Padres Top 20 Prospects for 2011

I hate prospect lists because they imply a level of certainty that doesn’t exist. That said, the process of creating such a list helps clarify where an organization’s strengths and weaknesses lie. Besides, other people love them and I am nothing if not a man of the people.

With that awkward introduction out of the way, let’s get down to business. As always, I try to balance upside and likelihood of success. Determining these, and the proper weight to give each, is more art than science. I pray to Jobu for guidance and hope for the best.

Where are the Padres right now? I’d put the farm system as a whole around C+/B- level. Depth is good, but there is a dearth of blue-chip prospects. At the top end, hitting and pitching talent are fairly even. In terms of depth, the hitting side is stronger.

Before we get to the actual list, here are five prospects that just missed the cut: RHP John Barbato, RHP Anthony Bass, RHP Zach Cates, LHP Juan Oramas, RHP Evan Scribner. I didn’t rank Barbato or Cates because they are 2010 draftees who haven’t pitched yet; one or both could be top 10 next year. The other three are just guys I like.

I mentioned the need to balance upside and likelihood of success. Here are my top five in each of those areas:


  1. Donavan Tate, CF
  2. Jaff Decker, LF
  3. Keyvius Sampson, RHP
  4. Adys Portillo, RHP
  5. Simon Castro, RHP/Casey Kelly, RHP

I’m not sure about the order of 2-4, but those are the right guys. I can’t tell the difference betwen Castro and Kelly.

Likely to Succeed

  1. Cory Luebke, LHP
  2. Jedd Gyorko, 3B
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. James Darnell, 3B
  5. Jaff Decker, LF

I also think that one of Castro or Kelly will make it, but I don’t know which one. It’s sort of like Jake Peavy vs Dennis Tankersley, only with less upside.

Anywho, to the list…

Top 20

  1. Jaff Decker, LF – Concerns about his body and defense are overstated; Decker’s best case lies somewhere between Sean Casey and John Olerud
  2. Simon Castro, RHP – Not the next Mat Latos but could slot into the 2012 rotation and develop into an eventual no. 2 or 3 starter
  3. Casey Kelly, RHP – Similar to Castro but possibly with higher upside; it’s hard to separate his true level of ability from the hype that accompanies Red Sox prospects
  4. James Darnell, 3B – Could push Chase Headley at some point; Darnell’s glove needs work, but his bat will play anywhere
  5. Cory Luebke, LHP – Eventual no. 3 or 4 starter who should contribute in 2011
  6. Anthony Rizzo, 1B – Not as much power as you’d like to see from the position, but sometimes that develops late
  7. Drew Cumberland, SS – Good top-of-the-order skills; needs to answer questions about defense and health
  8. Jedd Gyorko, 3B – Line-drive machine; a bit thick for an infielder
  9. Donavan Tate, CF – Best tools in the organization; hasn’t done anything with them yet
  10. Keyvius Sampson, RHP – Could be a stud; needs to stay healthy
  11. Adys Portillo, RHP – Erratic in North American debut, but projectable; could be top 5 next year
  12. Matt Lollis, RHP – Big, strong, effective
  13. Logan Forsythe, 2B – Battled injuries at Double-A; converted third baseman who could be the player San Diego hoped Matt Antonelli would become
  14. Jerry Sullivan, RHP – Results haven’t followed talent yet; I probably like him too much
  15. Edinson Rincon, 3B – Won’t stay at third base, but as with Darnell, his bat should play anywhere
  16. Jonathan Galvez, SS – Won’t stay at shortstop; broad base of offensive skills, young
  17. Jason Hagerty, C – Old for his league in 2010, but switch-hitting catchers with on-base and power skills are rare
  18. Reymond Fuentes, CF – Great speed and defense; bat is a concern
  19. Everett Williams, LF – Loaded with tools, but struggled to make contact in full-season debut; could sneak up on folks this year
  20. Blake Tekotte, CF – Broad skill set but plays a position that has become crowded; poor man’s Mark Kotsay

I’m very comfortable with Decker at the top. Castro vs Kelly is a coin flip; I went with the player who is more familiar to me. Prospects I might have too low are Tate, Sampson, Portillo, Rincon, and Williams. Any or all could be top 5 next year… or nothing.

And there you have one man’s opinion. Take with buckets of salt, and enjoy.

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Speaking of prospects…

  • John Sickels Farm System Rankings (Minor League Ball). One of Sickels’ readers has devised a system, based on recently released 2011 grades, that puts the Padres at roughly middle of the pack. [h/t BBTF]
  • Previewing the 2011 Storm: Batting (Friar Forecast). Ben Davey breaks down the hitters. This promises to be a fun lineup. I’ve seen Gyorko and Jeudy Valdez… anxious to get a look at Hagerty, Rincon, Williams, and Galvez.
  • Twenty invited (Inside the Padres). Some top prospects (Kelly, Oramas, Hagerty, Darnell, Forsythe, Rizzo) have been invited to big-league camp.
  • Bartlett agrees to two-year deal with Padres ( I’ve been expecting this since the Padres acquired him. It’s 2 years, $9.5 million, with a $5.5 million club option for 2013 ($1.5 million buyout)… perhaps a tad expensive for a shortstop on the wrong side of 30, but there’s something to be said for stability on the middle infield, which the Padres haven’t enjoyed since Khalil Greene and Mark Loretta called San Diego home in 2004-2005.

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The blog has gotten a face lift for the new year, courtesy of Chris Bauer, who also designed the cover for the Ducksnorts 2009 Baseball Annual. Chris did a terrific job, and I hope you enjoy the new look.

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27 Responses »

  1. Love the new look.

    One prospect question for you. Has Jeremy Hefner completely fallen off the radar? What’s his future, if any?

  2. Thanks, glad you’re digging it… As for Hefner, my concerns are a) age and b) lack of dominance. He appears to be headed down the Josh Geer path. Stats don’t tell the whole story, but both pitchers spent their age 24 season at Double-A San Antonio and put up disturbingly similar numbers:

              IP  ERA  H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
    Geer   171.1 3.20 8.56 0.47 1.42 5.36
    Hefner 167.2 2.95 8.37 0.59 2.74 6.17

    Hefner’s strikeout rate has been better in the past, but a drop of more than 2 SO/9 on moving from High-A to Double-A does not inspire confidence.

  3. Like the breakdown into upside vs likelihood, but in the latter category, I have a hard time seeing that Gyorko, with 298 pro at-bats, has shown enough to be #2 on that list. He might go on to have the best major league career of anybody, but on the skeptical side he’s possibly underpowered at 3B and possibly unsuited for 2B, and he’s only played half a year against weak competition. Someone like Forsythe, even after a bad year, has shown similar or better hitting and defensive skills at higher levels.

    To expand on your point after the Upside list, these are the right names (at least 85% of them, anyway). Where they rank against each other, or whether you pick Sullivan over Bass, is no big deal.

    I expect the consensus expert ranking of our farm system to be somewhere between 16 and 23. Our Fangraphs rank (25) was too low, but many pro-Padre observers (not GY) put a lot of weight on “depth,” just like they did a year or two ago when that depth included names like Kulbacki, Carvajal, Carroll, Hunter, Antonelli, Macias, Huffman, Dykstra, Carrasco, Quiles, Lobaton, etc.

  4. Glad you are back to doing things like this. One of the problems with these lists is that they are, more often than not, created by people who actually believe in them. :-)