Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Use the options to filter your search.
Burroughs has been in the spotlight since he was 11, when he led a Long Beach team coached by his father, former No. 1 overall draft pick and American League MVP Jeff Burroughs, to the 1992 Little League World Series title. Long Beach became the first U.S. team to repeat as champions in 1993, when Sean was named MVP after throwing two 16-strikeout no-hitters and batting .600. He added another world championship in 2000 as a member of the U.S. Olympic team, hitting .375 in limited action as manager Tommy Lasorda inexplicably played Orioles journeyman Mike Kinkade ahead of him. Earlier in the year, Burroughs was MVP of the Futures Game in Atlanta after going 3-for-4 with a key defensive play. The Padres have been aggressive with Burroughs, letting him make his pro debut in full-season Class A and playing him in Double-A last season as a teenager. He has responded to every challenge. Burroughs is the best pure hitter in the minor leagues. Despite being much younger than his opposition, he has batted .329 as a pro. More impressive, he has walked more times (135) than he has struck out (107). He has a tremendous understanding of the strike zone, reaching base in 57 consecutive games in 1999-2000. Much has been made of Burroughs' paltry total of eight homers in 236 pro games, but he'll be an above-average power hitter at the major league level. It's typical for young lefthanded hitters to drive the ball to the middle of the ballpark, with home run power the last thing to develop. Burroughs has the bat speed and the approach to drive the ball out of the park as he gets more experience and learns to turn on pitches. He's not a one-dimensional player, either. He has above-average arm strength and hands at third base. He improved his footwork in 2000, cutting down his errors to 16 after making 37 the year before. Power is Burroughs' most obvious shortcoming at this point, but it will come. The only thing he's not going to do as a big leaguer is impress anyone with his speed on the bases. He has been caught stealing in 24 of his 47 pro attempts. There has been talk that if the Padres trade Phil Nevin, their most marketable major leaguer, then Burroughs could be their Opening Day starter at the hot corner. While he probably wouldn't be scarred by the experience, Burroughs also isn't ready to offer big league power for his position. He'll be better off spending most of the year at Triple-A Portland. Regardless, he's a future batting champion and an all-star for years to come.
The Padres spent four first-round picks on pitchers in 1999, but 15th-rounder Peavy has their best pitcher from that draft so far. He lasted that long because he was considered frail, wild and committed to an Auburn scholarship. He won the Rookie-level Arizona League's pitching triple crown in his pro debut, and had another strong season in 2000 despite missing two weeks with viral meningitis in April. Peavy used a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, good slider and nice changeup to tie for the Class A Midwest League lead in strikeouts last season. He makes it tougher for hitters by varying his arm angle and pitching down in the strike zone. His control has been better than expected as a pro. He has allowed just 10 homers in 208 innings and hasn't had any trouble with lefthanders. To this point, he hasn't shown a significant weakness. Like all young pitchers, he can refine his command and the consistency of his pitches. Peavy's pure stuff isn't as good as that of Wascar Serrano, Gerik Baxter and Mark Phillips. It's his pitching savvy that elevates him ahead of them on this list, and it will be interesting to see if it can keep him there. Peavy will move up to high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2001 and could reach Double-A late in the season.
For the first time in his four seasons in the United States, Serrano failed to make his league's Top 10 Prospects list. It still was a successful year, with the exception of a disastrous four-start stint in Triple-A at midseason. When he returned to Double-A, Serrano went 3-0, 2.16 in five starts. Serrano has the best fastball in the system. He can touch the mid-90s with his four-seam fastball, and his low-90s two-seamer is more effective because of its additional movement. He improved his breaking ball in 2000, and it's now more of a slider than a slurve. Serrano has been slow to pick up a changeup. After six pro seasons, it's still not effective or deceptive. He generally has been stingy with walks and homers, but that wasn't the case in Triple-A. Serrano will get a second shot at Triple-A in 2001, when the Padres' new affiliate (Portland) should be more pitcher-friendly than their old one (Las Vegas). The back end of San Diego's rotation is far from stable, so he could get a big league shot if he passes the Triple-A test this time around.
