A good defensive catcher who could hit and run, too, Randy Snyder was the Milwaukee Brewers' second-round draft choice out of Washington State University, a pretty good baseball school, in 1988. He prided himself on his throws, the main reason, he says, that he was picked so high.

He spent three years in the Brewers' farm system, starting in the Pioneer League; he moved up to Double-A El Paso at the end of last season and felt he fit in. He thought he'd be the Brewers' catcher at El Paso for '92."I had a strong year," he says, speaking of his '91 season with the California League runner-up Stockton Ports, for whom he hit .274 while also playing first base and designated hitter on catching days off.

So naturally, the Brewers asked him to become a pitcher for '92 spring training.

"They had a real liking for (catcher Dave) Nilsson and some younger players they'd just signed, and I guess they felt they had the freedom to turn me into a pitcher," says Snyder, now catching for the Salt Lake Trappers, who are scheduled to have their 1992 home opener at Derks Field against the Idaho Falls Gems tonight at 7.

Snyder, of Yakima, Wash., was a catcher since Little League, but he'd done a little pitching and went along with what they said, but the unnatural motion gave him arm troubles.

Finally, during spring training, Snyder told the Brewers he wanted to catch rather than be a beginning pitcher at age 25, and if he was only going to be a backup catcher for them, would they please trade him? They apparently found no takers, so Snyder asked for his release.

"I'd rather be on my own," he reasoned. He thought he'd be home a month or so and then be signed by some other organization, but he'd gotten his release the last day of spring training, and rosters were pretty well set by then.

And that's how the independent Trappers got a No. 2 draft choice.

"It's rookie ball," says Snyder, but's it's also a chance to make a move to another (big-legue) organization."

Snyder admits he didn't start well in pro ball. He says he was "passive at the plate" at first. To make it in baseball, "You have to have skills and a break together," Snyder says. "I was given the break, but I wasn't playing well. I don't know if I jumped into pro ball with aggressiveness, but I found it last year," he says.

Now he has to make his own break.

"I still have the skills I had last year, and I know I'll have to go to somebody's camp and really impress them," and '92 with the Trappers is the key.

In his first game with the Traps, Wednesday at Butte, Snyder had a sacrifice, legged out an infield single, stole a base, scored the fourth run in a 5-4 win - and made a throwing error that let a run score.