Beavers release 2004 roster

April 6, 2004 - Pacific Coast League (PCL) - Portland Beavers News Release

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Beavers today released their 2004 initial roster in anticipation of Thursday's season opener at Las Vegas.

The Beavers open the 2004 season Thursday night against the 51s before making their home debut Friday, April 16 at PGE Park, playing host to Las Vegas in the first game of a season-opening eight-game homestand that runs through April 23.

Portland's 24-man roster, a mix of several San Diego Padres top prospects and proven major league talent, is made up of 11 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders at this point.

"We're very happy with the overall experience and talent pool of this year's club," said Tye Waller, the Padres director of player development. "We have enough Triple-A experience to be competitive from beginning to end."

The makeup of this year's roster:

NEW SKIPPER: The Beavers feature an entirely new field staff in 2004, with manager Craig Colbert taking the lead in his first season with the club. Colbert is a veteran of four seasons of managerial duty in the Padres organization, having led Class A Fort Wayne (2000), Class A Lake Elsinore (2001) and Class AA Mobile (2002-03) over the past four campaigns. Colbert, 39, is 300-254 (.542) as a manager and is a two-time winner of the Padres' Jack Krol award (2000-01), handed out each season for excellence in player development. Colbert's 2001 Lake Elsinore club finished the year 91-49, grabbed a share of the California League title, and was named Minor League Baseball's Team of the Year by Baseball America after the season.

SUPPORT STAFF: Colbert will be joined by a new hitting and pitching coach this season. Veteran batting tutor Tommy Sandt takes over as the team's hitting coach in 2004. Sandt, 53, marks his 36th season of professional baseball and previously served as a long-time first base coach at the major league level with Pittsburgh (1987-96; 2000-02), Florida (1997-98) and Colorado (1999). Sandt brings a host of managerial experience to the table as well, earning the 1984 PCL Manager of the Year with Triple-A Hawaii. The Portland resident began his coaching career with the former Portland Beavers as a player-coach in 1980 ... the pitching staff will be in equally experienced hands this year, with Tom Brown taking over as the team's pitching coach. Brown, 54, was most recently the Padres' minor league pitching coordinator, serving that role for the past four seasons (2000-03). Brown has served as a pitching coach for several clubs, including Class AA Hagerstown (1988-90), rookie-level GCL Orioles (1991), Triple-A Oklahoma (1995-98) and Triple-A Las Vegas (1999). Brown, who pitched six major league games with the 1978 Seattle Mariners, also served as Baltimore's minor league pitching coordinator (1992-94).

TRIPLE-A TESTED: All but one player on the Opening Day roster has played at the Triple-A level or above in their career. Only RHP Chris Oxspring has yet to pitch above Class AA, but he comes into the season ranked by Baseball America as the Padres' 11th-best prospect and is coming off a superb season in which he went 10-6 with a 2.92 ERA in 40 games with Class AA Mobile in 2003.

MAJOR LEAGUE APPROVED: Twelve of the 24 players, including seven pitchers, have major league experience, with 11 of those players having spent at least a portion of the 2003 season in the big leagues ... all but nine on the roster have played at least one game in the majors.

WELCOME HOME: In all, thirteen of the players on the roster played in Portland last season ... four of those players - LHP Mike Bynum (2002-03), OF Alex Fernandez (2002-03), OF Xavier Nady (2002-03) and RHP Dennis Tankersley (2001-03) - have played more than one season with the Beavers. Others with Portland experience include: 1B Tagg Bozied (2003), RHP Matt Bruback (2003), 2B Bernie Castro (2003), C Yamid Haad (2003), OF Jon Knott (2003), INF Ben Risinger (2003), INF Bobby Scales (2003), 3B Rico Washington (2003) and RHP Steve Watkins (2003).

BEEN HERE BEFORE: Of those 13 players with Portland experience, five of them were on the team's 2003 Opening Day roster, including Tagg Bozied, Bernie Castro, Yamid Haad, Ben Risinger and Dennis Tankersley.

HERE TO STAY: Of that list, three spent the entire 2003 season in Portland (Bozied, Castro, Risinger).

INTRODUCTIONS, PLEASE: Eleven players, seven of them pitchers, mark their first tour of duty with the Beavers in 2004 ... Joey Hamilton, Edgar Huerta, Bart Miadich, Blaine Neal, Gene Kingsale, Chris Oxspring, Brandon Puffer, Humberto Quintero, Todd Sears, Henri Stanley and Brian Sweeney are all new to the team.

DE JA VU, ALL OVER AGAIN: Infielder Todd Sears played in Portland (at the former Civic Stadium) in his rookie 1997 season for the Class A Rockies of the Northwest League. Sears batted .270 with 37 runs and 13 doubles in 55 games for the Rockies, who went on to win the league championship that season.

TOP PROSPECTS: Today's roster includes seven of the Padres' top 30 prospects, as ranked by Baseball America before the season ... Jon Knott (7), Tagg Bozied (10), Chris Oxspring (11), Edgar Huerta (17), Humberto Quintero (19), Bernie Castro (25) and Henri Stanley (26) are all ranked among the organization's best, according to the publication.

40-MAN MAKEUP: Six of the players included on today's roster are also on the Padres 40-man roster, including Bernie Castro, Xavier Nady, Chris Oxspring, Humberto Quintero, Henri Stanley and Dennis Tankersley.

