta).
PAST: Abermathy was a standout all-around athlete in high school and played for the Team USA junior squad that won the 1995 World Junior Championship. He hit .346 that summer and was an all-tournament outfielder. He has become one of the few true second-base prospects in the minor leagues by hitting for average, showing good plate discipline and being an above-average basestealer.
PRESENT: The Devil Rays picked him up from the Blue Jays at the trade deadline for major league righthander Steve Trachsel. Between Syracuse and Triple-A Durham, Abernathy was hitting .295-5-46. Abernathy will turn 23 during the Olympic tournament on Sept. 23.
FUTURE: Abernathy figures to start at second base for Team USA. His hitting skills and baserunning ability make him ideally suited to hit second in the lineup. The Devil Rays have Bobby Smith and Miguel Cairo at second, but Abernathy figures to work into that equation next year.
PAT BORDERS, c, Devil Rays
Ht: 6-2. Wt: 200. Age: 37. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Drafted: Blue Jays, 1982, sixth round (Lake Wales, Fla., HS).
PAST: Borders' best days are clearly behind him, but those were very good days. He made his major league debut with the Blue Jays in 1988 and was the World Series MVP in 1992. In more than 1,000 big league games, he has a career average of .256.
PRESENT: Borders spent 10 seasons in the majors before starting the 1999 season at Triple-A Buffalo in the Indians organization. He has played the entire 2000 season at Triple-A Durham, where he has earned praise for his work habits, attitude and work with younger players. He was hitting .276-12-54 this season.
FUTURE: Borders essentially takes the spot on the team that had been earmarked for Terry Steinbach, who tore his hamstring in a water-skiing accident. Borders may be a better choice anyway, considering he will provide similar leadership and experience and has actually been playing competitively this year at a high level.
SEAN BURROUGHS, 3b, Padres
Ht: 6-2. Wt: 200. Age: 20. Bats: L. Throws: R.
Drafted: Padres, 1998, first round (Wilson HS, Long Beach).
PAST: The son of 1974 American League MVP Jeff Burroughs, Sean has been in the spotlight since leading his Long Beach team to consecutive Little League World Series championships in 1992-93. He became one of the nation's top prep players before becoming the ninth overall pick in the 1998 draft.
PRESENT: Burroughs became the Padres' top prospect after his first pro season. He hit .363-6-85 between Class A Fort Wayne and Class A Rancho Cucamonga last season. He moved on to Double-A Mobile this season and found Double-A pitching a bit tougher. He was hitting .291-2-42 for the season after a strong July in which he hit .360. He also was MVP in the Futures Game in July.
FUTURE: Burroughs is one of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues, and the Padres can afford to be patient that his power will come around. For Team USA, Burroughs figures to split time with veteran Mike Coolbaugh at third base.
JOHN COTTON, util, Rockies
Ht: 6-0. Wt: 190. Age: 29. Bats: L. Throws: R.
Drafted: Indians, 1989, 10th round (Angelina, Texas, JC).
PAST: A veteran in his 12th minor league season, Cotton is as well traveled as any Team USA player. He has played for six organizations in 17 different locations. He has also bounced around the diamond, starting as a second baseman but playing a lot of third base and outfield as his career has
progressed. He entered the 2000 season as a career .245 hitter with 137 home
runs and 227 stolen bases.
PRESENT: Cotton is enjoying his best season of his career at Triple-A
Colorado Springs, where he was hitting .328-16-62.
FUTURE: Cotton replaced Mark Johnson on the roster. He has less power than Johnson but more versatility. If he makes the final roster, he figures to join Mike Neill as a lefthanded bat off the bench; more likely, his stay in Australia will be a short one as an alternate.
GOOKIE DAWKINS, ss/2b, Reds
Ht: 6-1. Wt: 180. Age: 21. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Drafted: Reds, second round, 1997 (Newberry, S.C., HS).
PAST: Dawkins burst onto the prospect scene last year by hitting a combined .300-10-45 between Class A Rockford and Double-A Chattanooga and starring for Team USA in the Pan American Games. His strong start in the Midwest League propelled him onto the team, and he started every game at shortstop and hit .273-1-2 while playing excellent defense.
