MadFriars.com Top 60 Padres Prospects of 2007

MadFriars.com annually ranks the top 60 San Diego Padres Prospects, and the best news is it gets harder and harder to do every season. That is a credit to the strengthening of the farm by the Padres' front office and development staff. Take advantage of our Buy One Month, Get One Month Free promotion - TODAY ONLY!

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No player that missed most, if not all, of 2007 or is projected to miss all of 2008 was eligible to be ranked, eliminating Cesar Carrillo, Matt Bush, Nick Schmidt, Jose Oyervidez, John Hudgins and Pascual Juan from consideration. Six-year free agents were also ineligible, eliminating Yordany Ramirez, Luis Cruz and Paul Abraham from consideration.

What is your philosophy on the value of a prospect as it relates to MadFriars.com Prospects rankings?

Long-term success at the major league level. It has been said that the easiest thing to do is get to the majors but the hardest thing to do is stay there.

It is easy to predict who will reach the major leagues. It is harder to predict who will not only reach their dream but also have long-term success. The word prospect is defined as "the possibility of future success."

Future success – not future mediocrity.

When determining the rankings below, there are a multitude of things to consider. Will they reach their potential? How much improvement has to happen? A position player may have all five-tools – but will he learn to use them at a major league level? How far have they come in the past year? How far can they go?

Those are just a few of the questions one needs to ask in determining a prospect's status. But – there is one trait that can't be measured – what the eye sees. It is an important quality and one that a scout lives by – his eyes. When talking about a prospect, there is a certain level of overzealousness. The eyes don't lie.

If you have a firm understanding of the mechanics of pitching and hitting, how a slider should break, and everything in between the foul poles, you can be more confident in your assessment. Scouts don't look at stats. While production is certainly worth noting, gems can be found by watching the player, their mechanics, the break of the pitch, the swing plane – the list goes on and on.

The top 60 San Diego Padres ranked below are a blend of more than just traits, tricks, assessments, theories, beliefs, and eyes. Not only do we see every player, we back it up by talking to players, coaches, and scouts. If we don't see a player, he is not ranked.

MadFriars.com Top 60 Prospects
1. Mat Latos - RHP

Off-speed pitches that will end up being plus offerings compliment an already electric fastball. In fact, he has given up a plus knuckle-changeup to learn a straight change. He is a bulldog on the hill, far different than his off the field persona. Latos listens and learns and will be even better next season when he gets some rest and starts bringing the fastball consistently in the mid-90s. He could be a future number one starter at the big league level.

2. Chase Headley – 3B

Headley silenced the critics with an amazing season, capped by Texas League Player of the Year and MadFriars.com Player of the Year honors. He hit for power and average while playing stellar defense. A switch-hitter, Headley made tremendous strides with consistency from both sides of the dish. His makeup is outstanding, and he is expected to put in the same work this off-season as he did last. He needs to duplicate his success to eliminate those believing this was a one-year trend.

3. Matt Antonelli – 2B

Antonelli's permanent change of position and significant improvement in the power category made him an easy choice in this position. Already blessed with patience at the dish, he upped his aggressiveness, didn't miss pitches he could drive yet still maintained a high on-base percentage. He is easily the best leadoff hitter in the system. Antonelli has the will to succeed and odds are he reaches his goals – soon. He needs significant improvement in his work around second base but has been there one year. His stamina will also be in question next August.

4. Cedric Hunter - OF

What Hunter did at the age of 19 in the Midwest League was impressive when you consider there was little protection around him. Hunter adjusted to the constant diet of breaking balls and still has work to do on that front. Ironically, it will make him even better down the road. He still has an excellent feel for the strike zone, and his power is still developing. Hunter still needs work in the outfield and with his arm. He also needs to become better on the basepaths and there was a feeling from scouts that he didn't hustle all the time.

5. Chad Huffman - OF

You can tell a lot about a kid by looking into his eyes. Huffman's are one of pure determination and grit. What separated Huffman from the rest is he hits good pitching. While others may pile it on versus the inferior competition, Huffman is getting his knocks against quality hurlers. He is a terrific athlete, hits for average and power while also playing quality defense. He is among the best clutch hitters the Padres have. There are very few holes in his game.

6. Yefri Carvajal - OF

Waiting for a breakout year, Carvajal delivered. He is a true five-tool talent that can hit, hit for power, field and throw, and run (his weakest trait). The young Dominican is still learning patience at the plate and must continue to stay away from breaking pitches away. One of his failings has been swinging at anything in a hitter's count rather than looking for his pitch in a specific location to drive. At bats will solve a lot of woes. He also needs experience in the outfield at night to lose his tentativeness and should add right field to the mix once he gets comfortable.

7. Kyle Blanks – 1B

Blanks loosened up his stance to free up his hands and lose the stiffness that held him back, resulting in more drive through the ball and power potential. The big man delivered big hits and maintained a solid average. This behemoth has even more power potential trapped inside. He has good plate awareness and will drive pitches in his sweet spot. Blanks was pitched vastly different than he was in the past, seeing plenty of breaking balls away and fastballs in. He still needs work on connecting and pulling the fastball on the inside corner. He worked hard at the Instructional League on his work around the bag at first and must continue to improve there.

8. Wade LeBlanc – LHP

LeBlanc is one of the best at setting a hitter up and putting them away. The southpaw has two plus-changeups that baffle hitters. He gets a little too fine with his attempts to control his fastball instead of simply trying to throw it for a strike. He has tremendous aptitude for the game and has a natural ability to see a hitter's tendencies. Once he learns to command the fastball consistently, specifically to the inside part of the plate, he will be in the big leagues.

