Padres stock the cupboard

The San Diego Padres are stocking the cupboard for the future, getting younger throughout the lower minors in hopes that the big payoff comes now and in the future. Kevin Goldstein of <i>Baseball America</i> gives his thoughts on the players in High-A and below.

Lake Elsinore There weren't a lot of prospects at Lake Elsinore this year, but Paul McAnulty does stand out.

Kevin Goldstein: McAnulty can certainly hit. He shown good power, very good plate discipline and impressed a lot of people in the Arizona Fall League. The real problem may be with his glove, and will he hit for enough power to carry him to the major leagues. He is an average defensive left fielder at best, and maybe even a 1b. He got himself into much better shape, and most people within the Padres organization expect him to hit in the Southern League this year. The other two prospects that generate some discussion are Michael Johnson and Luis Cruz.

Kevin Goldstein: Johnson is a very streaky player and has fallen in the eyes of many within the organization. A real concern is how streaky he is, as he tends to get a little too analytical, always messing with his swing, and his age make him an iffy prospect. However, if you look at his OPS numbers, which aren't bad, there is some hope. He's going to be 25, so he needs to really produce at Mobile this year. Cruz is highly regarded for his defensive ability, but a lot of questions about his bat at upper levels. He really projects more as a utility guy at best. As with Mobile, Dale Thayer stands out among the pitchers.

Kevin Goldstein: Thayer is a lot like Baker, only with a slider instead of a change up. He's not as good as Baker when it comes to using his fastball to setup his out pitch. He probably will be in the bottom of the top 30.

I do like a couple of the pitchers on Lake Elsinore in Jared Wells and David Pauley. Pauley is probably more of a pitch ability guy, than a power pitcher. While Wells is much more of a pure power pitcher. Its interesting throughout the entire Padres system, there are very few power arms. A much bigger emphasis on pitching than power throughout the system.

Editor's Note - Pauley was traded along with Ramon Vasquez and Jay Payton to Boston for Dave Roberts just after this interview was completed.

Fort Wayne This year on Fort Wayne, George Kottaras easily seemed to have the best season?

Kevin Goldstein: What is there not to like about George? A nice combination of plate discipline, a little bit of juice in the bat and a left handed hitting catcher. One of the new generation of Canadian catcher. Kottaras will rank fairly high in the overall prospects list for 2005. A couple other players had decent years for the Wizards Fernando Valuenzuela Jr. and Drew Macias.

Kevin Goldstein: Valuenzuela had a nice year, but again you're talking about a player who only plays 1b…which as we talked about earlier is a very tough road to the major leagues. A lot of people within the Padres organization are high on Macias, he has some skills, but right now its just a little too early. A pitcher who generated a lot of comments is Travis Chick, who the Padres got from the Marlins in the Ismael Valdez trade. Is he as good as Kevin Towers has indicated.

Kevin Goldstein: Yes, probably is the best arm in the Padres system. Chick throws very hard, good motion and I like his upside as much as any pitcher in the Padres system. Dirk Hayhurst is a nice player, but probably won't make the top 30.

Eugene and Peoria What did you think of Matt Bush, Billy Killian and Daryl Jones?

Kevin Goldstein: Matt Bush hit very well in the Instructional League, and the Padres think his bat will come around this year. They made several adjustments to his swing, mainly working with him to make more contact instead of trying to hit the ball out as much. He has the best arm of any infielder in the system, and is very athletic. Is there any chance the Padres would consider making him a pitcher?

Kevin Goldstein: Only unless he totally bombs out after four years. Right now they are pretty convinced he can make it at several positions.

Billy Killian is a "toolsy" left handed hitting catcher. Right now he's going through a big adjustment due to the level of competition he's now facing. For example, Bush played in the area code games and played high school baseball in southern California, one of the most talent rich environments in the nation. He's a very talented player tools wise, but you still might see him at Eugene instead of Fort Wayne next year. Daryl Jones is a really nice pure power prospect, but right now he is still quite far away. Kevin, last year Baseball America ranked the Top 10 in the Padres organization as follows:

1) Josh Barfield

2) Khalil Greene

3) Freddy Guzman

4) Tim Stauffer

5) Aki Otsuka

6) Ben Howard

7) Jon Knott

8) David Pauley

9) Kennard Jones

10) Tagg Bozied

Both Greene and Otsuka had pretty good years for the Padres. Howard and Pauley are no longer with the organization. You have hinted that Knott and Bozied have dropped, and I'm assuming that Kennard Jones, after a disappointing season at Mobile, didn't make the top 10 either. For the Padres faithful, could you give us any hints about who we may see in this years' Top 10?

Kevin Goldstein: Three of the top five players are again in the top 10, and those are the only three. Until then, you have to wait…

Thanks again for your time Kevin, we look forward to reading your analysis.

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