San Diego Padres Top 10 Prospects With Scouting Reports




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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, 2011.

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Adrian Gonzalez anchored the Padres lineup from 2006 through 2010, producing at a rate on par with any hitter in the National League this side of Albert Pujols.

Despite Gonzalez's contributions, San Diego finished in the bottom half of the NL in scoring in all five seasons, finishing as high as ninth in 2007 but plummeting to the bottom in the subsequent two seasons. The Padres won the NL West in Gonzalez's first season in San Diego, finished well out of the money in two other years, and missed the playoffs by one excruciating game in the other two seasons.

With one of those near-misses fresh in mind, the organization made the difficult decision to trade Gonzalez, a San Diego native in the final year of his contract. The Red Sox long had been viewed as natural trading partners because so many Boston expatriates populate the San Diego front office, from general manager Jed Hoyer to assistant GM Jason McLeod to vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes.

The two sides ultimately consummated a deal in December that sent Gonzalez to Boston for righthander Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, center fielder Reymond Fuentes and veteran Eric Patterson.

Kelly and Rizzo finished 2010 in Double-A and ranked as Boston's best pitching and hitting prospect at the time of the trade. McLeod drafted those two as well as Fuentes in his former role as Red Sox scouting director, taking Kelly and Fuentes with first-round picks in 2008 and '09.

The Padres are seeking to put together enough offense to back up their consistently good pitching, which carried them to the top of the NL West for the better part of 2010. San Diego roared to a 76-49 start and held a 6 1/2-game division lead on Aug. 25. The Padres then lost 10 games in a row, scoring a grand total of 23 runs, to allow the Giants back into the race. San Francisco moved into first place on Sept. 10 and went on to win the division and the World Series.

San Diego's Bud Black still earned NL manager of the year honors because his team's performance defied all reasonable expectations. Led by 22-year-old Mat Latos and a stout bullpen, the pitching staff paced the major leagues with 3.59 runs allowed per game.

In an effort to find some offense, San Digeo used its pitching excess to execute four trades in 2010. At the trade deadline, the Padres swapped Nick Greenwood to the Cardinals and Corey Kluber to the Indians in a three-team deal that netted Ryan Ludwick, and sent Wynn Pelzer to the Orioles for Miguel Tejada.

In the offseason they parted with five relievers, acquiring Cameron Maybin from the Marlins (for Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb), then getting Jason Bartlett from the Rays (for Brandon Gomes, Cesar Ramos, Adam Russell and second-base prospect Cole Figueroa).

The Padres had to look outside the organization for offense because their farm system hasn't been up to the task. San Diego used 10 first-round or supplemental first-round picks on position players from 2006-09, and not one projects as a surefire big league regular. Outfielder Donavan Tate, the No. 3 overall pick in 2009, has struggled to stay healthy since signing for a club-record $6.25 million.

1.  Casey Kelly, rhp   Born: Oct. 4, 1989B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 210
Drafted: HS—Sarasota, Fla., 2008 (1st round)Signed by: Anthony Turco (Red Sox)
Casey KellyBackground: Kelly was one of the top two-way players in the 2008 draft coming out of high school, but his high asking price and scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee made him available to the Red Sox with the 30th overall pick. They viewed him as the most polished high school arm in the draft and signed him for $3 million, a franchise record for a draftee. The son of former big league catcher Pat Kelly, Casey preferred playing every day to pitching, and Boston agreed to let him make his debut at shortstop. He didn't pitch professionally until 2009, then switched back to shortstop after appearing in the Futures Game that year. Kelly showed fluid actions and power potential as a shortstop, but after hitting .219 in two pro seasons and .171 in the '09 Arizona Fall League, he agreed that his future was on the mound. The Red Sox assigned him to Double-A, where at 20 he was the youngest starting pitcher in the Eastern League last year. Boston shut him down as a precaution when he strained a lat muscle in early August, and he returned to the mound in the AFL. In December, the Red Sox traded Kelly to the Padres as the centerpiece of a four-player package for Adrian Gonzalez.

Scouting Report: Kelly's ERA may have ballooned from 2.08 in 2009 to 5.31 last season, but Boston attributed that to him having to learn how to harness an increase in velocity and make his mechanics work as his frame started to mature. His fastball now ranges from 89-93 mph and peaks at 96. Kelly showed the ability to consistently locate his fastball on both corners with sink in 2009 but didn't command it as well in 2010. With his fluid, athletic delivery, he should regain that skill once he fully grows into his body. His struggles came in part because he couldn't paint the black as effectively, causing him to fall behind in the count. A cracked nail on the middle finger of his right hand also dogged him all season and affected his command. While Kelly's fastball isn't a true swing-and-miss offering, his above-average 83-84 mph changeup often is—though he became over-reliant on it last year. Batters tend to swing right over the top of the changeup because he delivers it with the same arm speed and slot as his fastball. His curveball is a power breaking ball at times, and more of an average pitch that he just gets over for strikes at others. Kelly has an advanced feel for pitching, though he needs to trust his stuff and challenge hitters more, rather than trying to live on the corners. His athleticism enables him to keep basestealers in check and field his position well. He has good mound presence and didn't get flustered when he struggled at Portland.

