Yefri Carvajal excited about his future

When the words Yefri Carvajal leave your mouth around someone in the Padres' system, the simple name invokes a spark in the eyes and a wide smile begins to spread. He has, simply put, the highest ceiling of any player in the system.

The 2006 season, however, began with promise only to be halted by a hand injury – a fracture of the hook of the hamate causing tremendous pain. He would have surgery on his hand to have it removed and by the Instructional League he was finally feeling healthy.

"I feel a lot better," Carvajal said through an interpreter. "My hand feels a lot better – 100 percent."

In spring training, coaches and scouts were finally getting a glimpse of what he brings to the table. The only exposure he has stateside prior to spring was the 33 at bats he amassed in the 2005 Padres Instructional League as a 16-year old.

Now 17 – an age he played the entire year at – Carvajal was spraying line drives to all parts of the field and causing people to strain their necks to find the source of the sound when a ball cracked against his bat.

It was setting up to be the year he proved just how good he can be. But the injury occurred in extended spring training and caused him to miss the first month of the Arizona Rookie League Padres year.

And it led to bouts of inconsistency when he finally suited up in the middle of July.

"I started off slow because of my hand," Carvajal admitted. "I didn't want to go to aggressively because of the hand and hurt myself again. Little by little I got back to where I wanted to be."

He notched 75 at bats in Arizona and where he wanted to be came during a two game stretch in early August. Carvajal hit his first homer of the year on August 3 and followed it up with another bomb in his following game, collecting five hits over that stretch.

After opening the season with five hits in his first 28 at bats, a .197 average, Carvajal went 14-for-49, a .286 mark, to end the year.

The success over the latter part of the year sat well with the young Dominican prospect. "It went real good, thank God. I am real happy."

His season was extended when the Padres asked him to attend their fall Instructional League where Carvajal worked on his swing.

"I am working mainly on my hitting," he said of his time in the Instructional League. "Before, I used to open up too early. Now I am working on staying a little more closed."

He officially logged 54 at bats but spent countless hours working on his swing in the cages, taking advice from roving hitting instructor Rob Deer. And the ball still sounds different off his bat today as he squares it up.

As a young kid stateside with a lot of promise it would be easy to see how the pressure to perform could get to him, especially with so many people in the organization believing he can be an impact player down the road.

Carvajal, with his locks of hair flowing like Medusa, shares his infectious smile saying, "I don't feel any pressure. It is a compliment obviously that they Padres are talking good about me and I don't feel much pressure."

As for the rest of the off-season, Carvajal is looking forward to having his health – and next year.

"I am hoping to have a good season next year without any injuries and God willing I will do good."

Next year, Carvajal finally turns 18. It could be the year, as many are predicting, that he breaks out and puts all the facets of his talent together on the field.

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