Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Burroughs entered 2001 with the reputation as the best pure hitter in the minor leagues. He led Long Beach to consecutive Little League World Series titles in 1992-93 and in 2000, his second pro season, he was named MVP of the Futures Game and won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team. The only thing missing from his résumé was adversity, but he got his first dose last April. Burroughs was batting .328 at Triple-A Portland despite a sore right knee, which proved to be a torn meniscus that required surgery. Sidelined for a month, Burroughs returned and hit like he always had. Managers rated him the best prospect in the Pacific Coast League. Burroughs is a career .327 hitter in the minors despite being young for his league each year. The Padres are excited about 2001 first-round pick Jake Gautreau, another gifted offensive player--and Gautreau is 10 months older than Burroughs, who's on the verge of the major leagues. He has a picture-perfect swing, a quick bat and an uncanny sense of the strike zone, with more walks than whiffs as a pro. He isn't troubled by lefthanders, against whom he batted .349 last year. He works hard and makes adjustments easily when needed. His instincts are another asset, no surprise considering he's the son of former No. 1 overall pick and American League MVP Jeff Burroughs. Sean has soft hands and a strong, accurate arm at third base. His power potential has yet to manifest itself. He has just 17 homers in 340 pro games. He has started to look for specific pitches to drive, depending on the situation, and projects to hit 25-30 homers annually once he gets acclimated to the major leagues. His speed is his worst tool, though he runs the bases well and makes the plays at third base. San Diego has an impressive array of talent at third base, and there's still some thought that Burroughs could play second. The Padres would rather just get his bat in the lineup, so all-star Phil Nevin will move to first base and Ryan Klesko will shift to the outfield in order to open third for Burroughs. He is a prime 2002 Rookie of the Year candidate and a batting champion waiting to happen.
Tankersley was an unknown when the Padres stole him from the Red Sox in a June 2000 trade for fading veteran Ed Sprague. He immediately blossomed into one of the game's top pitching prospects. Managers rated him the No. 1 prospect in the high Class A California League last year; he reached Triple-A before his arm tired in August. Tankersley can throw four pitches for strikes, and most of them are nasty. He can reach the mid-90s with his fourseam fastball, and his sinking two-seamer arrives in the low 90s. Hitters can't sit on his fastball because he has a mid-80s slider that was rated the best breaking ball in the Cal League. Tankersley's changeup lags behind his other three pitches, though it's getting better as he starts to use it more often. He may need to add strength after fading in Triple-A. Tankersley could get a long look for the big league rotation in spring training. It's more likely that he'll get work at Portland before joining San Diego during the season.
Peavy was running neck and neck with Gerik Baxter and Mike Bynum as the best prospect from San Diego's 1999 draft class, but last year Baxter was killed in an auto accident and Bynum regressed. The only minor league starter who topped Peavy's 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings last year was Minor League Player of the Year Josh Beckett. One veteran Padres scout says Peavy is the closest thing to Greg Maddux he has seen, and Double-A Southern League managers seconded that comparison. Peavy puts the ball wherever he wants, whenever he wants. He uses a lively low-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup. Peavy sometimes falls into a finesse mode but has enough on his fastball to beat hitters with it. He began to understand this last year. Of his three pitches, his slider needs the most work. Peavy has a chance to be the rare high school player who makes the major leagues before he has to be added to the 40-man roster. He'll probably open 2002 in Triple- A and could reach Qualcomm Stadium by the end of the year.
Once projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft, Nady lasted until the second round because of a disappointing junior season and signability concerns. Despite just one at-bat of pro experience, he led the California League in homers, extra-base hits (65) and total bases (276) while winning MVP honors in his first full pro season. A classic run producer, Nady has an advanced concept of hitting and will produce for both power and average. He drives the ball to all fields and adjusted easily to pro ball. Moved around the infield in college, he was named the Cal League's best defensive first baseman in 2001. Nady tore ligaments in his elbow in the Arizona Fall League in 2000. The injury kept him from trying second base or the outfield last year, and he stayed in high Class A so he could DH when needed. He doesn't run well. Nady required Tommy John surgery in the offseason and won't be able to throw before mid-2002, so he'll spend most of the year as a DH at Double-A Mobile. His elbow is the only thing holding him back, and it's preventing him from settling into a position.
