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, 2006.
While the Padres won the National League West and visited the postseason for the first time since 1998, it’s hard to call 2005 a banner year for the franchise. San Diego had to scrape to finish two games over .500, then was swept by St. Louis in the NL Division Series. The Padres won five fewer games than in 2004, had the lowest winning percentage of any non-strike-year playoff team in baseball history and would have finished closer to last place than first in the NL East or Central.
General manager Kevin Towers began to remake the team even before it wrapped up the division, shipping out malcontent Phil Nevin at the trade deadline. Towers made the first two major deals of the offseason, acquiring Vinny Castilla for Brian Lawrence and Mike Cameron for Xavier Nady in an effort to jump-start the offense. Changes continued in the offseason, as while the Padres were able to retain free agents Brian Giles and Trevor Hoffman, they lost catcher Ramon Hernandez as a free agent and traded Mark Loretta to the Red Sox for Hernandez' replacement, Doug Mirabelli.
A front-office overhaul preceded the roster makeover. Towers explored the GM opening in Arizona and emerged as a candidate in Boston, but remained in San Diego and enters his 11th season at the helm. Owner John Moores brought in some heavy hitters to assist Towers, however.
Former Major League Baseball vice president and Athletics GM Sandy Alderson was made team president, overseeing Towers and the entire baseball operation. Credited with molding Billy Beane into a star executive and promoting statistical analysis in Oakland, Alderson has begun implementing many of the same philosophies in San Diego. His power is only expected to grow.
Grady Fuson, who worked under Alderson as the scouting director in Oakland, joined the Padres staff as a special assistant to Towers in spring training and spent the majority of the year evaluating the system’s talent as well as evaluating top prospects for the draft. Following the season, his role was expanded to vice president of scouting and development. Fuson, who held the same roles with the Rangers, is in charge of revitalizing a flagging farm system. Longtime farm director Tye Waller was made the new Padres first-base coach. Bill Gayton remains scouting director, though Fuson’s fingerprints are expected to be all over the Padres’ 2006 draft.
Though the system isn’t strong, it did provide some returns in 2005 as a pair of astute minor league deals began to pay off. Righthander Clay Hensley, a relative unknown when he was acquired from the Giants for Matt Herges in 2003, emerged as one of San Diego’s top relievers in the second half and will compete for a rotation spot in the spring. Outfielder Ben Johnson, added via the Carlos Hernandez trade with the Cardinals in 2000, will get a chance to replace Giles.
Beyond that, the system is bordering on barren. The Padres’ four full-season affiliates combined to place just three players on Baseball America’s league Top 20 Prospects lists, none in the Top 10.
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