Ranking prospects is an inexact science. The concept of ranking "potential" versus ranking "actual stats" is an ongoing battle that will never end. Like most people I try to find a balance between the two. In making my list I look at the level, age, statistical trends, potential, as well as interviews from scouts and managers.
It is a great accomplishment for any player to make the majors, but in a system as stacked as the Padres I would rather rank players that can make an impact in the majors (even if they have a high chance to not even make it out of AA), verse a player with great stats but doesn't have the innate skill set to be more than a fringe MLB player. That doesn't mean they are not good enough or shouldn't be ranked, but rather they are ranked lower or not at all on my list then a few others (See Brad Brach). This list was arguably the toughest I ever did, but n enjoyable offseason project as we await an exciting 2012. So without further ado…here is my list. Enjoy
1) Keyvius Sampson: 12-3, 2.90 ERA (Class: A)
No pitcher made his mark on the organization more than Keyvius Sampson. After an up and down professional debut that left him on the DL, Sampson couldn't have made a bigger statement that he was back and an ace pitcher then on opening day when he was perfect. 6 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 10 K. Sampson would go on to lead the Padres system in K (143) in just 118 IP. Sampson's FB and change combo are both ++ pitches that give him that ace potential. The biggest factor for Sampson is making his curve more than a show me pitch as well as staying healthy.
Projection: High : Sampson has arguably the highest ceiling of any non Dominican player on this list. His big time fastball and change can allow him to be a true ace for any big league team. Sampson has dominating stuff that can allow him to be one of the premier strikeout pitchers in the game. Whether or not he is able to master the 2 seamer and curve will determine whether or not he ends up as a front line starter (ceiling) or back of the bullpen arm (floor).
2) Jedd Gyorko: .333/.400/.552 (Class A+/AA)
Madfriars hitter of the year, there was little that Jedd didn't do. 1st half of the year posts a .365/.429/.638 line including 18 HR and 11 SB. Moves up to the less than friendly Wolff field in AA and still hits a solid .288/.358/.428. Gyorko ended the year with an amazing 114 RBI and 119 RS. The only thing keeping him out of the top spot is his defense. He has improved defensively, but is still not to the point that you would feel comfortable with him at the hot corner. There have been talks about moving him to LF, but no matter where he plays he will be in the middle of the lineup absolutely murdering pitchers.
Projection: Mid: The question will not be whether or not Gyorko makes the majors, but rather when he gets there where will he play. The ceiling is as an all star, Ryan Braun type player. Gyorko could be a triple crown candidate and become the player that ESPN shows when they talk about the Padres appearing on Sunday night baseball. –OR- he could end up being a hitter without a position. Whether that means becoming a Jesus Guzman/Jack Cust type player or someone similar to Ryan Braun (defemsively) he will at the very least be on a MLB roster for years.
3) Robert Erlin 9-4, 2.99 ERA (Class: AA)
The just turned 21 year old lefty did nothing short of dazzle scouts and fans when he came over in the Mike Adams trade. We knew he was a young pitcher with great control. We did not expect only 16 BB in 147 IP with 154 K. Erlin lacks the raw talent that people normally associate with top prospects, but he can command all pitches to all 4 quadrants, and has Greg Maddux like accuracy. The impeccable accuracy plus a plus change and curve makes his average fastball seem to pop and have hitters constantly behind.
Projection: Mid: Erlin might have the highest floor of anyone on this list. Unless he gets injured (knock on wood), Erlin has a worst case scenario as a Wade LeBlanc type pitcher. However unlike Wade, Erlin has better control, 2 + pitches, and a FB that can actually hit 90. His ceiling is that of a Greg Maddux type ace. More than likely you will see him as a #2 or 3 type pitcher, who is an innings eater, and among the best in baseball in fewest BB/9.
4) Anthony Rizzo .331/.404/.652 (Class: AAA) .141/.281/.242 (MLB)
Not much needs to be said about Anthony Rizzo. When Rizzo was called up to the majors there was a buzz about him that Padre fans haven't felt in years. In fact when you saw him swing the bat, you could just tell that he was going to be something special. The problem though, is that too often that big beautiful swing came up empty. That led to 135 K in 484 AB. Still though, at only 22, with above average defense and a sweet stroke Rizzo has the skill set to be something special.