9. Drew Cumberland – SS

Cumberland doesn't have many flaws in his swing. He has an easy, compact approach at the dish and hits the ball square on pitches middle-in. He has power potential and a lot of the tangibles you look for in a baseball player. He has a tendency to dive out over the plate and try and pull the ball on anything touching the outside corner. Cumberland will have to learn patience and allowing the ball to get deep to take it the other way. His shortstop defense will need to make significant strides in the coming year for him to remain here.

10. David Freese – 3B

Freese is a ‘baseball player' that is a terror with men on base. He drives the ball with authority to all parts of the field and can turn on the inside fastball. He will get pull happy at times and needs to maintain that consistent approach of hitting the ball where it is pitched. Freese is another player with terrific makeup that is driven to succeed. It is hard to believe pundits actually thought his defense was sub par – it has been stellar since he arrived into the system. Age is working against him.

11. Drew Miller – RHP

Miller battled through injuries this year but still turned in a quality year. He has a power fastball and spent a significant portion of the season working on his changeup and slider – flashing a feel for both. There were times he hit too much of the plate with his fastball and it was tattooed. Miller worked more with a four-seam and will need to begin trusting his two-seam, allowing its natural movement to dictate an at bat rather than trying to hit a corner. Ironically, it was his changeup that was being taken over the fence, a pitch he had trouble keeping down in the zone. He has higher expectations of himself and improved on lowering his walk totals.

12. Kellen Kulbacki – OF

Kulbacki got off to a slow start but really turned around his game as the season wore on. Transitioning to the wood bat proved more difficult than initially proposed, but Kulbacki started swinging the stick with authority down the stretch while staying back on each pitch. He has good plate awareness, and he should be able to drive a lot of pitches, as his pitch recognition continues to advance. His outfield work was lackluster for half the season, but he looked confident in Instructs and must carry that over to next season.

13. Mitch Canham – C

There are few people who have the raw power of Canham. He has tremendous strength in his hands, wrists, and arms, and once he follows through with his lower half and stops leaking forward he could be a terror with the stick. He is a natural leader and his makeup is off the charts. His catching skills need a lot of refinement, as he has trouble blocking the ball and his footwork needs improvement to throw out runners attempting to steal. He is still learning the game but has a good feel on how to attack a hitter by using his pitcher's strengths and using the weaknesses he sees.

14. Cory Luebke – LHP

It was clear Luebke knew how to pitch but what surprised was the pop on his fastball. The left-hander dialed it up to 93 MPH, despite a boatload of innings heaped upon him in college. He throws strikes, works the lower part of the zone and is understands the game. It would not be a surprise to see him pushed next year. Luebke does have to sharpen up his slider and improve the changeup, but he is a kid that will put in the extra work. He has never really had a coaching staff willing to teach him so he is eager to learn.

15. Nick Hundley – C

It was a positive year for Hundley. While he struggled with the bat early on after essentially skipping a level, he rebounded nicely. His primary focus last off-season surrounded his defensive play and he improved ten-fold this season. Getting out of his stance and in position to throw quicker than ever before helped him patrol the basepaths. He also improved his ability to call a game, pitch sequences and framing. Hundley still will struggle blocking some balls and has to improve his consistency with the bat – he will dive out over the plate rather than going with the pitch.

16. Rayner Contreras – INF

Armed with more lightning in his bat than people realize, Contreras was beginning to realize his potential before getting hurt. Skipping a level and with little support around him, he still managed to hit well and learn the nuances of the game. Contreras is still growing into a solid frame and he calmed down his high leg kick to get more balance at the dish. He is on the verge of being a special talent and will have to continue learning the strike zone. His defense must also be shored up. Contreras will rush his throws before setting his feet and has lapses of concentration fielding the ball.

17. Aaron Breit – RHP

Breit had his struggles this season with confidence and loss of command. When he was in the strike zone he was catching too much of the dish with his fastball. On the positive side, he never got down on himself and was always willing to take the ball. He eventually battled through the lows and was pitching well in the final month – a long time coming. Much was the product of a mechanical change he stuck with rather than going back to his old ways in an effort to help him down the road. The worst appears behind him.

18. Will Venable – OF

Venable skipped a level and still wound up getting plenty of hits. The unfortunate part is hits are not enough with age working against him. He has to drive the ball on a consistent basis and turn singles into doubles and two-baggers into homers. A year like Antonelli or Headley could shoot him back up the charts. Venable is athletic and has a tremendous work ethic. His arm isn't great but he makes up for it with solid baseball instincts in the outfield. Still, you wonder if he can really play center of right field at the big league level.

19. Euclides Viloria – LHP

Consider what Viloria did – at his age – incredible. His biggest fault was stamina. He would come out with guns blazing only to falter by the fourth inning, leaving pitches up in the zone and losing command of his arsenal. He has a plus-changeup and good deception on his fastball, making it jump onto hitters. Viloria is also a confident pitcher. If he learns to keep his mechanics in line and stay closed, he could be even better. As he tires, he flies open and his pitches are elevated as a result.

20. Matt Buschmann – RHP

Buschmann showed how good he could be when he keeps his three-quarters delivery in line. He has a tendency to drop down and will throw across his body, setting off his release point. He has excellent movement on his two-seam fastball and gets a lot of ground balls. He is also not afraid to pitch in the big game. Buschmann also has a very good slider that flattens out when his elbow drops. Buschmann is a hard worker that wants to be outstanding at his craft. He is on the right path.

