Top 50 Padres prospects: All-injured team

There were several players who were injured for part or all of the 2004 season that were not included in the rankings of the top fifty Padres' prospects but deserve recognition. Had they been around, they could have landed anywhere among the top thirty.

Six players in the San Diego Padres' system saw their years end in some fashion but those injuries didn't dim their long term prospects of success with the franchise – it simply halted it until they can again prove their worth.

Ryan Klatt struck out 51 batters in 29.2 innings for Idaho Falls his freshman season. That is not a misprint. And then there is this other small matter – he walked just three. He gave up one run over his first 18 outings that year and held batters to a .212 average.

He was rewarded in 2004, skipping Eugene for Fort Wayne and didn't disappoint. The opposition hit just .184 off the right-hander and he struck out 35 in 29 innings while walking six. When runners were in scoring position, he limited batters to a .130 average.

"He was pretty unhittable," one Padres' scout said. "He reminded me of Dale Thayer in that he understood that even though he might go home and throw pillows or punch something, he is a guy that understood, some days they get you and some days you get them. You just have to get past letting it all get you down."

His 0.82 ERA in the ninth inning suggests he will resume his closer role when he returns. Klatt underwent Tommy John surgery in late July and will likely miss a good chunk of this season.

Luke Steidlmayer, a right-handed pitcher, was on the verge of returning multiple times this year but surgery on a torn labrum during the offseason and the discomfort that followed forced him to the shelf.

When he first returned, Steidlmayer made three starts in the Arizona Rookie League, striking out eleven in ten innings with a 3.60 ERA.

Steidlmayer was 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in two starts with Fort Wayne. He struck out 14 and walked just one in 9.2 innings of work before tendonitis set in.

The Padres hold Steidlmayer in high regard and would like to see a return to health. He went out to the Instructional League where he could pitch at his pace and the team will not be eager to get him back on the mound too quickly if there are any problems. He should be ready for spring and displaying confidence in his arm is an obstacle to look at this year.

Javier Martinez is on the hill again after a year off, pitching in the Mexican Pacific League. The team is encouraged by his results but has held him to a strict throwing regimen.

He was last seen taking the rubber for Lake Elsinore in 2003 and was developing into someone to look out for. He went 6-3 with a 3.23 ERA while allowing the opposition to hit just .234 off him.

Martinez is still only 22 years old and will likely begin the year in Lake Elsinore again. Whether he is ready to put a heavy workload on his arm will be something worth monitoring.

Todd Donovan was tearing up the Southern League when the season began for Double-A Mobile. He was the catalyst behind their first half Championship but a broken thumb in early June sent him to the sidelines for the remainder of the year. He had surgery in San Diego the following day.

Donovan was fourth in the Southern League in runs scored, tied for fifth in base hits, and third in stolen bases while leading the BayBears in all three categories before the injury.

Donovan was hitting .299 for the year in Mobile, had a 13-game hitting streak and got on base in 28 straight games, a feat he has now performed twice within the Padres system. Last time the streak went over 40 games.

"Todd is finally buying into the plan about what type of hitter he should be," Tye Waller, the Padres' director of player development, said. "He's they type of player that needs to keep the ball out of the air and take advantage of his speed."

It was that speed and hustle that caught up to Donovan – again. He slid into first base after laying down a bunt when the injury happened.

Donovan worked out in Peoria late in the year but never got back into a live game. He has injured a hand on four different occasions while a member of the Padres and worried about how they would perceive him in the future. That mentality could factor into his play. Donovan is emotional on and off the field and can't be deterred or he will fall from the grace he had established in 2004.

The only thing that was certain about David O'Hagan was that he would be the closer of choice for Eugene. That ended early due to a shoulder injury. He returned late in the year.

He made eight appearances with the Eugene Emeralds but a shoulder injury caused him to miss just over a month. He is tabbed as a future closer in the system, tallying one save and one blown save on the year. He allowed runs in two of the eight games and ended the year with a 2.57 ERA. He limited the opposition to a .148 average in his seven innings of work.

O'Hagan will be healthy to begin the year and likely ready to make his mark after being taken in the 2004 draft.

Jordan Pickens wasn't injured until late in the year but it was cause for concern. His injury occurred to a shoulder and that is where the issue comes in. He has dealt with shoulder problems since 2001 when a torn labrum handcuffed his season. He also has had his rotator cuff scoped in 2003 and seemed to finally be past the hump in 2004.

He had a stellar April and May, batting .300 with ten homers and 29 RBI's. In June the swoon began and his average plummeted. He hit .164 during the latter part of June and his July average reflected his struggles. He came on late after getting advice from Waller and several officials in the player development department before a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely.

With as much trouble as his shoulder has given him over the course of the last few years, Pickens needs a full season of health for the Padres to think his injuries are behind him. Even then, there are questions whether he can continue playing in the outfield as the shoulder weakens.

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