For someone like my colleague John Conniff, he tends to err on the side of statistics, which means you see a few more relievers and first basemen that more than likely will be on an MLB team, but not as a starter.
In the past, that was my mantra as well. Potential is great, but can they back it up with the numbers? This year, was probably the first time that I looked at the Padres system and was smacked in the face by the amount of potential. The even more amazing thing is that so many of them were putting up good numbers along with the major league projections. We didn't see many seasons like Luebke's 2008, 3-6, 6.84 ERA in Lake Elsinore before he exploded on the scene in 2009, or Portillo in 2011, 3-11, 7.11 ERA; instead a more steady march upward.
In 2012 the Padres lost quite a bit in terms of prospects. Two of their top ten prospects became everyday major league position players, even if catcher Yasmani Grandal is suspended for fifty games. In addition every top twenty pitcher from the 2012 MadFriars' Top Prospect list either had a less than stellar season, Keyvius Sampson, or spent significant time on the disabled list: Casey Kelly, Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland, Anthony Bass and Juan Oramas..
However, the mark of a great system is to replace what you lost. A majority of the names above are now healthy or are young enough to make the necessary adjustments to succeed. Additionally the Padres also stockpiled arms through another great draft and some strategic trades in the past few years. In fact, only sixteen of my top thirty last year made it on this season's rankings.
This was probably the toughest and yet most entertaining list I have made. In most years I start with a list of around thirty-five names and then slowly get it down to thirty. This time I had a list of closer to fifty names and up until about four days before this was released was still trying to figure out a way to cut a few players.
In the end I went with ceiling. As much as I love Cody Decker, Rico Noel, Dan Robertson, Matt Clark, and even Nate Frieman (sorry John), I ended my list with players that I still believed could become an every day MLB player, rather than the college bats whose ceiling is Jesus Guzman.
Don't get me wrong I would be thrilled if they became Guzman, and that makes them a prospect by all means, just not as high as they would be on nearly any other system, but this system simply has too much talent.
As a note I only included Max Fried and Zach Eflin from the 2012 draft. While I like Walker Weickel and Walker Lockett's potential, its really hard to include them when there is so much talent, particularly in the pitching department. However it's more than likely both will be on the list next year.
1. Jedd Gyorko 2B/3B/DH
So much has been made this offseason about Gyorko. Will he play third or second? What will happen with Headley and Forsythe? While those are all great questions, how Chase and Logan do in the majors has nothing to do with Gyorko and his ranking.
Gyorko is one of the elite bats in all of the minors. His statistics, .311/.373/.547 30 HR, 100 RBI in 2012, should make any fan excited. However, he is so much more than that. Gyorko has such an advanced swing that he can consistently spray the ball to all fields, with power. While he may not have the natural power of a Kyle Blanks or Nate Frieman he has this gorgeous line drive swing that have scouts salivating.
Yes, defense will always be the issue, but if the Padres let Todd Walker play third or Phil Nevin play first there is no reason Gyorko can't be an everyday position player.
Projection The only reason Gyorko there were some questions about him in the first place was because of his glove. The Padres staff believe he can end up as an average defensive player at either third or second. His bat is what makes him the top prospect.
Assuming the Padres' keep Headley, Gyorko will enter spring training fighting Forsythe for the starting second base job. Ideally the Padres would like to keep him in AAA for a few more months, but that might not be possible if Gyorko hits like we expect him to in spring training.
2. Casey Kelly RHP/SP
Padre fans might have been slightly disappointed by his debut last year. After a terrific start against the Braves last year, he ended the year going 2-3, with a 6.21 ERA and a .322 BAA.
Despite the early struggles, Kelly is still every bit the elite prospect. His great movement on all of his pitches allows him to generate many swing and misses and ground balls. What we saw was nerves getting in the way of talent. With some experience under his belt a healthier Kelly should find success in 2013.
Projection: Kelly profiles as a number two or number three pitcher. While this isn't the ceiling of some of the pitchers further down the list, his floor is still that of a solid MLB starter and is also based on his success at higher levels in the minors.