After being overshadowed by Kyle Snyder (the seventh overall pick in the 1999 draft) at North Carolina, Bynum burst into the spotlight by pitching 27 scoreless innings to start his pro career. He hasn't slowed down must since, reaching Double-A in his season and a half as a pro. He was rated the best lefty pitching prospect in the high Class A California League and pitched a scoreless inning in the Futures Game last year. Bynum's best pitch is a slider that has been compared to Hall of Famer Steve Carlton's. He changed his grip on it as a college junior, increasing its break. Lefthanders have little chance against him, hitting .170 with no homers in 123 at-bats last year. He's an intelligent, composed pitcher who has the ability to read a batter's swing and make adjustments. Bynum's fastball and changeup aren't nearly as dominating as his slider. He has average velocity at 89-90 mph but admitted he was disappointed with his fastball command in 2000. He doesn't throw his changeup as much as he should. As he moves to higher levels, he'll need a full repertoire. Scott Karl is the only lefthander with a chance to make the big league rotation this year, so the Padres are looking forward to the day when Bynum will be ready to join them. He could go to Triple-A if he has a strong spring, though a brief return to Double-A is also a possibility.
Baxter struggled at the beginning of 2000, his first full pro season, going 1-3, 6.96 in his first seven starts. Then he hit his stride, posting a 1.71 ERA and limiting opponents to a .190 average the rest of the way. The only downside came in late June, when he was hit in the head by a line drive and missed seven weeks with a concussion. Baxter has a 92-93 mph fastball that can touch 96. At times, his slider gives him a second plus pitch. He has a surprisingly advanced changeup for his age. He keeps the ball in the park, allowing just eight homers in 161 pro innings, and challenges hitters. Baxter was supposed to pitch in Australia this winter, but he left after one outing with what's considered a minor elbow problem. His biggest need is to develop a consistent delivery. If he does that, he should throw more strikes and improve his secondary pitches. After resting his elbow, Baxter should be 100 percent by spring training. He'll move up to Lancaster in 2001 and probably will stay there for the entire season. He's at least two years away from being ready for the majors.
With Rockies first-round pick Matt Harrington still unsigned, Phillips may have the most upside of any pitcher from the 2000 draft. He agreed to a predraft deal with the Padres worth a club-record $2.2 million. He blossomed late as a prospect, with his velocity suddenly shooting up last spring after he didn't attend any of the national showcases the previous summer. Phillips best pro outing came in the Rookie-level Pioneer League playoffs, when he threw 7 1/3 shutout innings and struck out 11 to win the clincher. Phillips has the best fastball among 2000 high school draftees who signed, throwing 93-94 mph on a regular basis. That's exceptional velocity for a lefthander. He also has one of the best breaking balls from the prep crop, a curveball that he throws so hard that it looks like a slider. When he throws strikes with both pitches, he's untouchable. Phillips is more of a thrower than a pitcher. His command needs a lot of improvement and he'll have to add a changeup after not needing one in high school. Fairly skinny, he needs to get stronger, which should boost his fastball even more. Considering his stuff and the fact that he's lefthander, Phillips is a good bet to be the first high schooler from last year's draft to reach the majors. That said, he's going to have to add a lot of polish before he's ready for San Diego. He's ticketed for low Class A Fort Wayne in 2001.
Entering last spring, Nady was the top-rated prospect for the 2000 draft. Because his junior year at California (.329-19-59) wasn't as strong as his previous two seasons, and because he sought a contract similar to the $6.75 major league deal Eric Munson got as the No. 3 overall choice in the 1999 draft, Nady slid to the 49th pick. He spent the summer with Team USA before agreeing to a four-year big league contract that includes a $1.1 million bonus, another $1.75 million in guarantees and up to an additional $3.55 million in incentives. Nady was the best all-around hitter in the draft. He broke Mark McGwire's Pacific-10 Conference record with a .718 slugging percentage. With his strength and eye at the plate, Nady should hit for both power and average as a pro. He lacks speed and a definite position. He played second base and shortstop as a freshman, then moved to third base as a sophomore. It's uncertain he can play the hot corner as a pro, but it's moot because Sean Burroughs is the franchise's third baseman of the future. With Ryan Klesko signed through 2004, first base may not be an option either. Scouts soured on Nady a bit after he slumped as a junior, then batted .238 with one homer using a wood bat for Team USA. He became the first 2000 draftees to reach the majors last September (per the terms of his contract), singling off Eric Gagne in his lone at-bat. The Padres hoped the Arizona Fall League would prepare Nady for Triple-A in 2001, but he had to leave after one game with elbow tendinitis. His likely destination now is Double-A. He'll play third base and may even get a look at second. The guess here is that he'll reach the majors as a left fielder.
