San Diego Padres: Chat
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, 2009.
Matt is on a Handbook call and will be in the chat room as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience.
Brendan (Colorado): Can you give us some quick thoughts on Zawadzki? How close was he to the top 10 and what kind of ceiling does he have?
Zawadzki was considered for the top 10,
with his short track record the only thing really working against him.
Getting to Double-A and playing well was a great sign, though. He's not
an overly physical player, but he has two outstanding tools — three if
you want to count flexibility — that will get him big league looks.
Zawadzki has impressive pop from both sides of the plate and an
absolute cannon of an arm. The power will play up the middle and the
arm keeps him alive on the left side of the infield. He improved his
consistency of defense in 2009, but maybe not to the point where he's a
starting shortstop on championship team. It might not matter. He could
offer significant value to the Padres by filling in at third, second
and short, settling at one position occasionally to fill in for injured
Rick (Wv): Vince Belnome tore it up in Eugene, did he come close to reaching the top 10?
A 28th-round pick from West Virginia in
June, Belnome hit .297 with power for Eugene. Members of the front
office brought him up by name as a player to watch in 2010. No one
seemed sold on him as a second baseman, but they loved his quiet
hitting approach from the left side and his intensity. He's probably
not a big power guy in the end, but a lefty-hitting third baseman who
hits for average and uses all fields has a shot. Sleeper potential.
Matt (Houston, TX): Where is Rymer Liriano ranked? I would ranked him higher than
Aaron Poreda .
Liriano shot into the top 15. He's got
the raw power, the rifle arm, some speed and the effusive nature to be
a star. But will he control the strike zone as he moves up? If he does,
then watch out. He's got serious juice to all fields. In the end,
Liriano very well may prove to be a better big leaguer than Poreda. But
when this snapshot was taken, Poreda had put Double-A behind him (8.3
K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 26 starts) and had the raw stuff to pitch in the
bullpen. The loss of any semblance of control after the trade is
discouraging, but if he throws more strikes, he will pitch as a
Justin (San Diego): Can Matt Clark play any other positions, or is he future trade bait?
Clark played some third base as an
amateur, but the Padres seem inclined to develop him as a first baseman
because he's not the fleetest afoot. But at this point in time, Clark's
the top dog on the minor league depth chart. He proved as much when he
zoomed to high Class A ahead of Allan Dykstra. But what is that worth
in a system that has Adrian Gonzalez and Kyle Blanks ahead of him in
the big leagues? We'll have to wait and see. His first full season was
a success: He led all farmhands with 24 homers and 101 RBIs.
Jake (Near SD): Where would Kyle Blanks rank, if he were eligible?
Given how well Blanks hit in both
Portland and San Diego, he'd have to be considered odds-on favorite for
another No. 1 ranking.
DLB (MD): You said that Forsythe will have average power for a 3B. What does that equate to in terms of annual HRs and SLG%?
On the scouting scale, average power on
the equates to 15-19 home runs per season. Of course, playing half his
games in Petco will deflate those home run and slugging numbers.
Forsythe has that kind of strength to hit 12-14 homers in Petco, but
his line-drive stroke might equate to more doubles than homers even in
a neutral park.
Pierre (Montreal, Canada): Did the Padres get enough for Jake Peavy?
From a talent perspective, it appears
that the Padres did not receive equal value. That perception is
reinforced by the lousy organizational debuts for both Poreda and
Dexter Carter. And while Clayton Richard and Adam Russell are nice
pieces for depth, they're hardly in the same universe as Peavy. I think
for San Diego, it boiled down to salary relief now and for the next
Sean (Calgary Canada): What should the Padres
do with Gonzalez? It seems a shame to give up a relatively inexpensive
younger player but when you look at their system they seem to lack both
quality and depth. Who would be a good match (Boston and?) and what
could the Padres expect to get?
Don't be surprised if the Padres hang on
to Gonzalez. Not only is he a talented slugger, but he's a hometown kid
who's obscenely affordable. The club will need to generate some revenue
over the next few seasons, and keeping Gonzalez around will also
provide a role model for young Padres hitters.
Greg (Vista, CA): Can you give a pitcher and position player prospectsthat might be a sleeper?
