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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Matt Eddy
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1. Donavan Tate, of
2. Simon Castro, rhp
3. James Darnell, 3b
4. Jaff Decker, of
5. Logan Forsythe, 3b
6. Cory Luebke, lhp
7. Wynn Pelzer, rhp
8. Everett Williams, of
9. Edinson Rincon, 3b
10. Aaron Poreda, lhp
Best Hitter for Average Jaff Decker
Best Power Hitter Matt Clark
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Logan Forsythe
Fastest Baserunner Luis Durango
Best Athlete Donavan Tate
Best Fastball Wynn Pelzer
Best Curveball Keyvius Sampson
Best Slider Wynn Pelzer
Best Changeup Jeremy Hefner
Best Control Chris Fetter
Best Defensive Catcher Luis Martinez
Best Defensive Infielder Beamer Weems
Best Infield Arm Lance Zawadzki
Best Defensive Outfielder Donavan Tate
Best Outfield Arm Rymer Liriano
Catcher Nick Hundley
First Base Adrian Gonzalez
Second Base James Darnell
Third Base Chase Headley
Shortstop Everth Cabrera
Left Field Kyle Blanks
Center Field Donavan Tate
Right Field Jaff Decker
No. 1 Starter Mat Latos
No. 2 Starter Simon Castro
No. 3 Starter Chris Young
No. 4 Starter Kevin Correia
No. 5 Starter Cory Luebke
Closer Wynn Pelzer
Year Player, Position 2009
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
2009 Kyle Blanks, 1b Padres
Year Player, Position 2009
2000 Mark Phillips, lhp Out of baseball
2001 Jake Gautreau, 2b Out of baseball
2002 Khalil Greene, ss Cardinals
2003 Tim Stauffer, rhp Padres
2004 Matt Bush, ss Out of baseball
2005 Cesar Carrillo, rhp Padres
2006 Matt Antonelli, 3b Padres
2007 Nick Schmidt, lhp Padres
2008 Allan Dykstra, 1b Padres
2009 Donavan Tate, of Padres
Donavan Tate, 2009 $6,250,000
Matt Bush, 2004 $3,150,000
Mark Phillips, 2000 $2,200,000
Sean Burroughs, 1998 $2,100,000
Adys Portillo, 2008 $2,000,000
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San Diego Padres

The Padres' firing of longtime general manager Kevin Towers, who had presided over an unprecedented run of franchise success in his 14 years, occurred against a backdrop of recent player-development success. Older San Diego clubs that failed to make the playoffs in 2007 and 2008 gave way to a younger cast of players in the second half of 2009. They peaked in August and September, going 33-25 to avoid a second straight last-place finish in the National League West.

The top two players on the Padres' prospect list a year ago were at the heart of the transformation. Kyle Blanks joined the big league team in mid-June and belted 10 homers in 54 games before a foot injury ended his season in August. Mat Latos ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Double-A Texas League before settling into San Diego's rotation in mid-July, going 4-5, 4.62. Rookies Everth Cabrera, Wade LeBlanc and Will Venable also exhausted their prospect eligibility while helping in the second-half surge.

The front-office upheaval didn't begin or stop with Towers. In March, a new ownership group fronted by former agent and Diamondbacks minority owner Jeff Moorad bought a 33 percent stake in the club from John Moores, who was ensnared in a divorce proceeding. CEO Sandy Alderson resigned after Moorad came aboard.

In late October, Moorad settled on Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer to replace Towers. The Padres then fired vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson, who had a leading role in the club's 2005-09 drafts and also served as farm director, and reassigned scouting director Bill Gayton.

In early December, the Padres hired Red Sox scouting director Jason McLeod as assistant general manager. A San Diego native, McLeod spent a decade working for the Padres in a variety of roles before joining the Red Sox. In five drafts as scouting director, he made a succession of strong picks, including Daniel Bard, Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Moorad had expressed displeasure with San Diego's efforts in scouting. Many of the Padres' recent first-round picks either haven't lived up to expectations (Matt Bush, Matt Antonelli) or were saddled by serious injuries (Tim Stauffer, Cesar Carrillo, Nick Schmidt).

Fuson and Gayton performed an about-face with their drafting approach in 2009, selecting two premium high school athletes in outfielders Donavan Tate (No. 3 overall) and Everett Williams (second round) on the first day. The trend continued on day two with the selections of prep righthanders Keyvius Sampson (fourth round) and James Needy (sixth). In the past, the organization showed a clear preference for polished college hitters and for pitchers who stood out more for their feel than their pure stuff.

Along the same lines, San Diego made a point of stockpiling strong-armed pitchers in trades. Sending Scott Hairston to the Athletics in early July netted righthanders Sean Gallagher, Craig Italiano and Ryan Webb. Shipping ace Jake Peavy to the White Sox at the July 31 trade deadline brought in big leaguer Clayton Richard and three hard-throwing minor leaguers in Dexter Carter, Aaron Poreda and Adam Russell.

Led by third baseman Edinson Rincon, righthander Adys Portillo and outfielder Rymer Liriano, the Padres had a number of international prospects step up in 2009, balancing two less positive developments. In June, San Diego learned that Dominican third baseman Yefri Pena, who signed for $300,000, had falsified his age and identity (he's really Ramon Mercedes) and would be suspended for a year. Dominican shortstop Alvaro Aristy, who signed for $1 million in 2008, received a 50-game suspension a month later for failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs.

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