21. Pablo Menchaca – RHP

There was no one in the organization throwing the ball as well as Menchaca – we just didn't see it in games. He was dominating in extended spring training with an easy delivery and heavy fastball. He has command of three pitches and is continuing to get stronger. The problem is he lost much of the year to injury and has to keep the demeanor on the mound heading into next year. He could make a big jump up this list and has frontline starter stuff.

22. Wilton Lopez – RHP

Lopez is likely the most asked about prospect in the entire San Diego system – by outsiders. Teams around the league were waiting to see if he was Rule 5 eligible – eager to snare him up. The Padres, however, will not have to fear losing him, and he may make his mark by then as they plan to push him. Lopez has an electric fastball that sits in the mid-90s with good sink. He also has a changeup that is coming along and a slider that needs work. Lopez pounds the strike zone and is not afraid to go after hitters. The development of his secondary pitches will be vital.

23. Manny Ayala – RHP

Ayala knows his stuff as good as anyone else. He has very good fastball command and his changeup is a plus-plus pitch. He can make up for mistakes by throwing the changeup in any count, any situation. He attacks hitters and throws inside, setting up the rest of his arsenal. He approaches practice and sideline sessions as if he was in a game and that carries over. He had a shoulder injury late in the year, and he will have to prove he can continue to throw strikes at the higher levels while getting results.

24. Jeremy McBryde – RHP

A tough first year professionally does not diminish his immense talent. He has a power sinking fastball that hit 94 MPH this season and profiles to gain a tick or two with some rest. He also has two sliders but needs to improve their consistency, as well as developing a changeup he can count on. His major problem came from pitch sequence. He would go back to the fastball too often and did not use his secondary pitches to keep hitters off-balance.

25. Luis Durango – OF

Durango is, by far, the most exciting player in the system. He has plus speed and a knack for putting the ball in play. While it appears he has good plate discipline, this is an area that could improve. Durango simply has the best bat control and places the ball where fielders aren't, even on tougher pitches. He needs to continue to advance in his game awareness on the bases and in the outfield. While his outfield defense improved at Instructs it is still well below average.

26. Will Inman – RHP

The toughest pitcher to evaluate on the list because of his late arrival – we only saw him in one game. There was, however, a reason this kid was in Double-A at 20. He has a deceptive delivery that hides the ball well, although it could be considered violent. He doesn't have a plus pitch but sets hitters up better than most, mixing in each pitch in off-counts. He was tired at the end of the season and his ball began to elevate. Stamina will be a key moving forward, as will calming down his delivery while not losing his ability to hide the ball.

27. Ernesto Frieri – RHP

Frieri has developed excellent command of his fastball and sometimes will use it exclusively. Not only does it look faster than it appears, but he was hitting 95 MPH on the radar gun at the end of the year. He loves to pitch and thrives on more work placed on his shoulders. His intensity increases when men are on base and gets results. He used to be too hard on himself but has learned to let bad outings roll off his shoulders. Frieri had a solid slider at one point but the pitch lost its depth and his changeup is now the better pitch.

28. Joe Thatcher – LHP

Thatcher came over from Milwaukee and simply got outs by working ahead in the count. He sports a cut-fastball that has quality movement to it and his best attribute surrounds location. He doesn't miss up in the zone. Coming from his independent league stock, he has tremendous drive, pitching each inning as if it were his last. He attacks hitters and strives off pressure situations - fearless. He will have to improve his changeup, as major league hitters often adapt over a full season. There has been talk about him adding a sinker and that could provide a different angle to hitters.

29. Cesar Ramos – LHP

Ramos is a big-game pitcher that often is at his best when the pressure to perform is on. He has a very good curveball and works to contact. Ramos lacks a put-away pitch and needs to improve upon his fastball command – a pitch that has a lot of late movement. He learned to go inside more than in the past and can setup his off-speed pitches away. A consistent worker, he tosses four pitches; when his cutter is working, he will get hitters to pound the ball into the dirt.

30. Javis Diaz – OF

Already blessed with raw speed, Diaz improved his body positioning and balance in his baserunning through the year, improving his stolen base success tenfold. He also is one of the better bunters in the system. He isn't, however, the quintessential leadoff man. He strikes out too much. And he may have too much power. He is standing up taller in his stance and has moved his hands back to give him more drive. He has trouble getting coverage on the outer part of the plate and doesn't have a good two-strike approach. Expect the power to increase in the coming year and it could be an intriguing combination given his speed.

31. Josh Geer – RHP

Geer, MadFriars.com Pitcher of the Year, does what everyone else should – commands his fastball, hits his spots, pitches to contact. Working inside was, however, the biggest reason for his success. He has continued to prove everyone wrong along the way. One of his strongest points is his pitch sequences. He knows how to fool hitters, keeping them off-balance by working through his arsenal. His ceiling is limited but there is no argument against his success. He needs to continue twirling his magic.

32. Steve Garrison – LHP

The southpaw came into the organization as an unknown and worked ahead in the count and tossed strikes. Armed with four pitches, Garrison understands the game as well as anyone, hitting his spots and commanding his fastball. He throws a slider and a curveball with the slider his out pitch. Garrison won't wow with his velocity but will make the pitch when it is needed and limit damage by working the corners and staying down in the zone.

33. John Hussey – RHP

Hussey went through a tremendous growing year where he lost confidence in his pitches and couldn't get ahead to use his plus-curveball. It got to a point where he was pushing the ball and trying to overthrow, making his command even less effective. His walk totals need to come down and it begins with first-pitch strikes. He was very effective in Instructs and learned max-effort does not lead to success. His mind appears clear now and he remains an untapped talent.

