Note: Position players must have played less than 30 games at the major league level in order to qualify for this list. Pitchers cannot have made more than 10 major league starts. These rankings will be in order of how they fit into the Padres' overall plan, and not necessarily on talent alone or projections. For instance, Jake Gautreau may be ranked higher in an organization that is bereft of second basemen, but in the Padres' system, he is only at #? (Ranking to follow early next week).
11) Gabe Ribas – 23 years old – right handed starter – For Wayne (A) and Lake Elsinore (A)
After making the Northwest League All-Star game last season as a reliever, Ribas jumped a level and switched to starting. The great thing was even with the changes he actually improved his prospect standing. Ribas dominated the Midwest League at Fort Wayne before struggling a bit upon his call-up to Lake Elsinore. In 19 starts for the Wizards, the big 6'4" Maine native was 13-3 with a 2.25 ERA. In 116 innings, Ribas allowed 86 hits and 26 walks while striking out 116. He features a mid-90s fastball and solid secondary pitches. He might have been a little old for his league, so we will have to see how he fares against similar age opponents in 2004. (projected date to majors – late 2005)
12) Mike Johnson – 23 years old – first baseman – Lake Elsinore (A)
Johnson technically was part of the Padres' 2002 draft class, but he was a an 11th hour signing the night before this year's draft. A former teammate of Khalil Greene at Clemson, Johnson is a talented and powerful left-handed hitter in the Nick Johnson mold. But to reach the prospect status Nick Johnson achieved, Mike will have to draw more walks. For his first professional season, Johnson did well for the Storm hitting .275 with five homers, 24 RBI and 17 doubles. He projects to be an above-average defensive first baseman that could hit 25 homers and bat around .300. (projected date to majors – late 2005)
13) Dennis Tankersley – 24 years old – right-handed starter – Portland (AAA)
Tankersley only two years ago was considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Though he has fallen off the map somewhat after struggling with the Padres and at Class AAA, there's no reason to give up on his talent. The arm and pitches that made him that top prospect (he was ranked ahead of Jake Peavy after the 2001 season) are still evident. What Tankersley needs is to mature both on the field and off of it in order to reach his potential. In 27 starts for Portland in 2003, Tankersley went 8-11 with a 4.65 ERA. On the surface those numbers are nothing special, but consider Tankersley allowed fewer hits than innings pitched (149 to 151) and led the entire league in strikeouts with 148 and you see that the Padres still may have something here. I am still undecided whether the "Tank" may be best suited as a starter or as a hard-throwing reliever in the Jay Witasick mold. (projected date to majors – mid to late 2004)
14) Rusty Tucker – 22 years old – left-handed reliever – Mobile (AA)
This is one of the sad stories of 2003. Having his best season to date as a professional and only two levels away from the majors, Tucker blew out his elbow in August and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He will most likely be out until 2005. Prior to the injury, Tucker was one of the most dominant relievers in the minors featuring a high 90s fastball and solid slider. In 51 appearances, Tucker compiled a 2-6 record and a 3.74 ERA with 28 saves. In only 53 innings, the lefty struck out 63 hitters. He does struggle with control at times and we will just have to wait and see how he responds to this major injury. (projected date to majors – late 2005)
15) Brian Whitaker – 24 years old – right-handed starter – Fort Wayne (A)
The concern about Whitaker's 2003 performance is that he was older than most of his competition in the Midwest League. But it's hard to ignore the amazing numbers he put up for the Wizards. The 6'4" North Carolinian was 7-6 with a 2.09 ERA in 26 starts. In 164 innings, Whitaker only allowed 149 hits and 20 walks while striking out 121. He needs to prove he can be this successful as he moves up through the system and begins to face hitters his own age or older. If he does that, watch out. (projected date to majors – mid 2006)
16) Bernie Castro – 23 years old – second baseman – Portland (AAA)
