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San Diego Padres Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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San Diego Padres Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

This list was originally published January 6th, 2009. This is a REVIEW of the PRE-SEASON list for 2009, not a revision of that list. This is a REVIEW of the old list. The grade listed is the OLD GRADE. With a few exceptions, I'm not doing new grades or new lists until I start writing the 2010 book.

1) Kyle Blanks, 1B, Grade B+: .283/.393/.485 in Triple-A, .240/.352/.455 in the majors. Like the power he's shown so far, expect the batting average and OBP will rise eventually.

2) Jaff Decker, OF, Grade B:  hitting .302/.447/.509 in the Midwest League. Very polished bat, as expected.

3) Mat Latos, RHP, Grade B:   1.37 ERA with 73/12 K/BB in the minors, 4.02 ERA with 24/12 K/BB in 34 major league innings so far. Only concern going forward is durability.

4) Kellen Kulbacki, OF, Grade B:  Hit just .201/.257/.254 in 36 games in Double-A, out since June with hamstring injury. Had a bad shoulder in April and May. Hasn't been healthy at all this year.

5) Cedric Hunter, OF, Grade B-:  Hitting just .254/.289/.321 in Double-A. Unable to maintain batting average and high OBP against better pitching so far.  Still makes contact but lack of power hampering him.

6) James Darnell, 3B, Grade B-: Hitting .318/.434/.552 between two levels of A-ball, excellent plate discipline.

7) Allan Dykstra, 1B, Grade B-:  Hitting .206/.381/.345....87 walks for Fort Wayne in 104 games, but power disappointing. May be too passive.

8) Will Inman, RHP, Grade B-: Was getting killed in the PCL (6.71 ERA, 83 hits in 63 innings). Sent back to Double-A and pitching well again (2.72 ERA, 40/10 K/BB in 56 innings). Will get more chances but scouts have never liked him.

9) Wade LeBlanc, LHP, Grade C+:  4.25 ERA with 83/29 K/BB in 108 innings in Triple-A. Crushed in two major league starts due to wobbly command.

10) Matt Antonelli, 2B, Grade C+:  .193/.294/.332 in Triple-A. I guess maybe last year WASN'T just a bizarre bad luck fluke.

11) Eric Sogard, 2B, Grade C+:  Hitting .289/.370/.379 in Double-A. Good contact hitting ability with strike zone judgment.

12) Jonathan Galvez, SS, Grade C+:  hitting .319/.431/.528 with 12 steals in the Arizona Rookie League. Great tools, skills look solid right now for his age, stock way up.

13) Simon Castro, RHP, Grade C+:  3.93 ERA, 133/32 K/BB in 117 innings, 107 hits in the Midwest League. Live arm, command has been good this year, stock rising.

14) Cole Figueroa, 2B, Grade C+:  .339/.430/.435 in 54 games for Fort Wayne. Lack of power may be a problem at higher levels, hit just .187 in 21-game trial at Lake Elsinore.

15) Adis Portillo, RHP, Grade C+:  4.72 ERA with 42/20 k/BB in 48 games in the Arizona Rookie League, 59 hits. Not great, obviously needs time to refine his raw ability.

16) Blake Tekotte, OF, Grade C+:  Hitting .270/.359/.413 for Fort Wayne, 60 walks, 12 homers, 27 steals. Does a lot of things on the field, broad skill base, but projection to higher levels remains an issue.

17) Jeremy Hefner, RHP, Grade C+:  12-5, 4.15 with a 125/34 K/BB in 126 innings for Lake Elsinore, 134 hits. Holding his own in the Cal League, good command, good strikeout rate.

18) Josh Geer, RHP, Grade C+:  5.96 ERA with 54/23 K/BB in 103 innings in the majors, 116 hits. Throws strikes but stuff is a bit too short. I think he might be better off in short stretches, used in relief.

19) Logan Forsythe, 3B, Grade C+:  Hit .322/.472/.504 in the Cal League, but just .264/.362/.390 in the Texas League. Still controlling the zone well, but power slumped. Keep in mind San Antonio is a pitcher's environment.

20) Will Venable, OF, Grade C:  Hitting .269/.338/.462 in the majors. A solid fourth/platoon outfielder.

There were a large mass of Grade C prospects in the system beyond this, and my general feeling entering the season was that the system was underrated by other sources. The Padres are very skill-oriented in their drafting. The standard criticism of this is that you end up with nothing but role players and few potential stars. The opposite approach, focusing on tools goofs , gets you the occasional star but also a large number of busts who look great in uniform but can't play. I think the best approach is a mixed one, bringing in both skill players with polish AND tools guys and not focusing on one or the other exclusively. Indeed, the Padres are taking steps to bring more tool players into the system, particularly from Latin America. Diversity is good.

 Kulbacki is an injury casualty and gets a mulligan, but at this point I don't see a lot of hope for Antonelli. Keep an eye on Wynn Pelzer and Ernesto Frieri, two intriguing RHP.