Kevin Towers made some astute deals before the 2000 trading deadline. In one fell swoop, he shed the Padres of the last 14 months of Carlos Hernandez' excessive contract and acquired Johnson, the best prospect drafted by the Cardinals in 1999. The Padres' scouting reports compare Johnson to a young Brian Jordan. Johnson's most obvious gifts are size, strength and speed. For a young hitter, he has a good idea of the strike zone. Defensively, he has a solid arm and range for right field. A gifted athlete, he played both football and baseball at Germantown (Tenn.) High, one of the nation's top high school baseball programs. After wearing down in the second half of 2000, Johnson will have to adjust to the extended pro season. He showed the ability to make adjustments at the plate the year before, so there are no long-term concerns about his hitting. Johnson could move up to high Class A in 2001, though he could return to Fort Wayne if the Padres decide to promote some older outfielders from last year's championship club at Rookie-level Idaho Falls ahead of him. In either case, Johnson is about three years away from San Diego.
Few trades work out better than the one in which the Padres sent Ed Sprague to the Red Sox last June. San Diego received two players: shortstop Cesar Saba, who ranked No. 8 on Boston's 2000 Top 10 Prospects list, and the unheralded Tankersley, who developed into a far better prospect. After switching organizations, Tankersley had nearly twice as many double-digit strikeout outings (five) as he did games in which he allowed more than two runs (three). Making the deal look worse for the Red Sox, they released Sprague in August and the Padres re-signed him. Tankersley's out pitch is a two-seam fastball that arrives at 91-92 mph and dives toward the plate. He's also capable of throwing a four-seamer that tops out at 94-95 mph. His slider and curveball are effective, and he throws all three pitches for strikes to both sides of the plate. His deceptive delivery has been compared to Kevin Appier's. Tankersley has yet to run into any roadblocks as a pro. His primary need is experience, though like any pitcher, he'll need to improve his command and consistency to enjoy continued success as he rises through the minors. Tankersley is yet another example of the Red Sox underestimating the worth of their prospects before including them in trades. He likely will start 2001 in the California League. His age and past performance make him a candidate to reach Double-A Mobile by the end of the year.
Herndon is the most precocious pitcher in the system. After being named the Padres' 1998 minor league pitcher of the year, he moved to Double-A at age 20 and Triple-A at 21. He started slowly at Las Vegas in 2000 before seemingly turning the corner by going 2-1, 1.91 in five July starts, but went 3-6, 7.21 in his final 12 outings. Herndon throws in the low 90s with life on is fastball. Pacific Coast League managers liked his slider last season, though the Padres would prefer him to throw a curveball. His changeup is effective. After lefthanders batted .317 off him in 1999, he limited them to a .254 average in 2000. Herndon may have been moved too quickly for his own good. He doesn't have a dominant pitch, so he has to win with location and command. He has been too tentative since leaving Class A, as his strikeout-walk ratio has declined from 198-80 to 162-117 and his ERA has risen from 3.43 to 4.89. Herndon definitely needs another season in Triple-A to catch his breath. He's still just 22, so he has time to make adjustments. He must start doing so in 2001.
Lawrence lacks size and a big-time fastball, and he was a mere 17th-round pick as a college senior in the 1998 draft. But there's no denying that he knows how to pitch. He has gone a combined 23-14 while leading Padres minor leaguers in ERA in each of the last two seasons. He shared the organization's 2000 minor league pitcher of the year award with Jacob Peavy. Lawrence has average velocity at best, but his fastball looks quicker because he effectively mixes in his slider and changeup. He throws strikes to both sides of the plate and possesses the best command in the system. His pro strikeout-walk ratio is 431-88. Lawrence thrived in eight Triple-A starts at the end of 2000, earning him the opportunity to compete for a big league rotation spot in spring training.
The Padres want to increase their efforts on the global market, so they hired former Orioles scouting director Gary Nickels and ex-Braves international super scout Bill Clark last offseason. In January, Nickels signed Yoshida to a bonus in the low six figures. He became the second Japanese player signed out of high school by a major league club, following Mets lefthander Juei Ushiromatsu. Japanese clubs are limited to seven draft picks per year, and many only use three or four because they have to make long-term commitments to their choices. Seibu and Yokohama had told Yoshida they would draft him but ultimately passed on him, as did the other 10 Japanese teams. He excelled in his U.S. debut, and he won the decisive game of the Pioneer League semifinals with six shutout innings. Yoshida is a finesse pitcher with exquisite command, but he also can reach the low 90s with his fastball and is projectable. He has good feel for his changeup and is refining a curveball and screwball. He also has learned English quickly, easing his transition. Very advanced for his age, he could reach high Class A by the end of 2001.