34. Jared Wells – RHP

Never a proponent of the changeup, Wells became a better pitcher when he was moved to the pen where he can concentrate on throwing two pitches and giving his all. He no longer had to think on the mound and became fearless – flashing his plus-fastball and slider, daring the opposition to beat him. Taking the thinking out of the equation as a member of the pen made Wells a better pitcher, utilizing his natural talents to record outs and put hitters away – the latter something he struggled with in the past.

35. Simon Castro – RHP

Castro needs to work with 90 percent effort to gain command of the strike zone. Like many young Dominicans, he tends to overthrow and with his huge frame it sends his mechanics off-line and the ball sailing outside or up in the strike zone. The key to his future will be tied to efficiency. While he has a plus-fastball it won't ever matter if he can't stay in the strike zone consistently. Where he throws the ball is more important than how hard it is thrown. His changeup needs a lot of work, but his slider has improved.

36. Craig Cooper – 1B

Cooper has an inside-out swing that lends more to a higher average than power. As a first baseman, that puts him slightly behind. This is a kid who could make a jump in the rankings as he learns to consistently turn on and pull the inside pitch. He has a good feel for the strike zone but hasn't mastered looking for a pitch in a certain area and driving it. He is a very good defensive player and can play the corner outfield positions as well, giving him some versatility.

37. Daryl Jones – 1B

At the point where Jones was turning a dismal season around, he went down to injury. Jones was chasing outside of the zone and not seeing many pitches early in the year. He began to understand what pitches he could drive and was making solid contact more frequently before his season ended. He still chases balls away and out of the zone and remains raw with power and potential. The coming year will be big for him to prove his talent can shine through.

38. R.J. Rodriguez – RHP

He may be short in stature but Rodriguez has plenty of heart. The closer the game, the more focus he has. He has a tendency to lose his intensity when the game is out of hand and does not have the same attacking scheme, pitching a little too relaxed. Rodriguez always wants the ball in his hand – another positive. His velocity jumped several ticks with an off-season of rest and armed with an already plus-changeup the combination became deadly. He is also working on improving his slider.

39. Corey Kluber – RHP

Kluber got a late start to the show but flashed quality pitches at times, although his rhythm seemed stunted by shorter outings to save his arm. He needs to get a better push off the mound to maximize his size and strength while also cleaning up his changeup – a pitch that he lost trust in after being a quality pitch in college. His even temperament allows him to shake off the bad outings and learn from them. He should see a lot of benefit from the time off.

40. Mike Ekstrom – RHP

A down year for the ground ball pitcher was a byproduct of command; Ekstrom didn't have it. He was up in the zone for a majority of the year and the opposition took advantage. He maintained his poise throughout the season and never got down on himself. He remained aggressive and was rewarded for his work ethic, picking up the Championship win. Simply put, he has to keep the ball down to succeed.

41. Brad Chalk – OF

An injury set Chalk back in his first professional season, but the young outfielder has good pop in his stick and excellent speed. He had the appearance of being lazy early on because of his ailments but turned out some impressive performances at Instructs. Chalk will need to work on pulling the inside pitches more frequently, as he naturally wants to take it the other way. He will also have to bunt more often than he did to utilize his speed. He is a kid that could make a jump in the standings with a healthy season.

42. Rolando Valdez – RHP

A true competitor, Valdez is a little too hard on himself, and once inside a rut, he has trouble digging himself out. The converted outfielder has a plus-changeup but lost some of its feel this year. His curveball has a tendency to hang and will need a tighter spin to become successful. Valdez throws strikes and has impressive command of his fastball for a player that is relatively new to pitching. If he can command his off-speed pitches, Valdez' future could be bright.

43. Jesus Lopez – SS

There are few who made the strides that Lopez did offensively. The numbers may not tell the true story of how much he improved. Lopez took to the Padres approach that preaches patience and squared a lot of balls up – lining out to a defender more than anyone in the system. If he can keep that approach consistently, his luck will turn. Lopez already is a plus defender that sports a cannon arm. He will rush his throws at times and needs to settle his feet before going to first.

44. Alexis Lara – RHP

The right-handed Lara has the potential to be very good and could jump up this list. He is efficient with his pitches and can throw two off-speed pitches over for strikes. He tends to favor the slider as a strikeout pitch but his changeup might be the better pitch. He will overthrow at times, looking to blow the rock past a hitter rather than pitching to contact and trusting his defense. His delivery is extremely violent, but also allows him to hide the ball well. His fastball has late pop, and he can keep his pitches in the zone.

45. Drew Macias – OF

Macias regained the step he lost a year ago and proved to be an outstanding defender at three outfield positions, running good routes and covering a lot of ground. His bat has also come a long way, as has his patience at the dish. He really grasped the patiently aggressive approach and tried to drive pitches he could handle. Macias hit a lot of balls hard this season – but oftentimes they went right at people. His body could hold a little more weight and that could add the power desired to go with plus-defensive skills.

46. Jeudy Valdez – SS

Valdez has the potential to be great – he just has to cut down on the mistakes. He needs to level out his swing plane, go with the pitch, and stop leaking forward and diving out to get the outside pitch while adding consistent overall mechanics at the plate. He has speed and will hit for power once his swing becomes repeatable. He made up for some of the deficiencies with great bat speed. His defense is an area that needs a tremendous amount of work, and stamina will be a question he must answer next year.

47. Sean Kazmar – SS

Kazmar had a down year and lost his confidence in Double-A, putting a lot of pressure on himself and not having fun. He improved when sent down, reclaiming his swagger and going back to the basics of putting a good, easy swing on the ball. When he was moved to shortstop in the California League, Kazmar sparkled. He showed range, soft hands, excellent footwork, and saved quite a few runs. It could be the position he mans from now on.