Phillips' willingness to agree to a club-record $2.2 million bonus before the 2000 draft played a role in the Padres picking him ninth overall, but his ability outstrips his signability. Sentenced to extended spring at the start of 2001 because he arrived out of shape in spring training, he ended the year in high Class A. Phillips' arm is rare among lefties. He throws 92- 94 mph with little effort, and the pitch seems to jump when it gets to the plate. Phillips also has a plus curveball he can throw for strikes or get hitters to chase out of the zone. Mechanics are the key for Phillips. His velocity was down in spring training because his delivery was off, and staying in sync will improve his command. His changeup lags behind his other pitches at this point. Phillips could begin this year in Double-A at age 20, or the Padres could play it safe and give him a few more starts in the Cal League. Either way, it's going to be hard to keep him in the minors for long once he learns to repeat his delivery.
Despite a lightning arm, Howard went 16-30, 5.90 in his first four seasons, leading his league in walks each year. After Padres minor league pitching coach Darren Balsley worked with him following the 2000 season, Howard arrived in spring training with a lower arm slot and was an entirely different pitcher. Howard's fastball is the best in the system. Consistently arriving in the mid-90s and peaking at 99 mph, it always had been unhittable but now he throws it for strikes. His hard slider gives him a second plus pitch, and he has made strides with his changeup. Howard cut his walk rate by nearly two-thirds in 2001, though it climbed to 4.5 per nine innings once he reached Double-A. If he can maintain his control, he shouldn't have any problems. His changeup still needs refinement. Balsley worked with Howard at high Class A Lake Elsinore last year, and they'll be reunited in Double-A to start 2002. Tankersley, Peavy and Howard overmatched the Cal League last year and could be together in the San Diego rotation by the end of 2003.
A Canadian who signed as a draft-and-follow in 1999, Cyr worked a total of just 76 innings in his first two pro seasons. He missed much of 2000 after having bone chips removed from his elbow and began 2001 in the Lake Elsinore bullpen. Cyr's breakthrough year was interrupted in April when the FBI arrested him on charges that he had sex with a 15- year-old girl during his return flight from playing in Australia the previous winter. Cyr was sentenced to 30 days in jail (which he has already served) and a year's probation. He's the cousin of former NHL winger Paul Cyr. Cyr's combination of a 91-92 mph fastball and knuckle-curve allowed him to limit California League hitters to a .184 average and one homer in 369 at-bats. His fastball tops out at 94 and explodes at the plate with heavy life. His command is yet another positive. Cyr is still developing his slider and changeup. When his offspeed pitches are working, he's untouchable. Showing his regular season performance was no fluke, Cyr starred in the Arizona Fall League. He'll start 2002 in Double-A and has the stuff to advance quickly.
A two-time Conference USA player of the year, "Jake the Rake" led NCAA Division I with 96 RBIs and carried Tulane to its first College World Series appearance in 2001. Gautreau showed he was proficient with wood bats while with Team USA the previous summer, so his initial success at the plate was no surprise. Like Burroughs and Nady, Gautreau should hit for power and average; no system has three pure hitters as good as San Diego's. Moved to second base in instructional league because of the organizational glut at third, Gautreau was a revelation. He showed agility, hands and arm strength, and he even was fine on the double-play pivot. Gautreau doesn't have great first-step quickness, though he gets to balls and make plays. He struck out a bit too much in his debut. The Padres knew they were getting a premium bat in Gautreau, and now they're envisioning a lefthanded Jeff Kent. He's ticketed for Lake Elsinore and could reach Double-A this year.
After realizing D'Angelo Jimenez was better suited for second base, the Padres swung a six-player trade with the Mariners in December, getting Vazquez and righthander Brett Tomko. Vazquez was a Pacific Coast League all-star, and managers named him the league's most exciting player. Vazquez does a little of everything at shortstop. He hits for a solid average, occasionally stings the ball into the gaps and draws plenty of walks. Defensively, he offers range and soft hands, and he made just 12 errors last year. Vazquez doesn't have the speed or the arm strength normally associated with shortstops, though he has a quick first step that allows him to make plays. It took him seven years to move through the minors, so he may not have much room for improvement. The MVP and batting champion in Puerto Rico this winter, Vazquez is the frontrunner to start at shortstop for San Diego this year. Donaldo Mendez, a 2000 major league Rule 5 draft pick, could compete for the job in the future. He has more defensive upside than Vazquez but provides less offense.
