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Background: Aside from being the son of former two-time American League home run champ Tony Armas, the younger Armas also received what was, in 1994, the largest signing bonus in Venezuelan history ($140,000) from the Yankees. He was dealt by the Yankees to the Red Sox in 1997 in a pennant-drive trade for Mike Stanley. Then he came to Montreal with Carl Pavano four months later in the Pedro Martinez deal. Double-A Eastern League managers pegged Armas as the league's top pitching prospect. He made his big league debut in August but the Expos shut him down with a tired arm as a precautionary measure; he had pitched in the Venezuelan League the previous winter. Strengths: While Armas has good raw stuff, his poise and maturity make him exceptional. He pitches like he has 10 years of big league experience. Armas uses a balanced, easy delivery and hides the ball effectively from hitters without looking unnatural. He looks like he's throwing a casual game of catch, but his fastball comes out at 91-94 mph with good sinking and boring life. His effortless delivery enables Armas to have precise command of his pitches, especially his fastball. A key difference in his arsenal in 1999 was switching from a curveball to a slider as his primary breaking pitch. A solid changeup gives him three quality pitches. Weaknesses: Though his slider could be an above-average pitch, some in the organization don't want Armas to give up on his curveball yet. He switched because he altered his delivery when throwing the curveball, which not only tipped hitters to the pitch but also affected his fastball. The timing of such tinkering, for a young pitcher on the cusp of a big league job, could jeopardize his chance of opening the 2000 season in the big leagues. The Future: The Expos realize the hazards of bringing young pitchers to Montreal straight from Double-A before they are ready. The organization would like to avoid doing that with Armas. The Expos are hoping five other starters win jobs outright in spring training and allow Armas to get some more seasoning at Triple-A Ottawa before he enters the rotation.
Background: Bradley overcame his second umpire-related suspension--this one for spitting gum at an umpire--and a shoulder injury to enjoy a successful season. He joined teammate Peter Bergeron with Team USA in the Pan American Games. His two-out grand slam in the bottom of the ninth won the Eastern League championship for Double-A Harrisburg. Strengths: Bradley's tools are unquestioned. He has excellent bat speed from both sides of the plate and is an above-average runner. He has Gold Glove potential as a center fielder, with an above-average arm and the ability to make the spectacular catch. Weaknesses: The Expos try to paint as positive a picture of Bradley's demeanor as possible, pointing out that he is intelligent and plays as hard as anyone. But umpires, teammates and opponents see a sullen young man. The Future: Bradley can become an all-star if he gives himself the chance. His immediate future hinges on Rondell White's status with the organization.
Background: Though he posted good numbers and made his big league debut, Bergeron did not have an easy year. He injured his right shoulder, restricting him to left field and DH, and had postseason surgery to repair a torn labrum. Strengths: Bergeron has the makings of an ideal leadoff hitter: above-average speed, an excellent eye, the best bunting ability in the system and enough power to drive the ball in the gaps. Scouts say Bergeron should mature into his power with experience. Weaknesses: Arm strength was never his best tool, even before his shoulder injury, He has the speed and instincts to play center field but is now looked at as a left fielder. On the basepaths, he needs to get better reads on pitchers and better jumps. The Future: The Expos got poor performances in left field and the leadoff spot in 1999, so Bergeron could step into both roles in 2000.
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