As the son of an All-Star lefthander and blessed with a
mid-90-mph fastball himself, Adam LaRoche seemed destined to be a
major league pitcher. When he was a two-position player at
Seminole (Okla.) State College, pro scouts raved about his arm,
but LaRoche told them he had no desire to pitch--he wanted to
play first base. "I wouldn't have signed with anyone as a
pitcher," says LaRoche, whose father, Dave, had a successful
14-year career as a closer, from 1970 through '83. "I wanted to
be out on the field every day."

The Braves took a chance on LaRoche, who was a junior college
All-America, selecting him in the 29th round of the 2000 draft.
Four years later he is Atlanta's starting first baseman and
hitting cleanup on a team that's trying to make up for the loss
of sluggers Gary Sheffield and Javy Lopez. Though LaRoche, 24, is
off to a slow start, hitting .200 in his first nine games, his
teammates have faith in him. "He's got a smooth swing and a slick
glove," says leftfielder Chipper Jones. "He's the future of this
team."

COLOR PHOTO: RICK STEWART/GETTY IMAGES (LAROCHE) LaRoche

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)