PRESENT: Dawkins ranked as the Reds' top prospect in the offseason and has played 14 games in Cincinnati this season. Back at Chattanooga, he was hitting .280 at the end of May but had slipped to .232-6-29.
FUTURE: Dawkins played most of the first half of shortstop but moved to second base during the second half of the season. The three-year contract signed by Barry Larkin in July muddles Dawkins' future in the organization. He will compete for a starting job but more likely will back up at both second and short.
ADAM EVERETT, ss, Astros
Ht: 6-1. Wt: 167. Age: 23. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Drafted: Red Sox, 1998, first round (South Carolina).
PAST: Everett played for Team USA assistant coach Ray Tanner at North Carolina State and then at South Carolina after Tanner took that job. He was an All-American in 1998, mainly because of his fantastic defense. The Astros obtained Everett in the offseason for major league outfielder Carl Everett.
PRESENT: For the second straight season, Everett got off to a slow start offensively, but again he has turned his season around. He hit 10 homers his last 131 at-bats in 1999 and was hitting .246-5-37 for Triple-A New Orleans this year, earning Triple-A all-star honors.
FUTURE: The Astros' shortstop of the future, Everett needs to show continued improvement with the bat to make the move to the big leagues next season. Not much stands in his way in Houston. He will be the favorite for the starting shortstop job with Team USA.
MARCUS JENSEN, c, Twins
Ht: 6-4. Wt: 204. Age: 27. Bats: B. Throws: R.
Drafted: Giants, 1990, first-round supplemental (Skyline HS, Oakland).
PAST: After five years as one of the Giants' top prospects, Jensen reached the big leagues in '96 but failed to stick, moving on to play in the Tigers, Brewers and Cardinals organizations. Jensen played a vital role in Team USA's silver-medal showing in Winnipeg last summer, hitting .300-3-9 and leading the team in home runs and RBIs.
PRESENT: Jensen played well in spring training and won the everyday catching job with the Twins to open the season, but he couldn't hold on to it. He hit .209-3-14 in 139 at-bats before a demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake, where he was 8-for-34 with a home run.
FUTURE: Jensen should split time with Pat Borders behind the plate for Team USA. His power surge last summer was out of line with his career, but Jensen's international experience gave Team USA reason to bring him back this summer. Beyond that, he has had several auditions and figures to be a big league backup at best.
MIKE KINKADE, c/if, Orioles
Ht: 6-1. Wt: 210. Age: 27. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Drafted: Brewers, 1995, ninth round (Washington State).
PAST: Kinkade has shown a strong bat throughout his minor league career but has moved around the diamond defensively. He hit .385-12-109 at Double-A El Paso in 1997, and took his career .330 minor league average coming into the 2000 season from third base and left field to catcher. Kinkade was part of the Mike Bordick trade in July, coming to the Orioles from the Mets. The Mets acquired him in 1998 for lefthander Bill Pulsipher.
PRESENT: Kinkade has continued hitting this season while relearning the catcher spot, which he played in college. Between three stops (Double-A Binghamton, Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Rochester), Kinkade was hitting .356-14-82 in 396 at-bats.
FUTURE: As a professional hitter with versatility, Kinkade should have a chance to play in the reconstructed Orioles organization. He figures to occupy a supporting role for Team USA.
DOUG MIENTKIEWICZ, 1b, Twins
Ht: 6-2. Wt: 193. Age: 26. Bats: L. Throws: R.
Drafted: Twins, 1995, fifth round (Florida State).
PAST: Mientkiewicz (pronounced mint-KAY-vich) moved steadily up the Twins ladder on the strength of his bat, topped off by a .323-16-88 season at Double-A New Britain in 1998. That earned him a big league shot and he spent the entire season in Minnesota, where he hit .229-2-32 in 327 at-bats.
PRESENT: Manager Tom Kelly grew impatient with the Twins' youth movement this spring, sending Mientkiewicz and others back to the minors when they didn't play up to expectations in spring training. He has spent all year at Triple-A Salt Lake, proving again that he can hit minor league pitching in a .331-17-92 season.
FUTURE: Mientkiewicz' bounce-back season should earn him another big league shotif not with the Twins, than with another organization. He's the odds-on favorite to win the starting first-base job with Team USA.
