Hot Opportunity For Padres' Headley

SAN DIEGO — Kevin Kouzmanoff has been traded away and the window of opportunity is open.

Chase Headley will get the first chance to play every day at third base for the Padres, but the line behind him is building.

A handful of San Diego's brightest prospects call the hot corner home—at least for now. It's a group headed by James Darnell, a second-round pick out of South Carolina in 2008; Logan Forsythe, a supplemental choice out of Arkansas the same year; and Edinson Rincon, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2007.

Darnell, who was the organization's player of the year after a fine 2009 season, isn't taking anything for granted.

He spent his winter in San Diego, working out with the Gwynns—Tony Sr. and Jr.—and a number of other professional players at San Diego State.
"I made a lot of progress last year, learned a lot, and I want to continue to grow," Darnell said.

Last season, he batted .311/.424/.536 in two stops—66 games at low Class A Fort Wayne and 60 at high Class A Lake Elsinore.

A righthanded hitter, he finished with 35 doubles, 20 home runs and 81 RBIs. He drew 87 walks and struck out 91 times. The only blemish: He committed 30 errors.

"Playing in two leagues was a challenge, but it gave me a lot of perspective on the talent in our organization and the talent there is in the game," Darnell said.
"Moving up a level, I wasn't able to set in and get overconfident. I was challenged when I got to Fort Wayne, and challenged again when I got to Lake Elsinore."
Forsythe started 2009 at Lake Elsinore and finished at Double-A San Antonio. Rincon played at short-season Eugene.

All three third baseman could make a jump in 2010—Forsythe to Triple-A Portland, Darnell to San Antonio and Rincon to either Fort Wayne or Lake Elsinore.


• Among the wave of Padres' pre-spring training cuts were righthander Walter Silva, lefthanders Will Startup and Matt Teague and third baseman Seth Johnston.

• The Padres added a number of scouts and announced that Pete DeYoung will continue as assistant director of scouting while also supervising the West Coast area scouts. Ash Lawson was promoted to Northeast regional supervisor.