One of the nation's top-rated high school defensive backs, Faison would have played football at the University of Georgia had he not signed with the Padres for $1.415 million as the first of their six first-round picks in 1999. He has been compared to Cubs center-field prospect Corey Patterson, another Georgia high school product, but while Faison has similar athleticism, he lacks Patterson's power and feel for the game. Faison was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the Arizona League in his pro debut, then struggled in his first taste of full-season ball in 2000. He does have tools, including raw speed that has allowed him to steal 58 bases in 67 attempts as a pro. He also has power potential, plus the range and arm to play center field. He'll become more of a stolen base and home run threat if he can learn the strike zone. For now, he's a free swinger who tries to pull too many pitches and gets himself out. Midwest League managers didn't think he handled adversity well, so a return trip rather than a promotion to high Class A might be best at the start of 2001.
Eberwein is in the wrong organization. He's a competent third baseman but has no chance of playing the hot corner in an organization with Phil Nevin, Sean Burroughs and Xavier Nady. Eberwein has the bat to play at first base, where he moved in 2000 to accommodate Burroughs, but the Padres have big league starter Ryan Klesko signed through 2004. And even Eberwein's calling card, power that was rated the best in the system entering 2000, was surpassed when San Diego signed Nady. Eberwein isn't a bad athlete and probably has enough arm to try the outfield, though that also is Nady's likely destination. Eberwein drastically cut down on his strikeouts last season, though he still could draw more walks and must remember that he's more effective when he uses the whole field. He'll spend 2001 in Triple-A, where he would have been promoted last August if not for an ankle injury that ended his season and kept him out of the Arizona Fall League.
Nicholson became the first Canadian ever drafted in the first round when the Padres took him 27th overall in 1997, and he reached the majors three years later. He has a chance to make San Diego's Opening Day roster, perhaps as a utilityman before growing into a starting role. The question is whether he's better suited for shortstop or second base. Nicholson has the arm for short, but his hands and range are just adequate for the position. But the Padres need a shortstop after moving former starter Damian Jackson to second base last year. Nicholson has good gap power for a middle infielder and runs better than his stocky build might indicate. He needs to tighten his strike zone and make better contact, especially after fanning 31 times in 97 big league at-bats.
Young catchers Ben Davis and Wiki Gonzalez combined to bat just .229-8-44 in 138 games with San Diego last year. If they don't hit, the Padres are going to have to wait a while for reinforcements. Their only legitimate catching prospects were three teenagers who spent 2000 in Rookie ball. Trzesniak, the last of the club's six first-round picks in 1999, is the best of the catching crop. He offers both offense and defense. He hit for average and power in 2000 while also drawing more than his share of walks. He's not a speedster by any means, but he has stolen 11 bases in 14 pro attempts. Trzesniak is a solid receiver with a strong arm. While his 28 percent success rate at gunning down basestealers last year wasn't outstanding, it was significantly better than teammate Andres Pagan's 18 percent. While Trzesniak will need to make more contact in the future, his biggest problem has been staying healthy. He had a sore arm in 1999, broke his hamate bone and required surgery in the offseason, then had back problems last year. He'll probably play at Fort Wayne this year, likely splitting time with Pagan again.
Falcon added to the club's catching depth in the lower minors when he signed as a third-round pick last June, passing up a Louisiana State scholarship. Managers rated him the Arizona League's No. 6 prospect in his debut. He's quick behind the plate and supplements a strong arm with a short release (though he threw out just 19 percent of basestealers). Offensively, Falcon uses the entire field, has power potential and knows how to take a walk. His main needs are improving his receiving skills and making better contact. Because Nick Trzesniak and Andres Pagan probably aren't ready for high Class A, Falcon probably will begin 2001 in extended spring training before reporting to Idaho Falls or short-season Eugene in June.
Germano is similar to Junior Herndon, a lower-round high school draftee who has moved quickly through the system despite lacking overpowering velocity. Germano's fastball can reach the low 90s, though he usually pitches at 88-90 mph. His fastball appears a lot quicker because hitters can't sit on it, having to look instead for a sharp curveball that breaks straight down. He can throw his curveball for strikes in any count, and the same is true of his fastball and changeup. Germano posted an outstanding 67-9 strikeout-walk ratio in his pro debut, though he needs to learn he'll be more effective if he's not around the plate so much because he'll be less hittable. He should open his first full season in low Class A.
