Padres prospect pulse: Falling Stock

As the year officially comes to a close for most players in terms of competitive baseball, several Padres' prospects ranked within top 50 have seen their stock take a downward spiral. In a first look, we check in on several players at the upper levels that had down years and what the future holds.

After tearing up the Pacific Coast League in his inaugural season of 2004, Jon Knott was back in the PCL in ‘05, looking to solidify his status as a power hitting outfielder who could also hit for average.

With a brief cup of coffee under his belt, Knott figured to be in the mix for a Major League call-up this year but was instead passed over in favor of Paul McAnulty.

Knott could not find a consistent stroke all year long, batting .208 in April, .319 in May, only to fall to .235 in June. At 27, it would seem his time to make his mark with the Padres is nearing its end. While he has the power, as evidenced by his 80 homers over the last three years, he has to overcome a .250 average in a hitter's league.

With McAnulty already in San Diego for the stretch run, Knott is definitely on the slide and his opportunity may be with another organization.

A year after winning Pitcher of the Year, Brad Baker hit a funk that blossomed to enormous proportions.

Baker blew ten save opportunities and the walks that plagued him prior to joining the Padres' system returned to haunt him. It also didn't help that the leadoff man had an on base percentage of .443. We all know what happens when the leadoff man reaches base 44 percent of the time.

He was eventually pulled from the closer's role and performed better down the stretch. The one saving grace is his future, if still applicable, in the Majors will be in middle relief rather than as a closer.

The knock against Brian Whitaker a year ago wasn't a knock on him at all. He simply didn't have enough run support in posting a 9-11 record between Lake Elsinore and Mobile. He notched a loss or a no-decision in seven of his starts that he allowed two runs or less.

That same feat happened four times this year but on the other end of the spectrum he gave up four runs or more in 11 of his 26 starts and the opposition hit .312 off him, as opposed to the .254 average he held the opposition to in 2004.

He is 29-38 over his minor league career and the losing records are becoming a trademark. While his homers allowed were down, he was still hit hard and the hits that came weren't just the lucky loopers over the infield but lasers that found the hole.

Once considered the closer of the future, Rusty Tucker was in his recovery year. While there is no way we are ready to give up on the lefty, he did have a down year.

With 52 appearances on the year, the longest he went between runs allowed was three games, a feat he accomplished just three different times on the year. For those who did not major in math it means Tucker allowed runs in at least one of every three games during the other 43 appearances he made on the season.

His biggest problem was the walk. He issued a free pass to 11 batters to lead off an inning and walked 49 in 62.2 frames. He also tossed 11 wild pitches on the year, lending credence to his wildness. While his walk totals have always been a bit high, this was his worst walk per inning total since 2001 when he was in Idaho Falls.

Hopefully this was just regaining his arm strength and re-learning how to pitch. He will be in the Arizona Fall League when October hits, another chance to regain confidence and his velocity.

Traded for Jake Gautreau in the off-season, Corey Smith did not separate himself from the pack with the change in scenery. To be fair, the Snake hit just .253 in Triple-A after a torrid start.

Smith came over with the promises of a new life and the chance to prove he was the same player Cleveland thought so highly of in 1999. Instead he offered up sub par defense committing 35 errors, one shy of the overall lead for all third basemen throughout the minors.

His bat was sporadic as he started out hitting well only to falter through June. While his power numbers went up in the second half of the year, Smith led the Southern League with 144 strikeouts.

With the cupboard lacking in the third baseman department, anyone who wants it bad enough has a chance to grab the top spot at the position. Smith did not do that with his season. He will join the Padres in the Instructional League, the oldest player to be in that camp and only player who began his season and ended his season above High-A to join the squad assembled (Cesar Carrillo is the only other player with Double-A experience).

We will look at the top risers to play at Double-A or above in our next edition before searching out the players that hit a funk in Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne.

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