Before signing an agreement with the Mexico City Red Devils, the Padres were affiliated with the Mexican League's Yucatan Lions, to whom they loaned Perez for most of 2000. He made his U.S. full-season debut last year and was the only regular member of low Class A Fort Wayne's rotation to post a winning record. Perez already has average velocity on his fastball and can run it up to 94 mph, but his best pitch is his slider. He moves his pitches in and out, changes speeds and shows no fear. He was the toughest pitcher to run on in the Midwest League, as only five of 15 basestealers succeeded against him. Perez sometimes relies on his fastball too much. When he's willing to throw his slider in any count, he's tough. His changeup and command can use improvement. He has made progress adding weight to his skinny frame, but he still can get stronger. He's just 20, so Perez probably will return to high Class A despite pitching well in nine starts for Lake Elsinore last year. It will be difficult to hold him back if he continues his rapid development.
Padres general manager Kevin Towers has a gift for making trades, and one of his best was the July 2000 deal that sent overpriced backup catcher Carlos Hernandez to St. Louis for Johnson. While Hernandez missed all of last season with back problems, Johnson would be one of the Cardinals' two best position-player prospects if he hadn't left. He has made slow but steady progress since switching organizations. His numbers last year were boosted by The Diamond at Lake Elsinore, where he hit .332 as opposed to .221 on the road, but he had a solid high Class A season for a 20-year-old. While he still needs to make more contact, comparisons to a young Brian Jordan are still valid. Johnson has the potential to be at least a 20-20 player, and he has started to make adjustments and use the whole field. He saw some time in center field in 2001 but projects more as a right fielder with the range and arm to be an above-average defender. He's still young, so he might return to the California League for a month or two if San Diego deems him not ready for Double-A.
The Padres entered 2001 with a deep store of pitching but not nearly as much hitting in their system. They rectified that situation in Bill Gayton's first draft as scouting director, getting more quality bats last June than any other organization. Barfield wasn't the most heralded Texas high school prospect and lasted until the fourth round, then opened a lot of eyes with a strong pro debut against Rookie-level Pioneer League pitchers who generally were 2-3 years older than he was. The son of former American League home run champ Jesse Barfield, Josh already has an advanced understanding of the game. He recognizes pitches, makes adjustments and is fundamentally sound. He's athletic and getting stronger, so his ceiling with the bat is very high. He hit two monster blasts over the center-field batting eye during instructional league, a sign of his power potential. While he played some shortstop last summer, Barfield spent most of his time at second base. He runs well and has soft hands and average range. If he gets as big as his father, he'll probably move to third base or perhaps a corner-outfield spot. San Diego is looking forward to seeing how he handles low Class A this year.
When Middlebrook was a freshman at Stanford, he was the frontrunner to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft. Then elbow problems limited him to a total of 11 appearances as a sophomore and junior, and he lasted until the ninth round. The Padres signed him for $750,000, still a record bonus for a player selected that low. Middlebrook had more physical problems after turning pro, with a strained elbow in 1999 and a shoulder impingement in 2000. San Diego removed him from its 40-man roster in October 2000 and lost him to the Mets, only to reclaim him off waivers a month later. Healthy in 2001, he looked better than he had in years. He consistently threw 91-94 mph and reached 96 with his fastball. At times he gets a lot of movement on the pitch, though it straightens out when he overthrows. The key for Middlebrook is pitching, rather than just throwing his fastball. He tried to blow the ball by Barry Bonds last September, and gave up three homers to him in the span of five days. When Middlebrook moves the fastball in and out, and mixes it with his plus curveball and his changeup, he's very successful. Getting married before last season seemed to agree with him, as he was more mature and stopped, as one Padres official put it, "finding a way to lose." He'll get a chance to make San Diego's rotation in spring training.
Bynum injured a knee during spring-training drills last year, and compounded the problem by trying to pitch through it instead of telling the Padres. He never looked like the pitcher who rocketed to Double-A by the end of his first full season. He spent all of June on the disabled list, returned and got shelled in July, then had season-ending arthroscopic surgery. Previously, Bynum had carved up hitters with a slider that drew comparisons to that of Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. His fastball was very average at 89-90 mph, and commanding it on a consistent basis was all that stood between Bynum and the major leagues. He also has a changeup that he should use more often. Bynum is expected to be 100 percent by spring training and will return to Double-A in 2002.