After making him a major league Rule 5 draft pick at the 1999 Winter Meetings, the Padres stashed DeHaan on the disabled list for the first three weeks of April and then kept him on their bench for the rest of the season. While that allowed San Diego to keep him, getting a total of 158 at-bats all year didn't do much for DeHaan's development. His best tool is his speed, which makes him a stolen base threat and gives him fine range in center field. He also has an average arm and gap power. How much he'll hit depends on whether he can improve his plate discipline and make more contact. DeHaan needs to play every day in Triple-A this year, after which he'll be the club's next option in center field if Mike Darr doesn't turn out to be an acceptable replacement for Ruben Rivera.
Desperately seeking a solution at shortstop, the Padres have tried to increase their options this offseason. They signed free agent Alex Arias, picked Donaldo Mendez in the major league Rule 5 draft and traded for Perez. The 2000 Triple-A World Series MVP, Perez may have the best chance to start for San Diego among the group, though he'll also have to contend with Kevin Nicholson. Perez has the arm, hands and range teams want in a shortstop. But he also has a maddening tendency to get lackadaisical in the field, contributing heavily to his 33 errors last season, including six in 20 games with Milwaukee. He encouraged the Brewers when he batted .298 with 14 homers in 1998, but those numbers were fueled by Double-A El Paso's bandbox ballpark and he hasn't approached them since. He has the speed to steal bases, though he hinders his value by chasing too many pitches and not reaching base consistently.
Owens' tools are the most impressive in the system. He's the fastest baserunner and best defensive outfielder among Padres farmhands, and he has the top outfield arm. He has stolen 151 bases and been caught just 34 times as a pro, and one scout who saw him in the California League last year said Owens is the best-running big man since Bo Jackson. Owens also has power potential as well. What he doesn't have and what may keep him from reaching the majors is much hitting ability. Despite being old for his league each year, he has fanned 430 times in 345 games and his swing needs to be overhauled. He takes walks, but he's almost too passive at the plate and falls behind in the count too often. He'll move up to Double-A in 2001, which should be a stern challenge for him.
The Padres drafted Watkins in the 15th round out of high school in 1996 and finally signed him as a 16th-rounder two years later, after he spent time at Lubbock Christian and Texas Tech. He has averaged well over a strikeout an inning as a pro, thanks to a plus curveball. Last year opponents in the hitter-friendly California League batted just .216 against him, including a .208 mark by lefthanders. Watkins doesn't have a lot going for him besides his curve and may be nothing more than a middle reliever in the majors. His fastball is average and his changeup reaches that level intermittently. His command has been shaky as a pro, and that flaw may catch up to him this year in Double-A.
After Pagan batted .187 in the Arizona League in his 1999 pro debut, the Padres not surprisingly considered his defense well ahead of his offense. Last season, he caught the hitting fever that gripped Pioneer League champion Idaho Falls--the team batted a collective .317 to lead the minors--and raised his average 125 points. A high school hurdles champ in Puerto Rico, Pagan is an athletic backstop with strong catch-and-throw skills. Basestealers had surprising success against him last year, however, succeeding on 82 percent of their attempts. Pagan gets high marks for his ability to run a pitching staff. He still has work to do offensively, such as making more contact and drawing more walks. After sharing time behind the plate with Nick Trzesniak in 2000, he likely will do so again this year at Fort Wayne.
One of San Diego's six first-round picks from 1999, Ortiz has had little success since he was promoted to Class A six outings into his pro career. He has gone 6-12, 6.05 at that level, totally puzzling the Padres. Ortiz can touch 95 mph with his fastball, and his slider and changeup are solid average pitches. His work ethic draws praise as well. But he has an inconsistent release point, which hampers his ability to throw strikes. And once Ortiz falls behind in the count, he tends to just lay the ball over the heart of the plate. Lefthanders enjoy facing him, batting .343 with nine homers in 181 at-bats last year. He'll head back to the California League, where he lost his last six decisions in 2000, and try to get himself straightened out.