Projection: Mid: We have seen both of them already. The floor is that 4A, .141 hitter that we saw last year. Rizzo is young and skilled enough that there is no reason that we can't see the .300/.400/.500 numbers at the big league level. The biggest question might not be if but when. If he comes close to his ceiling next year it might be a very solid Padre team.
5) Jaff Decker: .236/.373/.417 (Class: AA)
Not often do you see a player who only hit .236 crack the top 5 of a very deep, very good farm system. However, we know Decker can be something special. Decker has the best eye in the organization which at times is a fault. If a pitch is 2-3 inches off the plate he wont swing, which combined with AA umps, led to an increase in backward K's. Decker can hit to all fields and hit with power. The next thing is now working with Jaff to stay selective but also not be afraid to swing early if he gets the pitch he wants (patiently aggressive).
Decker also lost all the "PMac fat" that caused scouts to doubt whether or not he would be solid defensively. Decker has an above average arm that was rated as one of the best in the Texas League. Jaff can play all 3 positions and while he doesn't have the raw speed of other outfielders makes up for it with a great first step and above average closing speed.
Projection: Mid: Jaff has the offensive and defensive ability to be a perennial all star. He is young and extremely talented. Decker's ability to get on base and hit to all fields can make him a perfect player at Petco, even with the decreased power numbers. However, like his AA numbers indicated he needs to cut down on the strikeout numbers and increase the batting average. If not Decker can become just another 4A player who strikes out too much to be an everyday MLB player.
6) Casey Kelly: 11-6, 3.98 ERA (Class: AA)
Kelly has talent, he has the ability, he has the mechanics….. now where is the results. While Kelly's stats were nothing to be downtrodden about, we expected more than 153 H in 142 IP. The biggest issue with Kelly is catching too much of the plate. It doesn't matter how good of stuff you have, if you catch too much of the plate it will be hit. Kelly is still young and can make the excuse that this is only his 2nd year of full time teaching, but at some point in 2012 the potential needs to meet the results on a regular basis.
Projection: Mid: Kelly has a ceiling of a #2/3 starter. Whether he gets there or not will depend on whether he can spot his pitches. If not Kelly will end up being a fringe big league starter/long reliever who will show teams the glimpse of something special but not be able to replicate it enough to really turn into a consistent big leaguer.
7) Rymer Liriano: .298/.365/.465 (Class: A/A+)
The MWL MVP and the star of the Tin Caps conveyed what scouts (as well as myself) have been echoing for the past 2 years… Liriano is a stud and possibly the only legitimate 5 tool player in the organization. Liriano hit .319/.383/.499 with 8 3B, 12 HR, and 65 SB. Liriano also managed to cut down on his strikeouts, while improving his walk rate. Finally Liriano, was one of the best defensive outfielders in the MWL. He has an absolute cannon for an arm, and can play above average at any of the 3 OF positions.
Projection: High : Liriano has the highest ceiling of any offensive prospect on the list. Liriano is a true 5 tool player and can has the potential to be a 30/30 type player. Liriano is only 20, and many feel that as he ages and adds more muscle, the power will go up and the SB will go down. Either way, thanks to Liriano sufficiently improving on the BB/K rate he managed to raise his floor from the typical all or nothing that you see out of many Dominican prospects. Rymer might not be the next Vlad, but it would be surprising if he doesn't end up being an everyday MLB player.
8) Cory Spangenberg: .316/.419/.418 (Class: SS A/A)
It is harder to find a better way to start a big league career then Spangenberg did in Eugene. Cory reached base in EVERY game while he was an Em including 33 H and 31 BB in 25 G. This led to a .384/.545/.535 line in 25 G in Eugene. Spangenberg struggled initially after his promotion to Fort Wayne but rebounded to hit over .350 over the final month+. Spangenberg has blazing speed, hits to all fields, and has a great eye at the plate. He is the prototypical Petco park hitter that Hoyer and co. were trying to draft.
