Padres Farm Report: Spotlight on San Antonio

I once caught a game at San Antonio’s Wolff Stadium, back when the Missions were a Mariners affiliate. It’s a nice ballpark in a nice town — definitely on my short list of places to return to one of these years, especially now that the Padres have their Double-A team there…

San Antonio Missions in a Box:
Record: 63-56
Runs Scored: 557
Runs Allowed: 479
BA/OBP/SLG: .265/.349/.392 (Texas League: .269/.341/.410)
ERA: 3.46 (TL: 4.33)
DER: .656 (TL: .647)
Source: Baseball-Reference.

This is a good ballclub with some solid young talent. The pitching has been superb (San Antonio leads the league in ERA by a healthy margin — the second place team is closer to last than first), although we need to attach a disclaimer: Over the past three seasons, Wolff Stadium has suppressed offense at about the same level as Petco Park. Here are the park factors for these two venues (average is 1000, lower favors pitchers):

Wolff Stadium vs Petco Park, 2005-2007
  2005 2006 2007
Statistics are courtesy of Baseball Prospectus 2008.
Wolff Stadium 928 918 905
Petco Park 920 919 910

Obviously, this doesn’t negate the accomplishments of guys who pitch there, but we do need to take environment into consideration when making our evaluations.

The big names at San Antonio in 2008 include first baseman Kyle Blanks (whom I ranked as the Padres #5 prospect entering the season), left fielder Chad Huffman, right-hander Will Inman (#8), and left-hander Steve Garrison.

Others to note are center fielder Drew Macias, shortstop Sean Kazmar (who was recalled to the big club on Monday), right fielder Craig Cooper, catcher Jose Lobaton, and right-handers Matthew Buschmann, Stephen Faris, and Manny Ayala. Let’s take a closer look…

Kyle Blanks: .307/.387/.473; .603 BB/K, .092 BB/PA, .166 ISO, .283 XB/H

Kyle BlanksIf you’ve spent any time here at all, you know I’m a big fan of Blanks. The 21-year-old first baseman has hit between .292 and .307 in each of his four minor-league seasons, and is starting to flash the power expected of a man listed at 6’6″, 270+ lbs. Unfortunately, the latter is coming at the expense of a disciplined approach that had served him well earlier in the season. Before the All-Star break, Blanks hit .315/.405/.446 with 35 walks and 36 strikeouts; since then he’s hitting .292/.353/.519 with 9 walks and 37 strikeouts. Obviously the results have been positive, but I question the shift in approach. Blanks is too good a hitter to be relying on a hack-and-slash strategy, and I can’t help but wonder if he’s feeling pressure to hit for more power. It would be a shame if his offensive game deteriorated because some folks think a kid his size should be able to crank the ball out of the park with greater regularity. I still really like Blanks and what he’s doing this year at Double-A, but his performance so far in the second half is cause for concern. He has no home/road splits to speak of, which is nice.

Chad Huffman: .285/.384/.425; .799 BB/K, .129 BB/PA, .140 ISO, .321 XB/H

Chad HuffmanI’m not a huge believer in Huffman, but as always, I hope the player proves me wrong. He is 23 years old and strictly a left fielder, which means he has to keep crushing baseballs at every level to have a chance. This probably isn’t a fair comparison, but whenever I see someone with his skill set, I think of a guy like Kevin Mench — useful in the right context, but not special. Huffman has severe lefty/righty splits and hasn’t done well in his home park (eight of his nine homers have come on the road). On the bright side, he controls the strike zone fairly well and hits a lot of doubles. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get excited about Huffman. Nothing would make me happier than for him to make me look like an idiot for saying that.

Drew Macias: .292/.402/.418; 1.014 BB/K, .145 BB/PA, .126 ISO, .285 XB/H

Drew MaciasYeah, Macias is 25, but he has good on-base skills and plays a legitimate center field. Not every prospect is destined to become a starter in the big leagues. Guys with Macias’ skill set could have value as a fourth or fifth outfielder at some point. Just don’t expect much more than that, and you’ll be fine.

