Like Jayne Cobb’s hat, they make me look like an idiot. Here’s my list from 2003:
A few lowlights:
#18: Mike Nicolas
In 2003, Nicolas likely will serve again as Rusty Tucker’s primary setup man, this time at Double-A. He already has the ability to put the ball past hitters; if he keeps his walk totals down, he could be another Felix Rodriguez.
#15: Ben Johnson
If he can learn to use his strength, Johnson still could turn into another Brian Jordan. But I don’t like his chances now as much as I did at this time last year.
Hey, he landed us Heath Bell. All is forgiven.
#14: Cory Stewart
Although he doesn’t have the pedigree of some prospects, Stewart is making a name for himself; he could develop into a #4 or #5 starter, or he could become a swing man in the Terry Mulholland mode.
Stewart was the third guy sent to Pittsburgh in the Brian Giles deal. Jason Bay was one of the others; he didn’t make my top 20.
#13: Mike Rivera
He won’t be Mike Piazza. He probably won’t even be Jorge Posada. But he might be a better version of Jim Leyritz, and a guy with that skill set should be able to have a career.
At this point, anybody is a better version of Leyritz, and I’m not talking about baseball.
#10: Eric Cyr
With the plethora of young arms in the system, and given his history of injuries (Cyr spent time on the shelf again this season — shoulder tendinitis), if Cyr is to make it with the Padres, it’s probably as a reliever. Out of the bullpen he can concentrate on throwing two pitches for strikes and possibly become a power lefty a la Embree, Arthur Rhodes, or Mike Remlinger. Look for Cyr to get more work at Portland as a reliever before getting the call perhaps as soon as late May.
I saw his name pop up in the Caribbean leagues this winter, can’t remember where. Doesn’t really matter.
#7: Josh Barfield
Right now the biggest things working in Barfield’s favor are his athleticism and his extreme youth: he doesn’t turn 21 until after the 2003 season. Keep an eye on him at Elsinore. If he learns to draw a few walks, he could be something.
You already know his story.
#6: Justin Germano
If Germano can avoid injuries, he could develop into a solid middle-rotation guy. He probably doesn’t have the upside of Peavy but he could follow in the footsteps of, say, Brian Lawrence. Who wouldn’t like that?
Hate to say it, but he probably doesn’t have the upside of Lawrence either.
#5: Jake Gautreau
Gautreau possesses a smooth left-handed swing that generates doubles power. His stroke sometimes gets a little long, and he doesn’t have the lift that a classic home run hitter has. His statistical record at this point is comparable to those of Brad Fullmer and Corey Koskie at a similar stage of development… He needs to get more comfortable at second base, be a little more patient at the plate, and stay healthy. If he can do those things at Mobile this year, with Mark Loretta’s contract up at the end of the year, look for Gautreau to make a push for a starting gig in San Diego when the new ballpark opens in 2004.
Stay healthy? Not so much. Gautreau developed ulcerative colitis and hasn’t reached the big leagues yet.
#4: Tagg Bozied
If he can build off his success in the AFL and make a strong showing at Mobile, Bozied could arrive in San Diego in September and compete for a job in 2004. His upside is a solid #5 type hitter in the mold of, say, Jay Buhner.
This guy could hit. He couldn’t do much else, but he could hit.
#3: Xavier Nady
If he can lick the injuries and build on what he accomplished during the final two months of last season, expect Nady to arrive in San Diego sometime around the All-Star break. Although he may not put up big numbers right away, he’ll eventually be a force in the middle of the order. The peak of .280 with 30+ homers I projected for him last year still sounds about right to me.
He’s come a lot closer to my expectations than Sean Burroughs ever will. Burn…
#2: Mark Phillips
If he can learn to be more efficient with his pitches and avoid the lapses in control that have plagued him thus far, Phillips has the chance to be a front-end power lefty in the mold of Mark Langston or Al Leiter. But for now, he’s still a work in progress with very high upside.
Of course, Towers is a lot smarter than I’ll ever be when it comes to pitching, and I feel much better now that the team doesn’t stink every year. That and the B-12 injections.
#1: Khalil Greene
Although he’s not particularly big, Greene is strong and generates good power to the gaps with his compact swing. He projects as a middle-of-the-order offensive threat in the vein of Rich Aurilia (the guy who hits .280 with 20+ homers a year, not the 2001 freak version). In the field, what Greene lacks in quickness and arm strength, he makes up for in instincts and quick release. He’ll never be mistaken for Ozzie Smith, or even Ozzie Guillen, but he should be an average defensive shortstop or perhaps slightly better. Greene probably has enough bat to withstand a move out of the middle infield, but with the Padres lacking any other legitimate options at shortstop within the system, he will be given every opportunity to prove that he can play the position at the highest level.
You know what? I think I mostly got this one. Hooray for me…