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, 2009.

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1. Kyle Blanks, 1b
2. Mat Latos, rhp
3. Jaff Decker, of
4. Kellen Kulbacki, of
5. Adys Portillo, rhp
6. Cedric Hunter, of
7. Will Venable, of
8. Allan Dykstra, 1b
9. Matt Antonelli, 2b
10. James Darnell, 3b
Best Hitter for Average Cedric Hunter
Best Power Hitter Kyle Blanks
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Matt Antonelli
Fastest Baserunner Everth Cabrera
Best Athlete James Darnell
Best Fastball Mat Latos
Best Curveball Ernesto Frieri
Best Slider Wynn Pelzer
Best Changeup Wade LeBlanc
Best Control Nate Culp
Best Defensive Catcher Jose Labaton
Best Defensive Infielder Jesus Lopez
Best Infield Arm Lance Zawadzki
Best Defensive Outfielder Brad Chalk
Best Outfield Arm Yefri Carvajal
Catcher Nick Hundley
First Base Adrian Gonzalez
Second Base Matt Antonelli
Third Base Chase Headley
Shortstop Drew Cumberland
Left Field Kyle Blanks
Center Field Cedric Hunter
Right Field Jaff Decker
No. 1 Starter Jake Peavy
No. 2 Starter Chris Young
No. 3 Starter Mat Latos
No. 4 Starter Adys Portillo
No. 5 Starter Wade LeBlanc
Closer Heath Bell
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Matt Clement, rhp Cardinals
2000 Sean Burroughs, 3b Out of baseball
2001 Sean Burroughs, 3b Out of baseball
2002 Sean Burroughs, 3b Out of baseball
2003 Xavier Nady, of Yankees
2004 Josh Barfield, 2b Indians
2005 Josh Barfield, 2b Indians
2006 Cesar Carrillo, rhp Padres
2007 Cedric Hunter, of Padres
2008 Chase Headley, 3b Padres
Year Player, Position 2008
1999 Vince Faison, of Out of baseball
2000 Mark Phillips, lhp Out of baseball
2001 Jake Gautreau, 2b Fort Worth (Amer. Assoc.)
2002 Khalil Greene, ss Padres
2003 Tim Stauffer, rhp Padres
2004 Matt Bush, ss Padres
2005 Cesar Carrillo, rhp Padres
2006 Matt Antonelli, 3b Padres
2007 Nick Schmidt, lhp Padres
2008 Allan Dykstra, 1b Padres
Matt Bush, 2004 $3,150,000
Mark Phillips, 2000 $2,200,000
Sean Burroughs, 1998 $2,100,000
Adys Portillo, 2008 $2,000,000
Jake Gautreau, 2001 $1,875,000
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San Diego Padres

After a tumultuous 2008 season in which the big league club sputtered, several top prospects took steps backward and another first-round pick was beset by an injury at the onset of his pro career, the Padres seemed much more than a year removed from 2007, when they came within three outs of a third consecutive playoff appearance.

San Diego lost 99 games last season, its most since 1993, and finished in last place in the National League West for the first time since 2003. The future direction of the franchise doesn't look much brighter, as the Padres spent the offseason looking to shed payroll as owner John Moores goes through a divorce. Moores is trying to sell the club as part of the settlement, with former agent and Diamondbacks CEO Jeff Moorad emerging as the likely buyer.

The Padres dumped Khalil Greene on the Cardinals in December, but received only righthanded reliever Mark Worrell and a fringe player to be named in return. They unsuccessfully tried to divest themselves of 2007 Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy because he has $63 million remaining on his contract, but turned down intriguing packages from the Braves (reportedly starting with Yunel Escobar and outfield prospect Gorkys Hernandez) and the Cubs (reportedly beginning with third baseman Josh Vitters, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft) before both clubs gave up dealing with San Diego.

With their season going nowhere, the Padres gave auditions to several youngsters. Last year's No. 1 prospect, Chase Headley, played well after a mid-June promotion and took over the left-field job. Likewise, rookie catcher Nick Hundley ascended to the role of regular by season's end. Second baseman Matt Antonelli, righthander Josh Geer, lefty Wade LeBlanc and outfielder Max Venable got the chance to play regularly in September as San Diego searched for potential 2009 contributors.

The farm system produced as many disappointments as it did rookies, however. Antonelli and LeBlanc endured growing pains as they adjusted to Triple-A competition. Most of the top pitching prospects took a step back, as Mat Latos worked just 25 innings; Drew Miller posted a 6.10 ERA in high Class A; Steve Garrison had rotator-cuff surgery; and Will Inman saw his control slip.

The Padres' string of draft misfortune continued in 2008. First baseman Allan Dykstra, the 23rd overall pick, had his bonus reduced by $250,000 after a physical raised questions about his right hip. The situation mirrored that of 2003 first-rounder Tim Stauffer, who also signed for a diminished bonus after an MRI revealed weakness in his shoulder.

San Diego has made only one first-round selection in six drafts—Antonelli in 2006—who hasn't been besieged by health concerns. Matt Bush (2004), Cesar Carrillo (2005) and Nick Schmidt (2007) all had Tommy John surgery in 2007.

Perhaps the Padres' most positive development of 2008 occurred on July 2, when international scouting director Randy Smith and his staff signed three premium talents to seven-figure bonuses: Venezuelan righthander Adis Portillo ($2 million), Venezuelan outfielder Luis Domoromo ($1.25 million) and Dominican shortstop Alvaro Aristy ($1 million). The organization also was excited by toolsy Australian rules footballer Corey Adamson ($500,000), whom they envision developing into a slugger.

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