Projection: Mid: Spangenberg's is a very advanced hitter that could be pushed through the minors quickly and find himself on an MLB roster sooner rather than later. The question, as is the question with way too many Padre prospects is where will he play. If he can prove that he can stay at 2B while continuing to hit for a high BA /OBP and great SB numbers, he will be a lynchpin at the top of any lineup. If Spangenberg can not stay at 2B his value as a prospect will drop drastically and his value will be more of a pinch runner/bench player than anything else.
9) Joe Wieland: 13-4, 1.97 ERA (Class: A+/AA)
The highlight of the RHP young career came in July when he tossed a no hitter against the best offensive team in the Texas League. He made such a great impression that he was then traded to that team when he joined the Missions in the Mike Adams trade. Like Erlin, Wieland relies more on control then he does sheer stuff. Also like Erlin, that control is fantastic. Wieland averaged just over 1 BB/9 IP.
Projection: Mid: Wieland is a control/FB pitcher who could find himself being anywhere from a mid rotation starter to the next Josh Geer. One thing that Wieland has going for him aside from his age (21) is that he is a fly ball pitcher who will be pitching in the pitcher friendly Petco. Wieland allowed only 2 HR over 70 Texas League IP which should bode well for his future with the Padres.
10) Austin Hedges: .231/.412/.385 (Class: Rookie)
This is mainly about ceiling more than anything else. Hedges already has the defensive ability to make a MLB roster, which prompted the Padres to give him more money than they would be allowed to give out under the new draft. The question was going to be whether or not his bat would translate. He only played in 9 G but showed enough to make many Padres personnel ecstatic about their decision.
Projection: Mid: With his defensive ability Hedges will undoubtedly progress to AAA. The question will be will he hit enough to be more than that 3rd catcher teams carry in AAA in case of an injury. If he can, Hedges could undoubtedly be the next Brad Ausmus. Not necessarily the best comparison for fans hoping that we would compare him to IRod, but I am sure the investment will be well worth it if he can come close to being the 18 year veteran that Ausmus was.
11) James Darnell .310/.406/.547 (Class: AA/AAA) .222/.294/.333 (MLB)
After a disappointing 2010, Darnell rebounded in AA hitting .333/.434/.604 in 76 G. More impressively Darnell saw a gain in his power numbers (17 HR, 43 xbh in 76 G) AND had more BB (52) than K (48). Darnell has a good eye at the plate, and can hit the ball with authority. Thanks to the injury to Healey, Darnell got his shot in September. While Darnell only had a .627 OPS in the majors, he showed the Padres glimpses of what he is capable of.
Projection: Low, With Headley in front of him, Gyorko behind him, there are big questions about where he will play. The Padres had him split time last year between LF/3B, but after the injury to Headley spent most of September at 3rd. Similar to Kyle Blanks and Gyorko, a vast majority of Darnell's value comes from his hitting ability. If Darnell can hit like he did in AA this year the Padres will find a position for him and we can see him as an everyday middle of the order hitter. Unfortunately with the sheer number of offensive minded prospects in need of a position if Darnell does not make the most of his limited opportunities in spring/in SD, he will end up as just another 4A prospect.
12) Anthony Bass: 7-4, 3.62 ERA (Class: AA/AAA), 2-0, 1.68 ERA (MLB)
No one made the most of their limited opportunities as Anthony Bass. After injuries to the Padres starting 5, Bass was given a spot start in Coors field. He pitched 5 outstanding innings and got the win. After being sent down again, Bass would then pitch well enough to not be sent back down again.
