San Diego Padres Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Jim Callis
1. Sean Burroughs, 3b
Age: 20. B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS--Long Beach, 1998 (1st round). Signed by: Tim McWilliam.
Background: Burroughs has been in the spotlight since he was 11, when he led a Long Beach team coached by his father, 1969 No. 1 overall draft pick and American League MVP Jeff Burroughs, to the 1992 Little League World Series title. Long Beach became the first U.S. team to repeat as champions in 1993, when Sean was named MVP after throwing two 16-strikeout no-hitters and batting .600. He added another world championship in 2000 as a member of the U.S. Olympic team, hitting .375 in limited action. Earlier in the year, Burroughs was MVP of the Futures Game in Atlanta after going 3-for-4 with a key defensive play. The Padres have been aggressive with him, letting him make his pro debut in full-season Class A and play in Double-A last season as a teenager. He has responded to every challenge.
Strengths: Burroughs is the best pure hitter in the minor leagues. Despite being much younger than his opposition, he has batted .329 as a pro. More impressive, he has walked more times (135) than he has struck out (107). He has a tremendous understanding of the strike zone, reaching base in 57 consecutive games in 1999-2000. Much has been made of Burroughs eight homers in 236 pro games, but hell be an above-average power hitter at the major league level. Its typical for young lefthanded hitters to drive the ball to the middle of the ballpark, with home run power the last thing to develop. Burroughs has the bat speed and the approach to drive the ball as he gets more experience and learns to turn on pitches. Hes not a one-dimensional player, either. He has above-average arm strength and hands at third base.
Weaknesses: Power is Burroughs most obvious shortcoming at this point, but it will come. The only thing he wont do as a big leaguer is impress anyone with his speed on the bases.
The Future: There has been talk that if the Padres trade Phil Nevin, their most marketable major leaguer, Burroughs could be their Opening Day starter at the hot corner. While he wouldnt be scarred, Burroughs also isnt ready to offer big league power for his position. Hell be better off spending most of the year at Triple-A Portland. Regardless, hes a future batting champion and an all-star for years to come.
2. Jacob Peavy, rhp
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 180. Drafted: HSSemmes, Ala., 1999 (15th round). Signed by: Mark Wasinger.
Background: The Padres spent four first-round picks on pitchers in 1999, but 15th-rounder Peavy has been the best pitcher from that draft thus far. He lasted that long because he was considered frail, wild and committed to Auburn. He won the Rookie-level Arizona Leagues pitching triple crown in his pro debut, and had a strong season in 2000 despite missing two weeks with viral meningitis in April.
Strengths: Peavy used a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, good slider and nice changeup to tie for the Class A Midwest League lead in strikeouts last season. He makes it tougher for hitters by varying his arm angle and pitching down in the strike zone. His control is better than was expected as a pro, and he hasnt had trouble with lefthanders.
Weaknesses: To this point, Peavy hasnt shown a significant weakness. Like all young pitchers, he can refine his command and the consistency of his pitches.
The Future: Peavys pure stuff isnt as good as that of the Padres other top pitching prospects. Its his approach that elevates him ahead of them, and it will be interesting to see if it can keep him there. Peavy will move to high Class A and could reach Double-A late in the season.
3. Wascar Serrano, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 178. Signed: Dominican Republic, 1995. Signed by: Ronquito Garcia.
Background: For the first time in his four seasons in the United States, Serrano failed to make his leagues Top 10 Prospects list. It still was a successful year, with the exception of a disastrous four-start stint in Triple-A at midseason. When he returned to Double-A, Serrano went 3-0, 2.16 in five starts.
Strengths: Serrano has the best fastball in the system. He can touch the mid-90s with his four-seam fastball, and his low-90s two-seamer is more effective because of its additional movement. He improved his breaking ball in 2000, and its now more of a slider than a slurve.
Weaknesses: Serrano has been slow to pick up a changeup. After six pro seasons, its still not effective or deceptive. He generally has been stingy with walks and homers, but that wasnt the case in Triple-A.
