Top 30 San Diego Padres' Prospects

Here are the Top 30 Padres' prospects. MadFriars.com gives a little insight on each selection in our rankings but will follow up more in depth with individual scouting reports on each player throughout this off-season, starting in descending order.

When ranking prospects, much is considered. How do they profile in the future, what have they done so far, and can you give them a higher ranking for raking through the lower levels of the minors?

Each has its weight but the toughest part is determining whether a prospect that shows great intangibles at the lower levels can transfer that ability as he continues to rise up the ladder.

Without further ado, the top 30 Padres' prospects:

1. Ben Johnson: OF

Perhaps he was rushed in the past but Johnson is taking his time in dissecting the opposition with his bat. He has the ability to hit one out of the park on one pitch and hit behind the runner the next time he is up. Johnson, over the last year and a half, has developed into the talent that many had hoped – even as he was being rushed up the ladder. This year, Johnson displayed enough to warrant him for strong consideration in the Padres outfield as a regular in 2006 – and they need to find a way to play him on a regular basis.

2. Josh Barfield: 2B

It was a very good year for Josh Barfield – and he came close to defending his status as the number one prospect. His defense is now above average and his bat continues to come through in the clutch. A slow start was fixed when he added a trigger to his swing but most are accustomed to seeing a few more extra base hits.

3. Cesar Carrillo: SP

No pitcher in the system has more dynamite in his arm than Carrillo. Picking him up midway through the first round in 2005 was a steal. Even though he logged a lot of innings, Carrillo showed he could still get outs. He is a power pitcher in the Jake Peavy mold and is working hard on a changeup that will bring his pitching to another level altogether.

4. George Kottaras: C

Catchers aren't supposed to hit for average or have a good eye. They are defensive specialists and hitting is the bonus. Kottaras has turned that thinking on its head and his defense is the lone area that needs improvement. His fluid swing and knowledge of the strike zone enables him to put the ball in the gaps consistently. His confidence with the pitching staff has also taken a leap, leaving his ability to throw runners out the only bound to his game.

5. Paul McAnulty: 1B/OF

There are few holes in his swing – he hits for average and power and maintains a semblance of patience, though his high strikeouts remain a concern. As the best left-handed hitting prospect in the system, McAnulty has shown he will do whatever it takes to make it to the next level. His dedication to the game is unsurpassed, his bat will get him to the bigs – but it may be his defensive credibility that keeps him in the Majors.

6. Chase Headley: 3B

San Diego has been searching for a third base prospect to be proud of – the system's weakest position. And Headley, a switch-hitter drafted this year, may be the long-term answer. He is the prototype at third, as he will hit for average with some power and is an advanced fielder. It is not out of the realm of possibility to see him moved up the chain quickly as he possesses few holes in his game.

7. Tim Stauffer: SP

No one expected Stauffer to be a staff ace but they did envision a bit of Brian Lawrence – a consistent performer who would battle through the tough innings and come out with minimal damage. Unfortunately, Stauffer took a hit this year and the hits kept coming. When he was sent down, he seemed to take it personally and let it continue to affect his play. He will rebound and should be an innings-eater with the Padres.

8. Jared Wells: SP

Talent-wise, Wells has it. Using that talent to its full capacity wasn't accomplished until this year, resulting in his addition to the 40-man roster. He is a power pitcher who prefers to get hitters out quickly and efficiently. Once he commands the changeup, Wells will be near unstoppable. They say that you have to outwork the guy next to you and Wells relied a little too much on his talent in the past. Now that he realizes the work is necessary, he is putting in his time and the results are evident.

9. Sean Thompson: SP

The top lefty in the system has two issues to tackle before becoming the pitcher many believe he can be. He needs to cut down his walk totals and begin the game with a sense of urgency. Walks have been a staple of his career but runs allowed in the first two innings of a game also need to be addressed. At 23, Thompson has never been afraid to attack hitters, but his feistiness has also gotten him in trouble.

10. Clay Hensley: SP/RP

Success wasn't prevalent in year's past for Hensley but he changed that in one full swoop by dominating the Pacific Coast League in 2005 and earning a Big League call up. Over his last three stops, prior to 2005, he had a batting average against of .289 – and he dropped that total by nearly 100 points with Portland. With a fastball that can touch 95, Hensley has been able to paint the corners consistently and looks to be a mainstay with the Padres. He may get a shot at a starting role down the line.

