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February 1, 2011

Future Shock

San Diego Padres Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

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Previous Rankings: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System In 20 Words Or Less: No more Adrian Gonzalez in the big leagues, but at least the trade rescued an otherwise moribund system.

Four-Star Prospects
1. Casey Kelly, RHP
2. Simon Castro, RHP

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
4. Jaff Decker, OF

5. Donavan Tate, CF
Three-Star Prospects
6. Drew Cumberland, SS
7. Reymond Fuentes, CF
8. Jedd Gyorko, 3B
9. Matt Lollis, RHP
10. Cory Luebke, LHP
Two-Star Prospects
11. Jonathan Galvez, SS

Nine More:
12. Jason Hagerty, C: A catcher with power and patience, but he's been old for his levels and is a below-average defender.
13. Keyvius Sampson, RHP: Gifted with big stuff but a small stature and a violent delivery, and he's already had some injuries.
14. Zach Cates, RHP: A third-round pick, Cates has more stuff than polish, but he has the raw ability to move up.
15. James Darnell, 3B: He struggled during an injury-plagued 2010 season, and needs to improve on defense.
16. Adys Portillo, RHP: Portillo remains young and very talented; the Padres hope to see progress in his full-season debut.
17. Johnny Barbato, RHP: Their sixth-round pick got $1.4 million to avoid college; he boasts good velocity and projection.
18. Edinson Rincon, 3B: Although he scuffled in his full-season debut, scouts still like the bat and power potential.
19. Logan Forsythe, 2B: His power disappeared at Double-A, so now he's just a mediocre second baseman who walks.
20. Blake Tekotte, OF: Almost assuredly a big-leaguer down the road, the downside is that Tekotte's ceiling is as a fourth outfielder.

1. Casey Kelly, RHP
DOB
: 10/4/89
Height/Weight: 6-3/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2008, Sarasota HS (FL)
2010 Stats: 5.31 ERA (95.0-118-35-81) at Double-A (21 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Changeup/curveball

Year in Review: The best prospect in Boston's system struggled in Double-A, but he still generated enough positive scouting reports to be the key player in the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
The Good: Kelly shows the potential for three average to plus pitches to go with plus command and control. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and can touch 95 at times when he needs something extra. He can occasionally flash an above-average curveball as well, and his changeup is a true plus pitch with outstanding deception. He's a phenomenal athlete who had first-round talent as a shortstop, as well as Division-I possibilities as a high-school quarterback.
The Bad: Kelly was in over his head at Double-A last year, as it was his first season dedicated solely to pitching, and he had less than 100 innings of experience entering the year. He needs to be more aggressive with all of his pitches, as he's often guilty of trying to fool hitters while rarely challenging them. He needs more consistency with the spin on his curveball, and even the velocity of his fastball fluctuated in 2010, with one scout reporting one start in which he rarely got over 91 mph, and another in which he was rarely below it.
Ephemera: Kelly is one of three shortstops selected out of Sarasota High in the past seven years, with the other two being Nats starter Ian Desmond (2004) and Brewers second-base prospect Scooter Gennett (2009).
Perfect World Projection: A second or third starter in a big-league rotation.
Fantasy Impact: San Diego will help his ERA obviously, but it's unlikely he'll ever be a big strikeout-generating pitcher.
Path to the Big Leagues: Kelly needs to repeat Double-A to begin the season, but at 21 he'll still be young for the level.
ETA: Late 2012.

2. Simon Castro, RHP
DOB
: 4/9/88
Height/Weight: 6-5/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2006, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: 2.92 ERA (129.2-107-36-107) at Double-A (24 G); 7.84 ERA (10.1-16-6-6) at Triple-A (2 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/changeup

Year in Review: A bulky Dominican, Castro skipped a level to begin the year in Double-A, and finished the year with a late-season promotion to the Pacific Coast League.
The Good: Castro has an ideal pitching frame (he's also well over his listed weight of 210 pounds) and boasts power stuff, beginning with a plus fastball that sits at 92-94 mph, and consistently touches the mid-90s. It grades out even higher due to Castro's ability to pound all four quadrants of the strike zone with it, thanks to a smooth, easy delivery. He has a solid slider with good two-plane break that he uses when he gets ahead of the count. He maintains his stuff deep into games, and often gets there in part due to his pitch efficiency, as he averaged fewer than 15 pitches per inning during his Texas League stint.
The Bad: Castro lives off his fastball, and he doesn't have another plus pitch; while he does throw a changeup, it still needs refinement. He can be guilty of throwing too many strikes at times, and needs to take better advantage of his ability to expand the zone when ahead in the count.
Ephemera: Castro's first exposure to hitting in 2010 didn't go so well, as he went 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: A good third starter with some star potential.
Fantasy Impact: Above-average for a starter, with good strikeout totals and control that combine to keep his WHIP down.
Path to the Big Leagues: Castro will begin the year in the Triple-A rotation at San Diego's new affiliate in Tucson. He'll be among the first in line for a major-league call should the need arise.
ETA: 2011