Sean Kazmar: .264/.333/.359; .576 BB/K, .088 BB/PA, .095 ISO, .267 XB/H

Kazmar’s presence here says more about the Padres lack of depth at shortstop in the high minors than it does about his status as a prospect. He’s a decent defender but offers very little at the plate. The 23-year-old Kazmar is sort of a middle-infield version of Luke Carlin — he’ll do in a pinch, but it’s best to have other options. If everything breaks right, Kazmar could be the new Rafael Santana.

Craig Cooper: .277/.347/.408; .456 BB/K, .087 BB/PA, .131 ISO, .304 XB/H

Cooper is a big kid who doesn’t hit for much power. He’s also 23, so it’s hard to say whether he’ll develop more. Cooper can play both corner outfield spots and first base; if he hits enough, he could end up on a big-league bench one of these years. Again, this may not sound exciting to you, but I imagine that Cooper feels otherwise.

Jose Lobaton: .251/.317/.402; .412 BB/K, .095 BB/PA, .151 ISO, .385 XB/H

In the Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual I said that Lobaton “could develop into a solid backup catcher,” and that still sounds about right to me. The 23-year-old switch-hitter from Venezuela has put up much better numbers against right-handers, although this could be partly a result of his having seen so few southpaws (42 AB). The other extreme split for Lobaton comes as something of a surprise: He’s actually hitting much better at home (.311/.388/.500) than on the road (.189/.241/.299). If Lobaton can put up those numbers at a place like Wolff Stadium, then maybe he has a chance.

Will Inman: 3.43 ERA, 4.52 BB/9, 9.71 K/9

Will InmanThere is some question as to whether Inman can remain a starting pitcher. Joe Sheehan at Baseball Prospectus doesn’t think so, comparing Inman to former big-league reliever Jeff Nelson. I haven’t seen Inman pitch (the photo is from a spring training workout), so I can’t comment on Sheehan’s concerns. It’s worth noting, however, that Tommy Lasorda once didn’t think Pedro Martinez could remain a starting pitcher. Obviously Inman isn’t Martinez, but the point is, it’s difficult to know what will come to pass until it actually does. Don’t believe me? Try winning the lottery.

Anyway, as he usually does, Inman is dominating his league. It’d be nice to see him get those walk totals down a bit — he’s already set a single-season high — but when you’re missing as many bats as he is, I suppose a little wildness can be forgiven. Inman isn’t a real big kid, and apparently he doesn’t impress in person as much as he does on paper. (Lest anyone think I’m picking on Sheehan, whose larger point about the need to balance statistical evaluation with actual observation I completely agree with, I’ve heard others voice similar sentiments about Inman.) Still, when you’re 21 years old, kicking butt in Double-A, and striking out better than 10 batters per 9 innings for the career, you must be doing something right.

Steve Garrison: 3.61 ERA, 2.38 BB/9, 7.44 K/9

Steve GarrisonGarrison came over from Milwaukee (along with Inman) in last summer’s Scott Linebrink deal. The 21-year-old southpaw isn’t overpowering but has been effective at every minor-league stop. He’s been especially tough on lefties this year (.179 BAA). For most of the season, his numbers have been solid but not spectacular, the exception being June, when he went 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in five starts. One caveat: Garrison’s ERA is nearly a run lower at Wolff Stadium than away from it. This may or may not be indicative of anything, but it’s worth mentioning.

Matthew Buschmann: 3.00 ERA, 3.29 BB/9, 7.14 K/9

Taken in the 15th round of the 2006 draft out of Vanderbilt, Buschmann lacks the pedigree of many other pitchers in the system. At age 24, he’s a tad old for the Texas League, but all the guy has done at every level is get hitters out. Buschmann is around the plate a lot, but because of his age and lack of dominance, he’ll need to keep proving himself. Lefties have given him trouble this year. They’re hitting .314 against him, and they account for half of the dozen homers he’s allowed. His strikeout-to-walk ratio, which is better than 3-to-1 against right-handed batters, is just about even against southpaws. He’ll need to figure out a way to neutralize lefties if he wants to remain in the rotation at higher levels.