While the Padres are trying to make it so Kelly can have some more time in AAA, he will be back in San Diego the second the first pitcher says "OW!" Look for him to be The Opening day starter in Tucson, and in San Diego by the All Star break at worst.
3 Rymer Liriano RF
The first legitimate five-tool prospect the Padres have had since arguably Dave Winfield. Liriano has the tools to be the complete package. He is already a plus defensive right fielder with an above average arm. He has plus speed and can hit for average.
The biggest hang up will be whether or not the "gap power" turns into real home run power. At just twenty-one Liriano still has room to grow, and as he continues to fill out his frame, he should be able to hit closer to twenty home runs a year.
Projection: While Liriano has the skills to be a major-league all-star, he is still probably a year away from contributing with the Padres. Liriano still needs to work on his plate discipline and walk rate before we see him crashing into the PETCO Porch.
4. Robbie Erlin LHP/SP
When pitchability meets pure talent you have Robbie Erlin. Right now Erlin could be an everyday pitcher in the major leagues. Something that no other Padre prospect can say.
Erlin can throw three pitches for strikes. He perfectly mixes and matches his pitches and is able to keep hitters off balance. For this list, what makes Erlin so special is that he is one of the few pitchers that does not mess around and comes right after hitters. That combined with him being left-handed makes him one of the top pitching prospects in the Padres system and in baseball.
Projection: If it wasn't for the elbow tendinitis, that Erlin suffered in 2012, he would already be in San Diego. With that in mind, the Padres don't seem to be in a hurry to get him to San Diego. They do not have to put him on the 40 man roster just yet, and probably won't until the next wave of injuries hit San Diego. Erlin should start the year in Tucson, but could end up in San Diego at some point during the 2013 season. When he comes up, don't expect him to go back down.
5. Austin Hedges C
Being one of the best defensive catchers in all of minor league baseball makes you an automatic prospect. Having that honor before your twenty-first birthday makes you elite.
Hedges has a cannon for an arm to go along with great hands behind the plate; which is every pitcher's dream. The question has always been his bat. Well when you hit .279/.334/.451 as a first year player in the Midwest League, its a pretty good start.
Projection: For all the issues that experts have with his bat, he has shown it isn't near the question mark people thought it would be. Another solid year and he can go from the fifth ranked catcher in the minor leagues according to mlb.com to the first or second as he advances.
Hedges will begin next year as the starting catcher in Lake Elsinore and provided he can hit even close to as well as he did last year he could find himself with a mid season promotion to San Antonio. I would not be at all surprised to see him in the AFL next fall, and being talked about in Padreland next winter.
6. Max Fried LHP/SP
The Padres have not had much luck with their first picks over the past decade. They hope they finally ended that streak when they drafted the top high school arm in the 2012 draft.
At 6'4" and only 185 lbs., Fried has room to grow. Already he has a fastball that sits in the low 90s with good movement and should add more velocity in the next few years. His change and curve are already above average pitches and also should improve as he matures.
While his 17.2 IP in the AZL didn't exactly set the world on fire, Fried already has the mechanics, skill set, and health to jump a level to the MWL and become an All Star.
Projection: The sky is the limit for Fried. Fried is more advanced then most other high school pitching prospects. Despite that, the biggest issue this year might be how many innings the Padres let him throw.
While they have promoted fellow top prospects Adys Portillo and Mat Latos from the MWL to AA, don't expect the same thing to happen to Fried no matter how well he does. In both previous cases the hurler was repeating A Ball, and the innings cap wasn't an issue. Expect Fried to stay in Fort Wayne for the year and be one of the top pitchers in the league.
7. Adys Portillo RHP/SP
Portillo wins the breakout player of the year award that many of us have been waiting years to see. Scouts have been drooling for years at his raw ability and skill set. Even with top prospects like Kelly, Erlin, Fried, Sampson, Wisler, etc… Portillo has the highest ceiling of them all.
