Level: The Arizona League is the lowest level of the minor leagues in the states. Typically the types of players that are at this level are young Latin American players, high school draftees and second-tier college picks. If they play well a few will get an opportunity to play next year in Fort Wayne and some of the others will go to extended spring training next year followed by a trip to Eugene in the Northwest League.
Player of the Year:
Former Cal Bear B.J. Guinn, 21, fell to the 11th-round in the 2010 draft, lower than most believed the athletic switch-hitting shortstop would go. The big question on him coming into professional ball was if he could hit and he showed some ability in the AZL after earlier struggles in Eugene. He stole 14 bases in 17 attempts but for him to succeed at higher levels, his game is going to be about making contact so he will need to cut down on 28 strikeouts in 153 plate appearances.
Jhonaldo Pozo, 21, is a big catcher out of the Dominican Republic and improved significantly on his 2009 numbers in Arizona when he hit .196. Offensively, you would like to see some more patience than two walks in 66 plate appearances and he's going to have to get better at throwing out runners; but he's big, has some pop with six of his 21 hits going for extra-bases and showed some ability in a very short stint in Lake Elsinore.
Australian Corey Adamson, after a brief 15 game stint in the AZL in 2009, performed well in his first full season. The left-handed hitting Adamson, 18, particularly hit righties well with seven of his nine extra-base hits against them. He's still new to the game, especially compared to the experience others his age, but appears to have a knack for the game hitting .421 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Player of the Year:
Despite the lack of experience playing baseball in any environment, Adamson performed well across 36 games in the AZL. With many expecting him to struggle, the outfielder came through with a .283 average. He got much stronger in the off-season between '09 and '10, allowing him to drive the ball more consistently. Adamson still has plenty of room to grow and should develop enough power to be an intriguing prospect to watch, especially as he matures with more at-bats.
The switch-hitter is a dynamic athlete that the Padres covet – one who can push the pace and play strong defensively. He has game-changing speed and showed he could use that to his advantage. His .404 on-base percentage led to 22 runs scored in 31 games. Guinn must continue to get stronger so the opposition will respect his ability to collect extra-base hits.
Others of Note: Paul Bingham from Indiana University in Pennsylvania showed some ability .306/.400/.361 before struggling in Eugene. Independent League signee catcher Matt Combs, 23, hit .250/.351/.484. Daniel Garce, 21, hit .323/.363/.438 and led the power challenged AZL Padres in slugging. Finally, Jose Dore, 18, came up for only four games after signing and cranked out six hits in 17 plate appearances.
Manager's comments: "When he was healthy and playing, I remember a night where he was 4-for-4, and he was right on the ball and in sync with his swing." – AZL Padres manager Kory DaHaan on Donavan Tate.
Top Prospect: Donovan Tate.
The Padres are still enamored with the raw skills that made Tate the overall number three selection in the 2009 draft, but the amount of mulligans everyone, including us, is willing to give him is running out. Donovan is the opposite of Jaff Decker, a baseball player whom the organization is trying to make into a better athlete, as opposed to Tate, an athlete whom they are trying to make into a baseball player. Before getting hurt the organization was starting to see some progress, he hit .244/.386/.422 in July but then again someone picked as the overall third pick in the 2009 draft should be performing much better than what he has shown so far.
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