San Diego Padres: Top 10 Prospects

San Diego Padres

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, 2007.

1.Cedric Hunter, of
2.Cesar Carrillo, rhp
3.Matt Antonelli, 3b
4.Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3b
5.Will Venable, of
6.Chase Headley, 3b
7.Chad Huffman, of
8.Nick Hundley, c
9.Jared Wells, rhp
10.Cesar Ramos, lhp
Best Hitter for AverageCedric Hunter
Best Power HitterKevin Kouzmanoff
Best Strike-Zone DisciplineMatt Antonelli
Fastest BaserunnerLuis Durango
Best Athlete Matt Antonelli
Best FastballDrew Miller
Best CurveballSean Thompson
Best SliderJared Wells
Best ChangeupWade LeBlanc
Best ControlMike Ekstrom
Best Defensive CatcherLuke Carlin
Best Defensive InfielderLuis Cruz
Best Infield ArmMatt Bush
Best Defensive OutfielderYordany Ramirez
Best Outfield ArmYordany Ramirez
CatcherNick Hundley
First BaseAdrian Gonzalez
Second BaseMatt Antonelli
Third BaseKevin Kouzmanoff
ShortstopKhalil Greene
Left FieldWill Venable
Center FieldCedric Hunter
Right FieldMike Cameron
No. 1 StarterJake Peavy
No. 2 StarterChris Young
No. 3 StarterCesar Carrillo
No. 4 StarterClay Hensley
No. 5 StarterCesar Ramos
CloserScott Linebrink
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Derrek Lee, 1bCubs
1998Matt Clement, rhpRed Sox
1999Matt Clement, rhpRed Sox
2000Sean Burroughs, 3bDevil Rays
2001Sean Burroughs, 3bDevil Rays
2002Sean Burroughs, 3bDevil Rays
2003Xavier Nady, ofPirates
2004Josh Barfield, 2bPadres
2005Josh Barfield, 2bPadres
2006Cesar Carrillo, rhpPadres
YearPlayer, Position2006
1997Kevin Nicholson, ssSomerset (Atlantic)
1998Sean Burroughs, 3bDevil Rays
1999Vince Faison, ofYankees
2000Mark Phillips, lhpOut of baseball
2001Jake Gautreau, 3bIndians
2002Khalil Greene, ssPadres
2003Tim Stauffer, rhpPadres
2004Matt Bush, ssPadres
2005Cesar Carrillo, rhpPadres
2006Matt Antonelli, 3bPadres
Matt Bush, 2004$3,150,000
Mark Phillips, 2000$2,200,000
Sean Burroughs, 1998$2,100,000
Jake Gautreau, 2001$1,875,000
Matt Antonelli, 2006$1,575,000
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San Diego Padres

The Padres repeated as National League West champions and had their third consecutive winning season in 2006, both firsts in franchise history. Neither would have happened if not for some astute trades by general manager Kevin Towers.

His biggest deal came in January 2006, when he acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young and minor league outfielder Terrmel Sledge from the Rangers for Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and catching prospect Billy Killian. Gonzalez, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft, topped San Diego with a .304 average and 24 homers, while Young won 11 games with a team-best 3.46 ERA and NL-best .206 opponent average.

Two other trades strengthened areas of weakness. After coming over from the Mets for Xavier Nady, Mike Cameron won a Gold Glove in center field and led the Padres with 83 RBIs. In May, the Red Sox wanted Doug Mirabelli back, so they sent the Padres Josh Bard, who hit .338 as part-timer catcher, and Cla Meredith, whose 1.07 ERA was the lowest among NL pitchers with at least 50 innings.

One of the reasons San Diego was active on the trade market is that its farm system lacks depth in the upper levels. Since-traded Josh Barfield hit .280 with 13 homers and played a steady second base as a rookie in 2006, while Clay Hensley (originally signed by the Giants and traded for Matt Herges in 2003) won 11 games. But weak drafts in 2003 and 2004--typified by spending the No. 1 overall choice in the latter draft on Matt Bush--undermined the Padres' prospect pipeline.

Five of the players in the top 10 a year ago either graduated to the big leagues (Barfield, Ben Johnson, Hensley) and/or were traded (George Kottaras, Barfield, Johnson and Freddy Guzman). Eight of the 10 prospects have come from the last two drafts, highlighting the efforts of vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson and scouting director Bill Gayton to supplement the system. San Diego also landed two premium draft-and-follows last spring in righthanders Drew Miller and Aaron Breit.

International scouting director Randy Smith's work also has been magnified as the Padres search for their first homegrown Latin American star. Their best hope is Dominican outfielder Yefri Carvajal, signed in 2005 after they lost out in the Fernando Martinez bidding with the Mets. Other standouts signed in the last two years include Dominican third baseman Felix Carrasco and righthander Simon Castro.

Led by the organization's top prospect, outfielder Cedric Hunter, the Rookie-level AZL Padres won the league championship and were one of three San Diego affiliates to qualify for the postseason. Padres farm clubs combined for a .513 winning percentage, their best mark since 2002. After 10 years in Mobile, San Diego will shift its Double-A affiliate to San Antonio in 2007.

The Padres ended an even longer association when they allow manager Bruce Bochy to take the same job with the Giants after the season. The skipper of four of the five division winners in franchise history, Bochy had been at San Diego's helm since 1995, a run surpassed only by Atlanta's Bobby Cox among active managers. The Padres hired Angels pitching coach Bud Black to replace Bochy.