The Future: Serrano will get a second shot at Triple-A in 2001, when the Padres new affiliate (Portland) should be more pitcher-friendly than their old one (Las Vegas). The back end of San Diegos rotation is far from stable, so he could get a big league shot if he passes the Triple-A test this time around.
4. Mike Bynum, lhp
Age: 23. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200. Drafted: North Carolina, 1999 (1st round supplemental). Signed by: Gary Kendall.
Background: After being overshadowed by Kyle Snyder at North Carolina, Bynum burst into the spotlight by pitching 27 scoreless innings to start his pro career. He hasnt slowed down much since. He was rated the best lefty pitching prospect in the California League and pitched a scoreless inning in the Futures Game last year.
Strengths: Bynums best pitch is a slider that has been compared to Steve Carltons. He changed his grip on it as a college junior, increasing its break. Lefthanders have little chance against him, hitting .170 with no homers in 123 at-bats last year. Hes an intelligent, composed pitcher who can read a batters swing and make adjustments.
Weaknesses: Bynums fastball and changeup arent nearly as dominating as his slider. He has average velocity at 89-90 mph but admitted he was disappointed with his fastball command in 2000. He doesnt throw his changeup as much as he should.
The Future: The Padres need lefthanders and are looking forward to the day when Bynum will be ready to join them. He could go to Triple-A with a strong spring, though a return to Double-A is a possibility.
5. Gerik Baxter, rhp
Age: 21. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Drafted: HSEdmonds, Wash., 1999 (1st round). Signed by: Rich Bordi.
Background: Baxter struggled at the beginning of 2000, his first full pro season, going 1-3, 6.96 in his first seven starts. Then he hit his stride, posting a 1.71 ERA and limiting opponents to a .190 average the rest of the way. The only downside came in late June, when he was hit in the head by a line drive and missed seven weeks with a concussion.
Strengths: Baxter has a 92-93 mph fastball that can touch 96. At times, his slider gives him a second plus pitch. He has a surprisingly advanced changeup for his age. He keeps the ball in the park, allowing just eight homers in 161 pro innings, and challenges hitters.
Weaknesses: Baxter was supposed to pitch in Australia this winter, but he left after one outing with whats considered a minor elbow problem. His biggest need is to develop a consistent delivery. If he does that, he should throw more strikes and improve his secondary pitches.
The Future: After resting his elbow, Baxter should be 100 percent by spring training. Hell move up to Lancaster in 2001 and probably will stay there for the entire season. Hes 21Ž2 years away from being ready for the majors.
6. Mark Phillips, lhp
Age: 19. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 195. Drafted: HSHanover, Pa., 2000 (1st round). Signed by: Rene Mons.
Background: With Rockies first-round pick Matt Harrington unsigned, Phillips may have the most upside of any pitcher from the 2000 draft. He agreed to a predraft deal with the Padres worth a club-record $2.2 million. He blossomed late as a prospect, with his velocity suddenly shooting up last spring after he didnt attend any of the national showcases the previous summer.
Strengths: Phillips has the best fastball among 2000 high school draftees who signed, throwing 93-94 mph on a regular basis. He also has one of the best breaking balls from the prep crop, a curveball that he throws so hard that it looks like a slider. When he throws strikes with both pitches, hes untouchable.
Weaknesses: Phillips is more of a thrower than a pitcher. His command needs improvement and hell have to add a changeup. Fairly skinny, he needs to get stronger, which should boost his fastball more.
The Future: Considering his stuff and that hes lefthander, Phillips is a good bet to be the first high schooler from last years draft to reach the majors. That said, hes going to have to add a lot of polish before hes ready. Hes ticketed for low Class A Fort Wayne in 2001.
7. Xavier Nady, 3b
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Drafted: California, 2000 (2nd round). Signed by: Don Lyle.
Background: Entering last spring, Nady was the top-rated prospect for the 2000 draft. Because his junior year at California (.329-19-59) wasnt as strong as his previous two seasons, and because of his bonus demands, Nady slid to the 49th pick last June. He spent the summer with Team USA before agreeing to a four-year big league contract that includes a $1.1 million bonus, $1.75 million in guarantees and up to $3.55 million in incentives.
