Prospect of the Day: Blake Tekotte, OF, San Diego Padres
The Padres returned rookie outfielder Blake Tekotte to Double-A San Antonio on Thursday, but it's only a matter of time before he returns to San Diego. Although he wasn't an extremely well-known prospect pre-season, but he has a solid base of skills and can contribute in many ways.
Tekotte was drafted by the Padres in the third round in 2008, from the University of Miami. A three-year starter for the Hurricanes, he hit .286/.367/.417 as a freshman, .333/.431/.479 as a sophomore, and .353/.468/.590 with 13 homers and 27 steals as a junior. He was solid in his professional debut, hitting .285/.379/.456 in 47 games for Eugene in the Northwest League.
Tekotte spent all of 2009 with Fort Wayne in the Low-A Midwest League. He hit just .258, but he knocked 13 homers, stole 30 bases, and drew 68 walks, showing a broad base of skills. He began last year with Lake Elsinore in the High-A California League, hitting .310/.419/.522, but slumped after moving up to the more difficult environs of Double-A San Antonio, hitting .250/.324/.444.
Returning to San Antonio this year, he's hit .299/.410/.541 with 17 homers, 55 walks, 85 strikeouts, and 31 steals in 331 at-bats. His home park is a difficult for hitters and he has a fairly sharp split, .277/.397/.500 at home but .317/.421/.574 on the road. In the majors so far he's 6-for-24, .250, with a double, a triple, four walks, two steals, but 13 strikeouts.
A 5-11, 175 pound left-handed hitter, Tekotte has above-average running speed and has enough range and arm strength for center field. At the plate, he shows good strike zone judgment and has always drawn walks, back to his college days. He won't be a big home run hitter in the majors, but he has enough pop to keep the pitchers honest. His strikeout rates can be rather high, and he shows much better plate discipline and power against right-handed pitchers, hitting .301/.431/.579 against them this year vs. .296/.367/.470 against lefties. This pattern has persisted through his career.
Tekotte is definitely ready for Triple-A, and the fact that the Padres have promoted him to the majors twice this year, albeit briefly, shows how highly they regard him. His overall balance of skills fits the fourth outfield role perfectly, but he could also have a David DeJesus (with more speed) run as a regular if given an opportunity.