In a trade of third basemen, the Padres sent Jake Gautreau to the Tribe for Corey Smith.
Gautreau, picked in the first round of the 2001 draft, spent last season with the Portland Beavers, the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, and the Mobile BayBears, the Padres’ Double-A affiliate.
In 66 games with Mobile, Gautreau batted .254 with ten homers and 30 RBI’s, while batting .353 with runners in scoring position. A hot June, where he batted .328 in 18 games, earned him a promotion to Portland.
Gautreau, 25, added nine homers and 35 RBI’s in 48 games with the Beavers. He batted .274 but was hitting .323 through June and July before tailing off in August when he returned from an ankle injury. He still managed to hit .327 with runners in scoring position.
“The injury did get in the way and he couldn’t get that ankle sprain where he could go out there and compete and it cost him close to a month,” Padres’ Director of Player Development, Tye Waller said. “That did hurt him coming back.”
Ulcerative colitis robbed parts of two seasons from Gautreau and hindered his development.
Smith, 22, was selected out of high school by the Indians in the 2000 draft. He played five games with Buffalo and spent the rest of the year with Akron. It was the second year in a row that he would spend at the Indians’ Double-A affiliate. He hit 19 homers and knocked in 66 runs while batting .305 with runners in scoring position.
Smith had two seasons while with Akron. He hit .307 during April before slumping in May and June, batting .167 and .189, respectively. He then turned it on hitting .314 in July and .299 in August. He struck out 60 times in 55 games during May and June and struck out just 46 times in 73 games through the rest of the year.
Smith is considered to have a cannon arm from third base and was recently voted as having the best infield arm in the system by Baseball America. In 2002, Smith was rated as the top prospect in the organization but he did not crack the top ten this season.
A little younger than Gautreau, Smith might be given some time to continue his development in the system. With the Padres lack of fire at the third base position throughout the system, Smith will be given every opportunity to succeed.