Projection: Mid: When Bass was drafted he was sitting in the low 90's. During his most recent stint in the AFL, Bass consistently hit 96-97 on the gun. With his FB and a solid MLB slider he consistently has batters off balance. We know he will reach the majors and we know he can have success. The big issue is whether or not his change will come along enough to allow him to be a starter. I would not be surprised to see the Padres give him a chance to start, but then convert him to a back of the pen pitcher. Ceiling: #3 starter or 8th/9th inning reliever. Floor: Long relief
13) Blake Tekotte: .285/393/.498 (Class: AA) .176/.263/.265 (MLB)
Tekotte was called up to the majors 5x over the course of the 2010 season and yet only managed 38 PA. In between his call ups to the San Diego bench Tekotte had his best year of his career slugging 19 HR and stealing 36 bases in 106 G in San Antonio. Tekotte has been ranked as the best defensive outfielder in the system (now 2nd to Maybin) and has an above average arm. The only thing keeping him out of the top 10 as well as being a sure fire fixture in the Padres outfield is his strikeout #. Tekotte struck out 108x in 106 G in AA, and then struck out in 21 of his 38 PA in the majors.
Projection: Mid: The value in Tekotte will be dictated by his ability to put the ball in play. He has gold glove capability on defense and has the speed and power that would be perfect for Petco. If he can successfully cut back on his strikeout numbers he has a bright future as an everyday RF/CF. If not, Tekotte will end up as a bench player/defensive replacement.
14) Simon Castro: 7-6, 5.63 ERA (Class: AA/AAA)
Last year's #1 prospect had a forgettable season. Injuries early led to mechanical difficulties and Castro was down. His mid 90's FB was topping out at 91 and his secondary pitches did not ook nearly as crisp as they did the last few years. After spending time on the DL, Castro was able to fix some of his mechanical problems and his stats and pitches rebounded. He regained a few mph on his fastball and his pitches looked sharper than they did all year. He still caught too much of the plate which led to too many hits allowed, but at least he finished strong, and left Padre fans optimistic of what he still might be capable of.
Projection: Mid: Castro was last year's #1 prospect for a reason. He has the talent and skill to be a #2 type starter. On the flip side we saw this year just what could happen. The ace was blown out of AAA, and looked bad. At only 23 we could still see him reach his potential, but as of right now it is looking more like he will be a back of the rotation starter at best.
15) Donavan Tate: .288/.410/.411 (Class SS A, A)
When Tate was drafted in the 2009 draft he was given more money than any Padre EVER. As you would assume he shot to the top of the Padres prospect list. Then the off the field incidents, then the collision with Williams, then the drug suspension. In just 2 years the now 21 year old has had more problems than most players have in their entire career. Despite that the talent is there. Tate has the speed, power, discipline, and intangibles on the field that any player would love to have. The question is can we finally stop the off the field issues?
Projection: High : We are not talking about MLB player skills we are talking about perennial allstar potential. However, he also has the lowest floor of anyone on the list. Can he even play an entire year without getting hurt/suspended? Tons of potential, tons of questions.
16) Jonathan Galvez: .291/.355/.465 (Class A+)
Over the offseason Galvez moved from SS to 2B, and he felt that the move allowed him to really concentrate on offense. The 20 year old responded by putting up his best offensive numbers of his career. Galvez has the power (54 xbh) speed (37 SB) and age (20) to make any team drool over his potential.
Projection: High: Like many Dominican prospects, the sky is the limit for Galvez. As he matures and grows he should be able to replicate his stats from the hitter friendly Cal League. Moving away from short took away some of his ceiling, but with his skill set it is hard to not see him make a major league roster. How effective he will be in the majors will have a lot to do with continuing to cut back on his strikeouts and improving defensively.
17) Vince Belnome: .333/.432/.603 (Class: AA)
If it wasn't for an injury Belnome could have been the Texas League MVP and been higher on this list. Despite missing 2+ months Belnome still managed to hit 17 HR, and collect 62 RBI in just 75 games. Belnome was the best hitter in a stacked Missions team, and showed it over and over again. Belnome has a good eye at the plate and has a crisp swing on the ball. He has very little speed which shows both on the base paths and defensively. Like many young players he has improved defensively since he was drafted but still leaves much to be desired.