11. Nick Hundley: C

He possesses a rare combination of power and patience that profiles well for the future. The expectation is Hundley will hit, despite not showing a high average this past year. His defense took a hit transitioning to the pro game but no one is quite sure as to why. With the depth at catcher, Hundley may evolve into the best of the bunch. He could be that good, which says a lot with Kottaras ahead of him on the current prospect list.

12. Kyle Blanks: 1B

Putting a 280-pound frame together with a 6-foot-7 body has the makings of a tight end. The athleticism he shows with such a burden is extraordinary. Blanks was fed a steady diet of off-speed pitches in the second half after tearing up the AZL and it took him some time to adjust. But he did adjust. His power is unquestioned and he has an exciting future ahead – if he can keep his weight below that of an offensive lineman.

13. Dale Thayer: Cl

Rare as it was, the pitching staff in Mobile sighed in relief when it took a lead into the ninth. Thayer shut down the opposition with a powerful slider and an improving curve that offset his already solid fastball. It would be nice to see a few more 1-2-3 ninth inning saves but he nails the door even tighter with men on base.

14. Chris Oxspring: SP/RP

Age is a detriment but there is little else to be accomplished in the minors for Oxspring. With a career that began late, the Australian has struggled to be consistent at times. His mental approach has been one of the few things to haunt him in the past but he has done a fine job of limiting the big inning and not letting one walk have a spiraling effect on the rest of his game.

15. Leo Rosales: CL

Named "Lights out" for a reason, Rosales was dominant after the All-Star break. His slider is one of the best in the system but the closer has had slow starts in each of his past two seasons. If he can come into spring in mid-season form, Rosales could emerge as the best relief pitcher in the system.

16. Michael Johnson: 1B

Everyone knew the talent was there. It was just hiding behind countless injuries. Injured again this year, he did not let it deter him from his ultimate goals. He crushed the ball with regularity, making up for his lack of clutch hitting. His work at first base also bears mentioning as he has worked tirelessly to become a solid defender to match his strides at the plate. This was, however, his third year in the California League.

17. Kennard Jones: CF

Blessed with all the tools necessary to play centerfield and bat leadoff, Jones is the only one who can hold himself back. Keeping it simple and not trying to pound the ball over the fence is vital to his ultimate success. A junkie as far as going to the park early, Jones will, at times, think too much. He did keep it simple effectively with Mobile and came through in the clutch, despite hitting leadoff.

18. Neil Jamison: RP

One of the most successful relievers coming out of college last year, Jamison continued to prove he could get batters out consistently. He throws strikes, has the demeanor to close or setup and is on the fast track to the majors. He understands the art of pitching and is not afraid to come right after a hitter. Is there really anything more to say?

19. Colt Morton: C

He is back – or perhaps he is arriving. After being selected high, Morton disappointed. But he has made a concerted effort to shorten his swing and finally realized the power remains. His pitch selection will play prominently into his prospect status.

20. Sean Kazmar: 2B

Vastly underrated, Sean Kazmar has quietly put together two fine seasons in the minors. Sure defensively, Kazmar possesses enough pop to make a difference and is on a weight gaining program to add even more. His stats may not ‘wow' but he consistently performs in the clutch.

21. Matt Bush: SS

Numbers are scary. They tell a lot about a player but not the whole story. But for all the accolades that personnel in the Padres' system give Bush, his numbers are hard to deny. They simply weren't that good across the board. For every error he made, however, Bush did come through with a great defensive play. He could be Ben Johnson – pushed too fast to excel before finding his confidence late – or he could be pushed, right over the edge.

22. Fabian Jimenez: SP

The young Columbian has, arguably, the most talented left-handed arm in the system. He can reach the mid-nineties with ease, but when his mediocre curveball abandoned him, he became a one-pitch guy with disastrous results. After he was sent back down to Eugene a few weeks before his 19th birthday in August, he regrouped and finished strong. He'll need to develop an off-speed pitch to have any success, but could move quickly if he figures it out.

23. Cesar Ramos: SP

Tired at the end of the year, Ramos is a strike throwing lefty that will be as good as his defense. He knows how to pitch and can throw four pitches for strikes, three above-average. A lefty with a lively fastball and a cutter that he likes to use on righties, Ramos profiles as a future long hauler that can eat up a ton of innings – pitching to contact.

24. Jon Knott: OF

A down year, despite having a lineup that should have offered him more protection than he has seen in the past. Passed over for Major League work, that, more than anything, seemed to take its toll on him and caused him to press. He has the unquestioned power but took a step back this season. The Padres moved him off the 40-man roster and he went unclaimed.