A sleeper, eh? Belnome would do for
hitters, though there's also Dominican second baseman-in-the-making
Jonathan Galvez, who whips the bat through the zone with strong wrists
and already has a feel for the strike zone. Among pitchers, you might
look at '07 first-rounder Nick Schmidt, who wore down in the Cal League
but who dealt in spring training. And don't overlook Fort Wayne closer
Brad Brach, an '08 42nd-rounder from Monmouth. While he doesn't have
overpowering stuff, sitting in the low 90s with a nice splitter, he has
"icewater running through his veins," as one official put it. And you
can't argue with the early results: 11.6 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and 33 saves in
Brian (San Diego): Was there any consideration for Portillo on your top 10?
Sure. We haven't given up on him just
because he had a rough year. His control wavered and the Padres
streamlined his mechanics in-season, so you can throw away the 2009
results. The arm strength is real and the secondary pitches show up on
Matt (SoCal): What do you think of Craig Italiano? Was he put on the 40 man because of rule V this year?
Technically, yes. The Padres added him
(and Chad Huffman and Steve Garrison) so that he would not be exposed
to the Rule 5 process. But if Italiano pitches well in Double-A next
spring, you could see him in San Diego in the second half. It's a
wicked fastball/slider combo that he's paired recently with improved
Steve (Lake Elsinore, CA): I've heard the
criticism of Deckers bad body before but, I've also heard that his body
doesn't match his athleticism. People in the Padres organization have
said positive things about his athleticism and he's even played some CF
since being drafted. Have you heard anything like that? Worst case
scenario does his bat play at 1b?
It pains me to criticize Decker because
he's been absolute offensive force as a pro. But what we're trying to
convey are the opinions of talent evaluators who have watched players
develop for decades. At the end of the year, Decker seemed more
receptive to an improved conditioning program. Keep in mind that he's
young and that he's never struggled as a baseball player. How receptive
would any player be?
Brian (San Diego): Why doesn't Luis Durango
ever get any love? He's hit at every level and has lightning speed. His
defense has improved and it seems like he'll be able to handle CF. The
only knock on him I've heard is his lack of power to keep the
I had this conversation with co-workers
this morning. Durango has demonstrated an ability to slap the ball and
run, while being able to foul off pitches until the pitcher misses for
ball four. Big league defenses and pitchers might disarm Durango of
those two weapons. And while he's fast, he's no better than average as
a center fielder or basestealer. He could have a career as an extra guy
in the NL, someone who can pinch-hit, pinch-run and sub in the outfield.
Darren (Clevelad): Will Italiano continue to be used strictly as a reliever by the Padres?
Yes. They dropped his arm slot from over
the top to three-quarters and his control improved dramatically. But
his repertoire has long suggest a relief role.
Brian (San Diego): How much has the Padres farm system improved?
Quite a bit. It was a strong player
development year on all fronts: the draft, the performances of players
from the '08 draft, a number of Latin American talents showed real
improvement, the trades of Peavy and Hairston brought back several
John (El Cajon): Should the Padres be worried
about possibly losing Aaron Breit, Will Inman, or Drew Miller in the
Rule 5 draft? Anybody else worth mentioning?
Miller seems like a long shot, seeing as
he pitched terribly in the Cal League in '08 and then missed his
follow-up with a bum elbow. Breit and Inman are different cases,
though. Inman is too homer-prone to pitch as a starter or high-leverage
reliever. He just doesn't command his fastball well enough. But his
curveball features good rotation, and his delivery is so deceptive that
he could pitch in low-leverage relief role in 2010. Breit has the raw
ingredients — size, a plus curveball and a low-90s fastball (though
it's straight) — but maybe not the focus to pitch in the majors next
year. He started for Lake Elsinore down the stretch, but his profile
screams reliever. In that role, he posted a 56-15 K-BB in 41 innings,
giving up only one home run.
Brett (DC): Noticed Will Venable wasn't on the
future lineup. Is there a chance that he becomes a regular on a decent
MLB team? Or is he more of a 4th of or even a non-prospect?
He's an overachiever who will have a big
league career, in my opinion. He probably fits best as a fill-in guy on
a quality team, because he does a lot of things well but nothing
Robert Goldberg (Lyndhurst, NJ): Where is
Forsythe most likely to end up, defensively? His bat would be
outstanding at second or catcher, but not so much at third or in the
outfield (unless his power spikes).