With a fastball that can hit triple digits and secondary pitches that can be, at times, electric Padres fans have been hoping it was just a matter of time before he became a top prospect. While he still has control problems (70 BB in 126.2 IP), Portillo is still twenty and if he continues to cut down on the walks he will be a tremendous addition to the Padres rotation.
Projection: Portillo will more than likely remain in San Antonio because more than anything the Padres just want him to cut down on the walks. The bright side is that he will be able to pitch alongside quite a few polished college pitchers with excellent stuff and great control (Matt Andriese, Donn Roach, Kevin Quackenbush and Burch Smith).
Even with a good year don't expect him in San Diego anytime soon. Portillo will be protected but unless San Diego goes through another year of horrific injuries don't expect to see him before 2014.
8. Cory Spangenberg 2B
MiLB and a few other places had Spangenberg ranked as the top second base prospect in the minor leagues entering the 2012 season. It was expected that someone with the plate discipline and hitting ability of Spangenberg would be able to tear up the Cal League.
Unfortunately Cory's peripheral numbers after his .271 batting average of a .324 on-base percentage and a .352 slugging percentage were anything but that of a top prospect. However, the last half of the season was a wash due to a concussion which sidelined him for nearly six weeks. Despite everything, Spangenberg still has a superior hitting ability, great speed, and enough offensive skills to make him one of the best 2B prospects in the game.
Projection: Most hitters say the hardest jump in minor league ball is from High A to AA. While this might be advantageous for most hitters, AA should be an environment where a healthy Spangenberg can thrive. The Padres still believe in Cory and see him as a prototypical number two hitter and second baseman.
With Gyorko/Forsythe patrolling second for the foreseeable future, Spangenberg will be given time to continue to make the adjustments needed to regain his title as the top prospect at this position.
9. Keyvius Sampson RHP/SP
Sampson was my pick last year for the Padres' top prospect. San Diego was also thought to be extremely high of Sampson as they had the twenty-one year old skip High A Lake Elsinore in favor of AA Dan Antonio.
The move wasn't as easy as they had imagined. While he was used to blowing away hitters in A ball, he had to learn how to pitch in AA. At times, we saw the ace potential that Sampson possesses as he led the Texas League in strikeouts.
Unfortunately for a majority of the season, particularly at the beginning, Sampson had to learn the hard way. Despite his 8-11 record and 5.00 ERA Sampson still has the skill set to be a dominating force in the majors.
Projection: Sampson should begin the year in AA again and with the Padres having an influx of already MLB ready pitching prospects, San Diego will take the gas pedal off of and let him continue to mature. He already has an excellent fastball and change, but his curve has not improved as many would like. If he can't improve his curve, he might end up as a back of the bullpen arm.
10. Burch Smith RHP/SP
When you are a starter with a fastball that consistently sits in the mid 90's with movement it is hard to not be a top prospect. Add in two other quality pitches and you have one of the better prospects in baseball.
He has a tall frame and clean mechanics and an easy delivery that should keep him away from arm injuries. The Padres got lucky that Smith fell so far in the draft and might have struck gold with this pick.
Projection: Smith should begin 2013 with the Missions and despite the tougher league he should have no problem replicating his results in a much friendlier pitching environment. While he is still much of a no name around the pro circuit he is definitely someone that could end up being a top 100 overall major league prospects by next year.
11. Donn Roach RHP/SP
When the Padres acquired Roach in the Frieri deal he was considered a nice piece of organizational depth, but not much in terms of a prospect. Eight starts with Lake Elsinore where he went 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA and after being named the Cal League starter in the High-A All Star Game changed everyone's opinion.
Roach was shutdown seventeen innings later as he reached his inning cap. He relies primarily on his heavy sinker that fellow Storm teammates attributed to swinging at a bowling ball. It allows Roach to get great ground ball ratios, a 3.5:1 ratio that he did last year and is his ticket to the major leagues. The rest of his pitches are adequate, but mainly act to keep hitters from sitting on his sinker.
Projection: More than likely Roach will begin the year in San Antonio and with his excellent sinker he might have an edge over his teammates to get the promotion to the hitter friendly PCL.