Castro's story is similar to that of Rusty Tucker. Both were having All-Star-type seasons only to see it end prematurely as a result of a serious injuries. Castro tore his ACL in August and presumably will not be at full speed by spring training. Just as Tucker's injury affected his main weapon, his arm, Castro's affected his as well, his legs. Lacking power, Castro has moved through the minors with his base stealing ability. In 2003, the 5'10" Dominican hit .309 with a .347 OBP while stealing 49 bases in 62 attempts. As with fellow second baseman Jake Gautreau, Castro is a part of the logjam the Padres have at second basemen. It'll be interesting to see what his future holds and how he can bounce back from his injury. (projected date to majors – late 2004)
17) Tagg Bozied – 24 years old – first baseman – Portland (AAA)
Along with 2003 3rd-round pick Colt Morton, Bozied has the most power in the Padres' minor league system. After setting a new Arizona Fall League record with 12 home runs last fall, Bozied started slow at Portland before putting together a few solid months. He does have some major holes in his swing and can be exploited by the breaking pitch. In 2003, Bozied hit .273 with 14 homers and 59 RBI. He did a decent job cutting down on his strikeouts (80), but still needs to increase his walk totals (38). The problem with Bozied is his path to the majors is blocked by Padres' first baseman Phil Nevin and backup Todd Sears, a former AAA All-Star. He will return to Portland in 2004 if he is not part of a trade in the offseason. (projected date to majors – late 2004)
18) Alex Fernandez – 22 years old – outfielder – Mobile (AA) and Portland (AAA)
Fernandez was acquired with #10 prospect Humberto Quintero midway through last season from the White Sox. Though he doesn't produce eye-popping numbers, Fernandez's youth and versatility make him a legitimate 4th outfielder candidate in the future. In 2003, the Dominican hit .303 with 10 homers, 52 RBI and 16 steals in 105 games for Portland. He is kind of a "poor man's" Jason Bay at this stage of his career. The negative on Fernandez is he only walked 13 times and that must improve if he's going to get a good look from the Padres. (projected date to majors – 2005)
19) Kennard Jones – 21 years old – outfielder – Fort Wayne (A) and Lake Elsinore (A)
Jones is another one of the Padres' many speedsters. He is not quite as developed in most areas as Bernie Castro or Freddy Guzman, but he does do a fantastic job of getting on base. That plate discipline may allow Jones to move quickly through the system. He has relatively no power, but he did hit .307 with 20 steals and a .407 OBP at Fort Wayne. One thing the 5'11" Indiana University product needs to improve upon is his stolen base rate as he was successful only 53% of the time. If he doesn't develop a decent power stroke, he might end up being a Tom Goodwin-type outfielder in the majors. (projected date to majors – 2006)
20) Leo Rosales – 22 years old – right handed reliever – Eugene (A)
Rosales has to be one of the real pleasant surprises from the Padres' 2003 draft class. Selected in the 20th round out of Cal State – Northridge, the 6'1" right-hander quickly became the Emeralds most reliable reliever. In 36 appearances, Rosales was 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA. In 43 innings, he allowed only 32 hits and 16 walks while striking out 58. He is part of a group of strong relievers at the lower levels of the organization that have great arms and project to be solid contributors at the major league level. (projected date to majors – mid 2005)
Numbers 21 – 55 (position, highest stop in system)
21. Ryan Klatt (RHP – Idaho Falls), 22. Matt Bruback (RHP – Portland), 23. Wilmer Villatoro (RHP – Fort Wayne), 24. Billy Hogan (3B – Eugene), 25. Colt Morton (C – Fort Wayne), 26. Tom Lipari (LHP – Lake Elsinore), 27. Jared Wells (RHP – Eugene), 28. Nick Trzesniak (C – Lake Elsinore), 29. Jose Oyervidez (RHP – Eugene), 30. JJ Furmaniak (SS – Mobile), 31. David Pauley (RHP – Fort Wayne), 32. Dale Thayer (RHP – Fort Wayne), 33. Clifford Bartosh (LHP – Portland), 34. Brad Baker (RHP – Mobile), 35. Mike Wodnicki (RHP – Lake Elsinore), 36. Greg Sain (C/3B – Lake Elsinore), 37. Clark Girardeau (RHP – Eugene), 38. Chris Tierney (LHP – Lake Elsinore), 39. Chris Oxspring (RHP – Mobile), 40. Paul McAnulty (1B – Fort Wayne), 41. Justin Germano (RHP – Mobile), 42. Rene Miniel (RHP – Mobile), 43. Brian Sanches (RHP – Wichita (trade)), 44. Peter Stonard (2B – Lake Elsinore), 45. Daniel Moore (LHP – Eugene), 46. Bryan Gaal (RHP – Portland), 47. Ben Johnson (OF – Mobile), 48. Charles Bechtel (RHP – Fort Wayne), 49. Bryan Edwards (RHP – Fort Wayne), 50. Matt Lauderdale (C – Eugene), 51. Greg Conden (RHP – Idaho Falls), 52. Clay Hensley (RHP – Lake Elsinore), 53. Geof Jones (LHP – Lake Elsinore), 54. Alan Webb (LHP – Portland), 55. Brian Wahlbrink (OF – Eugene).
Dave Holtzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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San Diego Padres' Organization Prospects:11-55
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