Bozied topped NCAA Division I with a .936 slugging percentage and was among the leaders in all three triple-crown categories when he hit .412-30-82 as a San Francisco sophomore in 1999, but he failed to approach that production in his final two seasons with the Dons. Getting him signed wasn't the easiest task, as he turned down the Twins as a 2000 secondrounder and went to the independent Northern League rather than immediately signing with the Padres last summer. He finally joined the organization for a $725,000 bonus in November. Like many of San Diego's early picks in the 2001 draft, Bozied's forte is his bat and, in particular, his power. He also runs well for his size and has some arm strength, but most scouts remain unconvinced that he can play third base at the upper levels. He doesn't have a body suited for catching, so if he can't cut it at the hot corner he'll move to left field. Bozied hit well in the Northern League, so the Padres don't have any qualms about starting him at high Class A this year.
Eberwein is a solid third-base prospect but his chances of starting at the hot corner for the Padres have been remote ever since the club drafted Sean Burroughs four rounds ahead of him in 1998. Since then, San Diego has stockpiled several more hitters in the majors and minors who can play the positions Eberwein can, including Xavier Nady, Jake Gautreau and Taggert Bozied. Getting hurt isn't the best way to keep from slipping down the depth chart, but Eberwein injured his ankle in 2000 and missed the first three weeks last season following arthroscopic surgery. Upon returning, he played just 36 games before being lost for the year with a cracked bone in his right hand. Eberwein has plenty of power and the upside of a Richie Sexson. He needs to make more contact and remember to use the entire field. He's agile and athletic for his size, and he's might be the best defender of all the potential third basemen. Because he moves well and has a strong arm, the Padres may try him in the outfield when he returns to Triple-A in 2002.
Organizations love guys like Fikac, low-round picks who work hard and get better every year, surprising everyone but themselves when they reach the majors. And Fikac, who was more accomplished as a hitter than as a pitcher at Southwest Texas State, didn't just reach the majors last August. He struck out the side against the Mets in his debut and didn't allow a run in his first 12 appearances as he cemented a role for himself in the 2002 bullpen. Like Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, Fikac's best pitch is his changeup. His fastball isn't notable for its velocity or life, while his slider is average. He succeeds because he can throw any of his three pitches in any count and put them wherever he wants. Big league lefthanders were hitless in 27 at-bats against him. While Fikac has the fearlessness but not the stuff to close, he can be an extremely effective setup man for San Diego. He learned in January that he needs to have a cyst removed from his right index finger, surgery that will sideline hime until at least Opening Day.
Yoshida was just the third Japanese high school player to sign with a U.S. team, following Mets lefthander Juei Ushiromatsu and Red Sox outfielder Kenichiro Kawabata. Those two didn't pan out, while Yoshida seemed on the fast track after a strong debut in 2000. But he never was completely healthy last season. A dental problem cost him two weeks in minor league camp, so he was sent to extended spring training to build up his arm. A sore shoulder knocked him out after five starts at Fort Wayne, and a pectoral injury limited him at short-season Eugene. Yoshida pitches right around 90 mph with his fastball, but enhances the pitch by moving it in and out and hitting his spots. He also throws a curveball, a semiscrewball that runs away from righthanders, and a changeup. He'll get a second shot at low Class A this year.
The Padres have uncovered several relief prospects in independent leagues. Last year, David Lundquist reached the majors and J.J. Trujillo tied for the minor league lead with 66 appearances. San Diego also is excited about fall signee Matt Hampton. But the best of the crop is Shibilo, an Atlantic League refugee who previously spent two years in the Cardinals system. He was signed out of a tryout camp last March because he demonstrated considerable arm strength, and it never waned. Shibilo's fastball remained at 91-94 mph throughout 2001 and he topped out at 93-96 mph game in and game out. He also has a nasty slider with average to plus velocity and two-plane break, and if he masters the splitter he's working on he could be closer material. Shibilo led the California League in appearances and won its joint all-star game against the Carolina League. After earning a spot on the 40-man roster, he'll probably start 2002 in Double-A but could advance quickly.