Roach's ceiling and his profile are that of a number three starter which would normally put him lower on the rankings. However, I haven't seen a sinker like his since Brandon Webb and he seems very close to not only having the potential to do this in the major leagues but actually is pretty close to reaching it.
At worst, Roach is a solid bullpen arm who can get the ground ball in tough situations. At best he's Brandon Webb, an innings eater, who gets a tremendous number of ground ball outs. Either way he's a prospect whose floor is higher than most other's ceilings.
12. Matt Wisler RHP/SP
The MadFriars' Low Class A pitcher of the year that exploded on the map this season. When the Padres signed him out of high school and gave him well over slot money he was considered "projectable," which means he had plenty of room to grow. In just a year that projectability turned into a fastball that gained five mph (92 – 97) and showed progress on each of his three secondary pitches.
Projection: ETA: 2015. As Wisler continues to improve so does his prospect standing. Wisler had a "breakout" season that got him into the Top 20. However, he is poised for another breakout season that can send him even higher. Wisler generates the type of swing and miss pitches along with a good ground ball rates that could correspond to great numbers in the Cal League.
13. Joe Wieland RHP
Wieland was the first "big name" prospect to get called up last year and he didn't exactly thrill the fans. The one positive, as Randy Jones pointed out, was that he kept getting better. Unfortunately, he went down after just five starts into his major league career and will now miss most of the 2013 season.
? What Joe is, is control. In 2010-11 combined Wieland threw 303.2 IP and only walked 46 compared to 288 strikeouts. However, Wieland isn't the run of the mill control pitcher with little stuff. He has is three solid major league pitches when combined with great control, equate to great success at the minor league and hopefully the major league level as well.
However if he loses control of any of the three pitches, like we saw in his first few major league starts, he becomes just an average to slightly below average pitcher.
Projection: Wieland will miss most of the 2013 season and as of November many have pegged him to begin throwing sometime in May, with a possibility of returning at the earliest during the all-star break.
With so many top prospect pitchers it is important that Wieland doesn't come back until he is fully healthy. A healthy Wieland can profile as a very solid middle of the rotation pitcher and will find a home in San Diego. If he is not fully healthy he could quickly lose favor with the organization and be shipped out before he has a chance to really show what he is worth.
14. Frank Garces LHP/SP
Garces was the dark horse in Fort Wayne in 2012. The 2011 DSL strikeout leader managed to jump AZL and Eugene on his way to Fort Wayne. It speaks loads about Garces when an opening rotation that featured Joe Ross, Adys Portillo, and Matt Wisler that Garces got the opening day nod.
Considering it was his first time pitching in States, Garces had a 9-6 record, 2.81 ERA, and 112 strikeouts that made him a solid prospect. He can mix and match his pitches pretty well with good movement on his fastball and curve. As with most young pitchers when he gets in a pinch, he relies more heavily on his fastball. His uncertainty with his secondary pitches leads to more walks but both should improve as he becomes more experienced.
Projection: Garces should begin the year with Lake Elsinore. Last year the Padres were careful with his innings, limiting him to five per start. This year the reigns should be off.
He managed to hold hitters to a stellar .233 BAA, and if he can continue that he will certainly put up good numbers in the hitters paradise that is the Cal League.
15. Jace Peterson SS
One thing the Padres have been sorely missing in the last decade is that legitimate leadoff hitter. I am defining this as someone that can (a) hit for a solid average; (b) not strike out a lot; (c) have an on-base percentage of over .350; and finally (d) steal at least 30 bases at a decent rate. Only once have the Padres had such a hitter since PETCO opened, Doc Roberts in 2006.
The Padres think that Peterson has the possibility to become that leadoff hitter. He managed to hit for a solid average (.286), not strike out too much (only 63 in 500+ plate appearances), solid OBP (.378) and steal at least 30 bases (51).
Not only does Jace seem like the prototypical leadoff hitter but he also plays a position that the Padre haven't had a player hit over .260 since Khalil Greene in 2004. It is no wonder why San Diego is so high on him.