MIKE NEILL, of, Mariners
Ht: 6-2. Wt: 190. Age: 30. Bats: L. Throws: L.
Drafted: Athletics, 1991, second round (Villanova).
PAST: Neill has 15 at-bats in the big leagues, all of them coming in 1998 with Oakland. His biggest career feat, though, was his RBI single in the seventh inning last year against Mexico in the Pan Am Games semifinal. It broke a 1-1 tie, propelling Team USA to a 2-1 victory and a berth in the Olympics. Neill, used mostly as a pinch-hitter last summer, had two hits in seven at-bats.
PRESENT: Neill had a solid spring and was hitting .296-10-55 for Triple-A Tacoma in the Mariners system but had not received a callup this season.
FUTURE: Neill figures to be a top lefthanded bat off the bench for Team USA and could challenge for the starting left-field job. His big league future seems limited to a reserve role.
ANTHONY SANDERS, of, Mariners
Ht: 6-2. Wt: 200. Age: 26. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Drafted: Blue Jays, 1992, seventh round (Santa Rita HS, Tucson).
PAST: Sanders' road to the major leagues has taken several detours. His wife Denise died in a skiing accident early in the 1997 season, and a fractured ankle ended his 1998 season after 234 at-bats. He received his first big league callup last season, going 2-for-7, but the Blue Jays waived him at the end of spring training, and he signed with the Mariners.
PRESENT: A career .249 hitter coming into the year, Sanders has enjoyed one of his best seasons. He was hitting .307-19-76 at Triple-A Tacoma, though his other numbers followed his career numbers. Sanders had just 30 walks and 103 strikeouts. His strike zone judgment has been the biggest obstacle in his career to unleashing his power.
FUTURE: If Sanders can be patient at the plate and make more consistent contact, he has a chance to fit into the Mariners' outfield picture. He's a good fit in Team USA's outfield because he can cover ground and has a solid arm. He conceivably could start at any of the three outfield spots.
BRAD WILKERSON, of, Expos
Ht: 6-0. Wt: 190. Age: 23. Bats: L. Throws: L.
Drafted: Expos, 1998, first-round supplemental (Florida).
PAST: Wilkerson has Team USA experience as a member of the junior team in 1995. He was the MVP of the World Junior Championship, throwing a three-hit shutout against Taiwan in the gold-medal game and hitting .360-3-8 for the tournament, leading Team USA in home runs and RBIs. A two-time first-team All-American, Wilkerson led Florida to the College World Series in 1996 and 1998 with both his hitting and pitching.
PRESENT: Wilkerson hit .235-8-49 last year at Double-A Harrisburg, a challenging assignment for his first full pro season. Back in the Eastern League to start the 2000 season, Wilkerson tore up the league, hitting .336-6-44 with 36 doubles before a promotion to Triple-A Ottawa. For the season, he was hitting .304-15-75 with 47 doubles in 408 at-bats.
FUTURE: Wilkerson should be Team USA's starting left fielder or could play center if need be. With Henry Rodriguez and Rondell White traded, he figures to battle Peter Bergeron for the Expos' left-field job in 2001, flanking Milton Bradley and Vladimir Guerrero.
ERNIE YOUNG, of, Cardinals
Ht: 6-1. Wt: 234. Age: 31. Bats: R. Throws: R.
Drafted: Athletics, 10th round, 1990 (Lewis, Ill., Univ.).
PAST: Young has been one of the Pacific Coast League's most consistent sluggers over the last three seasons, hitting a career high during his .294-30-95 effort in 1999 at Triple-A Tucson. He has played just one full season in the major leagues, batting .242-19-64 for Oakland in 1996, and has spent part of five other years bouncing between Triple-A and the major leagues.
PRESENT: Back when Young was the Athletics' everyday center fielder in 1996, his weight was listed at 190 pounds. The extra strength and weight have given Young more power but limited him to the outfield corners. He was hitting .262-33-95 in 427 at-bats at Triple-A Memphis this year.
FUTURE: Young's power stands out for Team USA, and he should anchor the lineup as the starting right fielder. Young has settled into the role of Triple-A slugger, but his second straight 30-homer season could give him a shot as a major league reserve.