Prince William Cannons shortstop Dave Silvestri has had enough ups and downs in his recent baseball career that he's starting to feel like an elevator.

Before this season the 22-year-old St. Louis native had constructed an impressive resume of baseball accomplishments, and had nothing but good things to look forward to.

He breezed through Park Way Central High School as a three-sport letterman, specializing in baseball and basketball. Although not highly scouted, he received scholarship offers for both sports before electing to play baseball for the University of Missouri. "They offered me the most {scholarship} money and it was only a couple of hours from home," he said.

It turned out to be a good choice because he made all-American honors twice and played in the Pan-American Games in 1987.

While batting .406 his junior season, he was extended an invitation to try out for the U.S. Olympic team. "He was a hard player and he was aggressive," said Ron Polk, coach of Mississippi State and an assistant coach for the Olympic team. "Plus he had international experience. He just stood out."

As did the entire U.S. team. Although Silvestri struggled a bit at the plate in Seoul, he earned a place in history with the likes of Jim Abbott, Robin Ventura and Andy Benes as the first U.S. baseball players to earn a gold medal in the Olympics.

"It was a great feeling to get an Olympic gold medal," he said. "It was long, but I'll never forget it."

His career only got better when he was drafted in the second round (51st overall) by the Houston Astros after his junior season. Playing professional baseball is "something I've always wanted to do," he said.

He was sent to the Astros' Class A team in Osceola, Fla., and became one of Houston's top 10 prospects after having a highly successful rookie season. He was scheduled to move up to the Class AA team in Columbus, Ga., at the start of this season.

That's when his career took a sudden and unexpected downturn. Just before the season began (March 13), Silvestri was traded to the Yankees organization along with another player for minor leaguer Orlando Miller and cash, according to Mitch Lukevics, the Yankees' director of minor league operations.

"Basically, I was really surprised I got traded," said Silvestri.

But his initial surprise soon became deep-seated anger when he found out that he would not be in AA Albany but instead at the Yankees' Class A team in Woodbridge, Va., the Cannons.

"I really wasn't that pleased," he said. "If you get traded and you're a minor leaguer, you don't have any say."

Prince William Manager Gary Denbo said he recognized Silvestri's anger immediately. "It was very noticeable. {Getting traded} happens quite a bit in baseball and you have to go back and prove yourself all over again."

"You can't let it affect your season, though. Or if you do it has to be in a positive way. We talked about that . . . and I hope it hasn't affected his season negatively."

And although Silvestri maintains he hasn't brought his feelings onto the field, he is struggling through his worst year at the plate with a .258 average.

"His offense hasn't been what he expected it to be," said Denbo, "but . . . he has the potential to be better. And he's leading the Carolina League in defense at shortstop."

But that didn't help him make the Carolina League all-star team. Although he was batting two points higher than Prince William second baseman Mauricio Zazueta, Silvestri was the only Cannons infielder left off the all-star squad.

"Yeah, I guess I was," he said, matter-of-factly. "I didn't deserve it."

But he thinks he does deserve a promotion to Albany next season.

"When you get traded like that, well, it's just part of the game," he said. "While I'm here I try . . . not to have an attitude . . . and I try to make the best of it. But I won't be happy if I'm here next year. Hopefully that won't happen so I won't even think about that."

Things are looking up for the smooth-fielding shortstop. Silvestri was moved to the leadoff position and has a team-leading 74 runs scored, 30 doubles, 56 RBI and 37 stolen bases. Although the organization hasn't told Silvestri one way or the other, Lukevics said Silvestri's chances of living in Albany next year are excellent.

"When you rush people, I think it can be counterproductive," he said. "But with some refining at the bat . . . and on the field . . . Double A looks good to him."