Projection : The Padres have long awaited a top prospect who can stay at shortstop. Despite that I don't see them rushing Jace. The Padres have been keeping top prospects in Fort Wayne for the whole year and then promoting them to AA midway through the High A season and they could follow this pattern with Jace. If he can continue to stay in the leadoff hitter range that was stated above he is going to keep on climbing.
16. James Darnell 3B/LF
The health woes of James Darnell continue. Remember that a few short years ago the Padres selected Darnell ahead of Logan Forsythe. After struggling in 2010, Darnell exploded back on the scene in 2011 by hitting .310/.406/.547 with 23 home runs.
Unfortunately, once again, Darnell missed significant time with an injury. He went from having a chance to be the starting left fielder while Carlos Quentin was out. With spots on the forty man roster at a premium he needs to be back healthy and quick.
Projection Darnell needs to show that he was not a wasted draft pick and when he is healthy he can do that.. A healthy Darnell can hit close to .300 with good pop and solid defense at third.
Unfortunately with Headley doing so well and Gyorko passing him, he might end up trying to compete with Jesus Guzman, as the teams utility right-handed hitter off of the bench. Darnell still has the skill set to be an everyday starter in the majors but he has to stay healthy to prove it.
17. Joe Ross RHP
The Padres selected Ross in the first round of last year's draft after Corey Spangenburg. He went straight to Fort Wayne, struggled until he got injured and never returned. While normally this would have the Padres fans up in arms, the blow was lessoned by the break out campaigns by Frank Garces and Adys Portillo.
While that might seem degrading, Ross' himself is setting himself up for a breakout season of his own. Ross already has a mid 90's fastball and a curve that is a true swing and miss pitch. As Ross continues to grow he has a chance to become a true number one starter.
A top five talent, barely top 30 results = #17 ranking.
Projection: The sky is the limit for Ross. He has the potential to be better than his brother, Tyson, who is already in the majors and was just acquired by the Padres. His success will depend on two things; (a) as always staying healthy and (b) having an open mind and learn how to become a pitcher, and not just a thrower. If he does both of these things we could be looking at the future ace of the Padres.
18. Edinson Rincon 3B/DH/LF
?The Padres liked Rincon enough to add him to the forty-man man roster. Unfortunately, despite staying healthy for a year, Rincon remains a man without a position. He did improve his defense at third but even with the improvement he is still a DH waiting to happen.
With that being said Rincon still makes the list because of what he does bring to the table; his offense. Rincon can hit the ball to all fields, hit for a high average, and has cut down his strikeout rate considerably. If he can increase his walks, he could be an ideal number hitter in the major leagues.
Projection: At this point it looks more like Rincon will be a DH or a future Jesus Guzman. However, from a prospect standpoint, I am sure many players would love to be Jesus Guzman. If Rincon could be an average fielder at any position he would be above average at that position because of his bat.
19. Brad Boxberger RHP Reliever
Padre fans got a glimpse of Brad Boxberger this past season. While they might have been impressed by his 2.60 ERA (in the majors) and .222 BAA, they were frustrated by his averaging nearly six walks/nine innings pitched.
Boxberger has always had a problem with command, but his plus fastball and slider make give him a chance to become an elite bullpen arm.
? Projection: Boxberger could fill the role vacated by Ernesto Frieri last season. It is hard for the Padres to call him a back end of the pen guy at the moment as Huston Street, Dale Thayer, Luke Gregerson, and Brad Brach can all lay claim to the seven through nine inning positions. With that in mind, no one in the bullpen has the swing and miss ability of Boxberger. He could very well find himself being the future closer in the next few years.
20. John Barbato RHP/RP
Barbato was named one of the top prospects entering the season, and did nothing to drop in his ranking. The Padres thought a move to the bullpen might be a way to help keep his mechanics in order and it seemed to do the trick. He was lights out, allowing just four earned runs over his last thirty-eight innings pitched.
Barbato has a chance to have two superb pitches that could make his an excellent closer if the Padres continue to stick him in the pen.
