posted on Apr, 18 2004 @ 07:00 AM
A pair of intriguing righthanders who
succeeded in the minors but have had trouble sticking in the majors will try to do so with new organizations after a trade on Friday. The Athletics
acquired swingman Kirk Saarloos from the Astros for reliever Chad Harville.
Saarloos, 24, signed out of Cal State Fullerton as a third-round pick in 2001. He was the second player from that draft to reach the majors only Mark
Prior made it up quicker making his Houston debut on June 18, 2002. Saarloos isn't a physical pitcher, standing 6 feet tall and possessing an 86-88
mph fastball, but he doesn't need to be. He has plenty of sink on his fastball, his slider and changeup are above-average pitches and his low
three-quarters delivery is deceptive. He appeared in 53 games (21 starts) for the Astros in 2002-03, going 8-8, 5.61. In 135 innings, he had a 97-44
strikeout-walk ratio, while opponents hit .294 with 16 homers against him. He may be best suited for a long-relief role, as his big league ERA is 2.97
out of the bullpen, compared to 6.59 in the rotation. In the minors, Saarloos was simply dominating in his first three pro seasons, going 18-2, 1.98,
but has gone 0-2, 15.43 in two starts for Triple-A New Orleans this April. Oakland assigned him to Triple-A Edmonton.
Harville, 26, was a second-round pick out of the University of Memphis in 1997. The Astros had targeted Harville as their possible first-round choice
that June, but took Lance Berkman when he dropped to them at No. 16. Once projected as the A's closer of the future, Harville was out of options and
designated for assignment on April 15 after posting a 3.38 ERA in three appearances for Oakland. He entered pro ball relying on a four-seam fastball
that sat in the mid-90s, but now works more with a low-90s two-seamer that features more sink. He also uses a hard slider and a slow curveball.
Injuries and ineffectiveness prevented him from finding a niche with the A's. He had rotator-cuff tendinitis in 2001 and elbow inflammation in 2002,
and his career record is 1-2, 5.62 with one save in 42 big league appearances. His K-BB ratio is 35-28 in 42 innings, and opponents have hit .287 with
five homers. Like Saarloos, Harville has carved up minor league hitters, going 22-15, 3.34 with 422 strikeouts in 353 innings. He'll join the Houston
bullpen, and the Astros will make a move before Saturday's game to clear space for him on the 25-man roster.
[Edited on 18/4/04 by TRD]