Prospect Pulse: Falling stock

No one likes to ride a prospect. Each year, expectations are set and some meet those goals, others exceed them, and then there are the players who fall short. Unfortunately, these players fit in the latter category on the Padres' prospect tree.

Five tool prospects are "the elite." And Yordany Ramirez could become one – one day. Blessed with athleticism, Ramirez needs to put all the qualities that make him a prospect together. And that has not happened yet.

Already an advanced outfielder, Ramirez' career will be based on his progress at the plate. Already four years into his career in the Padres' minors, Ramirez saw his first year of full season ball with Fort Wayne. He more than doubled his game total from the previous year in the process.

Ramirez admitted that he was trying to do too much at the plate and settled down in August, batting .275. He is also beginning to show signs of power but the first four months of the season are hard to dismiss.

During the stretch of April through July, Ramirez hit just .202 and was a liability with runners in scoring position all season, hitting .208 with RISP and .158 with RISP and two outs.

When you have the kind of athleticism that Ramirez is blessed with, the bar gets set high. He has time to advance and the potential is there. But, for a year, his stock has taken a hit as many wonder whether he will ever hit like they think he can.

A classic case of confidence gone awry, Daniel Baca was trucking along at his own pace until he was shipped off to High-A. Baca, 20 years old as of October 17, had never pitched above Rookie Ball.

A .460 average against accompanied his six game stint with the Storm and while he walked three in 20.1 Arizona Rookie League games, Baca walked seven in 10.2 with Lake Elsinore.

He was sent back down to Eugene where his struggles continued. A 9.53 ERA over his final seven games left him with a sour taste in his mouth.

The Padres are always concerned about confidence with their players. You want to put them in a position to succeed. Baca was forced into action with the Storm and the reverberations could haunt the right-hander for some time down the road. If he remembers it was just one stretch of games, he will rebound but it remains a test to mental fortitude.

Fabian Jimenez looked like the all-star many proclaimed him to be at the start of the season. He was dominating and electric, a 1.27 ERA over his first four starts. Then the nightmares began.

Jimenez was a trooper as he battled through the losses as they piled high. He would go 1-11 the rest of the way in Fort Wayne with an ERA of 8.82 – including a month where his ERA was 18.00.

His control utterly betrayed him and when he was on the ball was left out over the plate where hitters could take advantage.

The problem stems from a curveball that could not find the zone and hitters sitting on his fastball. He has also not developed a changeup – something the Padres demand he accomplish.

He was dropped down to Eugene where he gave up seven earned runs over a seven game span. He has the arsenal to be a big time prospect but has failed to gain consistent command of his stuff. He will only be 19 during the 2006 season and will have plenty of opportunities to right the ship. The Padres may have been hasty in trying to see if the fruit was ripe enough.

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