Expos burn their ties to Bridges

By Jim Callis
June 25, 2002

Donnie Bridges was the first of eight Expos first-round picks in 1997, and entering 2001 he was considered Montreal’s best prospect. On Tuesday the Expos reunited him with the transplanted braintrust that drafted him, sending him to the Marlins for outfielder Brett Roneberg.

Bridges, 23 and a product of a Mississippi high school, hasn’t been the same pitcher the last two years that he was in 2000, when he won 16 games and reached Double-A. Bothered by shoulder trouble in 2001, he won just four games and posted a 6.64 ERA in 81 innings. He hasn’t fared much better this spring, going 4-4, 6.14 in 14 starts at Double-A Harrisburg, where he had dominated two years earlier. He allowed 63 hits in as many innings, striking out 49 while walking 42. As a result, he was designated for assignment last Thursday when the Expos needed a roster spot for Dan Smith. When he was at his best, he threw a low-90s fastball to both sides of the plate and showed a plus curveball and changeup at times. Bridges immediately was assigned to Double-A Portland by the Marlins.

Roneberg, also 23, was signed as an international free agent. He’s a contact hitter best known for his participation on Australia’s national team. He hit .333 at the 2000 Olympics (the second-highest average on the club behind former big leaguer David Nilsson) and .240 at the 2001 World Cup. Roneberg is a career .270 hitter who has little power (.376 slugging percentage) or speed, so it’s hard to project him as more than an extra outfielder in the majors. He reminds some scouts on Jim Eisenreich. Sidelined for much of 2002 with a torn tendon in his finger, Roneberg has hit .226-0-7 in 18 games, most at high Class A Jupiter.