25. Yordany Ramirez: CF

Ask almost anyone who watched him play and you'll hear the same refrain over and over. He has all the tools you look for and could be great, but he has struggled to convert that ability into performance. He has speed, developing power and is the best defensive outfielder in the system – now he has must add patience and simplicity to his game. Ramirez pressed during the first few months of the season and it wasn't until he was reminded that his natural ability would take over that he settled down.

26. Geoff Vandel: SP/RP

No pitcher ever had quite the debut. Only 18, Vandel turned the Rookie League into his personal playground with a sinking fastball and above-average off-speed pitches. A left-hander, Vandel won't turn 19 until June of 2006 and consistently turned away competition that was older then him. His work in Eugene, turning away two of the top teams in the league, did not go unnoticed.

27. Chris Kolkhorst: OF

What does he do? Get on base. A gritty throwback player, Kolkhorst sprinkles in pitch selection and average but lacks the top-notch speed associated with a player that won't hit for a ton of power. One of the few players to walk more than he struck out in the system, Kolkhorst doesn't have left-field power and some question his range in centerfield. A .400 on base percentage is, however, tough to ignore.

28. Josh Alley: OF

No one in the organization posted better walk per plate appearance numbers. Alley created havoc by being selective at the dish and getting on base for the run producers to drive him in. Although he has more plate discipline than anyone else in the system, Alley will have to continue to reach base at eye-popping rates as he moves up the system to avoid getting lost among some similar players.

29. Corey Smith: 3B

He did not post the type of power numbers that many expected, especially when his strikeout totals led the Southern League. While he sometimes made the spectacular play in the field, he often botched the easy play. A good year could have pushed him into the third base mix in San Diego, but instead, he lost his spot on the 40-man roster midseason. He played well in the AFL – but that is considered hitter friendly and a month does not constitute a season.

30. Clayton Hamilton: SP

Rumored to be the played to be named later in the Padres' trade for Bobby Hill, Hamilton has a plus fastball and is one of the few power pitchers in the system, topping out at 94-95 with his fastball. A groin injury slowed him down late in the year and if he is headed out of town, Josh Geer moves up the spot to take over position 30.

Padres' Prospects: 31-60

Padres' Prospects: Beyond the top 60


MadFriars Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nWhen ranking prospects, much is considered. How do they profile in the future, what have they done so far, and can you give them a higher ranking for raking through the lower levels of the minors?

\r\n\r\nEach has its weight but the toughest part is determining whether a prospect that shows great intangibles at the lower levels can transfer that ability as he continues to rise up the ladder.

\r\n\r\nWithout further ado, the top 30 Padres' prospects:

\r\n\r\n\r\n1. Ben Johnson: OF

\r\n\r\nPerhaps he was rushed in the past but Johnson is taking his time in dissecting the opposition with his bat. He has the ability to hit one out of the park on one pitch and hit behind the runner the next time he is up. Johnson, over the last year and a half, has developed into the talent that many had hoped – even as he was being rushed up the ladder. This year, Johnson displayed enough to warrant him for strong consideration in the Padres outfield as a regular in 2006 – and they need to find a way to play him on a regular basis.

\r\n\r\n\r\n2. Josh Barfield: 2B

\r\n\r\nIt was a very good year for Josh Barfield – and he came close to defending his status as the number one prospect. His defense is now above average and his bat continues to come through in the clutch. A slow start was fixed when he added a trigger to his swing but most are accustomed to seeing a few more extra base hits.

\r\n\r\n\r\n3. Cesar Carrillo: SP

\r\n\r\nNo pitcher in the system has more dynamite in his arm than Carrillo. Picking him up midway through the first round in 2005 was a steal. Even though he logged a lot of innings, Carrillo showed he could still get outs. He is a power pitcher in the Jake Peavy mold and is working hard on a changeup that will bring his pitching to another level altogether.

\r\n\r\n\r\n4. George Kottaras: C

\r\n\r\nCatchers aren't supposed to hit for average or have a good eye. They are defensive specialists and hitting is the bonus. Kottaras has turned that thinking on its head and his defense is the lone area that needs improvement. His fluid swing and knowledge of the strike zone enables him to put the ball in the gaps consistently. His confidence with the pitching staff has also taken a leap, leaving his ability to throw runners out the only bound to his game.

\r\n\r\n\r\n5. Paul McAnulty: 1B/OF

\r\n\r\nThere are few holes in his swing – he hits for average and power and maintains a semblance of patience, though his high strikeouts remain a concern. As the best left-handed hitting prospect in the system, McAnulty has shown he will do whatever it takes to make it to the next level. His dedication to the game is unsurpassed, his bat will get him to the bigs – but it may be his defensive credibility that keeps him in the Majors.

