Kevin Goldstein took your Padres questions
Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections
of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development
personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards
of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time)
are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2006.
While the Padres won the National League West and visited the postseason
for the first time since 1998, it’s hard to call 2005 a banner
year for the franchise. San Diego had to scrape to finish two games
over .500, then was swept by St. Louis in the NL Division Series. The
Padres won five fewer games than in 2004, had the lowest winning percentage
of any non-strike-year playoff team in baseball history and would have
finished closer to last place than first in the NL East or Central.
General manager Kevin Towers began to remake the team even before it
wrapped up the division, shipping out malcontent Phil Nevin at the trade
deadline. Towers made the first two major deals of the offseason, acquiring
Vinny Castilla for Brian Lawrence and Mike Cameron for Xavier Nady in
an effort to jump-start the offense. More changes appear inevitable
as free agents Brian Giles and Ramon Hernandez were expected to sign
elsewhere, and Trevor Hoffman was prepared to do the same.
A front-office overhaul preceded the roster makeover. Towers explored
the GM opening in Arizona and emerged as a candidate in Boston, but
remained in San Diego and enters his 11th season at the helm. Owner
John Moores brought in some heavy hitters to assist Towers, however.
Former Major League Baseball vice president and Athletics GM Sandy
Alderson was made team president, overseeing Towers and the entire baseball
operation. Credited with molding Billy Beane into a star executive and
promoting statistical analysis in Oakland, Alderson has begun implementing
many of the same philosophies in San Diego. His power is only expected
Grady Fuson, who worked under Alderson as the scouting director in
Oakland, joined the Padres staff as a special assistant to Towers in
spring training and spent the majority of the year evaluating the system’s
talent as well as evaluating top prospects for the draft. Following
the season, his role was expanded to vice president of scouting and
development. Fuson, who held the same roles with the Rangers, is in
charge of revitalizing a flagging farm system. Longtime farm director
Tye Waller was made the new Padres first-base coach. Bill Gayton remains
scouting director, though Fuson’s fingerprints are expected to
be all over the Padres’ 2006 draft.
Though the system isn’t strong, it did provide some returns in
2005 as a pair of astute minor league deals began to pay off. Righthander
Clay Hensley, a relative unknown when he was acquired from the Giants
for Matt Herges in 2003, emerged as one of San Diego’s top relievers
in the second half and will compete for a rotation spot in the spring.
Outfielder Ben Johnson, added via the Carlos Hernandez trade with the
Cardinals in 2000, will get a chance to replace Giles.
Beyond that, the system is bordering on barren. The Padres’ four
full-season affiliates combined to place just three players on Baseball
America’s league Top 20 Prospects lists, none in the Top 10.
April 29, 1984 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 177
Miami, 2005 (1st round) Signed by: Joe Bochy
Background: Carrillo was a star both on the
mound and as a shortstop at Chicago’s Mount Carmel High, which has
a rich athletic track record. It has produced pro football stars Donovan
McNabb and Simeon Rice, basketball’s Antoine Walker and baseball’s
last 30-game winner, Denny McLain. Scouts knew about Carrillo when he
was in high school, but he dropped to the Royals in the 33rd round in
2002 because he committed to Miami and had a bout of biceps tendinitis.
After sitting out 2003 in a dispute between the school and the NCAA over
his ACT score, Carrillo was the Hurricanes’ top pitcher for the
next two years, beginning his career with a 24-game winning streak, the
fourth-longest in NCAA Division I history. The 18th overall pick in the
2005 draft, he signed for $1.55 million and hopped on the fast track.
He started his career at high Class A Lake Elsinore before going 4-0 in
five starts for Double-A Mobile. When he returned to Lake Elsinore to
pitch out of the bullpen in the California League playoffs, Carrillo was
hit hard as the impact of pitching since January took its toll. Between
college, the regular season and those playoffs, Carrillo pitched 192 innings
Strengths: Some scouts believe Carrillo could get major leaguers
out right now, as he combines the arsenal of a power pitcher with the
command of a finesse specialist. His fastball is regularly clocked at
91-94 mph with late life and sinking action, and he can ratchet it up
to 96 at times. Despite his slender build, he carries his velocity deep
into games, hitting 96 on his 100th pitch in a college game last spring.
His curveball has tight downward break, and Carrillo has the ability
to drop it into the zone for a strike or bury it in the dirt as a chase
pitch. His changeup has the makings of a plus pitch and he throws it
with good arm action. He not only throws each of his offerings for strikes,
but also works them down in the zone, generating lots of grounders.
His arm is loose and quick, and his delivery is effortless. He displays
a mature mound presence, pitches with confidence and isn’t easily
flustered. He’s an excellent athlete who fields his position well.
Weaknesses: Carrillo lacks the physicality of a classic power
pitcher, and his skinny frame offers little in the way of projection.
He can become too enamored with his fastball at times, causing him to
lose touch on his secondary pitches, both of which can be above-average
when he keeps them in the mix. While his changeup is deceptive, it could
use a greater difference in velocity from his fastball to keep hitters
more off balance.
