Scouting Padres Prospect #52: Seth Johnston

Winning programs breed winning players. A member of the College World Series winning Texas Longhorns and All Tournament Team member for the second straight year, Seth Johnston knows about getting the "W".

Texas has been coroneted twice in the last four years, making the College World Series each season, and Seth Johnston has been along for the ride each time. His All-Tournament honors came at two different positions, shortstop and second base, and it propelled him to a fifth round selection by the Padres in 2005.

"Seth was a guy that was the all-time hits leader at Texas," director of scouting Bill Gayton reminded. "Horrible start and ended up battling and hitting .250."

The transition to the wooden bats and a two-week layoff after the year made for a slow start as a Eugene Emerald. He began the year in a 5-for-53 slump before turning a corner and hitting .325 the rest of the way over a 33 game span to end the year with a .253 average.

Johnston also hit .311 with runners in scoring position, a trait that followed him up from his collegiate career.

He approaches men on base different than most people – making believe the bases are empty and it is his bat that needs to start the rally. It keeps him from succumbing to the pressure and focused on the task at hand.

His ability to hit is not in question and Johnston should add a measure of power to his game – a 15-20 home run guy. He does, however, need to cut down on his strikeout totals. He worked hard on pitch selection during his senior season but that fussiness left him in Northwest League play where he whiffed 41 times compared to 13 walks.

"I am anxious to see what kind of start he gets off to," Gayton said looking ahead to 2006.

His only two homers in 2005 came in the same game – a night where the right-handed batter knocked in eight of his 23 for the year.

"Seth Johnston had an unreal night – that was impressive," teammate Mike Sansoe said.

Johnston spent the majority of his playing time at shortstop but he figures to be moved to second base permanently down the road.

"I don't know how long he will be playing shortstop but he is there now," Grady Fuson, vice president of scouting and player development, admitted.

The feeling is mutual among other executives with the Padres:

"For me, he doesn't have the agility to play in the middle of the infield," Bill Bryk, the minor league field coordinator, said honestly. "I see him as more of a third base and corner guy. I don't see the athleticism to play second or short."

"Doesn't have the quickness to stay at shortstop," Gayton agreed."

But what they do concur about is his eventual versatility and what that offers as a utility player down the road.

"He might end up being a nice piece to a club – someone who plays short, second, third, first," Gayton said.

And if the hitting takes itself to a new level, several Padres scouts believe he is a guy that can play everyday.

One thing that won't be missing is determination. Johnston has an unbending will to succeed and will take the steps necessary to ensure he is doing all he can to meet his objectives.

In the end, Johnston may be limited by his bat but it may also be his greatest asset. J.J. Furmaniak turned into an impressive utility player and began to show the athleticism to play shortstop on a regular basis. Johnston could evolve into a similar player.

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