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              ROOKIE REPORT
 
 

                Arizona Diamonfbacks
                Byung-Hyun Kim, RP
                 A young pitcher from Korea, Kim tore through the minor
                 leagues before winding up in the Arizona bullpen for a
                 brief tenure last season. A right-handed sidearmer, Kim
                 has nasty stuff including a slider that seems to rise as
                 it nears the plate. If he doesn’t head to Triple-A, Kim
                 should pitch in middle relief for the Diamondbacks this
                 year and could even find his way into the rotation if
                 necessary.

                 Atlanta Braves
                 George Lombard, OF
                 The acquisition of Reggie Sanders bought additional
                 development time for this five-tool prospect. Blessed
                 with above-average power and excellent speed,
                 Lombard has the makings of a major-league star. The
                 24-year-old former football standout battled injuries and
                limited success against Triple-A pitching in ’99. After
                 whiffing 98 times in 233 at-bats in the minors last year,
                 Lombard led the Arizona Fall League with 11 home
                 runs and 35 RBI.

                 Chicago Cubs
                 Roosevelt Brown, OF
                 Although his defense is rather suspect, Brown has the
                 ability to become a solid major league hitter. After
                 leading the Arizona Fall League with nine home runs in
                 1998, Brown crushed Triple-A pitching last year.
                 Roosevelt batted .358 in 268 Triple-A at-bats and hit a
                 combined 25 homers on the season. He probably won’t
                 ever be a full-time player in the big leagues, but Brown
                 should become a fourth outfielder with solid offensive
                 numbers.

                 Cincinnati Reds
                 Jason LaRue, C
                 Expected to split time with veteran Eddie Taubensee
                 behind the plate, LaRue should hold his own as a
                 rookie. Jason batted .365 in Double-A ball in ’98 and
                 blasted 12 homers in a half-season at Triple-A before
                 being called to the majors last year. Not known as a
                 great backstop, LaRue surprised the Cincy brass by
                 playing excellent defense during his callup. LaRue
                 sometimes lacks patience at the plate and might need
                 some time to adjust to big-league pitching.

                 Colorado Rockies
                 Ben Petrick, C
                 Because of the glut of veteran catchers in Colorado,
                 this fine hitter will probably start 2000 in the minors.
                 Nevertheless, he’s the Rockies’ catcher of the future. A
                 versatile player with good speed and an excellent arm,
                 Petrick has All-Star potential. He batted .312 with 19
                 dingers and 9 stolen bases at Triple-A last year, then
                 hit .323 in a brief stint in the majors.

                 Florida Marlins
                 A.J. Burnett, SP
                 Pencilled in as the Marlins’ No. 4 starter this season,
                 Burnett will learn on the job in the big leagues. The
                 23-year-old righty throws 95-MPH heat and features a
                 late-breaking curveball that overmatched even
                 big-league hitters last year. Although he struggled in
                 Double-A ball in ’99, the Marlins gave Burnett a chance
                 to make a few starts in The Show and he was up to the
                 challenge. He went 4-2 with a 3.48 ERA in seven starts
                 in Florida last season.

                 Houston Astros
                 Lance Berkman, OF
                 Like fellow Houston prospect Daryle Ward, Berkman is
                 a superb hitter who just needs a chance to prove
                 himself in the big leagues. Lance split time between
                 Triple-A and Houston last year, batting .323 in the
                 minors and ripping four homers in part-time duty with
                 the big club. He’s still working on his outfield defense,
                 but there’s no doubt that Berkman will be a
                 major-league slugger. A switch-hitter, Berkman hits
                 well from both sides of the plate but has better power
                 as a righty.

                 Los Angeles Dodgers
                 Eric Gagne, SP
                 A 24-year-old righty, Gagne has come a long way
                 since having Tommy John surgery prior to the ’97
                 season. In 1998, Gagne reasserted himself as a
                 prospect with a strong year in Class-A ball. Last year,
                 Eric really came into his own by abusing Double-A
                 batters to the tune of a 12-4 record with a 2.63 ERA
                 and 185 punchouts in 167.2 innings. Boasting a heavy
                 90+ MPH heater, Gagne is expected to be in the
                 Dodgers starting rotation in 2000.