Projection: While Barbato has a ton of upside his command is going to be the thing that keeps him from reaching his true potential. There is a good chance the Padres keep him in the bullpen until he improves enough with his command, that he gets the call to go back to the rotation.
If he can command the ball Barbato has the potential to be an excellent number two starter. If not he will become a bullpen guy that every team will want to have because of his potential but be frustrated by his command (see Will LeDezma).
21. Kevin Quackenbush RHP/RP
Quackenbush was recently named MiLB.com "Reliever of the Year" and the Quack had about as good a season as possible. The funny thing is that as impressive as his 0.94 ERA was, it was actually wasn't as good as his 0.84 ERA last year.
The soon to be twenty-four year old reliever really doesn't do anything spectacular, low 90's fastball, good movement and deception in his delivery. The biggest thing about Quack is that he doesn't have any fear on the mound. He loves to pitch inside, and make it known that he owns the plate.
? Projection: While Quackenbush has been a closer for his entire career with the Padres, and most of the time in college, he doesn't exactly profile as a MLB closer. While that might seem shattering he still can be a back of the pen type of pitcher. I am sure both his fans and his wallet would be content if he turned into a Scott Linebrink or Luke Gregerson pitcher.
22. Yeison Asencio OF
The artist formerly known as Yoan Alcantara burst on the scene last year after hitting .348/.367/.586, and was named the Arizona League's number one prospect in 2011. Over the winter he aged three years and by the time he rejoined the Padres he was twenty-two and named Yeison Asencio.
However once his visa was situated in early May, Asencio went to Fort Wayne and just continued what he started in the AZL. Asencio became the first Tin Cap ever to win the batting title. Asencio received praise from Randy Smith, VP of Player Development, as still being a 4 ½ tool prospect that rank among the best in the system.
Projection: Asencio is the ideal #2 hitter. He has some power (33 extra-base hits in ninety-two games), hits for a high average, and best of all has one of the best contact rates in baseball. Asencio struck out just 38 times in nearly 400 plate appearances.
Look for Asencio to begin the year in the hitter friendly Cal League. If he puts up the numbers that we expect, look for a mid-season promotion.
23. Tommy Medica 1B/DH/C
When the Padres first drafted Medica they considered him a "catcher with plus offensive skills." Two shoulder surgeries later, catcher is now a loose term as Medica hasn't caught in over a year. On the other hand, Medica has become every bit the hitter the Padres imagined and then some.
As a 1B/DH Medica led the Storm in nearly every offensive category including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, RBI, doubles and was surprisingly tied for second on the team in triples. He is a pure hitter that can hit to all fields with power.
Projection: The issue with Medica, is that a lot of his value as a prospect relies in his position. As a catcher he is easily a Top Ten prospect. However, as a 1B/DH he just becomes slightly more valuable that a Freiman or Clark, neither of which are likely to be protected.
The Padres don't seem too interested in moving him back to catcher in fear of losing his bat. Only time will tell if his bat will truly be good enough to play first base at a higher level.
24. Zach Eflin RHP
The 33rd overall pick in the 2012 draft wasn't exactly lights out in his four games in the AZL. Eflin hasn't had the best luck to start the season as he caught mononucleosis shortly after being drafted and later was shut down in an attempt to keep him healthy.
Despite the numbers and being shut down, Eflin makes the list thanks in part to his 6'4" 200 lbs. frame. He has a fastball that sits in the lower 90's with good movement, a plus change, and a developing curve.
Projection: Eflin should be an anchor in the Fort Wayne starting rotation. While he will not be in San Diego anytime soon, ETA late 2015, Eflin has the chance to be a number two starter in the big leagues. Of course to live up to his potential, a lot will depend on if he can stay healthy and if he can continue to make adjustments and improve as a pitcher as every professional has too.
25. Matt Andriese RHP
If Matt Andriese were in any other system, he is easily a top twenty prospect; maybe even as high as in the Top 10 depending on the system. Unfortunately in the Padres' system the Cal League ERA leader barely scratches the Top 30.
