San Diego Padres:
1999 Top 10
San Diego Padres Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By David Rawnsley
1. Sean Burroughs, 3B
Background: Burroughs has one of the most storied baseball backgrounds a teenager could have. His father Jeff was the first overall pick in the 1969 amateur draft and later won an American League MVP award. With his father as manager, Burroughs led his Long Beach Little League team to consecutive Little League World Series championships in 1992-93, including two 16-strikeout games in 93. His pro debut was no less spectacular. Burroughs was hitting .242 on June 2 but hit .359 in June, .426 in July and .452 in August to finish second in the Midwest League batting race. For good measure, he hit .435 during the final week of the California League season after being promoted.
Strengths: Padres general manager Kevin Towers calls Burroughs "by far the most polished hitter coming out of high school Ive ever seen." Burroughs stands very close to the plate and has such quick wrists and excellent hand-eye coordination that he can wait until the last second to commit himself, much like Padres great Tony Gwynn. His strength is hitting the ball up the middle or lining it over a middle infielders head into the gap. Unlike most young hitters, Burroughs already knows how to stay within himself on each swing and not try to do too much with a pitch. At third base, he has above-average arm strength, soft, quick hands and can become a solid defensive player.
Weaknesses: Burroughs hit six home runs in 1999, raising questions about his power. But such concerns are unrealistic, as its rare for teenage hitters to display power at the professional level. As Burroughs matures and learns to adjust his approach to different pitchers and game situations, his home run totals will increase. Hell spend extra time in the spring working on his footwork, which the Padres feel was the cause of most of his 37 errors. A 4.4 runner to first base, hell never be a threat to steal.
The Future: The Padres compare Burroughs development curve to the Athletics Eric Chavez, who made his big league debut at the end of his second full season. Burroughs will be on track to do the same if he starts 2000 in Double-A as expected and stays around .400 for extended periods.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Fort Wayne (A) .359 426 65 153 30 3 5 80 74 59 17 Rancho Cuca. (A) .435 23 3 10 3 0 1 5 3 3 0
2. Wascar Serrano, RHP
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 178
Signed: Dominican Republic, 1995 Signed by: Ronquito Garcia/Juan Melo Sr.
Background: Serrano has been one of his leagues Top 10 Prospects each of the last three years as he has moved smoothly through the Padres system. He was No. 5 in the California League in 1999 and was the Padres representative in the Futures Game.
Strengths: Serrano is a four-pitch pitcher and has shown he can command all four at a young age. He has a deceptive, curling delivery and hides the ball effectively, making it appear to be coming straight out of his jersey. Serranos best pitch is a low-90s, two-seam fastballa bat-breaking pitch when its in on righthanders. He can bump up to 95 with the four-seamer.
Weaknesses: Serranos slider and changeup are both promising but need more consistency. His arm action makes it look as if hes pushing the ball, but hes very durable and has never missed a pro start.
The Future: Serranos three-way combination of deception, raw stuff and four pitches make him an intriguing starting prospect. Hell pitch the first half of 2000 at only 21.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Rancho Cuca. (A) 9 8 3.33 21 21 1 0 132 110 43 129 Mobile (AA) 2 3 5.53 7 7 0 0 42 48 17 29
3. Adam Eaton, RHP
Age: 22 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 190
Drafted: HS--Snohomish, Wash., 1996 (1st round) Signed by: Bill Harper (Phillies)
Background: Eaton was set to be the Phillies No. 3 prospect until he was traded in the Andy Ashby deal. The 1996 first-rounder threw a no-hitter his first Double-A start but lost 1-0.
Strengths: Eaton has a power pitchers arm and approach. Hes aggressive with a sinking fastball around 90 mph, but he tends to pick up velocity during a game and can hit 94-95 during his last inning. He also has a hard overhand curve and an improving changeup.
Weaknesses: Eatons improvement last year was simply part of maturing. He reported to camp in much better shape and started to pitch instead of relying on natural ability alone. The Phillies softened his front side, and he pitched down in the zone better.