The Future: It's easy to forget that 2010 was Kelly's first full year as a pitcher, and his learning curve against Double-A hitters was steep. The Padres envision him becoming a frontline starter with three possible plus pitches and above-average command. Much like Simon Castro, the prospect he dislodged at the top of this list, Kelly should reach Triple-A Tucson at some point in 2011, perhaps even to start the season, and his big league ETA is 2012.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Portland (AA) 3 5 5.31 21 21 0 0 95 118 10 35 81 .307
 
2.  Anthony Rizzo, 1b   Born: Aug. 8, 1989B-T: L-LHt: 6-3Wt: 220
Drafted: HS—Parkland, Fla., 2007 (6th round)Signed by: Laz Gutierrez (Red Sox)
Anthony RizzoBackground: Rizzo was hitting .373 in low Class A in April 2008 when he was diagnosed with limited stage classical Hodgkin's lymphoma. After missing the rest of that season to get treatment, he has been cancer-free. He established himself as the best offensive prospect in the Red Sox system prior to his inclusion in Adrian Gonzalez trade.

Scouting Report: Rizzo generates plus power with strength and leverage. He drives the ball well to the opposite field and last season began pulling pitches for home runs. With his willingness to use the entire field and his patience, he should hit for a solid average and draw some walks, though he needs to refine his two-strike approach. He also must make adjustments against lefthanders after hitting .217/.290/.380 against them in 2010. Managers rated him the best defensive first baseman in the Eastern League, as he has smooth actions and does a good job of picking throws out of the dirt. He can get nonchalant in the field, however, which led to 15 errors last season. He's a below-average runner.

The Future: With Gonzalez out of the picture in San Diego, Rizzo projects as the organization's first baseman of the future. He'll spend much of 2011 in Triple-A and could push for a big league job the following season.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Salem (Hi A) .248 .333 .479 117 26 29 12 0 5 20 16 32 3
Portland (AA) .263 .334 .481 414 66 109 30 0 20 80 45 100 7
 
3.  Simon Castro, rhp   Born: April 9, 1988B-T: R-RHt: 6-5Wt: 210
Signed: Dominican Republic, 2006Signed by: Randy Smith/Felix Francisco
Simon CastroBackground: Castro led the low Class A Midwest League with 157 strikeouts in 2009, so the Padres felt comfortable jumping him to Double-A San Antonio last season. He was up to the challenge, topping the Texas League in WHIP (1.10) and opponent average (.223) while ranking second in ERA (2.92). He also started for the World Team at the Futures Game.

Scouting Report: Big and durable, Castro has an ideal pitcher's build that has been likened to that of a young Jose Contreras. He sits at 91-93 mph and tops out near 95 with tailing action and occasional late sink. He relies on his 82-84 mph slider as a second pitch, and it features three-quarters break when he catches it right. He wears out the bottom of the zone with both pitches. Castro shows a feel for a sinking changeup that has average potential, though it still needs refinement. He has a long arm swing in the back of his delivery, but he repeats his mechanics well and throws strikes.

The Future: Newly added to the 40-man roster, Castro is on track to begin 2011 in Triple-A and could be ready for a second-half promotion to San Diego. He profiles as a mid-rotation starter, but some scouts view his ultimate ceiling as a No. 2, which he could reach with improved command.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
San Antonio (AA) 7 6 2.92 24 23 0 0 130 107 8 36 107 .223
Portland (AAA) 0 1 7.84 2 2 0 0 10 16 1 6 6 .333
 
4.  Reymond Fuentes, of   Born: Feb. 12, 1991B-T: L-LHt: 6-0Wt: 170
Drafted: HS—Manati, P.R., 2009 (1st round)Signed by: Edgar Perez (Red Sox)
Reymond FuentesBackground: The Red Sox made Fuentes the sixth Puerto Rican ever drafted in the first round, and the first since the Blue Jays' Miguel Negron in 2000, when they selected him 28th overall in 2009. Signed for $1.134 million, he held his own in low Class A at age 19 last season. He came to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez trade in December.

Scouting Report: Fuentes ranks among the best athletes in the system. His plus-plus speed gives him impact potential in center field, though he relies more on reactions and raw speed now. Managers rated him the best defensive outfielder in the South Atlantic League, where he also stole 42 bases in 47 attempts. He enhances his quickness by getting great jumps on balls, and he compensates for a below-average arm by charging balls and making accurate throws. Fuentes has a line-drive stroke, and his bat speed portends some future pop once he adds some much-needed strength. He's still learning the strike zone but made positive adjustments in the second half of 2010.