Projection: Mid: If Belnome makes the most of his chances he can be a solid everyday 2B in the majors. He will never be more than average defensively, but has the offensive potential to make up for it. If he shows that he cannot stay at 2B, he will join the long lists of hitters without positions.
18) Juan Oramas: 10-6, 3.49 (Class: AA/AAA)
The 2011 San Antonio rotation was stacked with top prospects in Castro and Kelly. However, stat wise, Oramas beat both of them. The 21 year old Mexican lefty, missed the first 6 weeks of the year with an injury but came on strong winning his 1st 6 decisions. In fact it took nearly 2 months for Oramas to pick up his 1st loss of the season, and even in that game pitched well (5 IP, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K).
Projection: Mid: Oramas doesn't have the prototypical pitchers body (5'10" 215 lb) nor does he have abnormally great stuff. What he does have going for him is that he is young, lefty, great control, and not afraid to come after hitters. At the very least (floor) you will see him as that 6th/7th starter that is in AAA waiting for an injury. His ceiling is as a back of the rotation starter, but again given his certain skills he can find great success in that role. Do not think about moving him to the lefty specialist role as LHB actually hit better (.254/.320/.381) off of him than did RHB (.247/.296/.392).
19) Jason Hagerty .284/.363/.450 (Class: A+/AA)
The hardest position to attain and produce quality prospects from is Catcher. Defense is a must, but for years the Padres have gotten very little offensively from catcher. That is why when Hagerty came to Fort Wayne last year and proceeded to lead the team with a .302/.423/.494 line, everyone got extremely optimistic about his potential. 2011 wasn't a bad year for Hagerty as the above line is nothing to be upset with. After a mid season promotion Hagerty saw his OPS drop from .903 (LE) to .633 (SA). The other big concern with Hagerty is that his defense hasn't improved as much as the Padres brass would have hoped. He still surrenders more WP and PB than the organization is comfortable with. It has gotten to the point that the Padres have toyed with the idea of moving him off C.
Projection: Low, So much of his value relies on Hagerty being able to stay at C. If he can stay there at hit like he did at Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore than he can become an everyday starter at catcher. If however, he needs to be moved off catcher his value plummets and he becomes a fringe prospect at best.
20) Adys Portillo: 3-11, 7.11 ERA (Class: A)
The stat that best describes the 19 year old, 82 IP, 97 K, 55 BB. Watching games, there were times when Portillo was just unhittable. A fastball that reportedly tops out at 100 mph, and secondary pitches that you can tell have the chance to be above average, and you can just tell why so many people salivate over him. We are talking Cy Young capabilities. However, consistency, repeating his delivery, and locating pitches still eludes him. If Portillo was not able to locate any of his pitches he would respond by trying to just throw harder. This often led to either more walks or leaving balls right down the heard of the plate. If it is any indication of things to come Portillo did lower both his ERA and BB/9 over the 2nd half of the year and is doing even better in the DWL.
Projection: High : At only 19, Portillo has more potential than anyone on this list. I have all the confidence that I could see Portillo in the top 3 next year. Of course Portillo also has a very low floor as his 3-11 record and 7.11 ERA would indicate. 5 years from now we could see him toeing the rubber on opening day for the Padres, or we could look at his name and say "wow, so much potential but no result…too bad."
21) Pedro Hernandez: 10-3, 3.49 ERA (Class: A+/AA/AAA)
Hernandez was mister everything for the Padres this year. Start…sure, bullpen…ok. Go up to AAA for a spot start? Why not. Hernandez would do whatever was asked of him, did it well (as his numbers indicates) and best of all did it with a smile on his face and made it a point to make those around him smile. He is one of the great clubhouse guys in the organization that you can't help but root for. The 22 year old Venezuelan lefty is a bulldog on the mound and has great control. This led to 86 K/16 BB in 98 IP between A+/AA.
Projection: Low, Control pitchers tend to have the highest floors as for the most part what you see is what you get. Hernandez is a back of the rotation starter at best, but could excel in any role he is given. More than likely I see him ending up as a long relief/spot starter in the majors. His presence in the clubhouse will give him a boost to staying and his control, LHP, and mentality will be the perfect addition to a team looking for an innings eater.
