Scouting Padres Prospect #48: William Venable

When you talk about a prospect, one of the most common terms that will appear is "tools". William Venable is one of those players. Blessed with athleticism and a basketball background, Venable is trying to be in baseball what Antonio Gates is in football – a superstar.

The Padres took a flier on William Venable in the seventh round of the 2005 draft, not because of the family ties – his father Max is the hitting coach with the Fort Wayne Wizards – but because of the raw talent Venable possesses.

In the first at bat that scouting director Bill Gayton was on hand to see Venable the Princeton product homered. That helped start wooing the Padres to his potential.

"As long as he is patient then we will patient," said Gayton. "I like his swing. He needs to play. He is a good athlete with a good body."

"He is raw," vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "A guy we thought a lot of and the son of Max, our hitting coach at Fort Wayne. At that slot, we thought we could take a risk. He has the ability to be a very high reward pick for us but it will take some time for him to mature."

The outfielder has just two years of baseball under his belt at Princeton but flashed his potential in the Arizona Rookie League, hitting .322 over 15 games with seven of his 19 hits going for extra base hits. He reached base safely in all but one game and notched six multi-hit games.

When he was promoted to Eugene, Venable tasted humility. He hit .136 over his first 16 games in the Northwest League but adapted well over his last 26 games, hitting .253.

"He started out well in Rookie League and when he went up to (Eugene) he struggled," minor league field coordinator Bill Bryk said. "In his defense, he has been playing more basketball than baseball. We will have to have patience with him."

It is that adaptive personality that the Padres invested in. Venable, a left-handed hitter, has speed that he is still learning how to use, power that is in the development process and a feel for the game.

One of the weaker parts of his game is his arm. He does not have what most consider a prototypical arm to play outfield and will have to work on strengthening that.

An Ivy Leaguer, Venable is no stranger to hard work and it will be the effort he gives daily that dictates his future. He has the "tools" to be above average in a number of categories and could blossom into a full-fledged prospect with the right attitude and coaching.

"He is a corner guy, a good-looking kid who it will boil down to the bat with him," added Bryk.

"He needs work," said former director of player development Tye Waller. "This is his first year playing baseball full-time. He can turn the corner at any time after he refines his game."

The Padres will stress patience with Venable. Although he is 23, Venable will be given a longer leash because of his basketball ties. He is similar to a high school pick in a lot of aspects – though Venable has already been through the maturation process.

Venable is a long way from being a major league player but his athleticism garners a smidgen of excitement today with the hope that it gets realized in the next year or two.


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