The Future: Though Fuentes may need four or five seasons in the minors, his upside makes him worth the wait. He has similar tools to Jacoby Ellsbury, and he's a more advanced hitter at the same stage and should become a better defender. Fuentes will spend 2011 at high Class A Lake Elsinore.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Greenville (Lo A) .270 .328 .377 374 59 101 15 5 5 41 25 87 42
 
5.  Matt Lollis, rhp   Born: Sept. 11, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 6-7Wt: 280
Drafted: Riverside (Calif.) CC, 2009 (15th round)Signed by: Pete DeYoung
Matt LollisBackground: The Padres doled out a club-record $9.1 million in draft bonuses in 2009, and so far the player from that crop who has made the biggest impression is a relatively unknown 15th-rounder who signed for $100,000. Lollis started 2010 at short-season Eugene, allowed 10 earned runs in nine starts at low Class A Fort Wayne and finished the year with a strong playoff start for Lake Elsinore.

Scouting Report: Lollis throws four pitches, with his high three-quarters arm slot affording him good plane on a 92-93 mph fastball that peaks at 95. San Diego typically asks pitchers to focus on one breaking ball, but it has allowed him to throw both a hard slider and a knuckle-curve that features 12-to-6 break. He still is building confidence in his changeup, a distant fourth pitch in his repertoire. Nicknamed "Big Country" because of his gigantic frame, Lollis nonetheless shows surprising athleticism and a nuanced feel for his craft, which allow him to fill the strike zone with ease. He has quick feet, belying his size, but he'll have to monitor his conditioning carefully so his body doesn't get out of control.

The Future: Lollis has mid-rotation potential if his changeup develops and his body doesn't go south. He'll begin the 2011 season back in high Class A.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
Eugene (SS) 2 2 2.86 6 6 0 0 35 21 0 8 24 .175
Fort Wayne (Lo A) 5 2 1.66 9 9 0 0 54 47 3 13 45 .234
 
6.  Cory Luebke, lhp   Born: March 4, 1985B-T: R-LHt: 6-4Wt: 215
Drafted: Ohio State, 2007 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Jeff Stewart
Cory LuebkeBackground: Luebke broke out in 2009, a season that culminated with him starting Team USA's gold-medal game victory against Cuba at the World Cup. He got a late start in 2010 after straining his oblique in spring training, but he breezed through Double-A and Triple-A upon his return in late May, paving the way for a September callup to San Diego.

Scouting Report: Luebke throws three pitches for strikes, competes well and has the a low-maintenance delivery that stems from solid athleticism. He locates his fastball to both sides of the plate, sitting at 88-90 mph and touching 92 with tailing action. His best attribute may be the downhill plane he generates on his heater. Luebke's out pitch a slurvy slider that often shows three-quarters rotation and rates as a tick above-average. He has made progress with his fading changeup, but he throws it in the same low-80s range as his breaking ball, so the Padres would like to see him soften the changeup further.

The Future: Luebke has all the ingredients to pitch in the middle of a big league rotation, which San Diego entrusted him to do in the thick of the National League West race last September. He pitched well, positioning himself as a leading candidate for a rotation spot in 2011.
 
2010 Club (Class) W L ERA G GS CG SV IP H HR BB SO AVG
San Antonio (AA) 5 1 2.40 10 8 1 0 56 41 2 12 44 .200
Portland (AAA) 5 0 2.97 9 9 0 0 58 42 6 17 44 .201
San Diego 1 1 4.08 4 3 0 0 18 17 3 6 18 .246
 
7.  Jaff Decker, of   Born: Feb. 23, 1990B-T: L-LHt: 5-10Wt: 190
Drafted: HS—Peoria, Ariz., 2008 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Dave Lottsfeldt
Jaff DeckerBackground: Decker won Rookie-level Arizona League MVP honors after signing for $892,000 as a sandwich pick in 2008, then encored by leading the Midwest League in OPS (.956) as a teenager in 2009. He logged just 79 games last year, sitting out until mid-May with a hamstring injury and then missing the last three weeks after an errant pitch broke his right hand.

Scouting Report: Decker has a compact, powerful stroke when he doesn't try to force the issue. He pressed in the first half of 2010, batting .195 with an uncharacteristic 8-41 BB-K ratio, but his bat came alive in the second half, when he hit .305/.439/.616 with 14 homers. His hand-eye coordination and strike-zone awareness give him a chance to hit for average, and he uses his hips and shoulders well to generate power to all fields. Decker's lack of athleticism is still an issue, but he got in better shape last year and improved his speed, though it's still below-average. He never will be more than playable on an outfield corner, but he throws well enough to handle right field.