Stephen Faris: 3.30 ERA, 2.61 BB/9, 6.98 K/9

Faris is another 24-year-old finesse guy who gets almost no play as a prospect. There’s a good reason for that: pitchers who struggle to strike out 6 batters per 9 innings (his career mark is 5.96 K/9) typically don’t turn into successful big leaguers. That said, Faris is enjoying a fine campaign at Double-A. Like Buschmann, Faris has done better against right-handers than lefties. There’s a chance that one of these two guys will become the next Mike Thompson, but I’m not sure which one.

Manny Ayala: 3.86 ERA, 4.11 BB/9, 7.59 K/9

Manny AyalaI probably like Ayala too much. He impressed me the few times I saw him pitch at Elsinore last year. Most of the comments that apply to Buschmann and Faris apply to Ayala as well: not terribly young, not overpowering, around the plate. I think he’s still worth watching, but temper your expectations.

* * *
I saw Cesar Carillo pitch at Lake Elsinore on Sunday. He gave up three hits, all ground balls that found holes. As his final line would suggest, Carrillo didn’t have much in the way of command, which is in stark contrast to the only other time I’ve seen him on the mound. Still, a bit of rust is to be expected after missing so much time. Personally I’m giving him a mulligan for the season in terms of performance. Like Clay Hensley, Carrillo gets credit just for being out there and throwing some innings. Next year, of course, is different; then he’ll need to produce.

* * *
I also got my first look at right-hander Robert Woodard. He’s probably not a prospect, but he might be my favorite pitcher in the organization (it’s a toss-up between him and Dirk Hayhurst) because he relies almost exclusively on guile. Woodard also is a former North Carolina state chess champion, which is just way too cool. Anyway, Woodard retired all eight batters he faced in relief of Carrillo on Sunday and got extra style points for that crazy karate kick in his delivery.

* * *
Finally, the Padres have extended their player development agreement with the Fort Wayne Wizards through 2010. This pleases me not only because I have fond memories of the place, but also because I like to see continuity in the organization. Why? Well, I don’t know. It makes me feel better, I suppose…

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , ,

81 Responses »

  1. #49@Schlom: Lots of players have kept their draft demands secret. Partly because it’s against MLB rules to talk about contract details before the draft, partly because they want to preserve as much leverage as they can. They’d love to be drafted by a team that feels so compelled not to “waste” a pick that they’ll accede to the kid’s demands.

    You really don’t understand how agents or teams view negotiations if you think this would burn any bridges. If every team that ever had a negotiation go sour with an agent then cut that agent off, no baseball team would be able to deal with any agent. There’d be no free agent signings, no draft signings, nothing. The only solution would be for a new crop of agents to come in every year along with the draftees.

    “just find it hard to believe that they had no idea that these demands were coming.”

    That’s basically a complete contradiction of your earlier claim, that the Padres were just idiots: “All they had to do was ask him and there would be absolutely no reason for him to lie so they might not have even asked such a simple question.”

  2. Caught the end of the Sandy Alderson report on 1090 radio.

    He says they knew Dykstra had a hip injury when they drafted him but not to the extent of what they know now. When asked if they would’ve drafted him if they had that info before the draft, he said they wouldn’t, at least not in the 1st round.

    He touched on the Giles situation briefly. Basically, he still thinks Giles is still the type of player they want in the organization, but Giles is getting up in age and towards the end of his contract. Therefore, a trade could’ve benefited Giles and the Padres, in that they might’ve been able to get some good players in return and would’ve gained financial flexibility going into the offseason. He says their moving forward at this point and will decide on whether to pick up his option once the season is over.

  3. #51@Tom Waits: But he was asking for a huge amount of money — more money then anyone except himself thought he was worth. I don’t think you’d find anyone that thinks that he’s a top 50 talent, yet he wanted to get paid like a late first round/supplemental draft pick. Other then the first 10 picks (and the high school players with strong college commitments) he’s asking for the most amount of money, or least the highest percentage over slot. Doesn’t that strike you as a bit odd? Personally I find it a bit far-fetched that the Padres had no idea that he was asking for an amount so out of whack with his draft position.

