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.
JAYPERS (IL): How far off the Top 10 did Jedd Gyorko fall, and did he impress you and scouts? What are his shortcomings?
When first-rounder Karsten Whitson
spurned the Padres to head to college, Gyorko became the highest Padres
draft pick to sign (59th overall). Heading into the draft, a lot of
teams liked the West Virginia product because he just has a knack to
hit. But Gyorkko's not exactly a conventional prospect. Built along the
lines of a catcher, he has just enough quickness to play third base at
the pro level. He won't hit a ton of home runs or win any Gold Gloves,
but some scouts threw 65 grades on his ability to hit—that could spell a
.290 average. He just missed making the Top 10.
Ben (Leland Grove): What's the rundown on Juan Oramas? Future SP or RP?
I won't be able to give you an unbiased
opinion of Oramas. I really like him because he's so unique. You just
don't see many 19-year-olds carve up the Mexican League as Oramas did
while on loan there in 2009. As if that weren't enough, he nearly threw a
perfect game in his fourth Cal League last May. But if we're being
objective, then Oramas' body type and power-oriented, two-pitch
repertoire could land him in the bullpen. But on the other hand, he
picks things up quickly and has late life and finish to his pitches, so
you never know.
Jasen (FLL): When does Leubke make it into the starting rotation and chances of him succeeding this year? Thanks
Lefty Cory Luebke will be 26 on Opening
Day and has nothing left to prove in the minors, so look for him to make
the Padres out of spring training as long as he doesn't fall flat on
his face. It doesn't seem reasonable to expect him to carry forward his
ratios (9 whiffs and 3 walks per nine) from last September, but you can
expect solid No. 4 starter contributions from him right off the bat—180
or so innings, average-to-a-tick-below ERA.
Jasen (FLL): Have you heard about the health status of Blanks? Does he start the year in AAA?
With Adrian Gonzalez out of the picture
in San Diego, Kyle Blanks' Tommy John surgery could not have been more
ill-timed. The Padres say he won't be ready to start the season, and
that when he's ready to go he'll probably head to Triple-A for a spell.
They'll make a determination at that point. In other words, if Blanks
hits in the PCL and Brad Hawpe doesn't hit in Petco (both distinct
possibilities), then Blanks will get a look in the second half . . .
just in time to fend off Anthony Rizzo.
Greg (Ohio): Matt Lollis body strikes me as a
major concern going forward. Reminds me of Aaron Harang or CC Sabathia
in terms of size. That body type can go soth fast - how is his
conditioning & does Lollis stay very tall in his delivery?
Yes, the biggest concern facing Matt
Lollis is simply staying in good enough shape to make 30+ starts. Much
like Sabathia, Lollis is a better athlete than he appears, but that's as
far as I want to take that comparison. (Cy Young award winner vs. Low-A
pitcher with one good half-season and all.) If Lollis loses the
conditioning battle (or his changeup doesn't come on), then he could be a
fine reliever . . . of Bobby Jenks-ian proportions.
Carrie (NYC): Is Rincon in your top 20?
Yes. We decided to give 3B Edinson Rincon
the benefit of the doubt after a poor full-season debut for Fort Wayne.
He fell just outside the top 15, though keep in mind that he's not
universally liked by those outside the organization. Rincon tried too
hard to force home runs in 2010, falling into bad habits at the plate,
like over-rotating and upper-cutting. He squared up all types of pitches
and knows the strike zone, so better days may be in store for him.
Defensively, the same problems persist. He seems to be a first baseman
in waiting because he lacks any sort of defensive instincts (though he
Grant (Miami): How many spots did James Darnell fall this year? Thoughts on his season?
Darnell would have made the Top 10 if not
for the Gonzalez trade. He's a solid prospect with essentially average
grades across the board. He has a thick, muscular lower half and has
trouble with his footwork and consistency at third base. The majority of
Darnell's 54 errors the past two years have come on throws, but since
he has a strong arm, many in the organization are coming around to the
idea of trying him in right field. San Antonio's Wolff Stadium just
kills hitters, particularly righties. The Missions as a team hit just
.226 at home and .263 on the road. Keep that in mind when evaluating
Darnell's .265/.348/.408 Double-A batting line. Also bear in mind that
he improved in the second half, after coming back in June from a hand
injury—actually it was a cyst.
Joe (Clintonville): Can Cedric Hunter unseat
anyone by 2014 for a spot in the OF?? What are his ceiling numbers??
