- Full name William Dion Venable
- Born 10/29/1982 in Greenbrae, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Princeton
- Debut 08/29/2008
Drafted in the 7th round (218th overall) by the San Diego Padres in 2005 (signed for $120,000).
View Draft ReportPrinceton OF Will Venable is one of the most intriguing players in the draft. He's the son of Max Venable, who played 12 years in the big leagues, but has played little baseball. He has focused on basketball through high school and college and earned all-Ivy League honors his last two years at Princeton. He didn't play baseball as a freshman and hit .239 in 50 at-bats as a sophomore, but he emerged as a baseball talent a year ago, when he hit .344-1-20 with 14 stolen bases and was a surprise 15th-round pick of the Orioles. This year, Venable finished basketball early enough to play in 36 of Princeton's 41 games and improved his numbers to .385-9-33--all team-leading figures. There is a wide range of opinion on his tools and potential, particularly with his bat. Some scouts say he has barely scratched the surface of his ability but resembles Dave Justice, right down to the swing, and could be a sandwich pick. Others say he is raw with limited aptitude and that he'll be lucky to be drafted as high as he was a year ago.
Organization Prospect Rankings
An all-Ivy League selection in both basketball and baseball as a senior at Princeton, Venable focused on hoops as an amateur. After a lackluster Double-A season in 2007, he made giant strides in Triple-A last year, hitting for more power while learning to play center field. His father Max, who played 12 years in the majors, served as the hitting coach at Portland. Venable is a strong, live-bodied athlete with the natural aptitude required to pick things up quickly. That's why the Padres view him as a potential 20-25 home run hitter in time. His pure lefthanded stroke and solid bat speed already produce the line drives needed to hit for average. He has average speed and is a smart baserunner who reads pitchers well. He's an average defender in left field. Despite a solid base of skills, Venable lacks the one dominating tool that will guarantee him regular play. He probably lacks the first-step quickness to hold down center field on an everyday basis. His arm is below-average. Though he's already 26, Venable's combination of athleticism and aptitude has won him many admirers in the organization. Those who buy in completely see a potential David Justice, while those who don't see a tweener without enough bat for a corner or range for center. For now, he's in San Diego's center-field mix.
Venable focused on basketball in high school and college, and was an all-Ivy League selection in both hoops and baseball as a senior at Princeton. As the son of former big leaguer Max Venable, Will had more exposure to baseball than most two-sport stars, however. In 2006, his first full season, he led the Midwest League in runs (86) while ranking second in hitting (.314) and third in on-base percentage (.389). The Padres love Venable's makeup, and his pure lefthanded stroke and bat speed produce plenty of line drives, as he showed when he won the 2006 Hawaii Winter Baseball batting title (.330). He jumped to Double-A in 2007, but he never really got going. Part of Venable's problem was a toe tap he added to his stride in the offseason in an attempt to improve his rhythm. Instead of helping him, it took his legs out of his swing, destroying his leverage and power potential. Venable eliminated the toe tap in the second half, began working deeper counts and hit seven of his eight homers. He put his average speed to good use, swiping 21 bases in 23 tries, and he's an average defender on an outfield corner, albeit with a below-average arm. He plays under control, often giving the impression he's not hustling. Venable could challenge for big league playing time in 2008.
Venable focused on basketball through high school and college, and was an all-Ivy League selection in both hoops and baseball as a senior at Princeton. Because he's the son of former big leaguer Max Venable, Will had more exposure to baseball than most two-sport stars. In 2006, his first full season, he led the low Class A Midwest League in runs while ranking second in hitting and third in on-base percentage--with Max watching as Fort Wayne's hitting coach. The Padres love Venable's makeup and have been pleasantly surprised by his aptitude for baseball. His pure lefthanded stroke and bat speed produce plenty of line drives, and more homers should come as he learns to get backspin on the ball. He has drawn comparisons to Garrett Anderson (including early-career questions about power) and Dave Justice (more for his athletic frame). Venable's strike-zone judgment is sound. He has average speed and refined baserunning instincts for such an inexperienced player. Venable doesn't throw well and has below-average range, limiting him to left field. While 2006 was a success, at 23 Venable was older than most of his competition. He'll move to high Class A this year with a chance for a promotion to San Diego's new Double-A San Antonio affiliate at midseason. He projects as a decent regular or good fourth outfielder.
The son of 12-year major leaguer Max Venable, who's also the hitting coach at low Class A Fort Wayne in the Padres system, Will was known more for his exploits on the basketball court than on the diamond at Princeton. He was the Tigers' hoops MVP in each of his last two seasons and finished among the program's career leaders in steals and assists. The Orioles drafted him in the 15th round in 2004, but he returned for his senior year and moved up to the seventh round after leading Princeton in all three triple-crown categories as well as stolen bases. Signed for $120,000, Venable is an outstanding athlete with strength and speed. But because his primary focus in college was basketball, he's still a raw baseball player at 23. He has a fluid swing and occasional pop, but he's easily fooled by good breaking pitches. While he's a good baserunner, Venable lacks the speed to play center field. He does have good defensive instincts and a solid arm. San Diego is banking on his makeup and intelligence allowing him to quickly translate his tools into ability. He'll likely start 2006 at Fort Wayne under the hitting tutelage of his father.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Pacific Coast League in 2008