48. Orlando Lara – LHP

Lara was loaned to Mexico for much of the season but has a chance to move up the rankings with a prolonged stay in the states. He has a plus-changeup and an improving curveball to go with a fastball that appears harder than it is. He has to fine-tune his command and work on consistent mechanics, as he lost the smoother side to his delivery this season. He was falling behind in the count and would leave fastballs out over the plate. Pitch sequences will be important to him moving forward.

49. Robert Perry – OF

Perry was a sparkplug wherever he went and has surprising pop for a player of his stature. He has good mechanics, puts his whole body into a swing and has a short stroke while maintaining a natural ability to get the bat head through the zone. A polished player that goes to the ballpark each day with confidence, Perry has a great feel for the game and picks up on tactics being used by the opposition from the dugout – a natural leader who will share that information. He is also a solid defender and will have to continue to use all the fundamentals to get the job done.

50. Nathan Culp – LHP

Culp hurls four pitches and has good control of each of them. His ability to spot his fastball is ahead of most, and a big key to his success. While he won't wow with his stuff – his changeup has become very good - he has great pitchability. The crafty lefty is competitive and loves to be challenged – pressure situations don't seem to faze him. When his cutter is on, he gets a lot of ground balls outs and is happy to let his defense do the work for him.

51. Jeremy Hefner – RHP

Throwing strikes better than any new draftee, Hefner took advantage of what he saw from the competition and had a keen eye for seeing the weaknesses of his opponent. Challenging hitters, especially early on, was one of his strengths. He has a good fastball that should gain a few ticks with some rest, and his slider is effective. His changeup needs some work, but he has constantly worked on it since his arrival. Rest will be big for him, as he threw a ton of innings this season and went through a dead-arm period. His smooth mechanics offer a lot of future potential.

52. Juan Ciriaco – SS

There are some who believe Ciriaco will be a big leaguer and be a very good one. More production needs to be present before that can become true. He redid his swing this year under the care of Jim Lefebvre and regained his confidence along the way. He has solid power in his wiry frame and has better balance at the plate than in the past. His instincts at shortstop aren't great and he doesn't always plant his feet when he throws. He may end up at second. Learning where his pitch to drive is will ultimately tell his tale, as he has never had great discipline.

53. Matt Teague – LHP

Teague can't throw a ball straight; he has a lot of natural movement on his pitches yet finds a way to consistently hit the target. There is, however, such a thing as throwing too many strikes. Hitters began to attack early in the count, as they knew he was always around the plate. He needs to find a pitch that will drop out of the zone to keep hitters from teeing off. A great listener with a willingness to learn, Teague will be better as his defense improves.

54. Luis Martinez – C

Martinez has the body of a catcher and a terrific feel for his pitching staff, as they enjoy throwing to him. He has good footwork and a solid arm but needs to improve on his positioning and ability to frame the ball. He is also learning pitch sequences and what to call when. A hard worker who was late on the fastball in Eugene, Martinez learned how to take what the pitcher gave him and stay with the ball by putting in extra time. He has good pop in a strong frame and his discipline at the plate improved through the season.

55. Danny Payne – OF

Payne is patient to a fault. While the Padres preach patience, they also want their hitters to be aggressive. Payne will let good pitches snake by him and fall behind in the count rather than attacking a fastball down the middle early in the count. He needs to learn the pitches he can drive, and when he sees that pitch, he has to take the stick off his shoulders. He will have to make the adjustment to take the next step or face being on the defensive all the time.

56. Mike Baxter – OF

For the last two years, Baxter has been a tale of two halves. The first half of the year has been awful and the second half very good. He is a hard-nosed player that hustles and religiously puts in the effort to improve. He has a short, compact swing but sometimes his trigger is late in reacting, changing his timing. He has room to add weight to his frame and that could drive him to future success. He also has to work on his jumps in the outfield.

57. Eric Sogard – 2B

Sogard is another player with great makeup and will give you his all each day. He has trouble with the ball on the outer half of the plate, showing a tendency to drop his bat head underneath the ball to compensate. He has good plate awareness and does not often chase outside the zone. Sogard is also fundamentally sound with bunting, the hit-and-run and baserunning. He lacks the range and footwork for shortstop but could develop into a solid second baseman.

58. Seth Johnston – 2B

Johnston has a consistent approach at the plate and has the ability to hit .300 each year. He is a very good two-strike hitter who will take the ball the other way and use all parts of the field. He does not have the power you crave and that could hold him back. Adding a slight lift to his swing may help. His biggest knock is a lack of position. He does not have the range to play shortstop and his hands are adequate for second. Outfield could be in his future.

59. Yesid Salazar – RHP

This was a learning year for Salazar. When he was first moved up, he felt he had to change his game and began overthrowing – trying to put the ball past more experienced hitters. He settled down and regained his confidence, asking for the ball in pressure situations. He is an aggressive pitcher who will challenge hitters but has to focus on staying on top of the ball and keeping it down in the zone. His breaking ball has to take the next step as well.

60. Andrew Parrino – SS

Parrino is the definition of a gamer. He leaves his body and soul on the field and never takes a day off. That personality rubs off on the rest of the team, as they see how hard and consistent he works. He is an aggressive hitter that is learning the strike zone and what pitches he can hit. The balls he did connect on were often drilled, sometimes right at defenders. If he can learn to be more patient, Parrino could rise up this list. He has the ability to stick at shortstop and can slide over to second base with ease.