The Future: The new Padres regime concedes that Decker's bat will play bigger than it initially expected, a belief reinforced by his recent dedication to conditioning. He's on track for a promotion to Double-A and a potential big league starting gig at some point in 2012.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Lake Elsinore (Hi A) .262 .374 .500 290 53 76 14 2 17 58 47 80 5
 
8.  Donovan Tate, of   Born: Sept. 27, 1990B-T: R-RHt: 6-3Wt: 203
Drafted: HS—Cartersville, Ga., 2009 (1st round)Signed by: Ash Lawson
Donovan TateBackground: Tate signed for $6.25 million as the 2009 draft's No. 3 overall choice, setting a bonus standard for high school position players and Padres picks, but he has been beset by injuries and illnesses since. He had sports hernia surgery and a broken jaw in 2009, then contended with concussion-like symptoms (from a beaning) and a tweaked shoulder (after diving for a ball) in extended spring training last year. He didn't make a full-season club and played in just 25 games in the Arizona League as he battled a stomach virus.

Scouting Report: Tate's athleticism is obvious, but he hasn't played enough to properly showcase his talent. His plus raw power was his most evident tool in 2010. He runs very well and ranges gracefully to both gaps in center field. His arm grades as above-average. Tate did nothing to allay concerns about his feel for hitting in the AZL, where he struck out in nearly half of his at-bats with a swing that loops through the hitting zone. He tends to tilt his shoulders forward when he loads, which pushes his back elbow up and sets his stroke off kilter.

The Future: Tate won MVP honors at the Padres' instructional league program, and San Diego hope he'll use that as a stepping stone to make the low Class A club at the outset of 2011. His ceiling remains high, but he's not even the best center-field prospect in the system after Reymond Fuentes arrived in the Adrian Gonzalez trade.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
AZL Padres (R) .222 .336 .344 90 19 20 5 0 2 10 15 41 7
 
9.  Drew Cumberland, ss/2b   Born: Jan. 13, 1989B-T: L-RHt: 5-10Wt: 175
Drafted: HS—Pace, Fla., 2007 (1st round supplemental)Signed by: Bob Filotei
Drew CumberlandBackground: Cumberland ranked fourth in the minors in batting (.365) when he was promoted to Double-A last June. Fifteen games into his time with San Antonio, he slid into a railing and sustained a deep laceration to his left knee, ending his season. He still has yet to play in more than 77 games in a season while dealing with oblique, finger and hand injuries.

Scouting Report: Cumberland has three future above-average tools in his ability to hit, run and defend, though he has virtually no power and his arm is inaccurate. His short, quick lefthanded stroke could make him a .290 hitter in the big leagues because he makes contact so easily. With improved plate discipline, he would profile as an effective leadoff hitter. To that end, San Diego challenged him to bunt and steal more frequently last season, and he stole a career-high 21 bases. Cumberland features soft hands and plus range at shortstop, but he profiles better at second base because his throws tend to sail on him.

The Future: All of Cumberland's injuries have resulted from all-out play, and the Padres certainly don't want to discourage that behavior. They regard him as a potential regular at the keystone, but for now he'll head back to Double-A as a shortstop.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Lake Elsinore (Hi A) .365 .404 .542 249 63 91 15 4 7 35 15 34 20
San Antonio (AA) .278 .298 .333 54 5 15 3 0 0 6 1 11 1
 
10.  Jason Hagerty, c   Born: Sept. 13, 1987B-T: B-RHt: 6-3Wt: 224
Signed: Miami, 2009 (5th round)Signed by: Rob Sidwell
Jason HagertyBackground: Hagerty's 2009 pro debut barely registered, as he hit just .225/.335/.399 at Eugene. Part of the problem was that he had to get reacclimated to catching after playing primarily first base during his last two years at Miami in deference to Yasmani Grandal, the 12th overall pick in the 2010 draft. Hagerty improved as much as any Padres farmhand last year, ranking second in the Midwest League in on-base percentage (.423) and third in throwing out basestealers (34 percent).

Scouting Report: Hagerty has above-average raw power from both sides of the plate, works counts effectively and shows enough athleticism to believe the strides he made last year are sustainable. He may not make enough contact to hit better than .260, and his below-average speed won't help him leg out any hits. Hagerty improved his defense during the course of last season and now projects as an average catcher at the major league level. He has solid arm strength and a smooth transfer to go with natural leadership skills. He could stand to soften his hands while receiving and blocking.

The Future: Hagerty did everything possible in 2010 to position himself as San Diego's catcher of the future. He'll begin this season in high Class A, with a chance to move quickly to Double-A if he continues to hit.
 
2010 Club (Class) AVG OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB
Fort Wayne (Lo A) .302 .423 .494 431 74 130 35 3 14 74 88 104 2

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