Despite being drafted in the 21st round out of George Mason in 1997, Colangelo needed just 442 at-bats before reaching the majors in June 1999. He hit .346 in the minors and went 1-for-2 in his major league debut. But he hasn't played a pro game since. Colangelo, who missed half of 1998 with an ankle injury, tore ligaments in an outfield collison with Reggie Williams in his first big league game and was lost for the season. He reinjured the thumb that winter in Venezuela, then tore the labrum in his right shoulder in spring training last year, necessitating season-ending surgery. The Angels removed him from their 40-man roster in October, when he was claimed on waivers by the Diamondbacks, who lost him on waivers 12 days later to the Padres. If he's healthy, Colangelo could serve as a bat off the big league bench or possibly something more. He's an adequate left fielder who lacks the home run power teams want out of the position, but he can drive the ball to the gaps and consistently gets on base.
The Padres spent 2000 acquiring as many shortstops as possible: Alex Arias (major league free agent), Cleatus Davidson (minor league free agent), J.J. Furmaniak (amateur draft), Donaldo Mendez (major league Rule 5 draft), Santiago Perez and Cesar Saba (trades). Before all that activity, Berroa was unquestionably the best pure shortstop in the system, and San Diego still likes his potential. He has solid defensive tools and can make the tough plays, but he needs to be more consistent on the routine ones after making 36 errors in 129 games last year. He’s aggressive offensively and defensively. He makes good contact and can steal an occasional base, though he has little power and needs more patience. Except for Furmaniak, who hasn’t played above Rookie ball, none of the Padres’ shortstops has distinguished himself offensively. If Berroa can do that at Double-A in 2001, he’ll have a leg up on his competition.
The Padres have a working agreement with the Mexican League's Yucatan Lions, and let Perez, a native Mexican, pitch there for most of 2000. He held his own against much more experienced hitters, limiting them to a .245 average and three homers in 145 at-bats. Perez has good stuff for a lefthander and is projectable. He already touches 90 mph as a teenager, and he could throw significantly harder one he adds weight to his skinny frame. He already has put on 15 pounds since signing in July 1999. His curveball and changeup are average at times but need more consistency. He almost must learn to work down in the strike zone on a consistent basis. Perez could open 2001 at Fort Wayne, or San Diego could be more patient and send him to its new short-season Eugene affiliate.
Because the Padres drafted four pitchers in the first round of the 1999 draft, fifth-rounder Thompson received little notice. His 8-14, 5.87 record as a pro hasn't garnered much attention either, though he did lead Pioneer League champion Idaho Falls with six victories last summer. He's a product of Lamar (Colo.) High, the alma mater of the Astros' Scott Elarton. Thompson has better stuff than his statistics would indicate, as he's already capable of throwing 90-93 mph with a loose, easy arm action. He's still trying to put the rest of his game together. He's working on a slider, curveball and changeup and has been vulnerable to walks and home runs. He got a brief trial at Fort Wayne to begin 2000, and he'll head back there again this year.
Moore already is well on his way to becoming a star--in college football. He averaged 89 yards rushing per game at Tulane last fall, finishing just four yards shy of leading all NCAA Division I-A freshmen. He was one of the best athletes available in the 2000 draft, lasting until the fourth round only because of his gridiron commitment. He signed for $250,000, taking less money so he could continue to play football. He has the tools to become an outstanding center fielder. Moore runs a 6.39-second 60-yard dash and unlike many speedsters, he has hitting ability. He has yet to make his pro debut, but should get in a couple of months with one of San Diego's short-season clubs this summer before returning to Tulane in August for football practice.
Trujillo hopes to follow in the footsteps of Brian Tollberg, who started his pro career in the independent Frontier League and climbed to San Diego last season. A second baseman/righthander in college at Dallas Baptist, Trujillo posted a 1.58 ERA and finished third in the Frontier League with 14 saves in 1999. He was sensational in his first year in Organized Baseball, leading minor league relievers in hits per nine innings (4.7) and saves while setting a Midwest League mark in the latter category. Interestingly, Trujillo performed so poorly in minor league spring training that he feared he would be released. A submariner, he has more velocity (83-84 mph on his sinker) and control than most pitchers who throw from that angle. His slider eats up righthanders because they can't pick it up, and they hit just .128 against him with 61 strikeouts in 149 at-bats last year. He also throws a changeup that is improving. It's almost impossible to put the ball in the air against Trujillo, who had an unfathomable 103-23 ground ball-fly ball ratio in 2000. He could skip a level this season and pitch in Double-A.