As with scouts and front office personnel, each individual compiles their own list and submits them. We will take the same tact here. Look for another prospect list in the near future.


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\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nDO NOT reveal the rankings, either partially or in full, on other message boards, blogs, sites, etc. Remember, this is copyrighted material and we'd hope everybody would respect the other paying subscribers by not divulging any of the information in the rankings, including the listing of names.

\r\n\r\nWe encourage you to talk about the rankings in our subscriber forum.

\r\n\r\nNo player that missed most, if not all, of 2007 or is projected to miss all of 2008 was eligible to be ranked, eliminating Cesar Carrillo, Matt Bush, Nick Schmidt, Jose Oyervidez, John Hudgins and Pascual Juan from consideration. Six-year free agents were also ineligible, eliminating Yordany Ramirez, Luis Cruz and Paul Abraham from consideration.

\r\n\r\nWhat is your philosophy on the value of a prospect as it relates to MadFriars.com Prospects rankings?

\r\n\r\nLong-term success at the major league level. It has been said that the easiest thing to do is get to the majors but the hardest thing to do is stay there.

\r\n\r\nIt is easy to predict who will reach the major leagues. It is harder to predict who will not only reach their dream but also have long-term success. The word prospect is defined as \"the possibility of future success.\"

\r\n\r\nFuture success – not future mediocrity.

\r\n\r\nWhen determining the rankings below, there are a multitude of things to consider. Will they reach their potential? How much improvement has to happen? A position player may have all five-tools – but will he learn to use them at a major league level? How far have they come in the past year? How far can they go?

\r\n\r\nThose are just a few of the questions one needs to ask in determining a prospect's status. But – there is one trait that can't be measured – what the eye sees. It is an important quality and one that a scout lives by – his eyes. When talking about a prospect, there is a certain level of overzealousness. The eyes don't lie.

\r\n\r\nIf you have a firm understanding of the mechanics of pitching and hitting, how a slider should break, and everything in between the foul poles, you can be more confident in your assessment. Scouts don't look at stats. While production is certainly worth noting, gems can be found by watching the player, their mechanics, the break of the pitch, the swing plane – the list goes on and on.

\r\n\r\nThe top 60 San Diego Padres ranked below are a blend of more than just traits, tricks, assessments, theories, beliefs, and eyes. Not only do we see every player, we back it up by talking to players, coaches, and scouts. If we don't see a player, he is not ranked.

\r\n\r\n

MadFriars.com Top 60 Prospects
\r\n\r\n1. Mat Latos - RHP

\r\n\r\nOff-speed pitches that will end up being plus offerings compliment an already electric fastball. In fact, he has given up a plus knuckle-changeup to learn a straight change. He is a bulldog on the hill, far different than his off the field persona. Latos listens and learns and will be even better next season when he gets some rest and starts bringing the fastball consistently in the mid-90s. He could be a future number one starter at the big league level.

\r\n\r\n2. Chase Headley – 3B

\r\n\r\nHeadley silenced the critics with an amazing season, capped by Texas League Player of the Year and MadFriars.com Player of the Year honors. He hit for power and average while playing stellar defense. A switch-hitter, Headley made tremendous strides with consistency from both sides of the dish. His makeup is outstanding, and he is expected to put in the same work this off-season as he did last. He needs to duplicate his success to eliminate those believing this was a one-year trend.

\r\n\r\n3. Matt Antonelli – 2B

\r\n\r\nAntonelli's permanent change of position and significant improvement in the power category made him an easy choice in this position. Already blessed with patience at the dish, he upped his aggressiveness, didn't miss pitches he could drive yet still maintained a high on-base percentage. He is easily the best leadoff hitter in the system. Antonelli has the will to succeed and odds are he reaches his goals – soon. He needs significant improvement in his work around second base but has been there one year. His stamina will also be in question next August.

\r\n\r\n4. Cedric Hunter - OF

\r\n\r\nWhat Hunter did at the age of 19 in the Midwest League was impressive when you consider there was little protection around him. Hunter adjusted to the constant diet of breaking balls and still has work to do on that front. Ironically, it will make him even better down the road. He still has an excellent feel for the strike zone, and his power is still developing. Hunter still needs work in the outfield and with his arm. He also needs to become better on the basepaths and there was a feeling from scouts that he didn't hustle all the time.

\r\n\r\n5. Chad Huffman - OF

\r\n\r\nYou can tell a lot about a kid by looking into his eyes. Huffman's are one of pure determination and grit. What separated Huffman from the rest is he hits good pitching. While others may pile it on versus the inferior competition, Huffman is getting his knocks against quality hurlers. He is a terrific athlete, hits for average and power while also playing quality defense. He is among the best clutch hitters the Padres have. There are very few holes in his game.

\r\n\r\n6. Yefri Carvajal - OF

\r\n\r\nWaiting for a breakout year, Carvajal delivered. He is a true five-tool talent that can hit, hit for power, field and throw, and run (his weakest trait). The young Dominican is still learning patience at the plate and must continue to stay away from breaking pitches away. One of his failings has been swinging at anything in a hitter's count rather than looking for his pitch in a specific location to drive. At bats will solve a lot of woes. He also needs experience in the outfield at night to lose his tentativeness and should add right field to the mix once he gets comfortable.

\r\n\r\n7. Kyle Blanks – 1B

\r\n\r\nBlanks loosened up his stance to free up his hands and lose the stiffness that held him back, resulting in more drive through the ball and power potential. The big man delivered big hits and maintained a solid average. This behemoth has even more power potential trapped inside. He has good plate awareness and will drive pitches in his sweet spot. Blanks was pitched vastly different than he was in the past, seeing plenty of breaking balls away and fastballs in. He still needs work on connecting and pulling the fastball on the inside corner. He worked hard at the Instructional League on his work around the bag at first and must continue to improve there.