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
DOB
: 8/8/89
Height/Weight: 6-3/220
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Sixth round, 2007, Douglas HS (FL)
2010 Stats: .248/.333/.479 at High-A (29 G); .263/.334/.481 at Double-A (107 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/speed

Year in Review: Always projected to hit for power, Rizzo finally delivered in 2010, which made him a key element to the Gonzalez deal.
The Good: Rizzo's size and natural strength began to shine in 2010, as nearly half of his hits went for extra bases. He's a strong, muscular hitter who drives balls to all fields with considerable strength, while also showing a mature approach and solid walk rate. He's a very good defensive first baseman, and especially adept at digging balls out of the dirt.
The Bad: Rizzo's power came at a cost, as he became frequently pull-conscious and saw his strikeout rate go up significantly. One scout who has seen Rizzo throughout his career put it best by saying, “I've seen him hit for average, and I've seen him it for power, but I am left wondering if he can do both.” He's a below-average runner, but not a base-clogger.
Ephemera: Rizzo is one of three players ever drafted out of Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which is named after Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the feminist and environmentalist who helped save the Everglades.
Perfect World Projection: A good first baseman, but some scouts are reticent to attach a star-level projection on him.
Fantasy Impact: As explained above, we're not quite sure if he's going to be an average guy or a power guy.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Padres brought in Brad Hawpe as a one-year fix, while hoping that Rizzo will be ready by the following year. He'll likely begin the year at Double-A.
ETA: 2012

4. Jaff Decker, OF
DOB
: 2/23/90
Height/Weight: 5-10/190
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2008, Sunrise Mountain HS (AZ)
2010 Stats: .262/.374/.500 at High-A (79 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/run

Year in Review: Among the best pure hitters in the minors, Decker recovered from a disturbingly slow start to become the Cal League's most dangerous performer in the second half.
The Good: With career averages of .295/.435/.510, it's hard to argue with Decker's offensive abilities. His approach is among the best in the game, as he almost never swings at a bad pitch, and then drives the strikes he does get with a quick, leverage-packed swing. He spent last off-season working on his conditioning, and showed improved outfield play to go with an already-solid arm as a result.
The Bad: Decker's tools have never and will never impress. He remains short, squat and thick, and he's a poor baserunner. His ultimate value is wrapped up nearly completely in his bat, and he has to maintain that to overcome his limitations.
Ephemera: Decker ended his 2010 season with a 13-game hitting streak in which he went 18-for-46 (.391) with a double and eight home runs for a .935 slugging percentage.
Perfect World Projection: Good everyday left fielder.
Fantasy Impact: Good, and even better in a league where walks and/or OBP matter.
Path to the Big Leagues: Decker will move up to Double-A San Antonio in 2011, an assignment that has hurt the profiles of many prospects before him.
ETA: 2012

5. Donavan Tate, CF
DOB
: 9/27/90
Height/Weight: 6-3/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009, Cartersville HS (GA)
2010 Stats: .222/.336/.344 at Rookie (25 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Power/hit

Year in Review: The organization's 2009 first-round pick continued to struggle with both injuries and breaking balls.
The Good: Tate remains loaded with tools. One of the best athletes in the minors, he has plus-plus raw power, and well above-average speed. Those wheels give him excellent range in center field, and his arm gives him a fourth plus-grade tool.
The Bad: As remarkable as Tate's tools are in the broad stroke, his batting is a major concern. He has a long, hitch-filled swing that some scouts believe needs a complete re-working, and he looks completely lost against anything that is not a fastball. Adding to the frustration is a string of minor injuries deserving of their own Wikipedia entry, which have combined to limit him to just 107 plate appearances since signing.
Ephemera: Tate whiffed two or more times in 13 of his 25 games in 2010.
Perfect World Projection: He still has the highest upside in the system, but his chances of reaching that ceiling have dropped.
Fantasy Impact: Somewhere between zero and massive.
Path to the Big Leagues: Tate will make his highly-anticipated full-season debut at Low-A Fort Wayne in 2011, but more important than his performance will simply be his getting 500-600 plate appearances.
ETA: 2014

6. Drew Cumberland, SS
DOB
: 1/13/89
Height/Weight: 5-10/170
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2007, Pace HS (FL)
2010 Stats: .365/.404/.542 at High-A (60 G); .278/.298/.333 at Double-A (15 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/power