Also, who would you rather have, Rizzo or Decker, based on offense
The club's third-round pick out of an
Georgia high school in 2006, at a time when the Padres did not draft
many prep products, Hunter has spent five seasons in the minors now
without proving himself to be a starting-caliber big leaguer. San Diego
added him to the 40-man roster last November because it thinks he can
fill a reserve outfielder role in the future. While Hunter hasn't shown
the patience required to be the hitter his reflexes and hand-eye
coordination suggest he can be, he has improved his defensive play in
center field. He doesn't really steal bases or hit for power, so a few
well-timed hitting streaks at the outset of his career will do wonders
for his career chances.
As to Rizzo vs. Decker, I think I'd take Decker, if considering offense
only. His higher contact rate gives him a better chance to hit for
Matt (Detroit): Do you think Josh Spence ever
throws a pitch in the majors? He was outstanding in his debut and in
his junior year at ASU, but will he be able to get hitters out at higher
I'll say yes, but in a limited role.
Ninth-round lefty Josh Spence sits at about 84-86 mph as a starter, and
sometimes dips lower than that, but in shorter stints the Padres say
he's up to 87 mph. That coupled with a wide repertoire and strong feel
for the strike zone ought to get Spence to Triple-A. From there, he's
only an injury away from seeing big league time. Often, the callup goes
to the hot hand. Timing is everything, right?
Jon (Peoria): How do you feel Everett Williams was in his first full season? How do his tools compare with Fuentes'?
For a player billed (and payed) as an
elite hitting prospect out of the draft, Everett Williams' full-season
debut was nothing short of disastrous. He batted .244/.333/.372 with
five homers for Fort Wayne, often appearing to be generally uninterested
in center field. But hey, Williams will be 20 for all of the 2011
season, and scouts pointed to particular flaws in his offensive game. He
tended to pull off the ball and cede the middle and outer portions of
the plate. Somewhat paradoxically, a more patient, all-fields approach
could translate into more home runs for Williams, or so the thinking
Nick (San Antonio): What have the reports been like on John Barbato out of instructs? Does he have mid rotation potential...maybe more?
Sixth-rounder Johnny Barbato benefited
more than anyone when Karsten Whitson walked away from the negotiating
table as the signing deadline neared. As it shook out, Barbato, like
Whitson a Florida commit, landed a $1.4 million bonus, the highest of
any Padres 2010 draft pick. The money had been earmarked for Whitson, of
course, but Barbato could be more than consolation prize. He repeats
his delivery and fires easy 91-92 mph heat at age 18, lending hope that
he's got more in the tank. He might develop an average curveball and
changeup in time, and if he does he could be No. 3 starter material. But
that's a long way off. He'll probably split this season between
extended spring training and a short-season club, probably Eugene.
Ben (Leland Grove): Is it time yet for us to officially write off Antonelli?
The Nationals apparently have not. They
signed him to a minor league deal in December, about two weeks after the
Padres non-tendered him.
Shawn Nelson (Chippewa Falls,Wi.): Hi Matt. Have you givin up on Nick Schmidt yet? What happened to him? Thanks.
To paraphrase Michael Corleone: Just when
I thought I was out . . . he pulls me back in. The Padres top pick in
the 2007 draft (23rd overall), Schmidt had Tommy John surgery almost
immediately after turning pro. He missed all of 2008, has not yet
reached Double-A (he's 25), has not recovered his pre-surgery velocity
and has not yet topped 100 innings in a pro season. However, one Padres
official still expressed surprise that some team did not take a chance
on Schmidt in the Rule 5 draft. He's a physical lefty who throws strikes
and hides the ball well from opponents. In short stints he sits in the
low 90s, and his curveball and changeup give him average weapons to play
with in the low-70s and low-80s, respectively. He sounds like a middle
reliever or emergency starter to me.
jim (pensacola, fl): I saw drew cumberland was a
part of the futures game last year. Is he projected to be a part of
the Padres middle infield in the next year or so?
The Padres have Orlando Hudson under
contract for two years at the keystone, with Cumberland and Logan
Forsythe being the best internal candidates to replace him in 2013. As
mentioned in Cumberland's player capsule, he has the potential for three
above-average tools, including speed and defense, which makes him an
attractive option for the middle infield. The timing could work, too.
Let's say Cumberland spends this season in Double-A/Triple-A and then
serves a big league apprenticeship in 2012 as a reserve, kind of the
role Reid Brignac filled this year for Tampa Bay. By 2013 he'll be ready
to take over for Hudson. The organization also talks about trying
Cumberland in center field, so perhaps they envision him filling a
Mike (Minnesota): I see there's no Cameron
Maybin in the 2014 projected lineup. Are Decker, Fuentes, and Venable
all really that much better than him?
Seems like a waste of a trade if he's just a stopgap for a season or
two, doesn't it?
