Padres Prospect Pulse: Rising stock

It is a crazy thing the stock market - and it parallels what is going on in the San Diego Padres minor league system. Every year there are players who begin to realize their potential and 2005 was no different.

Kennard Jones began the year in Double-A, on the edge of obscurity after a down year. But he had his fill of games, 124 with Mobile, and upped his on base percentage to a number that was expected the year before.

Jones compiled a .281 average with 71 walks in Southern League play for an on base percentage of .373. He also drove in a career high 60 runs, spurred by a .363 average with runners in scoring position.

Jones was a late addition to the Portland squad and will reside their next year with Petco on the horizon. He will need to cut down on the 0.93 strikeouts per game, especially from the leadoff spot to truly take his game to the next level. But proving he could hit effectively in the Southern League was a nice step up.

They said that Mike Thompson was finally started to become the pitcher they thought he could be after the 2004 season and they key was continuing that trend in 2005. He did that and more, pitching well above any previous incantation of Mike Thompson had ever brought to the game.

When he allowed two runs or fewer in each of his first six starts, people began to take notice, despite a 1-1 record at the end of that time span. He continued his mastery through most of his tour in Mobile, facing one four game stretch of games that was the only smear on his campaign.

When he was called up to Portland he threw a one-hitter in his first start. While his 3.22 ERA with the BayBears was impressive, his 3.15 ERA with Portland took the cake. The Pacific Coast League is known to be favorable to hitters yet he held his own. The big stat that went down this year was opponents' batting average against. That number dropped nearly 40 percentage points from the year before.

A castoff. He wasn't wanted. After watching him play, the question became apparent. Why oh why would Seattle let him go without some sort of fight? Dustin Delucchi provided the Portland offense with a consistent on base presence.

He began his tour of duty in the Padres system with Mobile but was moved up after 34 games. That is where he poured it on, hitting .305 with a .441 on base percentage. He drew 48 walks while striking out just 29 times in PCL play. He was on pace to score 100 runs over a full season with Portland, twenty more than his closest competitor on the team.

Squeezed out of Seattle, he is a commodity that can be counted on in a pinch for the Padres. His ability to get on base could be a valuable asset off the bench in San Diego and that would most likely be his role with the outfield depth in the system.

We have more risers on the horizon as several more players at the upper levels climbed the ladder of success and look to take the door that leads them to San Diego.

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