\r\n\r\n\r\n6. Chase Headley: 3B

\r\n\r\nSan Diego has been searching for a third base prospect to be proud of – the system's weakest position. And Headley, a switch-hitter drafted this year, may be the long-term answer. He is the prototype at third, as he will hit for average with some power and is an advanced fielder. It is not out of the realm of possibility to see him moved up the chain quickly as he possesses few holes in his game.

\r\n\r\n\r\n7. Tim Stauffer: SP

\r\n\r\nNo one expected Stauffer to be a staff ace but they did envision a bit of Brian Lawrence – a consistent performer who would battle through the tough innings and come out with minimal damage. Unfortunately, Stauffer took a hit this year and the hits kept coming. When he was sent down, he seemed to take it personally and let it continue to affect his play. He will rebound and should be an innings-eater with the Padres.

\r\n\r\n\r\n8. Jared Wells: SP

\r\n\r\nTalent-wise, Wells has it. Using that talent to its full capacity wasn't accomplished until this year, resulting in his addition to the 40-man roster. He is a power pitcher who prefers to get hitters out quickly and efficiently. Once he commands the changeup, Wells will be near unstoppable. They say that you have to outwork the guy next to you and Wells relied a little too much on his talent in the past. Now that he realizes the work is necessary, he is putting in his time and the results are evident.

\r\n\r\n9. Sean Thompson: SP

\r\n\r\nThe top lefty in the system has two issues to tackle before becoming the pitcher many believe he can be. He needs to cut down his walk totals and begin the game with a sense of urgency. Walks have been a staple of his career but runs allowed in the first two innings of a game also need to be addressed. At 23, Thompson has never been afraid to attack hitters, but his feistiness has also gotten him in trouble.

\r\n\r\n\r\n10. Clay Hensley: SP/RP

\r\n\r\nSuccess wasn't prevalent in year's past for Hensley but he changed that in one full swoop by dominating the Pacific Coast League in 2005 and earning a Big League call up. Over his last three stops, prior to 2005, he had a batting average against of .289 – and he dropped that total by nearly 100 points with Portland. With a fastball that can touch 95, Hensley has been able to paint the corners consistently and looks to be a mainstay with the Padres. He may get a shot at a starting role down the line.

\r\n\r\n\r\n11. Nick Hundley: C

\r\n\r\nHe possesses a rare combination of power and patience that profiles well for the future. The expectation is Hundley will hit, despite not showing a high average this past year. His defense took a hit transitioning to the pro game but no one is quite sure as to why. With the depth at catcher, Hundley may evolve into the best of the bunch. He could be that good, which says a lot with Kottaras ahead of him on the current prospect list.

\r\n\r\n12. Kyle Blanks: 1B

\r\n\r\nPutting a 280-pound frame together with a 6-foot-7 body has the makings of a tight end. The athleticism he shows with such a burden is extraordinary. Blanks was fed a steady diet of off-speed pitches in the second half after tearing up the AZL and it took him some time to adjust. But he did adjust. His power is unquestioned and he has an exciting future ahead – if he can keep his weight below that of an offensive lineman.\r\n

\r\n\r\n13. Dale Thayer: Cl

\r\n\r\nRare as it was, the pitching staff in Mobile sighed in relief when it took a lead into the ninth. Thayer shut down the opposition with a powerful slider and an improving curve that offset his already solid fastball. It would be nice to see a few more 1-2-3 ninth inning saves but he nails the door even tighter with men on base.

\r\n\r\n\r\n14. Chris Oxspring: SP/RP

\r\n\r\nAge is a detriment but there is little else to be accomplished in the minors for Oxspring. With a career that began late, the Australian has struggled to be consistent at times. His mental approach has been one of the few things to haunt him in the past but he has done a fine job of limiting the big inning and not letting one walk have a spiraling effect on the rest of his game.

\r\n\r\n\r\n15. Leo Rosales: CL

\r\n\r\nNamed \"Lights out\" for a reason, Rosales was dominant after the All-Star break. His slider is one of the best in the system but the closer has had slow starts in each of his past two seasons. If he can come into spring in mid-season form, Rosales could emerge as the best relief pitcher in the system.

\r\n\r\n\r\n16. Michael Johnson: 1B

\r\n\r\nEveryone knew the talent was there. It was just hiding behind countless injuries. Injured again this year, he did not let it deter him from his ultimate goals. He crushed the ball with regularity, making up for his lack of clutch hitting. His work at first base also bears mentioning as he has worked tirelessly to become a solid defender to match his strides at the plate. This was, however, his third year in the California League.