FOR STARTERS: The Beavers' season-opening pitching rotation figures to include RHP Matt Bruback, RHP Chris Oxspring, RHP Brian Sweeney, RHP Dennis Tankersley and RHP Steve Watkins ... Tankersley is likely to draw the Opening Day start at Las Vegas on April 8, becoming the fourth different pitcher to open the season for the club. With his first pitch, Tankersley will become the only player to have played in each of the Beavers' first four seasons since Portland regained a Triple-A franchise in 2001. RHP Clay Condrey, OF Kory De Haan and INF Jake Thrower are the only other players to have played in each of the team's first three seasons; all three have since moved on to other organizations.

WHAT A RELIEF: The bullpen, then, consists of LHP Mike Bynum, RHP Joey Hamilton, LHP Edgar Huerta, RHP Bart Miadich, RHP Blaine Neal and RHP Brandon Puffer ... both Miadich (16) and Neal (21) ranked among the Pacific Coast League leaders in saves in 2003, with Salt Lake and Albuquerque, respectively.

BEHIND THE DISH: Yamid Haad and Humberto Quintero open the season as the team's catchers ... Haad established a new career-high with 11 home runs in 2003 (10 with Portland) and Quintero continued to impress at Class AA Mobile and in nine games with the Padres last season, batting a combined .293 between the two stops. Quintero was also a Southern League All-Star at catcher, throwing out 38.5 percent of would-be base stealers over the course of the season.

AROUND THE HORN: Five of the six infielders on the roster played for the Beavers last season, including 1B Tagg Bozied, 2B Bernie Castro, INF Ben Risinger, INF Bobby Scales and 3B Rico Washington ... 1B/3B Todd Sears is the only new face in the infield as the season opens.

CROWDED HOUSE: The Beavers outfield is stacked with talent and features four players who hit 11 or more home runs in 2003, including Jon Knott, who clubbed 28 between Class AA Mobile and Portland last season and ranked second in the Southern League in the category ... Xavier Nady returns for a third season with the Beavers after being ranked as the Padres' No. 1 prospect heading into the 2003 campaign. Entering just his fifth professional season, Nady already has 111 major league games to his credit and tallied 16 home runs and 62 RBIs between San Diego and Portland last season ... Alex Fernandez also returns for a third season after batting over .300 for a second straight season with the Beavers in 2003. Fernandez ranked among the team leaders in several categories, including home runs (10), RBIs (52) and stolen bases (16) last season as well ... newcomer Henri (on-REE) Stanley comes to the Padres organization from the Astros, where he spent the entire 2003 campaign with Triple-A New Orleans. With the Zephyrs, Stanley ranked among PCL leaders in games (135), runs scored (85), at-bats (506) and hits (148).

BEAVERS ROUND TABLE: The Beavers outfield is rounded out by 10-year veteran Gene Kingsale, who returns to the Padres organization after spending 2003 in the Detroit Tigers chain ... Kingsale, a native of Oranjestad, Aruba, was knighted in his native country in a ceremony on April 28, 2003, along with Calvin Maduro and Baltimore pitcher Sidney Ponson.

STAR-STUDDED: The Beavers return both of their all-stars from a year ago, with Tagg Bozied and Bernie Castro joining the fray once again ... both players represented the Beavers and the PCL in the Triple-A All-Star game at Memphis last season.

FOR THE AGES: At 22 years of age, Alex Fernandez is the youngest player on the team (5/15/81), while Joey Hamilton, 33, is the eldest member on the Beavers Opening Day roster (9/9/70).

COMING TO AMERICA: Left-hander Edgar Huerta marks his first season playing in the United States this season after four years in the Triple-A Mexican League ... Huerta, 24, originally signed a free-agent deal with the Atlanta Braves in 1997, but was loaned to Mexico City.

GEOGRAPHICALLY SPEAKING: A breakdown of birthplaces by state or country of this year's Opening Day roster; the list is comprised of 13 states in addition to six countries outside the United States:
California - 3 (Miadich, Nady, Puffer)
Australia - 2 (Oxspring, Risinger)
Dominican Republic - 2 (Castro, Fernandez)
Georgia - 2 (Hamilton, Washington)
Aruba - 1 (Kingsale)
Colombia - 1 (Haad)
Illinois - 1 (Bruback)
Iowa - 1 (Sears)
Florida - 1 (Bynum)
Mexico - 1 (Huerta)
Michigan - 1 (Scales)
Missouri - 1 (Tankersley)
New Jersey - 1 (Neal)
New York - 1 (Sweeney)
South Carolina - 1 (Stanley)
South Dakota - 1 (Bozied)
Texas - 1 (Watkins)
Venezuela - 1 (Quintero)
Virginia - 1 (Knott)

LATE ADDITION: Right-hander Blaine Neal was acquired by the Padres on April 3 from Florida in exchange for RHP Ben Howard, who went 7-13 with a 4.97 ERA in 33 games over two seasons with the Beavers (2002-03) ... Neal, who was fourth in the PCL with 21 saves in 2003, was originally selected by the Marlins in the fourth round of the 1996 draft and has pitched in 54 games at the major league level over his eight-year professional career ... Neal began his career in 1997 as a pitcher but was converted to first base for the 1998 season due to recurring elbow problems ... in his lone campaign at first, he batted .190 (23-for-121) in 53 games at Class A Utica in the Marlins system before returning to the mound in 1999.

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