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Don't let age fool you, he is a vet

He is 19 years old.

Of all the numbers Roy Halladay has put together for the Dunedin Blue Jays this season _ and what an assortment there is _ from his 2.62 ERA, 11 wins and 2 complete-game shutouts, the number that sticks out the most is his age.

"At first it was awkward being so young, especially during spring training," Halladay said. "These guys I grew up watching and they were kind of like parents to me. But we've became friends now."

For a while, though, it seemed Halladay's age was the only number people might remember. When he entered the Blue Jays organization as their No.

1 pick a year ago, Halladay spent the season in the Gulf Coast League where he finished 3-5.

"The Gulf Coast League is a lot different," Halladay said. "The location of pitches was the biggest thing. There you could get away with some pitches. But now you have to be ahead of the batters."

He thought he'd be in Hagerstown this year. Instead he arrived on a Dunedin staff that was deep in talent. Halladay learned from guys like Roberto Duran, Kelvim Escobar and Mike Gordon and it showed. In his first start, Halladay struck out eight and allowed three hits.

"When I first came here, I didn't know what to expect," Halladay said. "But I kept throwing a lot and doing well. The first time I started, I think I was able to prove that I belong here. That game was a big confidence builder for me."

Part of the talent the Blue Jays assembled soon dwindled. Duran, who was the ace, was sent to Knoxville in the first half. Escobar was promoted in the second half. Now, Halladay, who was 18 when he started the year, has become _ get this _ a veteran. He's provided leadership on the mound, sporting an 11-6 record after Thursday's win and has twice been named FSL pitcher of the week.

"It's exciting for me to get the chance to come in and be a veteran," Halladay said. "I'm happy that I'm playing here. I don't know whether I'll be the next to be promoted, but whatever they feel is fine by me either way. I'm real happy about the way things are going."

AROUND THE BASES: Adam Melhuse and Anthony Sanders were promoted to Knoxville this week. As both leave, so do the number of runs they produced. Melhuse was hitting .249 with 13 home runs. Sanders was hitting .261 and led the league in home runs (17) and runs scored (75). Dunedin brought up Chris Hayes from Hagerstown to fill a spot. Hayes is one of four Blue Jays from Jacksonville. The others are Ryan Freel, Kevin Witt and Jay Veniard. St. Petersburg leads the league with a 3.04 ERA. The Cardinals' Blake Stein has a league-leading 12 wins and is tied for the lead in strikeouts with 122. His 2.22 ERA ranks fourth. Clearwater's Jamie Northeimer is 15th in batting with a .290 average. Brian Stumpf has 22 saves for the Phillies, which ties him for third with Curtis King of St. Petersburg.