A lot of Maybin's value to a club is his
ability to hold down center field, so I think the corners are out. But I
bet you'd get a pretty even split if you polled big league execs as to
whom they'd want in center in 2014, Maybin or Reymond Feuntes.
Ken (Lakewood CA): Hi Matt. Venable as the projected RF? Ouch! Is the SD minor league OF that bad or am I under-estimating Venable?
As with Maybin vs. Fuentes, you could
make a compelling case for James Darnell as right fielder of the future.
But we haven't yet seen him play the position. Venable, on the other
hand, is coming off a pair of solid years in the big leagues with a 106
OPS+ over 226 games (while also filling in in center field
occasionally). It's not exactly your first-division regular profile, but
he'll do until the Padres find someone who fits that description.
Jack Weiland (Boston): Thoughts on Keyvius Sampson? How close was he to making the Top 10?
If you read our Northwest League prospect
rankings, then you have a pretty good idea of Sampson's stuff. He
ranked No. 12 on that list and cracked the Padres' Top 20. But based
purely on raw stuff, one could certainly rank him higher. Sampson sits
at 90-93 mph with life and already shows advanced feel for a changeup. A
consistent curveball (it's a 50-50 proposition now) would elevate him
to three-pitch starter candidate. The Padres say that he left
instructional league healthy after an injury-plagued campaign with
Eugene, one that included pitching through a tear in the labrum of his
right shoulder and, later on, elbow soreness.
Burke Granger (Columbus, OH): I can't wait for my prospect handbook. Did Mike Baxter make the top 30?
I don't want to remove all suspense for
you, but Mike Baxter fell short of the Top 30. Again. Every year I ask
about him, but nobody ever goes to bat for the 26-year-old first
baseman/corner outfielder who seemingly has willed himself to the big
leagues with big seasons for San Antonio and Portland in the past two
years. He's a classic tweener type player—not quite enough power for
the corners, not quite enough glove to play anywhere else.
Everyone (Everywhere): When does the Prospect handbook ship? I can't wait any longer. Thanks.
We received the 2011 Prospect Handbook at BA world headquarters today and already have begun shipping them. Hang in there.
Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Hagerty hitting
.302 in the pitcher friendly MWL is pretty impressive. Why is the
consensus that he won't be more than a .260 hitter? If he can hit
higher than that, and continue to show good power and the good defense
he has, can his ceiling be more than an average regular? Does he have
potential star ability ?
No. 10 in the system and Padres catcher
of the future isn't enough for you, eh? Don't read too much into Jason
Hagerty's shiny .300 average in Low-A. He probably faced equal or better
pitching quality when he played Atlantic Coast Conference competition
in college. And for whatever reason, the Midwest and South Atlantic
leagues have played as comparable offensive contexts for two years
running. But Hagerty has a discerning batting eye, plenty of power and
the defensive chops to profile as a big league regular catcher.
Eric (HI): Is Aaron Poreda still considered a
top lp prospect by the Padres? He's on the 40 man roster, but have heard
very little hype on him since coming over in the Peavy trade.
The Padres don't know what happened to
Poreda's velocity. And his walk rates as a member of the organization
look like a typo: 101 free passes in 87 minor league innings. He also
walked five of the 12 big league batters he faced during a cup of coffee
with the Padres in 2009.
Peter (San Diego): Please rank Hundley, Martinez, and Hagerty.
For the long term, it's Hagerty, Hundley, then Luis Martinez.
Mike (Fort Wayne, IN): What Padres got bumped
out of the top 10 by the Red Sox players coming over in the trade?
Would there anyone that was traded for Bartlett that would have been on
Jedd Gyorko, James Darenll and Logan
Forsythe all lost their spots in the Top 10. As to the four players
traded to the Rays for Jason Bartlett—relievers Bradon Gomes, Adam
Russell and Cesar Ramos and High-A second baseman Cole Figueroa—the
answer is, no, none made the original version of San Diego's Top 30,
though Russell had too much big league time to qualify. For the latest
scouting reports on all four, please see my Trade Central review from
Keith (NYC): Was that Simon Castro I saw at the futures game throwing 95 to 96 mph with poor control? Any signs that control improved?
As others in the chat have mentioned,
Simon Castro had a pretty brutal showing in the Futures Game. He got the
nod as starter, which shows how well regarded he was and continues to
be in the game. Castro appeared to be over-throwing in Anaheim, because
when he's at his best (and most effective) he's more 91-94 with plus
life. Just as San Antonio's ballpark depresses the Missions' offensive
output, it also props up the club's pitchers. But even with that caveat,
control has not been a problem for Castro in the past two seasons. He's
maintained a strong walk rate as he's shot from Low-A to Double-A.
Rick (Hamilton): Hi Matt, thanks for the chat.