\r\n\r\n8. Wade LeBlanc – LHP

\r\n\r\nLeBlanc is one of the best at setting a hitter up and putting them away. The southpaw has two plus-changeups that baffle hitters. He gets a little too fine with his attempts to control his fastball instead of simply trying to throw it for a strike. He has tremendous aptitude for the game and has a natural ability to see a hitter's tendencies. Once he learns to command the fastball consistently, specifically to the inside part of the plate, he will be in the big leagues.

\r\n\r\n9. Drew Cumberland – SS

\r\n\r\nCumberland doesn't have many flaws in his swing. He has an easy, compact approach at the dish and hits the ball square on pitches middle-in. He has power potential and a lot of the tangibles you look for in a baseball player. He has a tendency to dive out over the plate and try and pull the ball on anything touching the outside corner. Cumberland will have to learn patience and allowing the ball to get deep to take it the other way. His shortstop defense will need to make significant strides in the coming year for him to remain here.

\r\n\r\n10. David Freese – 3B

\r\n\r\nFreese is a ‘baseball player' that is a terror with men on base. He drives the ball with authority to all parts of the field and can turn on the inside fastball. He will get pull happy at times and needs to maintain that consistent approach of hitting the ball where it is pitched. Freese is another player with terrific makeup that is driven to succeed. It is hard to believe pundits actually thought his defense was sub par – it has been stellar since he arrived into the system. Age is working against him.

\r\n\r\n11. Drew Miller – RHP

\r\n\r\nMiller battled through injuries this year but still turned in a quality year. He has a power fastball and spent a significant portion of the season working on his changeup and slider – flashing a feel for both. There were times he hit too much of the plate with his fastball and it was tattooed. Miller worked more with a four-seam and will need to begin trusting his two-seam, allowing its natural movement to dictate an at bat rather than trying to hit a corner. Ironically, it was his changeup that was being taken over the fence, a pitch he had trouble keeping down in the zone. He has higher expectations of himself and improved on lowering his walk totals.

\r\n\r\n12. Kellen Kulbacki – OF

\r\n\r\nKulbacki got off to a slow start but really turned around his game as the season wore on. Transitioning to the wood bat proved more difficult than initially proposed, but Kulbacki started swinging the stick with authority down the stretch while staying back on each pitch. He has good plate awareness, and he should be able to drive a lot of pitches, as his pitch recognition continues to advance. His outfield work was lackluster for half the season, but he looked confident in Instructs and must carry that over to next season.

\r\n\r\n13. Mitch Canham – C

\r\n\r\nThere are few people who have the raw power of Canham. He has tremendous strength in his hands, wrists, and arms, and once he follows through with his lower half and stops leaking forward he could be a terror with the stick. He is a natural leader and his makeup is off the charts. His catching skills need a lot of refinement, as he has trouble blocking the ball and his footwork needs improvement to throw out runners attempting to steal. He is still learning the game but has a good feel on how to attack a hitter by using his pitcher's strengths and using the weaknesses he sees.

\r\n\r\n14. Cory Luebke – LHP

\r\n\r\nIt was clear Luebke knew how to pitch but what surprised was the pop on his fastball. The left-hander dialed it up to 93 MPH, despite a boatload of innings heaped upon him in college. He throws strikes, works the lower part of the zone and is understands the game. It would not be a surprise to see him pushed next year. Luebke does have to sharpen up his slider and improve the changeup, but he is a kid that will put in the extra work. He has never really had a coaching staff willing to teach him so he is eager to learn.

\r\n\r\n15. Nick Hundley – C

\r\n\r\nIt was a positive year for Hundley. While he struggled with the bat early on after essentially skipping a level, he rebounded nicely. His primary focus last off-season surrounded his defensive play and he improved ten-fold this season. Getting out of his stance and in position to throw quicker than ever before helped him patrol the basepaths. He also improved his ability to call a game, pitch sequences and framing. Hundley still will struggle blocking some balls and has to improve his consistency with the bat – he will dive out over the plate rather than going with the pitch.

\r\n\r\n16. Rayner Contreras – INF

\r\n\r\nArmed with more lightning in his bat than people realize, Contreras was beginning to realize his potential before getting hurt. Skipping a level and with little support around him, he still managed to hit well and learn the nuances of the game. Contreras is still growing into a solid frame and he calmed down his high leg kick to get more balance at the dish. He is on the verge of being a special talent and will have to continue learning the strike zone. His defense must also be shored up. Contreras will rush his throws before setting his feet and has lapses of concentration fielding the ball.

\r\n\r\n17. Aaron Breit – RHP

\r\n\r\nBreit had his struggles this season with confidence and loss of command. When he was in the strike zone he was catching too much of the dish with his fastball. On the positive side, he never got down on himself and was always willing to take the ball. He eventually battled through the lows and was pitching well in the final month – a long time coming. Much was the product of a mechanical change he stuck with rather than going back to his old ways in an effort to help him down the road. The worst appears behind him.

\r\n\r\n18. Will Venable – OF

\r\n\r\nVenable skipped a level and still wound up getting plenty of hits. The unfortunate part is hits are not enough with age working against him. He has to drive the ball on a consistent basis and turn singles into doubles and two-baggers into homers. A year like Antonelli or Headley could shoot him back up the charts. Venable is athletic and has a tremendous work ethic. His arm isn't great but he makes up for it with solid baseball instincts in the outfield. Still, you wonder if he can really play center of right field at the big league level.