The Future: In Eaton, Serrano and Matt Clement, the Padres have three young, intimidating starters who can bring plus stuff to every turn. Eatons strong close to 99 may earn him a Triple-A spot.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Clearwater (A) 5 5 3.91 13 13 0 0 69 81 24 50 Reading (AA) 5 4 2.92 12 12 2 0 77 60 28 67 Scranton (AAA) 1 1 3.00 3 3 0 0 21 17 6 10
4. Mike Bynum, LHP
Age: 21 B-T: L-L Ht: 6-4 Wt: 200
Drafted: North Carolina, 1999 (Supplemental 1st round) Signed by: Gary Kendall
Background: Bynum was the fifth of San Diegos six first- and supplemental-round selections in 1999 but moved to the head of the class with a string of 27 consecutive scoreless innings to open his pro career.
Strengths: The first words two Pioneer League managers offered on Bynums skills compared his slider to Steve Carltons. Its a sharp, late-breaking pitch that can get under righthanded hitters hands with ease. Bynums fastball is in the 89-93 mph range and just as effective when he can spot it.
Weaknesses: Bynum isnt always comfortable with his mechanics, especially with his fastball, and he endures streaks when he has trouble spotting the pitch. His changeup is his third-best pitch and needs more work.
The Future: The organization has a shortage of lefthanders, and Bynum has quickly emerged as one of the stars of the system. He will definitely stay in a starters role for the long term.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Idaho Falls (R) 1 0 0.00 5 3 0 0 17 7 4 21 Rancho Cuca. (A) 3 1 3.29 7 7 0 0 38 35 8 44
5. Junior Herndon, RHP
Age: 21 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 190
Drafted: HS--Craig, Colo., 1997 (9th round) Signed by: Darryl Milne
Background: Herndon pitched all of 1999 in Double-A as a 20-year-old. His two shutouts tied for the lead among all Double-A hurlers.
Strengths: Herndon pitches with a savvy and awareness that many pitchers dont acquire until their mid-20s, if ever. He spots his 91 mph fastball low and around the corners and mixes in a sweeping curveball and changeup for strikes at any point in the count.
Weaknesses: Herndons pitches are not of strikeout quality by themselves, and he has to depend on his defense and command to work out of tough spots. One area he dramatically needs to improve is his ability to pitch to lefthanded hitters. Southpaw swingers hit .317 off Herndon in 1999 with 14 home runs in less than 200 atbats.
The Future: At an age when he would just be eligible for the draft as a college junior if he hadnt signed, Herndon will be starting 2000 in Triple-A, a short step from San Diego. Hes traditionally been a slow starter, so expect an adjustment period.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Mobile (AA) 10 9 4.69 26 26 2 0 163 172 52 87
6. Vince Faison, OF
Age: 18 B-T: L-R Ht: 6-0 Wt: 180
Drafted: HS--Lyons, Ga., 1999 (1st round) Signed by: Joe Bochy
Background: Faison was a top defensive back with a football scholarship to Georgia, but he indicated a strong preference for baseball and signed quickly after being the Padres first pick. He was named the top prospect in the Arizona League.
Strengths: Athletically, Faison is similar to top Cubs prospect Corey Patterson. Faisons first-step quickness is outstanding, and he gets to first base in the 3.9 range consistently. His bat also has surprising pop, and he should develop extra-base power as he learns to hit.
Weaknesses: Football robbed Faison of the repetitions a full-time baseball player would have had, and hes still raw in basic skills like pitch recognition and outfield routes. His arm is his least impressive tool but still grades out as average.
The Future: Faison has the potential to be the five-tool center fielder every team looks for but few find and develop. With the Padres organizational aggressiveness on the bases, he could lead a league in steals in the next year or two.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Peoria (R) .309 178 40 55 6 6 4 28 18 45 30 Fort Wayne (A) .208 48 10 10 2 0 0 1 6 18 7
7. Mike Darr, OF
Age: 23 B-T: L-R Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205
Drafted: HS--Corona, Calif., 1994 (2nd round) Signed by: Rob Wilfong (Tigers)
Background: Darr is the son of former big league pitcher Mike Darr, who pitched in one game for the expansion Blue Jays in 1977.
Strengths: In pure physical tools, Darr resembles Larry Walker as much as anyone. Hes a physical specimen with broad, loose shoulders, above-average speed and one of the best arms in minor league baseball. The ball jumps off his bat on contact, especially to left-center field, and hes capable of upper-deck blasts in batting practice.
