Top 40 Padres Prospects: 1-10

Khalil Greene gets his last stand on the prospect list this week as he takes over the starting shortstop job for the San Diego Padres. There has been debate that he should have been number two overall, but the fact that he has seized the opportunity at the Major League level has weight. Therefore, he ranks number one on our top forty prospect list:

1. Khalil Greene- The kid blazed through the Minor Leagues. When he ran into trouble in Mobile for approximately six weeks, he turned it on and showed why he was taken so high in the first round. His composure, poise and overall ability to handle a tough situation (Mobile, spring training battle this year) is why he is the top ranked Padre prospect. It will be his last time on the list as he moves to bona fide Major Leaguer.
2. Josh Barfield- Two time Minor League Player of the Year is all that. Since joining the Padres system in 2001, Barfield has hit over .300 each year. He had 128 RBI's in 135 games at Lake Elsinore. The biggest concern for Barfield is limiting strikeouts. He struck out over 100 times for the second straight year. Still, as a hitter with power and one who hits for average, those numbers will be ignored. His numbers have increased exponentially each season and his first true test lies ahead in Mobile this week.
3. Tim Stauffer- Voted as the pitcher closest to the Majors coming out of the 2003 draft. His high character, telling the Padres about his injury before signing earn him extra credit. In his last two years at Richmond, Stauffer had an ERA under 2.00. The biggest difference in his development was his strikeout to walk ratio. In 2002, he had a 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio and averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings. In 2003, he had a 7.6-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio and averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
4. Rusty Tucker- Tommy John surgery sidelines this prospect, but that does not mean this lefthander loses his spot in line. He has the potential to be a dominant closer at the Major League level. Tucker throws as hard as 99, a rarity from a lefty. It wasn't until the Padres slowed his delivery down that it occurred. His 80-83 MPH slider is a nice compliment to keep hitters off balance. Tucker was 2-6 with a 3.74 ERA and 28 saves, good for second in the league, this season at Double-A Mobile before he heard a pop in his elbow while pitching that Saturday night. In 53 innings this season, Tucker had 63 strikeouts.
5. Jon Knott- The poor guy had zero support in Mobile and still hit 27 homers. He should be even better in the 2004 Portland lineup. At 25, he is hitting his stride. Knott has moved to the outfield and shows tremendous power in a bad hitter's league. Knott has a career on base percentage of .411, a huge determining factor in the future of a young player. This year his average figures to climb towards .300 again after a year at .252.
6. Humberto Quintero- He learned how to hit last year and is superb defensively. His biggest fan is now David Wells after Quintero threw out three runners in one game. After several years of substandard offense, Quintero finally started to hit. He has doubles power and does not strikeout much. That turns into more times he will ground into double plays. Many have called his season is a fluke, but the fact is most catchers develop later than other prospects. If he continues to hit this year, he will be hard to ignore.
7. Kennard Jones- Speedy centerfielder who is terrible on the base paths. He was the catalyst for a Fort Wayne first half Championship. When he left, their ship sank. Jones has the ability to hit for average and power once he develops a tad more. Jones has to play over 100 games in a year to truly know his full potential. In shorter stints he has an on base percentage over .400 and that has the Padres excited. While he has not proven himself at higher levels, he has more upside than any current centerfielder in the system. His defense is also solid.
8. Sean Thompson- The top lefty in the organization who kept opposing batters to a .203 batting average. He has one of the better curveballs in the system and his fastball touches 90. Scouts are down on him for some reason, but his numbers are hard to ignore. The most revealing stat is the fact that he has allowed just 109 hits in 136 innings. If he can maintain his control (77 walks during that span), he could become dominant. Thompson has plenty of room to fill out and that could turn into more velocity on his fastball as he grows into his 5-11 frame.
9. Javier Martinez- Had a solid, if injury-filled, season in a hitter's league. He may have the best repertoire of any prospect. His velocity suffered in 2003 and his fastball dropped from 92-95 to 87-91 and as a resulted of a fastball that appeared dead, he allowed more home runs. It was his first year of long season ball, and despite being hurt he pitched in more innings than ever before. Cortisone shots in spring training have dropped Martinez. He needs to remain healthy over a full year and rededicate himself during the winter to prepare for the longer seasons.
10. Gabe Ribas- Minor League Pitcher of the year has the brain of Greg Maddux and relies on that to be successful. 93 MPH fastball can be spotted anywhere, noted by his lack of walks. Ribas will occasionally try to do too much and he must play within his range. He could be a Rick Reed type or move to middle/long relief. As a pitcher who relies on his mental awareness, that mental preparation will be a key to his success. What cannot be ignored are the 31 games he has won over the last two seasons, including his last season in college.

Not making any list, but worth serious consideration is Jared Wells. Wells has the makeup to be a star. He boasts a fastball that reaches 97 miles per hour and good secondary pitches. His body motion is fluid and this year he could vault up the rankings.

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