Year in Review: An athletic middle infielder, Cumberland was in the middle of a breakout year before a severe gash in his knee cut his season short.
The Good: Cumberland's quick, quiet swing makes him a contact machine, one whom scouts believe with hit for average all the way up the ladder. He's an above-average runner with base-stealing ability, and has good range at shortstop. He gets high marks for his makeup and intensity.
The Bad: While Cumberland has occasional gap power, that's also his ceiling; he'll never be a home-run threat. He's an aggressive hitter who rarely works the count, and more advanced pitchers were able to coax bad contact out of him by staying out of the strike zone. He's also a messy defender with a so-so arm, and someone who many think fits better at second base.
Ephemera: In the first plate appearance of Cumberland's 59 starts for Lake Elsinore, he hit .418/.458/.673.
Perfect World Projection: Offense-oriented middle infielder who hits at the top of the lineup.
Fantasy Impact: Average and stolen bases, but look elsewhere for power.
Path to the Big Leagues: After having his season cut short, Cumberland will return to Double-A to begin 2011.
ETA: Late 2012

7. Reymond Fuentes, CF
DOB: 2/12/91
Height/Weight: 6-0/160
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2009, Fernando Callejo HS (PR)
2010 Stats: .270/.328/.377 at Low-A (104 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Speed/arm

Year in Review: The toolsy center fielder impressed scouts during his full-season debut, and was the third major piece received from the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez deal.
The Good: Fuentes is an impressive physical specimen, with outstanding speed than gives him well above-average range in center, and which also makes him a threat to steal every time he's on first base. While he had just 25 extra-base hits in 2010, he puts on a more impressive display in batting practice, and projects for 10-15 home runs annually.
The Bad: Fuentes needs to develop more discipline at the plate, as he's prone to chasing breaking balls and expanding his strike zone when behind in the count. His swing can get loopy at times, leading to contact issues. His arm is below-average.
Ephemera: Fuentes is one of seven players selected out of Callejo High, with others including Carlos Beltran and Javier Valentin.
Perfect World Projection: An everyday center fielder with tons of speed and a bit of power.
Fantasy Impact: Fuentes has the potential to be a fantasy stud with 30-50 stolen bases a year to go with double-digit home-run totals.
Path to the Big Leagues: Fuentes could put up some huge numbers at High-A Lake Elsinore in 2011, and could give the Padres a long-term solution at center field in the future.
ETA: 2014

8. Jedd Gyorko, 3B
DOB
: 9/23/88
Height/Weight: 5-10/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2010, West Virginia University
2010 Stats: .330/.383/.528 at Short-Season (26 G); .284/.366/.389 at Low-A (42 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Hit/run

Year in Review: One of the top hitters in the college game, he fell to the second round due to his lack of other noteworthy tools.
The Good: Gyorko is already an impressive hitter, gifted with a big league-ready approach, outstanding plate coverage, and enough strength in his swing to project for average power down the road. He surprised scouts by playing a solid third base during his pro debut, where his hands and arm work well. He's a classic grinder who gets the most of out limited athletic ability.
The Bad: Gyorko's defense was an issue throughout his college years, not because of his fundamentals, but rather his stocky build, below-average speed, and limited range. Even at third base there are balls he just can't get to, and some feel a move to an outfield corner is in his future, which would force even more onto the development of his bat.
Ephemera: Gyorko's older brother Scott walked on with the West Virginia football team as a freshman, and was a starting linebacker as a junior and senior.
Perfect World Projection: A bat-first third baseman.
Fantasy Impact: He'll give you batting average and some power, with even more value for OBP-centered leagues.
Path to the Big Leagues: Gyorko might begin his first full season as a pro all the way up at High-A Lake Elsinore, which reflects that he shouldn't take long to get to the big leagues.
ETA: 2013

9. Matt Lollis, RHP
DOB
: 9/11/90
Height/Weight: 6-8/280
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 15th round, 2009, Riverside Community College (CA)
2010 Stats: 2.86 ERA (34.2-21-8-24) at Short-Season (6 G); 1.66 ERA (54.1-47-13-45) at Low-A (9 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Fastball/changeup

Year in Review: A relatively obscure 2009 draftee, Lollis excelled in the Northwest League and then again later in his first taste of full-season ball.
The Good: There are few pitchers who cut a more imposing figure on the mound than Lollis does; he looks more like a power forward than a baseball player. His size gives him a long stride and a release that's hard to pick up, adding even more effectiveness to a fastball that is already in the 91-95 mph range (touching 97). Despite his height, he has a simple delivery and repeats his release points, giving him above-average command.
The Bad: Lollis' fastball is his only plus pitch, and he'll need to work on improving his slurvy breaking ball and so-so changeup to give himself something else to work with. His body is soft, and conditioning will need to be a focus throughout his career. Despite his height, he has problems locating his fastball in the lower half of the zone, and tends to work high.
Ephemera: Batters leading off an inning against Lollis went just 13-for-90 (.144) with one walk.
Perfect World Projection: Everything about Lollis is big, including his ceiling as a third starter with some star potential.
Fantasy Impact: It's above average for a starter.
Path to the Big Leagues: Lollis already got a taste of the California League by pitching in the playoffs last year, and he'll begin 2011 back in Lake Elsinore.
ETA: 2013