Andriese is a big bodied right handed starter, who has three solid major league pitches. He is able to mix and match his pitches extremely well and is not afraid to pitch inside. Andriese had one of the best GO/FO ratios in the league, and finished seventh in the league in strikeouts.
?Projection: Andriese will be the workhorse in a very strong San Antonio rotation and profiles as a back of the rotation starter. The only problem standing in his way is the depth of the Padres' system. Andriese might slide under the radar, but he should continue to post superior stats in the pitcher friendly Texas League.
26. Matt Stites RHP/RP
As stated earlier, it is hard for relievers to make a top prospect list, especially on this list. With that being said, WOW!
When a pitcher has a 4:1 K:BB ratio, scouts consider them a "control" pitcher. When the ratio is 20:1… well.. that is just fantastic. In 42 games, Stites allowed just four earned runs and no more than two earned runs in a month. Not in a game, but in a month.
Projection: Stites has the ability to soar through the upper minors. He will probably begin the 2013 season in Lake Elsinore as their closer, but very well could be promoted to AA by mid-season. If the Padres' burn through relieves the same way they did in 2012, you might even see Stites' as a September call up. With all that in mind, he just needs to stay healthy and keep doing what he is doing.
27. James Needy RHP
While Needy might not be the popular pick to make the Top 30, he is every bit deserving. The Padres were really high on him when they drafted him in 2009 out of Santana High School.
Needy has the build and talent of someone that if he could stay healthy, could jump up the charts. He throws his fastball in the low 90's, and still shows at times a plus curve and change-up.
Projection: Health is going to be the determining factor for Needy. If he can stay healthy, he should be in line for a starting spot in Lake Elsinore in 2013. With Garces and Wisler on the roster it might be hard for him to stand out, but if Needy continues to improve he very well could be someone that just magically appears in San Diego similar to Tom Layne and Andrew Warner.
28. Jonathan Galvez 2B
?Galvez missed significant amount of time at the beginning of the year due to injury but that didn't stop him from breathing some much needed life into a hapless Missions team. He hit well over .300 for most of the first few months and was second on the team in batting average to Nate Freiman and finished ahead of Gyorko in OPS. Galvez cut down his strikeouts but it also cost him some of his power.
Most of Galvez' value lies with his bat. Unfortunately with Forsythe, Gyorko, Darnell, Headley, Amarista, and ECab all as 3B/SS/2B type prospects it might be difficult for a less than stellar defender to find a spot on a roster. Galvez would probably be a Top 15 prospect if he could stick at shortstop, but he has expressed his liking for second base and the Padres seem content to keep him there.
Projection: As of right now, Galvez looks to be a bigger version of Alexi Amarista only with a little more power and less speed. The only issue with Galvez, is that he needs to be protected or be eligible for the Rule V draft. With Amarista, ECab and Forsythe already on the forty man roster he could be starting spring training with another team.
29. Jaff Decker OF
I just can not give up on Decker this easily. This time a year ago Decker was named an organizational All-Star, an AFL Rising Star, and had won an Arizona Fall League and Texas League player of the week awards a few times.
Jaff still has the potential to do great things and make a contribution at the major league level but much will depend on his health, as it does with most of these guys. I am still optimistic that he will rebound and we will be hearing his name as a potential September call-up.
?Projection: Decker still has the patience and ability to be a solid major league player. If he is going to do it, he must stay healthy and work on honing that "patient aggressive" approach that the Padres want from him. More injuries, or more struggles at the plate and we could see Decker's days as a Padre come to a sad end.
30. Donovan Tate OF
There are probably five or ten players that could fit here and frankly are more deserving. But it is also hard to give up on someone who has the raw talent of Donovan Tate.
There has been some talk about him possibly being released after he grossly underperformed, but I would be shocked if the Padres do not give the now twenty-two year old Tate one more year to show the talent that made him a top pick in 2009.
? Projection: As we all know, Tate is still capable of being a top five prospect but the chance of that happening seems to be less and less likely. The batting practice Tate is a major league all-star. Too bad the real life Tate is now a fringe prospect.