The Future: The Padres targeted a polished college pitcher who
could provide help quickly with their first-round pick, and Carrillo
is poised to rocket through the system. He’ll begin 2006 in Double-A
and could make his big league debut later in the year. He should be
a fixture in San Diego’s rotation for years to come, possibly
as a No. 2 starter.
2005 Club (Class)
Lake Elsinore (Hi A)
May 16, 1983 B-T: L-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 190
Connors State (Okla.) JC, D/F 2002 (20th round) Signed
by: Lane Decker
Background: After signing in May 2003 as a draft-and-follow
for early fourth-round money ($375,000), Kottaras played a full season
of pro ball for the first time in 2005. He played just 78 games in 2004
because he was a backup on the Greek Olympic team, going 3-for-12 in Athens.
Kottaras profiles as an offense-oriented catcher. He displays
natural hitting instincts and commands the strike zone. He generates
easy line-drive power with a quiet setup and fluid swing, projecting
to hit 15-20 home runs annually. He’s athletic behind the
plate and has plus arm strength.
Kottaras has a tendency to get pull-happy, and needs to focus
simply on centering the ball and letting his strength work for
him naturally. His arm plays only average because of a slow glove-hand
exchange and a long release. He’s a bit small for a catcher,
leaving some to wonder if he can handle the rigors of a full season.
Kottaras’ bat separates him from the rest of San Diego’s
catching prospects. He’ll begin 2006 back in Double-A and
is on schedule to be the starter at the big league level by the
end of 2007.
HS—Spring, Texas, 2001 (4th round) Signed by: Jimmy
Background: On the heels of a disappointing
Double-A performance in 2004, when he was hampered by hamstring troubles,
Barfield improved his conditioning. He got off to a slow start at Triple-A
Portland in 2005, but recovered to hit .343-11-50 over the final three
months. His father Jesse hit 241 career homers in the majors, and his
brother Jeremy is a rising high school prospect.
Barfield has excellent bat speed and is at his best when he drives
the ball to right-center. He has worked to improve his patience
at the plate. He made strides defensively and is no longer expected
to have to move to left field.
Barfield can be unorthodox both at the plate and in the field,
yet it’s hard to argue with the results. Pitchers can beat
him inside, and he pulls off pitches to compensate. He hits better
in clutch situations because he concentrates on using the whole
field, an approach he should take into every at-bat.
The Future: With Mark Loretta dealt to Boston, the second
base spot has opened up for Barfield. He's expected to earn the
starting job and could easily outperform
Loretta's .280-3-38 2005 campaign.
2005 Club (Class)
January 18, 1981 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 200
HS—Germantown, Tenn., 1999 (4th round) Signed by:
Randy Benson (Cardinals)
Background: Johnson earned baseball and football
scholarships to Mississippi State out of high school before opting to
sign with the Cardinals, who sent him to San Diego in a 2000 trade for
Carlos Hernandez. He spent parts of three seasons in Double-A but started
to take off in mid-2004 and ended 2005 in San Diego, even making a playoff
Johnson has all the tools to be an everyday outfielder in the
big leagues. He has shortened his swing and developed above-average
power while improving his grasp of the strike zone. Once a plus-plus
runner, he’s now just a tick above-average. He’s a
good right fielder with a solid arm.
Johnson has a tendency to overswing, as he did in the postseason.
He still has troubles with breaking balls, particularly against
righthanders, and some scouts project him as a platoon player.
The Padres have been patient and believe Johnson is ready to contribute
in San Diego. He’ll have to beat out veteran Dave Roberts
for a full-time starting job.
Tennessee, 2005 (2nd round) Signed by: Billy Merkel
Background: Headley led Pacific in hits and
the Big West Conference in walks as a freshman in 2003 before transferring
to Tennessee, where hamstring problems limited him as a sophomore. He
finished second in NCAA Division I in walks (63) last spring before signing
Headley is adept from both sides of the plate, showing outstanding
pitch recognition and average power. He’s a fundamentally
sound third baseman with soft hands and an average, accurate arm.
A high school valedictorian and academic all-American, he boasts
excellent baseball instincts and makeup.
Headley’s power ceiling has long been a question, leaving
some to wonder if he profiles as an everyday third baseman. He
makes the routine plays, though his feet are a little slow and
restrict his range. He’s a below-average runner but not
Sean Burroughs never worked out at third base, but the Padres
believe they have found their long-term answer in Headley. He
tore up instructional league and could move fast after starting
his first full season in high Class A.
Lamar, 2002 (8th round) Signed by: Tom Korenek (Giants)
Background: Hensley didn’t play baseball
for nearly four years after graduating from high school in 1997, reappearing
as a closer at Alvin (Texas) CC. The Padres acquired him from the Giants
for Matt Herges at the 2003 non-waiver trade deadline, and everything
clicked once Triple-A pitching coach Gary Lance dropped Hensley’s
arm slot in 2005. He pitched in all three playoff games for San Diego.