22) Jeudy Valdez: .295/.339/.481 (Class: A+)
A few years ago the Rays were looking to trade Jeff Niemann as he was a nontender candidate and the Padres inquired. The Rays (as rumor had it) wanted Valdez in return and the Padres said no. Valdez gives the Padres a lot of things to like as he has power (15 HR, 59 xbh), speed (34 SB), can hit for a high BA (.295), and has a solid enough mechanically to stay at SS. 2011 was Valdez's coming out party as he showed to the world just how good he can be.
Projection: Mid: Valdez has the skill set that if he can improve his BB/K ratio (31/108 last year) he could be an everyday SS in the majors. Unfortunately we need to see how he can adjust to the higher levels before we can anoint him the heir apparent (especially with Cumberland gone). This past year was the 1st time he hit higher than .250 on a season, so we need to see consistency. Like many Dominican prospects his floor is stalling out in AA/AAA if he cannot make the adjustments to make the jump and hit well enough. More than likely we see him as someone similar to Evereth Cabrera, where we see the potential and what he is capable of, but it just doesn't happen.
23) Reymond Fuentes: .275/.342/.369 (Class: A+)
When the Padres drafted for him in the AGon trade, there were some scouts who believed that Fuentes had the highest potential of the 4 guys acquired in the deal. Well after 1 year in the system we have learned a few things 1) his speed is everything we were told of, 41 SB, and both on the bases and in the outfield he looks very similar to Cameron Maybin. 2) Great defensively. He gets a great 1st step and has the speed to turn doubles in the gaps to outs. 3) Strikeouts WAY too much. 117 K vs 44 BB in 124 G for a leadoff hitter will not work. 4) Can lay a drag bunt down as good as anyone in the majors, but tries for the HR swing instead.
Projection: Mid: Well what that all means is that Fuentes could end up being a gold glove CF and leadoff hitter with 50+ SB capabilities (ceiling), or end up not hitting enough to make it out of AA (floor). Again it will all depend on whether or not he can become more of a contact hitter, and really use his speed to his advantage.
24) Edinson Rincon: .329/.394/.497 (Class: A+)
Rincon gets to join Darnell, Headley, Gyorko, and to a lesser extend Belnome and Forsythe in the long line of 3B who may or may not be moved to another position. Of all of the above names though, Rincon is quite possibly the scariest on defense. It just doesn't look right. The best way to describe it is if anyone remembers seeing Todd Walker at 3B…like that. However, Rincon is a truly advanced hitter at the plate. Rincon is one of the few Dominican prospects who can work the count, get on base and not strike out a ton. Rincon is only 20 (now 21) and many feel that he will grow into more power as he ages and builds more muscle. There is a lot to like offensively out of Rincon and a lot to be scared about defensively.
Projection: Mid: Everything is going to rest on whether or not the Padres can find a position for Rincon. Ceiling would be as an everyday 3B/LF on a team that doesn't mind the bad defense in lieu of the offense. Floor would be not reaching the majors as he cannot field his way enough to have any MLB team feel comfortable enough letting him on the team. More than likely you will see him in a DH/Jesus Guzman type role with a club.
25) Matt Lollis: 4-8 5.35 ERA (Class: A+)
Lollis is a BIG guy and has BIG time stuff, but you wouldn't know that from his 5.35 ERA or the .285 BAA. Similar to Portillo, there is the concept of throwing strikes verse actually locating pitches. Lollis would too often catch way too much of the plate and hitters would tee off on it.
Projection: High : Lollis has a great build (6'9" 250 lb) and perfect age (20 now 21), to continue to improve and become a #2 or #3 starter in the big leagues. A lot of that will depend on his ability to consistently locate his entire arsenal of pitches. That of course is a BIG task, but answering the task will lead to a huge ceiling. If not Lollis could struggle again in A+/AA and find himself bouncing around different organizations.
