A three-sport star in high school, Alley is now patrolling three different outfield spots in the Padres' minors.
Josh Alley split time between the Northwest League and Midwest League, tallying 55 walks to 35 strikeouts, far and away the best walk-to-strikeout ration in the minor league system. He hit .288 for the year between the leagues with an on base percentage of .431, including a .500 OBP in 14 games with Eugene.
"He has a good eye and is very disciplined," Tye Waller, the former director of player development, said.
Getting on base is clearly his game of choice. While he dominated his short stay with the Emeralds, Alley ran into trouble upon his ascension to Fort Wayne. Twelve games in, he was hitting .186 but he slowly began to put it all together and ended the campaign hitting .263.
A left-handed hitter, Alley doesn't have the ideal size you crave but maintains a throwback mentality. At 5-foot-9, 180-pounds, the hope is he will generate speed and work the base paths but that has come with mixed results, as seen by his eight stolen bases in 15 attempts this season. He did, however, steal 50 bases in 65 attempts during his collegiate career.
The former Volunteer continued his success in the Instructional Leagues, posting a .444 on base percentage. In 38 at bats he swung just once at the first pitch.
As a corner outfielder without power, the Padres are hoping he can slide into centerfield and play the position or he may fall into another dubious category that does not reward on base percentage.
"We would like to see him move on as a centerfielder," Grady Fuson, the Padres vice president of scouting and player development, admitted. "He is a guy we hope will work out from the leadoff position, has good command of the plate and showed he can get on base effectively."
The dirt on your uniform style plays into his game because other than on base percentage, his tools are average. His game is built around working harder than the guy next to him.
"On base percentage," Alley responded to a question on the most important statistic to him. "I have been a leadoff hitter my whole life. That taught me at a young age to get on base anyway you can. That is something I really focus on. Whether it is a walk or beating out an infield single to get on – just do whatever I can to get on base. If I think my batting average is down as long as I keep my on base percentage where it needs to be and letting the bigger guys drive me in I am fine."
It is the little things that will ultimately define his career path. A high on base percentage helps immensely and his ability to play small ball will push him further.
Bunting, moving runners over, stealing some bases effectively, and hustle will be how he is measured. Slick fielding up the middle of the diamond will help propel him up the prospect ladder even more. If he fails to show proficiency in center, his stock could slide despite some impressive on base numbers.