10. Cory Luebke, LHP
DOB
: 3/4/85
Height/Weight: 6-4/215
Bats/Throws: R/L
Drafted/Signed: Supplemental first round, 2007, Ohio State University
2010 Stats: 2.40 ERA (56.1-41-12-44) at Double-A (10 G); 2.97 ERA (57.2-42-17-44) at Triple-A (9 G); 4.08 ERA (17.2-17-6-18) at MLB (4 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Control/fastball

Year in Review: A finesse left-hander, Luebke began the year at Double-A, but ended it with three starts in the big leagues.
The Good: Luebke is a highly polished, big league-ready lefty who attacks hitters with three solid offerings. His fastball sits at 89-92 mph, but plays up due to his pinpoint location, and he backs the pitch up with a solid-to-average slider/changeup combination that he'll mix in at any point in the count. He has an unflappable mound presence, and maturity beyond his years.
The Bad: Luebke needs his location and all three pitches every night, as the lack of a true out pitch leaves him with very little room for error, every time out. He is already at his ceiling, because at 26, there's no room for projection remaining.
Ephemera: Luebke was an incredible all-around athlete at Marion Local High School in Ohio, leading the basketball team to two state title games while earning second-team All-State honors on the hardwood, while also being the team MVP in football as the starting quarterback.
Perfect World Projection: A fourth or fifth starter, but he's already there.
Fantasy Impact: Limited.
Path to the Big Leagues: Luebke goes into the spring with a slot in the Padres' rotation that is his to lose.
ETA: 2011

11. Jonathan Galvez, SS
DOB
: 1/18/91
Height/Weight: 6-2/175
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: 2007, Dominican Republic
2010 Stats: .259/.360/.397 at Low-A (114 G)
Best/Worst Tool: Speed/hit

Year in Review: A uniquely talented teenage shortstop, Galvez was impressive in his full-season debut, while creating plenty of questions about what his future might entail.
The Good: Galvez does many things rarely seen in a young Latin American up-the-middle player. Most fundamentally, he works the count extremely well for his experience level, and he has well above-average power for a middle infielder, to the point that he's projected by some scouts to have average power down the road. He's a plus runner, especially from first-to-third, and he has a solid arm.
The Bad: Galvez' power can also be his undoing, as he's very pull-conscious and tries to hit every ball a mile, which is why he struck out 121 times in 398 at-bats last year. He's a messy defender who committed 43 errors, and will likely need to slide over to second or third as his body fills out.
Ephemera: Galvez made five starts in second base in 2010, and was 11-for-25 with four home runs at the plate in those contests.
Perfect World Projection: A middle infielder with power and speed.
Fantasy Impact: A strange player who could hurt your team with a low batting average, yet while also giving you secondary skills rarely found in up-the-middle players.
Path to the Big Leagues: Galvez should enjoy the friendly confines of Lake Elsinore in 2011, but there will be more focus from scouts on his development on defense.
ETA: 2014

The Sleeper: 2010 fifth-round pick Rico Noel is a burner on the basepaths, an outstanding center fielder, and a walk machine. Some scouts think that combination will be enough to make up for a complete lack of power.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/85 or later)
1. Mat Latos, RHP

2. Casey Kelly, RHP
3. Simon Castro, RHP
4. Cameron Maybin, CF
5. Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF
6. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
7. Jaff Decker, OF
8. Aaron Cunningham, OF
9. Donavan Tate, OF
10. Ernesto Frieri, RHP

Latos is potentially a true staff ace, and that's even as he's still a good four to six years away from peaking. I'm done thinking Maybin will be grow up to be a star, but I'm still a big enough sucker on the tools he brings to the table to think that he can still be a solid everyday player. Blanks is making a slow recovery from elbow surgery, but the team is even more desperate for his power following the Gonzalez deal. Cunningham could earn the fourth outfielder's job this spring, and that's where his ceiling is. Frieri is a quality reliever, but he falls short of being closer-worthy.

Summary: There are few prospect duos under more pressure to perform than Kelly and Rizzo are right now, since both need to arrive in 2012 to keep the natives from getting restless. It's unlikely that the Padres will be a trendy pick to repeat last year's run at a post-season slot, so if the Gonzalez trade doesn't work out to boot, it could take some time for a return to contention.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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