26) Dan Robertson: .283/.370/.393 (Class: AA)
It is the little engine that could. Robertson just does everything right that it makes it nearly impossible to not rank him. It is my belief that Robertson is the reincarnation of Eric Owens (though obviously Owens is still alive). Late round draft pick goes on to win the NWL MVP shattering the hit record. All detractors say "yeah well can he do it in full season?" He does. The question is raised, and he goes out and proves everyone wrong again. Even this year in AA he hits for the cycle, gets disrespected by Scott and BR, and still scores 97 runs, steals 20 bases, and has more BB than K. Did I mention that he can play all 3 OF and play them well? He is a great clubhouse guy and always gives 110%.
Projection: Low, Unfortunately of anyone on the list Robertson has the lowest ceiling, but then again he has proved everyone else wrong. More than likely Robertson will be that 4th/5th OF on a team. He is a great clubhouse guy, and can come in late as a defensive replacement, and PH as he was one of the toughest people in the TL to strikeout.
27) Kevin Quackenbush: 2-1, 0.64 ERA 18 SV (Class: SS A/A)
I am well aware that John is going to give me grief for ranking him so low, but it it hard to rank relievers high on a very deep list. WOW is all I can say when trying to describe Quackenbush. In 35 appearances (42 IP) he allowed all of 3 runs! 3 runs, 71 K in 42 IP.
Projection: Mid: Quackenbush is the type of pitcher that can quickly make the majors. He has an above average FB with movement that gets him the strikeouts. The key for him will be to continue to develop the curve/change enough to keep hitters off balance. If he can then he can quickly become a back of the pen pitcher in the majors.
28) Brad Brach: 3-5, 2.89 ERA 34 SV (Class: AA/AAA), 0-2, 5.14 ERA (MLB)
Brach just continues to impress. After setting the saves record in Fort Wayne AND Lake Elsinore, Brach quickly put himself in a position to become the Texas League all time saves leader (23 through the 1st half). Brach doesn't have that 1 amazing pitch that most people look for in a back of the bullpen pitcher, but he throws everything well enough to consistently get outs.
Projection: Low, I think we saw both the ceiling and the floor. At worst he is a 4A pitcher who will struggle in middle relief. At best he is a 7th/8th inning set up guy. More than likely he will be another middle reliever in the Padres organization.
29) John Barbato: 1-4, 4.89 ERA (Class: SS A Ball)
Similar to Lollis and Portillo, Barbato is another young pitcher with great stuff but didn't put up the numbers in 2011 to show it. Barbato was a last minute signee in the 2010 draft and signed for well above slot. During instructs and extended ST, coaches raved about his repertoire and his potential. When he finally made his professional debut we saw glimpses of what he could accomplish (7/23 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K), but as a whole we were frustrated by seeing what he still needs to work on. Consistently repeating his delivery and locating his pitches became a constant battle for Barbato. So much so that he ended the year averaging over 4.5 BB/9 IP.
Projection: High : Barbato is still incredibly young (18) and has stuff that can easily place him in the top 10 next year. Unfortunately he also has the question marks about him that keep some pitchers from ever reaching AA. The question will be how Barbato adjusts and improves his game as he matures. Great potential and a very high ceiling for the RHP out of Miami.
30) Cody Decker: .237/.289/.525 (Class: AA)
Tons of names that I could have gone with here, but anyone that can put up the type of power numbers that Cody did in his first tour in AA is incredibly impressive. Decker hit 13 HR in just 49 G for the Missions while also netting 32 RS and 38 RBI. If it wasn't for an injury Cody could have come close to hitting 30 HR, which is an incredible accomplishment at the pitcher friendly park in San Antonio. More impressively that power did not stop as he blasted multiple HR in the playoff series to capture the Texas League crown for the Missions.
Projection: Low, At best Decker profiles as the next Jack Cust. More than likely however, Decker will be a 4A player. Decker has great power and averages an xbh nearly every other game. However he strikes out nearly 30% of the time, and that is a number that will only increase as he moves up in leagues. For Decker to have any chance to stay on a major league roster he is going to have to change his swing to cut down on the K and hit for a higher average.