    However, let’s assume that it’s true. Then isn’t Kipnis pulling a Matt Harrington situation here? He’s not worth anything close to what he is asking and so he’s only going to hurt himself in the long run. Unless he ends up a top 10 talent next season who is going to take the chance of drafting him? If he thinks he’s worth $1m as the 135th pick, what is going to think he’s worth as the 30th pick? But with his skills, there isn’t much chance he’s going to go really high as he doesn’t do anything that outstanding (not great power, not great speed).

  4. Unfortunately I had a longer post that was eaten.

    Basically what worries me most about this whole situation is that I fear that it’s a reprisal of the Grant Green/Christian Colon debacles of past drafts. Instead of paying a few extra hundred thousand dollars on draftees (less then 1% of the major league budget) they let them go to college instead. Now maybe Kipnis won’t compromise and lower his budget demands. But if he does, does it make sense to let a good player (obviously the Padres think so otherwise they wouldn’t have drafted him so high) walk over a $200k? For all this talk about rebuilding the farm system, we haven’t really seen it — or at least them spending money to procure talent.

  5. DePo announces a waiver claim …

    Today we claimed RHP Brian Falkenborg on waivers from the Dodgers.

  6. #54@Schlom: “For all this talk about rebuilding the farm system, we haven’t really seen it — or at least them spending money to procure talent.”

    Didn’t we just spend a record amount in international signings?

  7. MadFriars report this good news during a Q&A with Grady Fuson …

    How have Matt Bush and Nick Schmidt advanced in their injury rehabs?

    Grady Fuson: Schmidt has been very, very good. Bush is good. There haven’t been any setbacks. We expect them both to be live and ready to go in the Instructional League.

  8. A comment on Kyle Blanks. He is quickly running out of room in the Padres system. If he has a solid season in Portland next year, is he gone? or ?

  9. #56@BigWorm: Yes, but what does that have to do with the draft? Unless the Padres have an either/or proposition with them, which is the thing I’m complaining about.

    The main reason the Padres have been one of the worst franchises since they debuted is their horrible drafting. Even the great run of the past four season largely came to nothing because of more poor drafting. I’m sure everyone in the front office realizes that. So it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to pinch pennies now, especially if it’s just over a few hundred thousand dollars (money that was saved by drafting Sawyer Carroll).

  10. #59@Schlom: Good thing we saved that money and went with Carroll because he tore up Eugene and moved up to Ft. Wayne

  11. #55@LynchMob: So when do they start to take a look at some of the younger players? They must really not like Dirk Hayhurst for some reason. Why not throw Hayhurst, Edwin Moreno, Chad Reineke or Josh Geer in the bullpen to see what they can do for the rest of the season and if they really love Falkenborg, Corey, or Tomko, I’m pretty sure they can sign them to a minor league deal in the offseason? No offense to those guys but why does this team have any use for a mediocre journeyman at this point of the season? They need to start finding out what they have down in Portland.

  12. #61@JMAR: Arent most of our guys in Portland just kind of mediocre anyway?

  13. #53@Schlom: Seriously, you’re not making ANY sense. First it was the Padres failed to ask a question to find out what he wanted. Now the Padres knew what he wanted, knew it was a lot, and drafted him anyway.

    Whatever happens with Kipnis next year has no bearing on why the Padres drafted him this year. What does it matter if he blows out a knee and gets popped in the 12th round? That’s on him. He held firm on his price, the Padres held firm on their offer, the two sides part.

    #54@Schlom: Green and Colon were considered first or second round talents, not 6th – 10th. Huge difference. You might also look at in percentages. Colon and Green were looking for a 25-50% increase in the offer. Kipnis was asking for about 4x.

  14. #62@SDSUBaseball: Reineke has been solid as a starter since his acquisition and the scouting reports have him as a reliever, so it would be good to see what he can do.

    Geer has been average as a starter but he has sort of a funky delivery so I’d like to see what he could do out of the bullpen.

    Moreno was the only Beaver in the PCL All-Star game and he throws in the mid 90′s.
    Hayhurst has had a very solid year with a very good BB/K/IP ratio and is durable and can eat up innings. He also seems like he would be a great clubhouse guy, even if he is nothing more than a middle reliever.