\r\n\r\n\r\n17. Kennard Jones: CF

\r\n\r\nBlessed with all the tools necessary to play centerfield and bat leadoff, Jones is the only one who can hold himself back. Keeping it simple and not trying to pound the ball over the fence is vital to his ultimate success. A junkie as far as going to the park early, Jones will, at times, think too much. He did keep it simple effectively with Mobile and came through in the clutch, despite hitting leadoff.

\r\n\r\n\r\n18. Neil Jamison: RP

\r\n\r\nOne of the most successful relievers coming out of college last year, Jamison continued to prove he could get batters out consistently. He throws strikes, has the demeanor to close or setup and is on the fast track to the majors. He understands the art of pitching and is not afraid to come right after a hitter. Is there really anything more to say?

\r\n\r\n\r\n19. Colt Morton: C

\r\n\r\nHe is back – or perhaps he is arriving. After being selected high, Morton disappointed. But he has made a concerted effort to shorten his swing and finally realized the power remains. His pitch selection will play prominently into his prospect status.

\r\n\r\n\r\n20. Sean Kazmar: 2B

\r\n\r\nVastly underrated, Sean Kazmar has quietly put together two fine seasons in the minors. Sure defensively, Kazmar possesses enough pop to make a difference and is on a weight gaining program to add even more. His stats may not ‘wow' but he consistently performs in the clutch.

\r\n\r\n\r\n21. Matt Bush: SS

\r\n\r\nNumbers are scary. They tell a lot about a player but not the whole story. But for all the accolades that personnel in the Padres' system give Bush, his numbers are hard to deny. They simply weren't that good across the board. For every error he made, however, Bush did come through with a great defensive play. He could be Ben Johnson – pushed too fast to excel before finding his confidence late – or he could be pushed, right over the edge.

\r\n\r\n\r\n22. Fabian Jimenez: SP

\r\n\r\nThe young Columbian has, arguably, the most talented left-handed arm in the system. He can reach the mid-nineties with ease, but when his mediocre curveball abandoned him, he became a one-pitch guy with disastrous results. After he was sent back down to Eugene a few weeks before his 19th birthday in August, he regrouped and finished strong. He'll need to develop an off-speed pitch to have any success, but could move quickly if he figures it out.

\r\n\r\n\r\n23. Cesar Ramos: SP

\r\n\r\nTired at the end of the year, Ramos is a strike throwing lefty that will be as good as his defense. He knows how to pitch and can throw four pitches for strikes, three above-average. A lefty with a lively fastball and a cutter that he likes to use on righties, Ramos profiles as a future long hauler that can eat up a ton of innings – pitching to contact.

\r\n\r\n\r\n24. Jon Knott: OF

\r\n\r\nA down year, despite having a lineup that should have offered him more protection than he has seen in the past. Passed over for Major League work, that, more than anything, seemed to take its toll on him and caused him to press. He has the unquestioned power but took a step back this season. The Padres moved him off the 40-man roster and he went unclaimed.

\r\n\r\n\r\n25. Yordany Ramirez: CF

\r\n\r\nAsk almost anyone who watched him play and you'll hear the same refrain over and over. He has all the tools you look for and could be great, but he has struggled to convert that ability into performance. He has speed, developing power and is the best defensive outfielder in the system – now he has must add patience and simplicity to his game. Ramirez pressed during the first few months of the season and it wasn't until he was reminded that his natural ability would take over that he settled down.

\r\n\r\n\r\n26. Geoff Vandel: SP/RP

\r\n\r\nNo pitcher ever had quite the debut. Only 18, Vandel turned the Rookie League into his personal playground with a sinking fastball and above-average off-speed pitches. A left-hander, Vandel won't turn 19 until June of 2006 and consistently turned away competition that was older then him. His work in Eugene, turning away two of the top teams in the league, did not go unnoticed.

\r\n\r\n\r\n27. Chris Kolkhorst: OF

\r\n\r\nWhat does he do? Get on base. A gritty throwback player, Kolkhorst sprinkles in pitch selection and average but lacks the top-notch speed associated with a player that won't hit for a ton of power. One of the few players to walk more than he struck out in the system, Kolkhorst doesn't have left-field power and some question his range in centerfield. A .400 on base percentage is, however, tough to ignore.

\r\n\r\n\r\n28. Josh Alley: OF

\r\n\r\nNo one in the organization posted better walk per plate appearance numbers. Alley created havoc by being selective at the dish and getting on base for the run producers to drive him in. Although he has more plate discipline than anyone else in the system, Alley will have to continue to reach base at eye-popping rates as he moves up the system to avoid getting lost among some similar players.

