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Top Ten Prospects: San Diego Padres
Complete Index of Top 10s
By Kevin Goldstein
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, 2005.
Much of the success centered around homegrown players. Khalil Greene, a 2002 first-round pick, won Baseball America's Rookie of the Year award and quickly established himself as one of the NL's top shortstops. Sean Burroughs still hasn't provided typical third-base power, but he solidified the leadoff spot and set career highs in batting (.298) and runs (76). Brian Lawrence and Jake Peavy tied for the team lead with 15 wins, with Peavy also topping the NL with a 2.22 ERA.
Is there more help on the way? Yes and no. The Padres have several upper-level players on the verge of contributing in the big leagues. But with the exception of second baseman Josh Barfield and possibly center fielder Freddy Guzman, few project as regulars on a first-division club. Xavier Nady, who no longer qualifies for this list, continues to mash in the minors and disappoint in the majors. The lower levels aren't exactly teeming with impact talent either, because San Diego has one of the thinnest systems in the game.
The Padres had a chance to add blue-chip prospects with the fourth overall pick in 2003 and the No. 1 choice in 2004, but both of their selections have had dubious beginnings. After San Diego took Tim Stauffer in 2003, an MRI revealed weakness in his shoulder, and the club cut its bonus offer from $2.6 million to $750,000. Stauffer didn't require surgery and reached Triple-A in his pro debut last June, but he lacks the top-of-the-rotation ceiling expected of such an early pick.
Last June, the Padres had no second-round pick, so they limited their scouting to a handful of players for the top choice. They zeroed in on Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew, but three days before the draft upper management decided the cost of signing Drew would far exceed his worth. San Diego had to scramble at the last minute before settling on local prep shortstop Matt Bush, who accepted a predraft deal worth a below-market $3.15 million. The pick already was being criticized when Bush was arrested outside an Arizona nightclub before playing in his first pro game. The Padres since have acknowledged that Bush, who had a rough debut, wasn't the top player in the draft.
San Diego should be able to sustain its major league success, at least for the short term, because the NL West is one of baseball's least treacherous divisions. To remain a contender beyond that, the Padres will have to develop more homegrown talent. They won't pick near the top of the draft in 2004, as they start with the 18th overall pick. But that may not be a bad thing, as the club's best recent choice was a mid-first-rounder: Greene, who went 13th in 2002.
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