    Plus, these guys are all under 30 so I’d rather see what they can do rather than see guys who have already had a lot of years under their belt and proved to be nothing more than medicore.

  15. #55@LynchMob: I’m trying to get even a little excited about that and failing.

  16. #60@SDSUBaseball: I didn’t say that was a bad pick, just that he signed significantly under slot. Nothing wrong with that — the Padres best hitter was a signability pick. But if they saved $200k there they should be able to spend that somewhere else (although I’m not sure that applies to the Dykstra pick since they get an extra one next season).

    The reason I question the Padres FO is that they have been absolutely horrible at the amateur draft. In fact, as I’ve said before, it’s absolutely unbelievable that they’ve managed to be really good the past four season despite throwing away the 9th pick in 2000, the 14th in 2001, the 4th pick in 2003, the 1st pick in 2004, and quite possibly their first picks in 2005, 2007 and 2008. All those players (except for those drafted the past few seasons) should be major contributors of their team and instead they’ve got nothing. In fact it might be unprecedented (I don’t see another team winning with a low payroll and no home-grown players).

  17. Kind of last second but would anyone want to buy some Toyota Terrace Reserved tickets from me for tonight’s game to see CC Sabathia shut down our Padres? I have four $47 seats. I was going to bring my kids but they’ll just want to go to play in the park the entire game so I won’t get to enjoy these great tickets I got through work. If anyone is interested, I’ll give them away for cheap. Just email me through my site if you want two, three, or all four.

  18. #52@JMAR: That’s a disheartening answer on Dykstra, because it sounds like it IS the hip. That means they spent a 1st round pick for the chance to give him a more complete examination. It’s like test-driving a car but you only get to pick one. As scared as they are of first-round injuries, that should have been weighted more. It’s not like the information on that type of injury is buried in a dusty medical textbook in Cairo. As soon as you look it up, the word “progressive” jumps out at you.

    The answer on Giles doesn’t sound encouraging, either. If they’re thinking of not picking up his option, he should have been traded in July. You’ll be out the 3M if he stays, so you have up to 3M to send over to your trade partner and it seems unlikely that it would have taken that much. Maybe it’s just SA’s very cautious way of speaking, but it makes me wonder if the stories about a radically reduced payroll due to the Moores’ divorce are based in fact rather than rumor.

  19. #66@Schlom: Throwing away is a poor characterization for 03 and 05. Neither Stauffer nor Carrillo had any medical red flags before the draft. Injuries are a part of the game. Again, Ethan Martin, a terrific pick by the Dodgers, got hurt before the ink was dry on his contract this year.

    The Padres had two bad drafts in 03 and 04. Between 98 and 02 their drafts were generally considered pretty good, although a lot of those guys were used in trades before they got close to the majors. 05 and 06 were solid, above-average, unspectacular drafts. It’s too early to say much about 2007, but it was usually rated as a good, not great, effort by most independent evaluators. You can knock that down some because of Schmidt, but it doesn’t come close to “horrible.”

  20. #63@Tom Waits: I don’t know if they asked him beforehand what his bonus demands were. I’d assume that they did but I don’t know. Unless his demand came totally out of the blue it’s not good for the FO — as they either didn’t have a clue or thought that he’d come down.

    We actually have no idea what Kipnis wants. I’m citing the figure that was in the UT, I’m assuming that came from the Padres. Who knows if that’s the truth or not. I don’t have a problem with him asking for a ton — I know that supposedly Buster Posey is asking for a $12m bonus. But he’s not going to get that so if he wants to sign with the Giants he’ll have to compromise. Same thing with Kipnis — although again, we don’t know if he’s come down on his demands or what the Padres are really offering. For all we know they are offering him less then they paid Sawyer Carroll — he was drafted the round after him. That would put the amount around $700k.