Hensley’s best pitch is a hard, late-breaking slider. His
fastball velocity sits at 90-91 mph, but its darting sink and
run and his command make it effective. He consistently works down
in the zone, understands how to set up hitters and has great makeup.
Hensley doesn’t get much downward plane on his pitches and
lacks a true strikeout offering. His changeup and curve are merely
decent. He needs a better changeup to keep lefthanders at bay.
The Future: While he has already proven to be a pleasant
surprise, Hensley has a new challenge to show he can hold up in
the rotation at the big league level. If he can’t, he could
fall back to being a solid contributor again in the San Diego
2005 Club (Class)
October 31, 1981 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-4 Wt: 200
San Jacinto (Texas) JC, D/F 2002 (31st round) Signed
by: Jay Darnell
Background: Wells had struggled to find consistency
in the minors but took a step forward by leading the California League
in ERA in 2005. He turned in quality starts in his first four Double-A
outings and later was Team USA’s top starter in the World Cup in
Wells has an ideal power pitcher’s frame, good arm action
and solid stuff. His four-seam fastball runs from 91-93 mph, and
his new two-seamer features plenty of sink. He mixes in a hard-breaking
slider and commands all of his pitches well. A former high school
quarterback, he’s a good athlete and a tough competitor.
While Wells has the stamina to be an innings-eater, his ability
to remain a starter hinges on the development of his changeup,
which is currently below-average. He doesn’t own a true
out pitch, as he has little trust in his slider. He tries to get
batters to chase it as opposed to throwing it for strikes.
Wells projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter and could end
up in the bullpen. Still unrefined, he has his best days ahead
of him. He’ll return to Double-A in 2006.
2005 Club (Class)
Lake Elsinore (Hi A)
February 24, 1981 B-T: L-R Ht: 5-10 Wt: 220
Long Beach State, 2002 (12th round) Signed by: Jason
Background: Former Padres scout Jason McLeod
(now Red Sox scouting director) and West Coast crosschecker Chris Gwynn
fell in love with McAnulty’s bat at Long Beach State in 2002, when
he hit .360-9-55. He won the Rookie-level Pioneer League batting title
at .379 in his pro debut and hit his way to the big leagues in three years.
McAnulty has a quick bat, quiet swing mechanics and no problem
hitting lefties. He shows good patience at the plate and crushes
mistakes. He’s a gritty player who always gives full effort.
Though he’s a better athlete than his stocky frame suggests,
McAnulty offers little more than his bat. He has below-average
speed and arm strength. He lacks the power to profile as an everyday
first baseman or corner outfielder, and he’s no better than
an adequate defender at those spots.
The Future: McAnulty has little chance at earning a full-time
job in spring training, so he’s likely ticketed for a return
to Triple-A. He could emerge as a valuable bat off San Diego’s
2005 Club (Class)
September 8, 1983 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 220
Arizona, 2005 (2nd round) Signed by: Dave Lottsfeldt
Background: Hundley was a fifth-round pick by
the Marlins out of high school, and he did little to improve his draft
stock until his junior year at Arizona, where he led the Wildcats in home
runs (15) and walks (42). His father Tim is the defensive coordinator
for Texas-El Paso’s football team.
Hundley is a strong, powerful hitter with natural loft in his
swing, and he also has good pitch recognition. Behind the plate,
he has above-average agility and arm strength. He consistently
puts his throws on the bag and threw out 35 percent of basestealers
in his pro debut.
Hundley is a dead-pull hitter with a power-only approach not conducive
to hitting for a high average. Normally fundamentally sound, he
often came out of his crouch too early during his pro debut and
struggled to block balls.
The Future: More advanced than 2004 third-round pick, catcher
Billy Killian, Hundley will be tested in his first full season
with an assignment to high Class A. If he polishes his receiving
and blocking skills, he could reach San Diego in two-three years.
Dominican Republic, 2000 Signed by: Bill Clark/Modesto
Background: Despite a disappointing big league
debut in 2004, Guzman was poised to compete for San Diego’s center-field
job last spring before blowing out his throwing elbow. Tommy John surgery
kept him out of the regular season, and he didn’t return until the
Dominican Winter League.
Strengths: The elbow injury had no effect on Guzman’s
best tool—game-changing speed. He impacts the game on the
bases and in the field, and he led the minors with 90 steals in
2003. His center-field range borders on exceptional, as he gets
good jumps and effortlessly reaches balls in both gaps. He’s
a contact hitter with decent plate discipline.
Guzman’s arm already was below-average, and after the surgery
it could become a true liability. He doesn’t always make
good reads on balls, relying on his quickness to make up for mistakes.
He pressed during his big league stint in 2004 and expanded his
strike zone, undermining his ability to make use of his speed.
The Padres traded for Mike Cameron, ending any longshot chance
Guzman had of starting for them in 2006. He’ll open the
year in Triple-A and will push for a reserve job in the second
2005 Club (Class)
Did Not Play—Injured
Headley, Hundley: Bill Mitchell
Guzman, Wells: Steve Moore
Carrillo: Robert Oliver