\r\n\r\n\r\n29. Corey Smith: 3B

\r\n\r\n\r\nHe did not post the type of power numbers that many expected, especially when his strikeout totals led the Southern League. While he sometimes made the spectacular play in the field, he often botched the easy play. A good year could have pushed him into the third base mix in San Diego, but instead, he lost his spot on the 40-man roster midseason. He played well in the AFL – but that is considered hitter friendly and a month does not constitute a season.

\r\n\r\n\r\n30. Clayton Hamilton: SP

\r\n\r\nRumored to be the played to be named later in the Padres' trade for Bobby Hill, Hamilton has a plus fastball and is one of the few power pitchers in the system, topping out at 94-95 with his fastball. A groin injury slowed him down late in the year and if he is headed out of town, Josh Geer moves up the spot to take over position 30.

\r\n\r\nPadres' Prospects: 31-60

\r\n\r\nPadres' Prospects: Beyond the top 60

\r\n","mobileBody":" \r\n\r\nWhen ranking prospects, much is considered. How do they profile in the future, what have they done so far, and can you give them a higher ranking for raking through the lower levels of the minors?

\r\n\r\nEach has its weight but the toughest part is determining whether a prospect that shows great intangibles at the lower levels can transfer that ability as he continues to rise up the ladder.

\r\n\r\nWithout further ado, the top 30 Padres' prospects:

\r\n\r\n\r\n1. Ben Johnson: OF

\r\n\r\nPerhaps he was rushed in the past but Johnson is taking his time in dissecting the opposition with his bat. He has the ability to hit one out of the park on one pitch and hit behind the runner the next time he is up. Johnson, over the last year and a half, has developed into the talent that many had hoped – even as he was being rushed up the ladder. This year, Johnson displayed enough to warrant him for strong consideration in the Padres outfield as a regular in 2006 – and they need to find a way to play him on a regular basis.

\r\n\r\n\r\n2. Josh Barfield: 2B

\r\n\r\nIt was a very good year for Josh Barfield – and he came close to defending his status as the number one prospect. His defense is now above average and his bat continues to come through in the clutch. A slow start was fixed when he added a trigger to his swing but most are accustomed to seeing a few more extra base hits.

\r\n\r\n\r\n3. Cesar Carrillo: SP

\r\n\r\nNo pitcher in the system has more dynamite in his arm than Carrillo. Picking him up midway through the first round in 2005 was a steal. Even though he logged a lot of innings, Carrillo showed he could still get outs. He is a power pitcher in the Jake Peavy mold and is working hard on a changeup that will bring his pitching to another level altogether.

\r\n\r\n\r\n4. George Kottaras: C

\r\n\r\nCatchers aren't supposed to hit for average or have a good eye. They are defensive specialists and hitting is the bonus. Kottaras has turned that thinking on its head and his defense is the lone area that needs improvement. His fluid swing and knowledge of the strike zone enables him to put the ball in the gaps consistently. His confidence with the pitching staff has also taken a leap, leaving his ability to throw runners out the only bound to his game.

\r\n\r\n\r\n5. Paul McAnulty: 1B/OF

\r\n\r\nThere are few holes in his swing – he hits for average and power and maintains a semblance of patience, though his high strikeouts remain a concern. As the best left-handed hitting prospect in the system, McAnulty has shown he will do whatever it takes to make it to the next level. His dedication to the game is unsurpassed, his bat will get him to the bigs – but it may be his defensive credibility that keeps him in the Majors.

\r\n\r\n\r\n6. Chase Headley: 3B

\r\n\r\nSan Diego has been searching for a third base prospect to be proud of – the system's weakest position. And Headley, a switch-hitter drafted this year, may be the long-term answer. He is the prototype at third, as he will hit for average with some power and is an advanced fielder. It is not out of the realm of possibility to see him moved up the chain quickly as he possesses few holes in his game.

\r\n\r\n\r\n7. Tim Stauffer: SP

\r\n\r\nNo one expected Stauffer to be a staff ace but they did envision a bit of Brian Lawrence – a consistent performer who would battle through the tough innings and come out with minimal damage. Unfortunately, Stauffer took a hit this year and the hits kept coming. When he was sent down, he seemed to take it personally and let it continue to affect his play. He will rebound and should be an innings-eater with the Padres.