Though Nicolas never had pitched in the United States before 2001, he was determined to start the year at low Class A. So each day during minor league camp, he'd arrive at the ballpark at 6:30 a.m., get into his uniform and sit in the lunch area outside while withstanding low-50s temperatures. He'd be out there in his short sleeves, drinking coffee and-- Padres officials still chuckle over this--"practicing cold." It must have worked, because Nicolas went to Fort Wayne and ended the season in high Class A. He has one of the best raw arms in the system, throwing 96-97 mph and threatening triple digits. His velocity is an asset and a detriment, because he overthrows too much and loses his command. His slider is coming along though he also has trouble throwing it for strikes. Nicolas' resolve has made him an organization favorite. He'll begin this year back at Lake Elsinore.
Germano opened 2001, his first full year as a pro, in low Class A at age 18. Though he gave up three earned runs or less in nine of his 13 starts, he had just a 2-2 record in those games and was 2-6 overall. The Padres sent him down to Eugene in mid-June, more to boost his confidence than as a result of his performance. Germano has an uncanny ability to throw strikes for a teenager. In his two professional seasons, his 5.4 strikeout-walk ratio is the fourth-best among minor leaguers with 200 innings, trailing San Francisco's Jeff Clark (7.0), Pittsburgh's Justin Reid (5.9) and Houston's Roy Oswalt (5.7). Germano relies on an 86-91 mph fastball, a curveball that has 12-to-6 break at times and slurvy action at others, plus a changeup. While his command and willingness to challenge hitters are positives, he needs to learn not to be around the plate as much in order to avoid giving up hits. Getting stronger also would help after he wore down by instructional league last year. He'll return to what should be an improved Fort Wayne club in 2002.
The first of San Diego's six first-round picks in 1999, Faison accepted a $1.415 million bonus to give up a scholarship to play defensive back at Georgia. He was named the No. 1 prospect in the Arizona League that summer but has hit just .220 since leaving Rookie ball. Faison reminds the Padres of a young Ray Lankford, and the club still sees him as an impact player if he can produce at the plate. He has power potential that remains mostly untapped because he's still learning his swing and the importance of plate discipline. His raw speed makes him a terror on the bases but he doesn't get on often enough. Faison covers lots of ground in center field, and his arm is adequate for the position. He was promoted to high Class A last year to ease Ben Johnson's burden by shifting him to right field, and Faison hit a little better at that level. Then he turned in a lukewarm performance in instructional league. He's not ready for Double-A yet, and he needs to start making progress this year.
Catcher and shortstop are the weakest positions in the system, so Bartlett was a very welcome surprise last summer after signing as a 13th-round pick. He hit just .282-6-31 with aluminum as an Oklahoma senior before batting .300 with wood and making the Northwest League all-star team. Now the Padres believe they have a four-tool shortstop on their hands. Bartlett won't hit for power, but he should hit for average and draw walks. Once he reaches base, he's a threat because he has average speed and excellent instincts. Defensively, he has fine actions to go with the arm, hands and feet for shortstop. Because of his success and his age, Bartlett has a chance to open 2002 in high Class A.
Another offensive-minded member of the Padres' 2001 draft class, Sain won two home run crowns in 2001. He led the West Coast Conference with 16 longballs during the spring, then topped the Northwest League with 16 more in his pro debut. He also tied for the NWL lead in extra-base hits (36) and earned all-star honors as a DH. Power is Sain's best tool, but what really makes him intriguing is the possibility that he could catch. Sain spent a good deal of time behind the plate at the University of San Diego, where he worked with former big league catcher Chris Cannizzaro. He showed a 55 arm on the 20-to-80 scouting scale during the spring, and it can be a plus tool if he learns to set his feet properly when he throws. Sain, whose father Tommy reached Triple-A in the Twins system, came down with a tender shoulder, so he didn't catch much at Eugene. The Padres hope to get a better idea of what he can do this year in high Class A.
Baerlocher won two NAIA World Series at Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), where he began his career as a third baseman, before signing as a sixth-round pick in 1999. In his first full season, he led the low Class A South Atlantic League in ERA and ranked second in the minors in strikeouts, and last year he pitched effectively at Double-A Wichita in a home ballpark and league that favors hitters. Nevertheless, the Royals didn't protect him on their 40-man roster and the Padres selected him in the major league Rule 5 draft in December. He'll have to stick in San Diego all season or clear waivers and be offered back to Kansas City for half the $50,000 draft price. Baerlocher doesn't throw as hard as his size might indicate. His best pitch is an outstanding changeup. In an effort to build velocity, the Royals had him go away from his changeup and throw his fastball more often in 2001, and he consistently worked at 88-91 mph. His third pitch, a slider, showed improvement as well. Baerlocher throws strikes and is durable, having led the Texas League in innings last year. He also topped the TL with 26 homers allowed, an indication that he has a small margin for error with his stuff.