Just trying to get a gauge on the entire ranking systems, and I was
wondering how the top pitching prospects like Casey Kelly, Shelby
Miller and Tyler Matzek would compare to the elite of the college crop
like Garrit Cole, Sonny Gray and Matthew Purke.
On the pro side, I think a ranking of
Miller, Matzek, Kelly is fair. As to the amateur comparison question,
that might be a good one for Jim Callis over at Ask BA.
Not JAYPERS (Not IL): Who is JAYPERS, and why
does he always get the first question answered along with many others.
He must be someone pretty special.
I suspect he's a mole trying to bring BA down from the inside. But I can't prove it.
Rich (Australia): Hi,
Can you give me an idea on where you Corey Adamson's future?
I have no idea what time it is there in
Australia, but thanks for checking in. As some of you know, the Padres
signed the 16-year-old Adamson to a six-figure deal on the 2008
international market. Like a lot of Aussies signed at such a young age,
his game is raw. However, the lefty batter hit an encouraging
.283/.359/.362 in the Arizona League last year to earn a bump to Eguene
for the season's finale. An athletic 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Adamson
figures to fill out and add power to his game. The Padres see him as a
potential power-hitting corner outfielder.
Ernie (SD): Matt, Who would you rather have, Rizzo or Belt?
Belt because he has a much better feel to hit and stronger defensive chops. Rizzo has more power, however.
Graham (Milton, ON): Obviously Donavan' Tate's
stock has fallen significantly due to injuries and poor performance, but
it seems to me that they're pretty freak occurrences. Is it too soon to
write off Tate? If not, where do you see his ceiling? Thanks.
In a perfect world, Tate develops four
above-average to plus tools, with the lone holdout being his ability to
hit for average. And obviously that's a huge drawback. His ceiling
remains: plus defensive center fielder with plenty of power/speed
potential. I think you're right in not writing Tate off as
injury-plagued because he's not being hobbled by chronic setbacks. Each
malady has been unique.
Mike (SD): Please give me a ballpark (pun
intended) on where the Padres farm system ranks in baseball, and how
many guys might make the top 100?
The Padres ranked 29th in our talent
rankings in three of the five seasons from 2006-10, but the Adrian
Gonzalez trade with the Red Sox has apparently made us giddy. San Diego
now ranks toward the back of the top third of systems. OK, in the spirit
of Handbook season I'll just tell you they ranked ninth in the book's
John (San Diego): Cumberland's future? Utility player, solid regular, solid regular/occasional All Star, or All star?
No higher than solid regular on that scale. This is true for the vast majority of prospects, not just Cumberland.
Mickey (San Diego): How many Padres prospects are being considered for the top 100?
For me, the three of Kelly, Rizzo and Castro are Top 100-worthy.
John (New York): Hi Matt, what is a reasonable
estimation of Anthony Rizzo's upside? Does he have any potential to
make fans get over losing A Gon?
Low average because of strikeouts, sturdy
walk rate and on-base percentage, chance for 25 homers or so.
Comparisons to Gonzalez are unfair to both parties.
Mickey (San Diego): Why no love for Decker?
His bat looks like one of the best in the minors. I've heard his
defense isn't as bad as some make it out to be in the corner outfield
too. Does his bat not play at 1B?
First base isn't really an option for
Jaff Decker unless he really, really hits and really, really can't field
an outfield corner. Teams generally don't put 5-foot-10 players at
first base because they don't present a big enough target for errant
throws. The shortest regular first baseman last year was 5-foot-11
Prince Fielder, who can hit a little. No other first sacker stood less
than 6 feet tall, and just 8 of 33 to log at least 81 games there stood
less than 6-foot-2.
Tony (Lakeland, FL): Who has the best chance in the top 30 of someday becoming a closer?
To me, the answer is either 2010
third-rounder Zach Cates (up to 95 mph with an intriguing Vulcan
changeup) or 2008 Venezuelan bonus baby Adys Portillo (up to 96 but no
reliable secondary stuff yet and poor overall command). The Padres
taught Portillo to throw a slider during instructional league and it
could supplant his loopy curveball.
Steve (Chicago): Do you see Jose De Paula as future big league starter or reliever???
This is a fitting closing question. Lefty
Jose DePaula is the one under-the-radar Padres arm you're going to want
to keep an eye on. He'll be 21 this season, which he figures to begin
with High-A Lake Elsinore, and he appears to be fully recovered from the
stress fracture in his elbow that wiped out most of 2009. DePaula's
fastball sits in the low 90s with riding life, and his slider is death
on lefty batters. If he improves his changeup to just average, then he
throws enough strikes to profile, at worst, as a No. 4 type big league
Thanks for all the great questions.