Strengths: Nady was the best all-around hitter in the draft. He broke Mark McGwires Pacific-10 Conference record with a .718 slugging percentage. With his strength and eye, Nady should hit for both power and average as a pro.
Weaknesses: Nady lacks speed and a definite position. Scouts soured slightly on Nady after he slumped as a junior, then batted .238 with one homer using a wood bat for Team USA.
The Future: Nady became the first 2000 draftee to reach the majors last September (per the terms of his contract), singling off Eric Gagne in his lone at-bat. His likely destination now is Double-A. Hell play third base and may even get a look at second. The guess here is that hell reach the majors as a left fielder.
8. Ben Johnson, of
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HSGermantown, Tenn., 1999 (4th round). Signed by: Randy Benson (Cardinals).
Background: General manager Kevin Towers made some astute deals before the 2000 trading deadline. In one fell swoop, he shed the Padres of the last 14 months of Carlos Hernandez excessive contract and acquired Johnson, the best prospect drafted by the Cardinals in 1999.
Strengths: The Padres scouting reports compare Johnson to a young Brian Jordan. Johnsons most obvious gifts are size, strength and speed. For a young hitter, he has a good idea of the strike zone. Defensively, he has a solid arm and range for right field. A gifted athlete, he played both football and baseball at Germantown, one of the nations top high school baseball programs.
Weaknesses: After wearing down in the second half of 2000, Johnson will have to adjust to the extended pro season. He showed the ability to make adjustments at the plate the year before, so there are no long-term concerns about his hitting.
The Future: Johnson could move up to high Class A in 2001, though he could return to Fort Wayne if the Padres decide to promote some older outfielders from Rookie-level Idaho Falls ahead of him.
9. Dennis Tankersley, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Drafted: Meramec (Mo.) CC, D/F 1998 (38th round). Signed by: Steve McAllister (Red Sox).
Background: Few trades work out better than the one in which the Padres sent Ed Sprague to the Red Sox last June. San Diego received shortstop Cesar Saba and the unheralded Tankersley, who developed into a better prospect. After switching organizations, Tankersley had nearly twice as many double-digit strikeout outings (five) as he did games in which he allowed more than two runs (three). On top of it all, the Red Sox released Sprague in August and the Padres re-signed him.
Strengths: Tankersleys out pitch is a two-seam fastball that arrives at 91-92 mph and dives toward the plate. He also has a four-seamer that tops out at 94-95 mph. His slider and curveball are effective, and he throws all three for strikes to both sides.
Weaknesses: His primary need is experience, though like any pitcher, hell need to improve his command and consistency to enjoy continued success as he rises through the minors.
The Future: Tankersley is yet another example of the Red Sox underestimating the worth of their prospects before including them in trades. He likely will start 2001 in the California League.
10. Junior Herndon, rhp
Age: 22. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Drafted: HSCraig, Colo., 1997 (9th round). Signed by: Darryl Milne.
Background: Herndon is the most precocious pitcher in the system. After being named the Padres 1998 minor league pitcher of the year, he moved to Double-A at age 20 and Triple-A at 21. He started slowly at Las Vegas in 2000 before seemingly turning the corner by going 2-1, 1.91 in five July starts, but went 3-6, 7.21 in his final 12 outings.
Strengths: Herndon throws in the low 90s with life on is fastball. Pacific Coast League managers liked his slider last season, though the Padres would prefer him to throw a curveball. His changeup is effective. After lefthanders batted .317 off him in 1999, he limited them to a .254 average in 2000.
Weaknesses: Herndon may have been moved too quickly for his own good. He doesnt have a dominant pitch, so he has to win with location and command. He has been too tentative since leaving Class A, as his strikeout-walk ratio has declined from 198-80 to 162-117 and his ERA has risen from 3.43 to 4.89.
The Future: Herndon definitely needs another season in Triple-A to catch his breath. Hes still just 22, so he has time to make adjustments. He must start doing so in 2001.
Rest of the Best:
11. Brian Lawrence, rhp
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