Weaknesses: The key to Darrs successor lack of itis his approach at the plate. He hits with locked hips and limited lower body movement, which prevents him from pulling the ball with any authority. All his bat speed and torque are generated solely in his upper body.
The Future: The Padres have revamped their minor league hitting program under new farm director Ted Simmons and will hold out Darr as project No. 1. If Darr starts hitting home runs in spring training, he could turn heads quickly.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Las Vegas (AAA) .298 383 57 114 34 0 10 62 50 103 10
8. Wiki Gonzalez, C
Age: 25 B-T: R-R Ht: 5-11 Wt: 175
Signed: Venezuela, 1992 Signed by: Carlos Loretto (Pirates)
Background: Gonzalez shot into the Padres plans much the same way his good friend Carlos Hernandez did when he became the teams regular catcher in 1998. The Padres acquired Gonzalez from the Pirates in the minor league phase of the 96 Rule 5 draft.
Strengths: Gonzalez defense shocked even the Padres. He won Padres pitchers trust with his game calling and a catchers ERA nearly a full run less than both Ben Davis and Phil Nevin. Gonzalez threw out eight of 11 runners, including NL leader Tony Womack on a 1.75 pop time.
Weaknesses: Gonzalez has above-average raw power, but hes better behind the plate than at it. He lacks patience, especially against lefties who stay outside and change speeds (one walk in 83 big league at-bats).
The Future: With Hernandez returning from injury, Davis impressive in spots and Nevin now at third base, the Padres have four catchers. Gonzalez should start 2000 in Triple-A.
1999 Club AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Mobile (AA) .338 225 38 76 16 2 10 49 29 28 0 Las Vegas (AAA) .272 92 13 25 6 0 6 12 5 10 0 San Diego .253 83 7 21 2 1 3 12 1 8 0
9. Gerik Baxter, RHP
Age: 19 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-2 Wt: 185
Drafted: HS--Edmonds, Wash., 1999 (1st round) Signed by: Rich Bordi
Background: Baxter was overshadowed early by three other high school first-round picks from Washington, but he quickly closed the gap after signing. His early dominance and promotion earned him top-prospect status in both the Arizona (No. 3) and Pioneer (No. 4) leagues.
Strengths: Baxter showed three potential above-average major league pitches right from his first professional game. His fastball is around 92 mph but has reached 96, and hes got a hard curve with a sharp downward break. The Padres were surprised by the deception of his changeup, a pitch he rarely threw in high school.
Weaknesses: Baxter still needs to find a consistent release point on his curve. He tends to get under it and throw it with a casting motion.
The Future: The Padres compare Baxter to the recently acquired Eaton, another Northwest product. Despite his quick jump to the Northwest League, Baxter is more likely a step-by-step prospect as he learns command and a consistent delivery.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Peoria (R) 3 0 1.50 8 7 0 0 36 27 15 45 Idaho Falls (R) 2 0 4.81 5 5 0 0 24 21 17 29
10. Brandon Kolb, RHP
Age: 26 B-T: R-R Ht: 6-1 Wt: 190
Drafted: Texas Tech, 1995 (4th round) Signed by: Jim Dwyer
Background: Kolb was a fringe starting prospect with a good slider and fair fastball before major elbow surgery in 1997. Fully recovered and in the bullpen last year, his stuff took a quantum leap forward.
Strengths: Kolb has two plus pitches perfectly suited for closing: a 95-96 mph fastball and a sharp power slider. Pre-surgery, Kolb went to his slider as his out pitch, but hes since learned to use his fastball aggressively and confidently. His fastball is especially effective low in the zoneKolb only allowed three home runs in 1999.
Weaknesses: Pitchers who are 26 and have tracks on their right elbow have a shorter window of opportunity than normal prospects. Kolb has to learn the subtleties of his new role while trying to make a major league roster.
The Future: The Padres traded Dan Miceli and waived Carlos Reyes, the two righthanded relievers who led them in appearances in 1999, so the bullpen is wide open for Kolb to claim a spot as a set-up man for Trevor Hoffman.
1999 Club W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H BB SO Mobile (AA) 0 2 0.79 7 0 0 2 11 8 4 14 Las Vegas (AAA) 2 1 3.94 42 0 0 4 62 72 29 63
Rest of the Best:
11. Jacob Peavy, rhp
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