\r\n\r\n\r\n8. Jared Wells: SP

\r\n\r\nTalent-wise, Wells has it. Using that talent to its full capacity wasn't accomplished until this year, resulting in his addition to the 40-man roster. He is a power pitcher who prefers to get hitters out quickly and efficiently. Once he commands the changeup, Wells will be near unstoppable. They say that you have to outwork the guy next to you and Wells relied a little too much on his talent in the past. Now that he realizes the work is necessary, he is putting in his time and the results are evident.

\r\n\r\n9. Sean Thompson: SP

\r\n\r\nThe top lefty in the system has two issues to tackle before becoming the pitcher many believe he can be. He needs to cut down his walk totals and begin the game with a sense of urgency. Walks have been a staple of his career but runs allowed in the first two innings of a game also need to be addressed. At 23, Thompson has never been afraid to attack hitters, but his feistiness has also gotten him in trouble.

\r\n\r\n\r\n10. Clay Hensley: SP/RP

\r\n\r\nSuccess wasn't prevalent in year's past for Hensley but he changed that in one full swoop by dominating the Pacific Coast League in 2005 and earning a Big League call up. Over his last three stops, prior to 2005, he had a batting average against of .289 – and he dropped that total by nearly 100 points with Portland. With a fastball that can touch 95, Hensley has been able to paint the corners consistently and looks to be a mainstay with the Padres. He may get a shot at a starting role down the line.

\r\n\r\n\r\n11. Nick Hundley: C

\r\n\r\nHe possesses a rare combination of power and patience that profiles well for the future. The expectation is Hundley will hit, despite not showing a high average this past year. His defense took a hit transitioning to the pro game but no one is quite sure as to why. With the depth at catcher, Hundley may evolve into the best of the bunch. He could be that good, which says a lot with Kottaras ahead of him on the current prospect list.

\r\n\r\n12. Kyle Blanks: 1B

\r\n\r\nPutting a 280-pound frame together with a 6-foot-7 body has the makings of a tight end. The athleticism he shows with such a burden is extraordinary. Blanks was fed a steady diet of off-speed pitches in the second half after tearing up the AZL and it took him some time to adjust. But he did adjust. His power is unquestioned and he has an exciting future ahead – if he can keep his weight below that of an offensive lineman.\r\n

\r\n\r\n13. Dale Thayer: Cl

\r\n\r\nRare as it was, the pitching staff in Mobile sighed in relief when it took a lead into the ninth. Thayer shut down the opposition with a powerful slider and an improving curve that offset his already solid fastball. It would be nice to see a few more 1-2-3 ninth inning saves but he nails the door even tighter with men on base.

\r\n\r\n\r\n14. Chris Oxspring: SP/RP

\r\n\r\nAge is a detriment but there is little else to be accomplished in the minors for Oxspring. With a career that began late, the Australian has struggled to be consistent at times. His mental approach has been one of the few things to haunt him in the past but he has done a fine job of limiting the big inning and not letting one walk have a spiraling effect on the rest of his game.

\r\n\r\n\r\n15. Leo Rosales: CL

\r\n\r\nNamed \"Lights out\" for a reason, Rosales was dominant after the All-Star break. His slider is one of the best in the system but the closer has had slow starts in each of his past two seasons. If he can come into spring in mid-season form, Rosales could emerge as the best relief pitcher in the system.

\r\n\r\n\r\n16. Michael Johnson: 1B

\r\n\r\nEveryone knew the talent was there. It was just hiding behind countless injuries. Injured again this year, he did not let it deter him from his ultimate goals. He crushed the ball with regularity, making up for his lack of clutch hitting. His work at first base also bears mentioning as he has worked tirelessly to become a solid defender to match his strides at the plate. This was, however, his third year in the California League.

\r\n\r\n\r\n17. Kennard Jones: CF

\r\n\r\nBlessed with all the tools necessary to play centerfield and bat leadoff, Jones is the only one who can hold himself back. Keeping it simple and not trying to pound the ball over the fence is vital to his ultimate success. A junkie as far as going to the park early, Jones will, at times, think too much. He did keep it simple effectively with Mobile and came through in the clutch, despite hitting leadoff.

\r\n\r\n\r\n18. Neil Jamison: RP

\r\n\r\nOne of the most successful relievers coming out of college last year, Jamison continued to prove he could get batters out consistently. He throws strikes, has the demeanor to close or setup and is on the fast track to the majors. He understands the art of pitching and is not afraid to come right after a hitter. Is there really anything more to say?

\r\n\r\n\r\n19. Colt Morton: C

\r\n\r\nHe is back – or perhaps he is arriving. After being selected high, Morton disappointed. But he has made a concerted effort to shorten his swing and finally realized the power remains. His pitch selection will play prominently into his prospect status.

