With that said, there are several who fall into that category and several more who fall into the TBD distinction – players that need to be challenged or others that need to rest after a long high school/college season to see the real prospect behind the fatigue.
The year ahead will be very telling for the names on this list and MadFriars.com expects several to be household names in the not so distant future.
Future number one overall pick David Price contributed to Michael Campbell's drop in the MLB Draft, cracking him with a fastball that resulted in a broken right hand of the fourth metacarpal. A skilled athlete that has a solid arm and natural hitting ability, Campbell is eager to show the Padres what he can bring to the table. He will hit for average, has good power and adds a patient approach.
The Padres were impressed with what Carter was able to do last season, albeit in the Arizona Rookie League. A hard worker who has a consistent approach at the plate, Carter was among the team leaders in on base percentage. His outfield work was also solid, flashing a strong arm and good reads.
The oldest member of the list, Cassel has always had the stuff but lacked confidence and consistency. Towards the end of the season everything seemed to click and he was keeping the ball down in the zone and forcing a lot of ground ball outs. He will benefit from the Padres desire to keep him after he became a six-year free agent.
The Padres have been ecstatic with the development of their Dominican imports but they are convinced that few can match the talent of Castro. He has an above-average fastball already and is developing a slider and curve to maximize his potential. While he is a long-term prospect, Castro is a glimpse of what the Padres hope to develop in Latin America and bring to the states.
A three-pitch repertoire has been enhanced by the addition of a changeup. While he is still learning to use the change effectively and has a tendency to throw it too hard, Culp throws all of his pitches for strikes and understands the nuances of the game. His velocity was down late in the year but he should benefit from rest after a long college season and subsequent taste of professional ball.
|Stephen Faris, a Clemson alumni (MadFriars.com)|
Signed after short-season ball had already begun, Faris took the next few weeks to get back into pitching shape on the mound in Eugene. He had some mechanical problems as a result, rushing to the plate and coming up short on his extension, but rallied as the season wore on and regained his confidence – that came with a willingness to come to work early and put in the time. He also has four pitches to work with and will benefit from a relaxing off-season.
Never quite healthy in 2006, Frieri regressed after tearing up the Arizona Rookie League in 2005. His fastball dropped a few ticks and he was working behind in the count. Still, Frieri has the talent to be a solid middle reliever and the experience he received without his best stuff should aid him in the future.
A smart catcher who loves to play the game, Hernandez has all the tools to be a successful backstop. A leader on and off the field, he is very good with young pitchers, puts in the extra work necessary for his position and it shows on the field. He blocks the ball well, has good accuracy and calls a good game. A testament to his catching ability came when he was called up to Portland to catch the back side of a double-dip with the team confident he would not embarrass himself. He is a disciplined hitter that has doubles power but rarely saw action in more than one game in a row making it tough to gain the proper timing.
The left-hander has the smarts and guile to be a success, a rare All-Star this past season as a middle reliever. His ability to plant his two-seamer down and away to righties allows for a lot of ground ball outs. His progress from the year prior began in the off-season with a lot of mechanical work to keep his body balanced. Added velocity would help his cause moving forward.
If not for a bout of dehydration that sapped Hunt of his strength, Hunt may very well have been on the road to top prospect billing. He has solid strike zone judgment, good power, and has shown he can take the ball to all fields. Working against him is his position – first base – and the logjam surrounding that position. That will translate to less at bats and a definitive need to produce when he is in the lineup.
There is no doubting the electricity in Juan's arm. Many have said he has the fastest arm action of any left-hander they have ever seen. He can hit 99 MPH but has to learn to throw strikes consistently and be more assertive on the mound. He is a long way away but the dynamite in this southpaw could make him one to watch for a long time.
An aggressive hitter, King is in the midst of learning how to use the patience part that is the Padres desire. He chased too many pitches and was left in bad hitting counts. Given what he showed in college, the Padres believe some tinkering will bring back the real King in 2007.
His confidence was shattered this past season but he has some of the best stuff in the system. His inability to throw strikes consistently led to big innings and a move to the bullpen. Still young, he has all the tools to resurface among the elite. Rumor is he has gone into early retirement but we hold out hope that it is not true and he returns.
A young right-hander who had never thrown as many innings as he did last season, Mead's velocity dropped. But the Washington native has all the intangibles to move up the charts as he continues to learn how to pitch, hit his spots and move the ball around the zone.
Already showing a solid fastball, Medina has worked hard to overcome mechanical issues. He has spurts where he is too slow to the plate and then will rush his delivery and fly open on the next pitch. He also struggled with the big inning, worrying about his ERA rather than just pitching his game. When he is on, hitters have a tough time hitting him but when his mechanics are out of line his ball straightens and gets tagged.
A bulldog behind the plate, the thing holding Naylor back is his strength. Blessed with a tremendous eye, he simply had trouble muscling balls out of the infield consistently and was too often the victim of easy outs. It all comes back to his build and adding muscle mass. He is gifted behind the plate and could become a complete player with maturity.
The Columbian right-hander left a few too many pitches over the fat part of the plate in his first year stateside. He throws strikes and worked hard in the weight room and on the field to have a better showing in the second half. The Padres believe he has the makeup to succeed.
Coming into the year, Vandel was on the verge of big things. But he entered spring training out of shape and struggled to regain his command most of the year. As the season came to a close, however, Vandel showed why his arm is so good. He used his deceptive delivery and the late life on his pitches to baffle hitters. Now he must continue the ascent.
One of the prized acquisitions on International Signing Day last year, the Padres were admittedly surprised they snagged his services. The Venezuelan left-hander has a solid fastball and the feeling for a breaking ball and changeup. His comfort level with the organization should aid his development and add to his confidence. He is a guy to watch as he debuts stateside in the coming year.