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A New Approach : Harvests Ahead in Padre Farm System, But These Products May Be for Export

April 04, 1986|STEVE DOLAN | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — No more trading Bob Laceys for Juan Bonillas. No more trading Kurt Bevacquas for Luis Salazars. No more trading veterans for prospects.

The shoe could be about to change feet in the trading market for the Padres, according to General Manager Jack McKeon.

Thursday's deal with Pittsburgh was an example of the new approach. That one sent Bob Patterson, a "veteran" of four big league innings, to Pittsburgh for Marvell Wynne, a three-year veteran.

"Now, we're in a position where we want experience and you can have our kids," McKeon said between puffs of a cigar recently. "It's nice to have the kids we do. Not all of them will play in San Diego. All we hope is that some of them will play well enough so we can include them in a trade."

The theory is that a team contending for a pennant can give up a prospect or two in exchange for a player it hopes can put it over the top.

Obviously, McKeon is not going to trade all of his young prospects. One day, the Padres would love to have Jimmy Jones in the starting rotation, Benito Santiago or Sandy Alomar catching, Joey Cora at second base, Gary Green at shortstop, Randy Asadoor at third base and Shane Mack in the outfield.

But for now, the major league roster is set at these positions. So, if these young players are unsuccessful in their bids to make the Padres, there is always one alternative--trade.

Here's a look at the Padres' top yet-to-be major-leaguers:

Pitchers: Jones, the nation's third pick out of high school in 1982, has been harder to figure out than a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. The 21-year-old right-hander is 21-12 over the past three seasons, but each of those seasons was ended in July by an injury.

"He has only pitched 85 innings in each of the last two years," McKeon said. "Hopefully, this will be the year we find out whether he stays in the prospect category. When we signed him, we were hoping he'd be on the brink of stepping in here this year. As it stands now, he's on the brink of stepping into Triple A."

Ed Vosberg, 24, caught the Padres' attention this spring, particularly his handling of left-handed hitting Leon Durham of the Cubs. Vosberg twice retired Durham after the Padres had intentionally walked the previous batter.

The Padres are high on 18-year-old right-hander Candy Sierra, according to minor league director Tom Romenesko. As with all young prospects, the Padres are taking a wait-and-see position.

Ray Hayward, a 24-year-old left-hander, still is considered a prospect but has been slowed by shoulder problems this spring.

Catchers: Santiago, 21, and Alomar, 18, impressed the Padres while catching in B games this spring. The A games were left to Terry Kennedy and Bruce Bochy.

Conceivably, Santiago could become the catcher when Kennedy's contract expires after the 1987 season. Or, he could step in before if Kennedy is traded.

Alomar quit baseball for a while in high school to take up motorcycle riding, but the Padres think he's back on the right track in baseball.

"Santiago has shown more with the bat than Alomar, but he has played more than Alomar," McKeon said. "I can see Alomar improving a lot because he's not even 19 yet. They're both good defensive catchers who need to polish their offense."

Last year, Santiago batted .298 for Double A Beaumont and Alomar batted .207 for Class A Charleston.

Mark Parent, who will split time with Santiago at Las Vegas this season, is another prospect. Parent, 24, batted .241 at Las Vegas last season. Parent has seemed like a fixture around the Padre spring training camp in Yuma., Ariz., because he was a fourth round pick out of high school in 1979.

First base: If Carmelo Martinez does not become the Padres' first baseman after Steve Garvey retires, there are two minor league first basemen waiting in the wings.

Eric Hardgrave, 25, hit 24 home runs at Class A Reno last season, tying for the California League lead. He was called up to Beaumont before the season ended.

Brad Pounders, 22, also is known for his power. He hit 18 home runs for Charleston last year.

Second base: Cora, 20, was the fastest player in the mini-camp for Padre minor leaguers, running the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds.

In 43 rookie league games at Spokane last year, Cora stole 13 bases and batted .324. Though the Padres have a policy of not commenting extensively on athletes who have never played above rookie league, there are exceptions.

"I'm going to break tradition and say Joey Cora is going to be good," Romenesko said. "He's an exceptional athlete. He could play second base or shortstop."

Roberto Alomar, 18, batted .293 and stole 36 bases at Charleston last year. Though Alomar is only entering his second pro season, the publication Baseball America calls him the second-best second base prospect among all minor leaguers.

Shortstop: There's so much talent here that the Padres hardly know what to do with it all. They may eventually have to do something (a trade perhaps?) because Garry Templeton is signed through 1988.

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