                 Milwaukee Brewers
                 Kevin Barker, 1B
                 After blasting 23 home runs in Triple-A last season,
                 Barker was called up to the big leagues in August.
                 Kevin batted .282 with three longballs in 117 at-bats for
                 the Brewers and is expected to win the full-time job at
                 first base in 2000. A left-handed hitter with potential 25-
                 to 30-homer power, Barker should bat somewhere in
                 the middle of the Milwaukee order. He must improve a
                 bit against lefty pitching but could be the long-term
                 answer at 1B.

                 Montreal Expos
                 Milton Bradley, OF
                 The high expectations for Bradley, who is a five-tool
                 talent and should become a major-league star, are
                 tempered with concerns about his volatile nature.
                 Though just 21 years old, Bradley has had several
                 run-ins with umpires in the minor leagues. Bradley
                 plays stellar defense and had a .329 average at
                 Double-A Harrisburg in 1999. The Expos believe
                 Bradley will mature into a 20-20 player in the big
                 leagues. He’s not far from claiming a permanent spot in
                 the Montreal lineup.

                 New York Mets
                 Jorge Toca, 1B
                 A 28-year-old Cuban defector who knows how to hit (he
                 has years of experience with the Cuban national team),
                 Toca performed well in his first season in the States.
                 Jorge batted .319 with 25 taters between Double- and
                 Triple-A and received a late-season callup to Shea. If
                 Toca makes the Mets roster this season, look for him
                 as a backup at 1B and as an occasional starter in the
                 outfield. Although he swings a potent bat, Toca may
                 have a hard time finding many at-bats in New York.

                 Philadelphia Phillies
                 Pat Burrell, OF
                 The biggest question regarding Burrell is what position
                 he’ll play in 2000. A natural infielder, Burrell might find
                 his way into the Philly lineup as a left fielder. In his first
                 pro season after signing an $8 million contract, Pat
                 "The Bat" pounded the Double-A Eastern League. He
                 left the yard 28 times and contributed 90 RBI to go
                 along with his .333 average. Burrell will team with
                 slugger Scott Rolen to create a fearsome 1-2 punch in
                 the heart of the Phillies batting order.

                 Pittsburgh Pirates
                 Chad Hermansen, OF
                 Although he’s only 22 years old, Hermansen has
                 already played two full seasons in Triple-A. One of the
                 top power-hitting prospects in baseball, Hermansen is
                 also equipped with excellent speed. He stole 19 bases
                 in the minors last year and hit 32 bombs while raising
                 his average by a dozen points. The Pirates expect
                 some growing pains as this strikeout-prone slugger
                 adjusts to hitting in the big leagues, but they’re
                 confident that Hermansen will develop into a 20-20 or
                 30-30 man.

                 San Diego Padres
                 Buddy Carlyle, SP
                 A 22-year-old southpaw, Carlyle should develop into a
                 successful major-leaguer of the "crafty lefty" variety.
                 Despite his tender age, Buddy held his own in the
                 hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League last season
                 and even made seven starts for the big club. Carlyle
                 has only average stuff but is a smart pitcher. He
                 probably needs more time in the minors to perfect his
                 craft, but he’ll be in the running for the fifth starter job in
                 San Diego in 2000.

                 San Francisco Giants
                 Calvin Murray, OF
                 There won’t be many new faces arriving from the farm
                 this season but the Giants might give minor-league
                 veteran Murray a shot. Too old to be a true prospect,
                 Murray, 28, is a former first-round pick who boasts plus
                 speed and has improved his abilities at the plate. If he
                 makes the club, Calvin will find at-bats as the fourth or
                 fifth outfielder and as a defensive replacement. His
                 upside is very finite but he might swipe some bags in
                 limited duty this year.

                 St. Louis Cardinals
                 Rick Ankiel, SP
                 It’s no secret that Ankiel is the best pitching prospect
                 in the game. It took the 20-year-old Ankiel less than
                 two years in the minors to reach The Show. A lefty with
                 a deceptively smooth motion, Ankiel consistently
                 throws in the mid-90s and has the kind of curveball that
                 most major-league pitchers dream about. The Cards
                 picked up plenty of veteran arms this offseason, so this
                 future Cy Young candidate may start the year in the
                 pen or back in Triple-A.
 
 

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