Mark Prior, RHP: A San Diego native, we signed Mark last year to a Major League contract after the Cubs declined to tender him a contract. After progressing well early in the spring, Mark had a setback that required another surgery and cost him the rest of the season. Mark has now lost the entirety of the last two seasons to injury, but when he pitches he can be dominant. In his first four seasons in Chicago (2002-2005) Mark used he power fastball/curveball combo to pitch 613 innings with a 3.24 ERA. Mark has been working out all winter here in Petco, and we're encouraged by his progress. If we can get him back and healthy for us in 2009 we believe he could make a significant difference.
Chris Burke, INF: A first round pick out of the University of Tennessee in 2001, Chris spent the first seven years of his career with the Astros before being traded to Arizona last winter. A SS in college and during his minor league days, Chris starting splitting time at 2B in AA as he prepared to be the 2B of the future for the Astros. After a big year in AAA in 2004 (.315/.396/.507 with 37 sb's) Chris has spent most of the next four seasons in the big leagues, though he never amassed 400 ab's in any one season. Due to the lack of consistent playing time and splitting duties at seven different positions, we're not sure we've seen the best of Chris Burke yet.
Virgil Vasquez, RHP: Unlike Prior and Burke, Vasquez is on the 40-man roster since we claimed him on waivers from the Red Sox. A right-hander from Santa Barbara, Virgil has spent the bulk of the past two seasons in AAA, though he did make five appearances for the Tigers in 2007 (the Red Sox claimed off waivers from the Tigers). Known for his excellent command, Virgil has walked just 70 hitters in 314 innings in AAA. We believe he could compete in a number of different roles.
And now for the really important stuff...
Today is my daughter's third birthday (she's the best!), so please allow a proud father to indulge: