Sears escapes one logjam, may face another

By Jim Callis
September 9, 2003

Todd Sears never was going to win the starting job in Minnesota, not with Gold Glover Doug Mientkiewicz, slugger Matthew LeCroy and stud prospect Justin Morneau already angling for playing time at first base. The Twins did Sears a favor on Tuesday, trading him to the Padres for minor league shortstop Alex Garcia.

Sears, who had been designated for assignment on Aug. 31, may have a hard time cracking San Diego’s lineup as well. Ryan Klesko is entrenched at first base and the Padres have power hitters at that position in Triple-A (Tagg Bozied) and Double-A (Jon Knott). A Rockies third-round pick out of the University of Nebraska in 1997, Sears went to Minnesota in a trade for Todd Walker in 1997. After batting .310-20-100 at Triple-A Edmonton in 2002, the 27-year-old Sears tailed off to .254-7-41 in 80 games at Triple-A Rochester this year. He might hit .270 with 15-20 homers as a big league regular, but that production projects him more as a corner-infield backup (he has played some third in the past) than as a regular. In 31 big league games with the Twins over the last two years, he hit .260-2-11.

Garcia signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2001. He was known as Luis Garcia before 2003, when his true identity and birthdate (he suddenly aged 23 months) were revealed as part of the crackdown on falsified immigration information. Garcia has some intriguing tools, most notably plus speed and a cannon arm, but at age 21 he should be more advanced. He hit just .153-0-1 in 23 games at low Class A Fort Wayne, prompting a demotion to short-season Eugene. He hit .271-0-15 with 15 steals in 51 games there, but still needs to enhance his on-base and basestealing ability.