Padres Pulse: Rising stock

Every year there are questions to be answered. It might be power, average, or defense – and perhaps a combination of that and more. It might be command, an additional pitch, or mechanics – or just realizing pre-existing talent. These players have answered the call, as we take stock at the midway point of the season.

In alphabetical order these players have seen their stock rise through the first half of the year:

Matt Antonelli

He came into the year with questions about his power and first-step quickness and showed his learning curve is formidable, conquering both. He is quick to the plate and with a great understanding of a pitchers' move has quickened his first step to second. had him rated lower than most coming into the year and he proved us wrong.

Paul Abraham

He came off injury the year before and you just never know if a power hurler will get the fastball back. But, he has it and just as good as before. With his power slider, Abraham is a relief pitcher to watch.

Manny Ayala

He spots his fastball better than anyone and has a nasty changeup that makes outs look easy. He understands how to pitch to his strengths – now, if his slider improves...

Kyle Blanks

The big bopper is now a big bopper. He is hitting the ball hard to all parts of the field and is now playing his size. We thought it would come, and it has through the first half of the year.

Frank Brooks

He probably shouldn't have begun the year in Double-A and showed exactly that before being moved up. In Triple-A, Brooks has been just as good. If he can keep the walks down he could be a guy the Padres look to later in the year.

Matt Bush

By virtue of him moving to the mound, Bush is automatically elevated. His first outing showed promise and subsequent outings will surely prove this to be a wise decision.

Jack Cassel

Portland pitching coach Gary Lance said to watch this righty. He knew what he was talking about. While he gives up hits, he works ahead in the count and gets the ground ball when he needs outs.

Ray Chang

Some players get pigeonholed, whether right or wrong, as utility players. Chang has done well to begin shedding the label, showing he can hang in Triple-A just fine. He may receive more opportunities as a result.

Nathan Culp

A ground ball pitcher that has a little deception in his game, Culp trusts his defense and makes the opposition beat him. This year, he has gotten the better of most of the challengers.

Ernesto Frieri

Last year he was concerned about his velocity but has found it this year while working in the lower corners of the strike zone. He has confidence in his game and it shows.

Chase Headley

Another player that had questions surrounding his strength at the plate and many wondered whether he would ever be able to hit homers in PETCO. He silenced the critics with an awesome display – leading the Texas League in extra base hits before his promotion to San Diego.

Chad Huffman

He came into the system with a roar and has done nothing to slow his pace. He is a pure baseball player with athleticism and a willingness to succeed.

Wade LeBlanc

The left-hander has three pitches he can throw for strikes and does just that. He has an uncanny ability to paint the corners with each of his pitches and often misses the heart of the plate.

Jon Link

The development of his two-seam fastball has made him a pitcher that gets outs and works down in the zone. A year ago, Link was on the outs after a spat with the bosses. Broken bats are now common with the right-hander on the mound.

Vince Sinisi

His sweet swing had been touted all year by Grady Fuson, and it has been evident this year. He won't ever be a true power threat but has value as a guy who can perennially hit .300. Plus, he proved he is back to full health from injuries that claimed a year and almost a life.

Craig Stansberry

He plays to his strengths rather than trying to do too much by hitting the gaps with regularity. He has also played above average defensively while manning three positions.

Rolando Valdez

A former outfielder, Valdez is just now coming into his own on the bump. He has a good fastball and outstanding off-speed. His learning curve is still high, and he is already proving hard to hit.

Talk about the top risers on our subscriber-only message boards. Do you agree? Disagree? We want to hear.

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