In lieu of a top prospects list, I thought this year I’d highlight a few kids I’ll be keeping an eye on for various reasons. We’ll cover 15 hitters today and 15 pitchers next week. To the list:
- Mitch Canham, C, 25 – I rated Canham the Padres #16 prospect coming into 2009. He hasn’t advanced as a hitter and there are still questions about whether he can stay behind the plate. It’d be nice to have a legitimate catcher in the system just in case Nick Hundley isn’t as good as I think he is. Maybe Canham will be a late bloomer, a la Will Venable, but right now, I’m not seeing it in his .275/.361/.399 career line (1090 PA).
- Sawyer Carroll, RF, 24 – Last year’s #17 prospect is a little old and hasn’t shown much home-run power yet, but the rest of his offensive game is solid, as evidenced by the career .304/.400/.483 line in 850 PA.
- Drew Cumberland, SS, 21 – Middle infielders with top-of-the order skills (career line of .292/.377/.392 in 692 PA, 41-for-49 SB) don’t grow on trees, but can he stay healthy? Last year’s #11 prospect has never played as many as 80 games in a season.
- James Darnell, 3B, 23 – His .899 fielding percentage in 2009 doesn’t look good, but that bat makes up for a lot. Darnell, ranked #14 last year and identified as a sleeper, owns a .319/.428/.542 career line in 630 PA. Although it’s unclear what position he’ll end up playing (guess here is corner outfield), he could move quickly.
- Jaff Decker, LF, 20 – Last year’s #4 prospect is a hitting machine who has posted ridiculous numbers (683 PA, .313/.466/.516) in his first two pro seasons. The main concerns with Decker are that he doesn’t look like Adonis and that he possesses old player’s skills (see Grieve, Ben).
- Allan Dykstra, 1B, 23 – Speaking of old player’s skills, last year’s #8 prospect presents an intriguing case. The Padres reworked Dykstra’s stroke last year and he struggled. For his career, he’s hitting .230/.401/.379 in 569 PA. The OBP gives hope, but he needs to step up the rest of his game in a big way.
- Logan Forsythe, 3B, 23 – Last year’s #18 prospect is five days older than Darnell but played a level higher in 2009. Although Forsythe’s performance dropped significantly after a mid-season promotion to San Antonio, his overall numbers as a pro (641 PA, .297/.430/.429) are strong. He isn’t as strong an offensive force as Darnell but is more likely to remain at the hot corner.
- Jonathan Galvez, SS, 19 – His first exposure to baseball on the North American continent went well. I don’t put much stock in Arizona League numbers, but an 18-year-old middle infielder who hits .295/.399/.503 at any level gets my attention. I’d ranked him #10 last year.
- Kellen Kulbacki, RF, 24 – I love his bat (.284/.370/.472 in 841 PA for the career), but 2009 was a lost season (he played just 36 games due to shoulder problems). Kulbacki is old and doesn’t play a premium position. If healthy, he could be a force, but the clock is ticking for last year’s #2 prospect.
- Rymer Liriano, CF, 19 – I’m slowly warming to Liriano. In his pro debut, he struck out in 40% of his plate appearances; last year, while moving to a more advanced Rookie League, he cut that number to 24%. He is raw and has a long way to go, but there is upside. For his career, he has hit .268/.342/.445 in 483 PA. I didn’t rank Liriano last year, but if I were doing a top 10 for 2010, he’d probably be in it.
- Yair Lopez, LF, 18 – I noticed this kid last summer, when he hit .293/.419/.420 in 222 PA (those are his career numbers, too) as one of the younger players in the DSL. Lopez isn’t as heralded as Luis Domoromo but is worth tracking.
- Jorge Minyeti, 2B/3B/SS, 19 – Minyeti’s jump to the North American continent didn’t go quite as smoothly as that of Galvez. I had Minyeti ranked as the Padres #27 prospect coming into 2009 and identified him as one of my sleepers. He led the DSL in walks as a 17-year-old before slipping last year. Still, a career line of .267/.423/.345 is enough to keep him on my radar.
- Edinson Rincon, 3B, 19 – Like Lopez and Minyeti, Rincon (#30 last year) is a guy whose DSL numbers jumped out at me. When healthy (not often), he has produced (.289/.400/.413 in 604 PA), although the career .784 fielding percentage portends a move to a less demanding position. His bat should play anywhere.
- Donavan Tate, CF, 19 – Due to a variety of injuries, Tate has yet to make his pro debut. Often compared to ex-Padre Mike Cameron, Tate will get a chance to show whether the organization’s movement away from “safer” college picks in the first round was justified.
- Everett Williams, CF, 19 – The Padres tabbed another toolsy high school outfielder with their second pick in 2009. Williams got into 10 games last summer, hitting .279/.354/.488 in 48 PA at Peoria and Eugene.
Those are some hitters I’ll be watching in 2010. Next week, we’ll check in on the pitchers.