    I’m not exactly sure why you are defending the front office here. I guess you assume that Kipnis’ demands were totally unknown by anyone in the front office, right? That means that his advisor kept that information away from the Padres or lied about the amount he was seeking (I’m assuming that the Padres wouldn’t have drafted him if they knew he was asking for 1st round money despite not being a first round talent). So for the FO to look good here, that would mean that Kipnis is pulling a Matt Harrington. Seeing how that turned out (and remember, Harrington was way more highly regarded then Kipnis) how likely is that?

    Until the comments by the FO in the UT yesterday I still thought he was going to sign as I could’t imagine that they were that far apart. Even if they split the difference in what they are offering to what he’s asking, that’s still only $300k — that seems like a good gamble to me.

  21. #66@Schlom: All of them should be major contributers? Quite often first rounders dont even make it to the bigs.

  22. #68@Tom Waits: Since he was obviously high on their draft board, it’s weird that they didn’t do more thorough tests. Maybe they aren’t allowed to use their own doctors or specialists until drafted. That doesn’t make sense though. Maybe he’s just covering for someone that really screwed this one up.

    Philly Billy and Darren Smith were asking about the Moores’ situation. SA said that Moores was on his way back to San Diego and planned on attending most of the games for the rest of the season. He said there has been no discussion on the payroll for 2009 and that it was bad journalism for the U-T to report something from an anonymous source ($40 million payroll comment) without getting the info corroborated from a more reliable source. He was getting a little upset and said something to the effect of you might as well be a blogger if you want to report on something that is pure specualtion from someone who may or may not be associated with the club.

  23. #71@SDSUBaseball: In a perfect world of course. They “should” be major contributors although it’s true that they rarely are. Good teams hit on their first round picks, bad teams don’t.

    #69@Tom Waits: I hate the justification for Stauffer and Carrillo that since “no one could have foreseen their injuries” that absolves the Padres of being accused of making a poor pick. The simple fact is that the only thing that matters is the bottom line. Since Stauffer, Carrillo and Schmidt all got injured right after being drafted they were bad picks. That’s like saying the Rays made a good move to not protect Josh Hamilton and the Reds a bad move to get the Cubs to trade for him because he had significant injury concerns and was a drug addict. That may have been true but the move certainly worked out for the Reds (and really hurt the Rays).

  24. #73@Schlom: Draft is a crap shoot. All teams hit and miss. The top 5 overall picks SHOULD be solid, but even they dont always pan out.

  25. #74@SDSUBaseball: wow “crud” is on the filter list?

  26. #70@Schlom: You make less sense the more you write about this, Schlom. Every year teams and picks fail to reach agreements, but you think Matt Harrington’s example would prevent it from happening? On the 300K difference, would you spend 50,000 on a car worth 25,000? If so, I have a car I’d like to sell you. Nobody but Kipnis thinks he’s currently worth 800K. And I’d like to know what’s going on in your brain that allows you to believe that the Padres DID know what he wanted, which was FAR MORE than they wanted to pay, and that they went ahead and drafted him anyway. What, did they read from the wrong list when it was their turn to pick, the “Guys We Won’t Draft Because They’re Asking for 600K bumps?” If they knew what he was asking for, they don’t draft him. They didn’t know. They thought he was worth a shot.

    #72@JMAR: I don’t think they can do a medical exam before the draft, as things stand currently.

    #73@Schlom: You got your bell rung on this matter by about a dozen people. I’m done trying to explain the difference between a bad decision and a bad outcome.

  27. The bottom line is that the Padres totally suck when it comes to the amateur draft. Therefore, everything they say should be suspect. They claim that Kipnis wants $600k more then they are willing to pay him. We are guessing that means $600k over slot but with the Padres, who knows? This the same team that took an injured player with the 23rd pick, a condition that they knew about, and then decided that he was too injured for them to sign for any kind of large bonus.

  28. #11@Steve C:

    I don’t like the whole “draft him so we don’t sign him and get another pick next year” idea.

    If that’s the case why even draft a legitimate player? Draft Garth Brooks and if he threatens to sign, place ridiculous demands in the contract (“must clean the furnace at Petco daily”) to scare him away.

  29. #46@Schlom: Pass. I’ll just take your word for it that you are much more knowledgeable and have much more expertise than the collective FO of the Padres. It’s really not much of a leap of faith.