Straight prospect-for-prospect trades are rare, but the Padres pulled one off in September, sending outfielder Kevin Reese to the Yankees for Castro. While Reese was old for the Midwest League, he showed some offensive promise. So too has Castro, who's three years younger and led the South Atlantic League in stolen bases last year. He also adds to the middle- infield depth that San Diego has been trying to build. Clocked from the left side of the plate to first base in 3.6 seconds on a drag bunt, Castro has plus-plus speed. He's a potential leadoff man because he's a switch-hitter who has shown a willingness to draw walks. To bat atop a lineup, he'll need to stop chasing high fastballs and take the first pitch more often. His best defensive tool is his arm, while his hands and range are average. In time, he should be an asset at second base. Castro won the batting title in his native Dominican Republic this winter, and the Padres hope he can carry the momentum to high Class A this year.
Though de los Santos batted just .210 as a 16-year-old in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2000, the Padres thought highly enough of him to bring him here last year for his U.S. debut. He proved up to the challenge, hitting safely in 11 of his 12 games against more advanced Pioneer League pitchers, but his season ended when he broke a bone in his leg sliding into second base. De los Santos has a nice swing from both sides of the plate and he's one of the fastest players in the system. He's a legitimate basestealing threat who just needs to get stronger and more disciplined at the plate. He's still a work in progress as a second baseman and eventually could move the outfield, but San Diego plans on keeping him in the infield for the next few season. The club is waiting anxiously to see if de los Santos' injury will take away any of his trademark speed. He'll probably return to Idaho Falls this year.
It's much more difficult to keep a position player than a pitcher as a major league Rule 5 draft pick. While pitchers can get semiregular work in a mopup role, hitters often are limited to pinch-hitting and pinch-running duty. And even if a position player sticks the entire year, he essentially has wasted a year of development. That's the situation that faced DeHaan after he got just 158 at-bats in 2000. He wasn't ready for Triple-A at the start of last season, but he rebounded in Double-A and made the all-prospect team in the Arizona Fall League, which he led with 13 doubles and 39 RBIs. He hit a mammoth homer over the batting eye at Peoria in one AFL game. DeHaan has made significant adjustments and improved his plate discipline. The Padres believe he has some pull power, and his speed allows him to steal bases and cover plenty of ground in center field. His arm is average. DeHaan will start 2002 in Triple-A to get some more badly needed at-bats. If he continues to blossom like he did in the latter part of 2001, he'll rocket up this list and to San Diego.
The downside of the Padres giving up their former Arizona League affiliate for a Northwest League club is that their Pioneer League team became the lowest rung on their system's latter. Thus their youngest pitchers had to face more experienced hitters. Though righthanders Javier Martinez, David Pauley and Perez all got pounded for 6.00-plus ERAs, San Diego still values them as prospects. The best of the group is Perez, whose fastball already tops out at 95 mph. He just lacks consistency in all phases of the game. He generally throws from 88-90 mph, and his curveball, changeup and command all need work. He's just a raw arm at this point, but he's worth watching. He'll start 2002 in extended spring training and likely will head to Eugene at midseason.
Added to the 40-man roster in November, Donovan has been an organization favorite since stealing 40 bases in 45 attempts in his pro debut in 1999. The Padres would like him even more if he could stay healthy. He has played in just 94 games over the last two seasons. In 2000, he tore a ligament in his right elbow and required arthroscopic surgery. Last year he missed a month after tearing a ligament in his left thumb in mid-April, then hurt the thumb again in his second game back and was out for two more months. Fellow San Diego outfield prospects Marcus Nettles and Jeremy Owens have similar top-of-the-line speed, but for now Donovan has a better chance to hit. He's not going to hit for power but he accepts that and focuses on getting on base. He knows how to swipe bases, succeeding on 84 percent of his attempts as a pro and going 23-for-25 in 2001. Donovan can go gap to gap in center field, though his arm is merely adequate. San Diego will jump him to Double- A this year and would love to get a full season out of him.