\r\n\r\n\r\n20. Sean Kazmar: 2B

\r\n\r\nVastly underrated, Sean Kazmar has quietly put together two fine seasons in the minors. Sure defensively, Kazmar possesses enough pop to make a difference and is on a weight gaining program to add even more. His stats may not ‘wow' but he consistently performs in the clutch.

\r\n\r\n\r\n21. Matt Bush: SS

\r\n\r\nNumbers are scary. They tell a lot about a player but not the whole story. But for all the accolades that personnel in the Padres' system give Bush, his numbers are hard to deny. They simply weren't that good across the board. For every error he made, however, Bush did come through with a great defensive play. He could be Ben Johnson – pushed too fast to excel before finding his confidence late – or he could be pushed, right over the edge.

\r\n\r\n\r\n22. Fabian Jimenez: SP

\r\n\r\nThe young Columbian has, arguably, the most talented left-handed arm in the system. He can reach the mid-nineties with ease, but when his mediocre curveball abandoned him, he became a one-pitch guy with disastrous results. After he was sent back down to Eugene a few weeks before his 19th birthday in August, he regrouped and finished strong. He'll need to develop an off-speed pitch to have any success, but could move quickly if he figures it out.

\r\n\r\n\r\n23. Cesar Ramos: SP

\r\n\r\nTired at the end of the year, Ramos is a strike throwing lefty that will be as good as his defense. He knows how to pitch and can throw four pitches for strikes, three above-average. A lefty with a lively fastball and a cutter that he likes to use on righties, Ramos profiles as a future long hauler that can eat up a ton of innings – pitching to contact.

\r\n\r\n\r\n24. Jon Knott: OF

\r\n\r\nA down year, despite having a lineup that should have offered him more protection than he has seen in the past. Passed over for Major League work, that, more than anything, seemed to take its toll on him and caused him to press. He has the unquestioned power but took a step back this season. The Padres moved him off the 40-man roster and he went unclaimed.

\r\n\r\n\r\n25. Yordany Ramirez: CF

\r\n\r\nAsk almost anyone who watched him play and you'll hear the same refrain over and over. He has all the tools you look for and could be great, but he has struggled to convert that ability into performance. He has speed, developing power and is the best defensive outfielder in the system – now he has must add patience and simplicity to his game. Ramirez pressed during the first few months of the season and it wasn't until he was reminded that his natural ability would take over that he settled down.

\r\n\r\n\r\n26. Geoff Vandel: SP/RP

\r\n\r\nNo pitcher ever had quite the debut. Only 18, Vandel turned the Rookie League into his personal playground with a sinking fastball and above-average off-speed pitches. A left-hander, Vandel won't turn 19 until June of 2006 and consistently turned away competition that was older then him. His work in Eugene, turning away two of the top teams in the league, did not go unnoticed.

\r\n\r\n\r\n27. Chris Kolkhorst: OF

\r\n\r\nWhat does he do? Get on base. A gritty throwback player, Kolkhorst sprinkles in pitch selection and average but lacks the top-notch speed associated with a player that won't hit for a ton of power. One of the few players to walk more than he struck out in the system, Kolkhorst doesn't have left-field power and some question his range in centerfield. A .400 on base percentage is, however, tough to ignore.

\r\n\r\n\r\n28. Josh Alley: OF

\r\n\r\nNo one in the organization posted better walk per plate appearance numbers. Alley created havoc by being selective at the dish and getting on base for the run producers to drive him in. Although he has more plate discipline than anyone else in the system, Alley will have to continue to reach base at eye-popping rates as he moves up the system to avoid getting lost among some similar players.

\r\n\r\n\r\n29. Corey Smith: 3B

\r\n\r\n\r\nHe did not post the type of power numbers that many expected, especially when his strikeout totals led the Southern League. While he sometimes made the spectacular play in the field, he often botched the easy play. A good year could have pushed him into the third base mix in San Diego, but instead, he lost his spot on the 40-man roster midseason. He played well in the AFL – but that is considered hitter friendly and a month does not constitute a season.

\r\n\r\n\r\n30. Clayton Hamilton: SP

\r\n\r\nRumored to be the played to be named later in the Padres' trade for Bobby Hill, Hamilton has a plus fastball and is one of the few power pitchers in the system, topping out at 94-95 with his fastball. A groin injury slowed him down late in the year and if he is headed out of town, Josh Geer moves up the spot to take over position 30.

\r\n\r\nPadres' Prospects: 31-60

\r\n\r\nPadres' Prospects: Beyond the top 60

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