This is a fair assessment, the only drawback being that he's probably the most effective third base defender in the system.
Bob (New Orleans): Will Brandon Gomes ever make it to the show? What are your thoughts on him.
Gomes really put him self on the map in
'09. After leading the minors in appearances, he continued on in the
AFL, pitching 11 times and striking out 16 (against 3 walks) in 15
innings. So who is he, you ask? San Diego selected the 5-foot-10
righthander from Tulane in the '07 draft's 17th round, but he didn't
blossom until he reached Double-A this year. The Padres credit improved
direction to the plate with his success, and he's got solid stuff to
boot. Gomes' velocity improved to the 93-94 mph range and his slider
and splitter (his changeup against lefties) also took steps forward.
Big Dave (AR): What are you hearing about
Yefri Carvajal these days? The Padres seemed to be really high on him
when they signed him, but he hasn't quite taken off yet. Is he close to
putting it together or are the Pads starting to get down on him?
Once upon a time, Carvajal was the
system's top international prospect. Thankfully those days are past, as
Carvajal's swing remains loopy and his confidence is diminished after
two poor years in A-ball. His raw power is huge and he can run a bit,
so he's not a player San Diego will walk away from . . . yet.
JAYPERS (IL): Where did Dexter Carter land on your list? Does his rocky beginning with the Padres' system any cause for concern?
It is a concern because he showed no
diminution of stuff. Carter was so effective for the White Sox, though,
so we squeezed him onto the list.
Allan (Wisconsin): Matt, what prospects am I
going to see in Fort Wayne this year...Last year was loaded with
Darnell, Castro, Dykstra, Decker and Tekotte. Maybe Tate at some point?
Your best bets are going to be Edinson
Rincon and RHP Jorge Reyes, a 17th-rounder from Oregon State who signed
for $200,000. Don't be surprised if one or more of the high school
triumvirate of Tate, Everett Williams or Keyvius Sampson begins there.
The club always has the fallback of sending them to the Northwest
League in June if they fall flat.
Rich (Boston): How close was SS/2B Lance
Zawadzki to cracking the Top 10? Do you think he has a chance to be a
mid-season call-up or at least September call-up?
Thanks for checking in, Boston. For
those who don't know, Zawadzki attended high school in Oxford, Mass. As
to your question, I don't want to remove all the suspense of flipping
through the Prospect Handbook for the first time. So I'll say that he
ranks in the 11-15 range.
Nick (San Diego): What pitcher in the system has the highest ceiling?
I'll go with Simon Castro on that, followed by Pelzer, Sampson and Portillo.
Lloyd (Carlsbad): What kind of future do you see for Blake Tekotte?
A best case scenario: Solid starting
center fielder who contributes across multiple categories. Tekotte can
sting the ball, but his quickest path to the big leagues might be as a
table-setter, someone who hits for average, draws walks and steals
bases. The down side: A speed-oriented, lefty-hitting reserve
Ian (Eugene, OR): Did Nate Freiman make your top 30?? Does he project to be a bigleague power threat?
Freiman, an eighth-rounder from Duke
this year, received some support but ultimately ranked outside the 30.
A 6-foot-7, righty-hitting first baseman, he draws some comparisons
with Kyle Blanks, and when you see what he hit in Eugene you understand
why. Freiman can crush a baseball and he's not susceptible in like many
tall batters. He's got a great work ethic and unreal strength, but
he'll need to work through some stiffness in his swing.
George (Encinitas, CA): I know Kulbacki was injured most of the year, but have scouts given up on him?
Some scouts never were sold on Kulbacki.
At 5-foot-10, he doesn't look the part of run-producing corner
outfielder, and he lacks the bat speed usually associated with plus
power. But on the flip side, he shows an ability to barrel the ball
with his low-maintenance swing. Kulbacki never was healthy in 2009, so
don't judge him too harshly on his performance.
Nick (San Diego): If you had to take a Minor League Pitcher and make him the closer tomorrow, who do you take?
Wynn Pelzer for his mid-90s velo, tenacity and his crazy breaking ball.