Gonzalez, Greene Ruin Big Unit’s Return

That was fun. Two old guys serving up meat, and plenty of it? What’s not to love.

Randy Johnson made his 2007 debut and looked a bit rusty. He had the good stuff, but his command wasn’t quite there and the Padres took advantage. Jose Cruz Jr., Adrian Gonzalez, and Khalil Greene all had field days at the plate against Johnson and a slew of relievers.

With the Padres down 2-0 in the third, Cruz drew a one-out walk. One out later, Gonzalez hammered a 2-0 fastball clocked at 93 mph out over the wall in left field to tie the game. According to the TV guys, this marked the 24th homer allowed to a lefty in 19 seasons by Johnson.

Greene pretty much did the rest. In the second inning, he smoked a 90-mph heater on the outer half for a ground-rule double to left. In the fourth, he punched another outside fastball to right for a rare single. Then in the fifth, he drove a 92-mph offering to the gap in left-center for a bases-clearing double that capped a six-run barrage against Johnson.

David Wells looked sharp at times, not so much at others. He had a nice curve working early in the game. In the second, Wells got Eric Byrnes and Tony Clark swinging for the first two outs, making them look silly in the process. But the southpaw then hung breaking balls to Chad Tracy (triple to right) and Carlos Quentin (homer to left) on back-to-back pitches.

Wells battled, but almost completely fell apart in the fifth. Staked to a 6-3 lead, he walked catcher Robby Hammock to start the inning. After retiring the next two batters, Wells served up back-to-back triples to Stephen Drew and Orlando Hudson. A walk to Byrnes got the bullpen busy, but Clark grounded to second to keep the score 6-5.

For the night, Wells allowed eight hits — three triples, a double, and a homer — in five innings. Now it became a battle of the bullpens. Advantage San Diego:

Padres and Diamondbacks Bullpens through April 23, 2007
  BA OBP SLG OPS+
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
Padres .185 .260 .252 47
Diamondbacks .254 .344 .417 116

The Padres struck for their second consecutive four-run inning in the sixth. Most of the damage came against left-hander Dana Eveland, though righty Brandon Medders helped as well. Eveland presumably came in because Brian Giles and Gonzalez were due up third and fourth in the inning. Giles notched an RBI single, while Gonzalez followed with an RBI ground-rule double to left. So much for that strategy.

What followed was pure comedy genius. Greene hit a 2-1 slider on the outer half to left field. Byrnes came on to try and catch the sinking liner but the ball just got under his glove. Byrnes quickly recovered and fired home to try and nail Gonzalez. Inexplicably, Medders cut the ball off, whirled, and fired to second. Actually, he fired well past second and into a completely vacated spot in right-center, allowing Greene to score without a throw. This may not have been the ugliest play I’ve ever seen, but it’s up there.

The Padres ‘pen? Four hitless innings, yawn. Heath “Automatic for the People” Bell worked a perfect sixth and seventh, while Doug “Ya Gotta Have Heart” Brocail followed with a perfect eighth, before turning things over to Kevin “I’m Too Cool for a Nickname” Cameron and Trevor Hoffman to seal the victory. Cameron shouldn’t have needed the help, but Gonzalez made a rare error to keep the inning alive. As Anthony notes, Hoffman is one heckuva fallback option. Also, he threw only two pitches, so no harm done.

Padres Prospect Report

by Peter Friberg

You will not see all the notable performances from the night before, but you will see the notable performances from those who are actually prospects.

AAA

Postponed

AA

Chase Headley: 4 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 0 RBI; 2 2B, SO – Nice home game!

High-A

Matt Antonelli: 4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; 2 BB, SB, CS
David Freese: 6 AB, 1 R, 4 H, 4 RBI; 3B
Chad Huffman: 4 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 0 RBI; 2 BB, SO
Matt Bush: 4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 2 RBI; 2B, BB
Yordany Ramirez: 5 AB, 3 R, 3 H, 2 RBI, SB

Low-A

Cedric Hunter: 4 AB, 0 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; SB
Rayner Contreras: 3 AB, 0 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; SB
Drew Miller: 7.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO, 0 HR

Commentary:

Lake Elsinore scored 15 runs while only hitting three extra-base hits (one double and two triples).

LynchMob in the comments section (if you’re not commenting, get involved! We have a good group of bright Padres fans in there. As Colin Cowherd said on ESPNradio Tuesday morning, San Diego baseball fans are probably the most underrated baseball fans in the country. Okay, that’s a “long enough” aside) pointed out that I missed Drew Miller in my Top 25 (shame on me — if I re-did my rankings he’d be in the 12-16 range). Baseball America called him the 12th best Padres prospect. He’s already one of the hardest throwers in the system (he tops out at 96 according to BA) and he has a ceiling as a #3 starter.

. . .

Top College Shortstops

Baseball America released its top 50 high school and top 50 college prospects for the draft last week (for subscribers). However, since I pointed out that the Padres have holes at shortstop and a lack of elite pitchers, I wanted to look at those lists with my comments in mind.

It is virtually impossible and nearly irrelevant to rate high schoolers by their statistics, but you can get a good idea about a college hitter by looking at his statistics.

The following shortstops made Baseball America‘s “Midseason Update: College Top 50 Prospects” (alphabetically):

Zack Cozart Jr. R-R 6-1 190 Mississippi
272 AB: .338/.370/.515 with 16 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, a 17/28 BB/SO ratio, & 15-18 SB-ATT

Todd Frazier Jr. R-R 6-4 215 Rutgers
147 AB: .381/.503/.755 with 9 HR, 2 3B, 14 HR, a 38/29 BB/SO ratio, & 17-20 SB-ATT

Josh Horton Jr. L-R 6-1 198 North Carolina
144 AB: .340/.473/.507 with 9 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, a 35/6 BB/S0 ratio, & 6-6 SB-ATT

Danny Worth Jr. R-R 6-1 165 Pepperdine
177 AB: .373/.449/.548 with 18 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, a 24/15 BB/SO ratio, & 9-13 SB-ATT

Based on a quick look at their statistics, I’d rate Frazier first (as BA does) followed in order by Horton (because of his sick plate discipline), Cozart, then Worth.

Again, this is without the aid of a scout’s eye and without an eye toward the players’ defensive abilities.

As always, big thanks to Peter for helping out with prospect coverage. Pads and Snakes again Wednesday night at 6:40 p.m. PT. Jake Peavy and Brandon Webb — should be fun. We’ll have the IGD up and running by 5:30. Go Padres!