Padron Holding His Own With Ports

Since becoming part of the Oakland A's organization in 2004, the Stockton Ports have always had talented players behind the plate. From Kurt Suzuki to Landon Powell to Anthony Recker, the Ports' catchers have been important cogs for Stockton. Since the All-Star break, Raul Padron has taken over as the Ports' everyday catcher and he is continuing the Stockton tradition of talented catchers.

During the first half of the season, the buzz surrounding the Stockton Ports' catching corps centered around Anthony Recker, and with good reason. Recker posted a 1011 OPS during the first half of the season for Stockton and was the only Ports' All-Star starter in the California/Carolina All-Star game at Banner Island Ballpark. Yet if you were to ask Recker about his role on the team, he was always quick to praise the catcher he shared playing time with, Raul Padron.

When Recker was promoted to Double-A after the All-Star break, Padron took over the everyday catching duties for the Ports. While Padron's offensive numbers haven't been quite as gaudy as Recker's were during his time with the Ports, Padron has had an impact on the Ports' line-up. Through Tuesday, Padron was batting only .225 in 87 games for Stockton, but he had a career-high 13 homeruns and had driven-in 51 runs.

Padron hasn't let his low batting average get him down.

"My average right now is not very good, but I have some good numbers [in other statistics]. It doesn't matter to me [what his average is] because I just want to do my job," Padron said.

"I don't worry about hitting too much. I really concentrate on defense. But I still feel good at the plate."

Like most catchers, Padron recognizes that defense is the most important aspect of his game.

"I don't worry about my hitting, just my defense and throwing guys out. I have been working [on defense] all season long," Padron said.

That hard work has paid-off for Padron this season. Through Tuesday, Padron had thrown-out roughly 44 percent of all would-be base-stealers, which is the second-best percentage of any catcher in the California League this season. Padron has also drawn praise for his ability to block balls in the dirt.

"Every day when I catch bullpens, I try to work on things like [footwork, blocking balls, etc.]," Padron said.

Padron was signed as an international amateur free agent out of Venezuela in 2002 at the age of 16. He first came to the US to play in 2004 when he was a member of the A's Arizona Rookie League team. After batting .306 for the Rookie A's in 2004, Padron made the jump as a 20-year-old from short-season ball to a full-season affiliate. He was Kane County's everyday catcher in 2005, appearing in 113 games (87 as a catcher) and batting .259 with 57 RBI. Padron returned to Kane County in 2006 and he appeared in 99 games, 49 as a catcher.

Padron began the 2007 season in Stockton splitting time at catcher with Recker, but since Recker's promotion to Midland, Padron has been behind the plate for Stockton nearly every day. With temperatures regularly above the 100 degree mark in the California League, it can be a long and taxing season for a catcher. This year, Padron has already caught 58 games, including 18 during the month of August alone.

Padron has had to learn the fine-line between working on improving during practice and not over-taxing himself.

"I try not to push myself too much [during bullpen sessions] because it is a long year and you can do too much in a long season," Padron said.

"You have to be prepared mentally every day and you don't want to wear down your body."

The Ports may be nearing the end of their 2007 season, but Padron has more catching in his future. After the end of the minor league season, Padron will likely head to Arizona for the A's Instructional League, where he plans to continue to work with the A's coaching staff on his defense. After that league ends, he will head back to his home in Venezuela to take part in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Padron is a member of the Leones de Caracas, a team that is almost always near the top of the standings in the VWL. The team has a distinctly Oakland A's flavor, as fellow A's farmhands Gregorio Petit and Javier Herrera have been a part of the Leones club the past few seasons and should be once again this year. In addition, A's infielder Marco Scutaro is one of the Leones' top players. Other major league players on the Caracas team include Bobby Abreu, Henry Blanco and Omar Infante.

"Playing for [Caracas] is going to be very helpful to me. They have a lot of big leaguers on my team so that is going to help a lot to learn from them. It's also very nice because I love to play in front of my family." Padron said.

"I have a lot of work left this year. I'm not done yet."

Oakland Clubhouse Top Stories