At 5 feet 8, 160 pounds, second baseman Mike Fontenot looks more like the Class AAA Ottawa Lynx's batboy than one of the Baltimore Orioles' top prospects.

"A lot of people have told us that," interim Ottawa manager Dave Cash said of Baltimore's 2001 first-round pick. "You mess around and make a mistake with him in the batter's box and he'll show you he can launch them. He's got some pretty good pop for his size."

In just his third professional season, the 24-year-old has adjusted smoothly to his first year of AAA after hitting .325 for AA Bowie in 2003 on his way to winning Baltimore's minor league player of the year award.

Fontenot leads the Lynx in games (114), hits (123) and doubles (28). He was also tied for the league lead in triples (10) and ranked second on the Lynx in batting (.281). He has seven home runs and 42 RBI despite batting first or second most of the season.

Cash thinks Fontenot's speedy development has him on the fast track to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

"If he can continue to improve like he's been improving he's going to be knocking on the door," he said.

Fontenot might find the entrance closed at second base in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. The Orioles' logjam at second base with Jerry Hairston and Brian Roberts has shifted Hairston to the outfield for most of the season. And while Fontenot has not been approached about changing positions, he is open to the possibility.

"[I'm like] Jerry," he said. "Give me a chance and I'll play anywhere. That's the thing. As of right now, I'm playing second and I'm focusing all my tools toward [it]."

Whatever the position may be, Fontenot's willing to wait his turn for a major league opportunity.

"I'm farther ahead than a lot of people are," he said. "This is my third year and I'm in AAA already. It's better to be more prepared when you get that first chance than I think if they rush you."