Padres' Prospect Pulse: Soaring

The daily analytical probe of your stats, offensively and defensively, can be a vise. But these Padres' prospects widened the grip with solid performances that have earned them kudos heading into 2006.

Shortstop turned second base prospect Sean Kazmar has continued to surprise some by pounding out extra base hits and playing solid defense.

What has been surprising is the pop he is generating from a 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame. He had 36 extra base hits during the year, including five homers in August when some prospects were slowing down so fast they must have had their foot on the brake.

While his power is developing, and coincidentally he is on a similar weight-gaining program that Drew Macias is on, Kazmar also displayed an increased understanding of the strike zone with 44 walks to 69 K's. His goal, by the way, is to put on 15 pounds before the start of next season. The one area he slid was his work with runners on base – where he hit a paltry .213 with RISP and .136 with RISP and two outs.

He, along with Matt Bush, formed the best double play tandem in the system and his work at second base, a move he only recently made, has been heralded as a smooth transition.

Put some weight on Kazmar, as is the plan, and there is reason to believe he will be even better next year.

"They've got me on a separate workout plan than others because most of them are trying to maintain the weight they do have, whereas I'm trying to gain the muscle mass," Kazmar explained. "I'm on a little heavier lifts with a little less reps." The Padres are stacked at catcher with little room at the inn. Biding his time through the process was Matt Lauderdale, stuck behind Morton in Fort Wayne. Given the chance to play, he showed off the lumber and made next year's catching situation a disheveled mess.

It wasn't until mid-season that Lauderdale was awarded the starting gig – thanks to a Morton injury. But given the opportunity to play, he thrived, particularly at the plate.

"I'm just trying to worry a little more about myself instead of worrying about what other people are doing," Lauderdale said. "I think that's probably the one thing that helped the most."

Lauderdale drove in 39 runs in his last 46 games and sported a .371 average with runners in scoring position during the year. That stretch of games included ten multi-RBI affairs.

Lost in all this is his selection – he was an eighth round pick in 2003 but has never seen regular playing time. He entered the year with 31 RBI's in his career. The downside of this is his age, 24 – not ideal for Midwest League play.

Lauderdale definitely made a statement to ensure the Padres don't forget about the abundance of depth. He has long been overlooked and that may be harder now.

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