\r\n\r\n19. Euclides Viloria – LHP

\r\n\r\nConsider what Viloria did – at his age – incredible. His biggest fault was stamina. He would come out with guns blazing only to falter by the fourth inning, leaving pitches up in the zone and losing command of his arsenal. He has a plus-changeup and good deception on his fastball, making it jump onto hitters. Viloria is also a confident pitcher. If he learns to keep his mechanics in line and stay closed, he could be even better. As he tires, he flies open and his pitches are elevated as a result.

\r\n\r\n20. Matt Buschmann – RHP

\r\n\r\nBuschmann showed how good he could be when he keeps his three-quarters delivery in line. He has a tendency to drop down and will throw across his body, setting off his release point. He has excellent movement on his two-seam fastball and gets a lot of ground balls. He is also not afraid to pitch in the big game. Buschmann also has a very good slider that flattens out when his elbow drops. Buschmann is a hard worker that wants to be outstanding at his craft. He is on the right path.

\r\n\r\n21. Pablo Menchaca – RHP

\r\n\r\nThere was no one in the organization throwing the ball as well as Menchaca – we just didn't see it in games. He was dominating in extended spring training with an easy delivery and heavy fastball. He has command of three pitches and is continuing to get stronger. The problem is he lost much of the year to injury and has to keep the demeanor on the mound heading into next year. He could make a big jump up this list and has frontline starter stuff.

\r\n\r\n22. Wilton Lopez – RHP

\r\n\r\nLopez is likely the most asked about prospect in the entire San Diego system – by outsiders. Teams around the league were waiting to see if he was Rule 5 eligible – eager to snare him up. The Padres, however, will not have to fear losing him, and he may make his mark by then as they plan to push him. Lopez has an electric fastball that sits in the mid-90s with good sink. He also has a changeup that is coming along and a slider that needs work. Lopez pounds the strike zone and is not afraid to go after hitters. The development of his secondary pitches will be vital.

\r\n\r\n23. Manny Ayala – RHP

\r\n\r\nAyala knows his stuff as good as anyone else. He has very good fastball command and his changeup is a plus-plus pitch. He can make up for mistakes by throwing the changeup in any count, any situation. He attacks hitters and throws inside, setting up the rest of his arsenal. He approaches practice and sideline sessions as if he was in a game and that carries over. He had a shoulder injury late in the year, and he will have to prove he can continue to throw strikes at the higher levels while getting results.

\r\n\r\n24. Jeremy McBryde – RHP

\r\n\r\nA tough first year professionally does not diminish his immense talent. He has a power sinking fastball that hit 94 MPH this season and profiles to gain a tick or two with some rest. He also has two sliders but needs to improve their consistency, as well as developing a changeup he can count on. His major problem came from pitch sequence. He would go back to the fastball too often and did not use his secondary pitches to keep hitters off-balance.

\r\n\r\n25. Luis Durango – OF

\r\n\r\nDurango is, by far, the most exciting player in the system. He has plus speed and a knack for putting the ball in play. While it appears he has good plate discipline, this is an area that could improve. Durango simply has the best bat control and places the ball where fielders aren't, even on tougher pitches. He needs to continue to advance in his game awareness on the bases and in the outfield. While his outfield defense improved at Instructs it is still well below average.

\r\n\r\n26. Will Inman – RHP

\r\n\r\nThe toughest pitcher to evaluate on the list because of his late arrival – we only saw him in one game. There was, however, a reason this kid was in Double-A at 20. He has a deceptive delivery that hides the ball well, although it could be considered violent. He doesn't have a plus pitch but sets hitters up better than most, mixing in each pitch in off-counts. He was tired at the end of the season and his ball began to elevate. Stamina will be a key moving forward, as will calming down his delivery while not losing his ability to hide the ball.

\r\n\r\n27. Ernesto Frieri – RHP

\r\n\r\nFrieri has developed excellent command of his fastball and sometimes will use it exclusively. Not only does it look faster than it appears, but he was hitting 95 MPH on the radar gun at the end of the year. He loves to pitch and thrives on more work placed on his shoulders. His intensity increases when men are on base and gets results. He used to be too hard on himself but has learned to let bad outings roll off his shoulders. Frieri had a solid slider at one point but the pitch lost its depth and his changeup is now the better pitch.

\r\n\r\n28. Joe Thatcher – LHP

\r\n\r\nThatcher came over from Milwaukee and simply got outs by working ahead in the count. He sports a cut-fastball that has quality movement to it and his best attribute surrounds location. He doesn't miss up in the zone. Coming from his independent league stock, he has tremendous drive, pitching each inning as if it were his last. He attacks hitters and strives off pressure situations - fearless. He will have to improve his changeup, as major league hitters often adapt over a full season. There has been talk about him adding a sinker and that could provide a different angle to hitters.

\r\n\r\n29. Cesar Ramos – LHP

\r\n\r\nRamos is a big-game pitcher that often is at his best when the pressure to perform is on. He has a very good curveball and works to contact. Ramos lacks a put-away pitch and needs to improve upon his fastball command – a pitch that has a lot of late movement. He learned to go inside more than in the past and can setup his off-speed pitches away. A consistent worker, he tosses four pitches; when his cutter is working, he will get hitters to pound the ball into the dirt.

\r\n\r\n30. Javis Diaz – OF

\r\n\r\nAlready blessed with raw speed, Diaz improved his body positioning and balance in his baserunning through the year, improving his stolen base success tenfold. He also is one of the better bunters in the system. He isn't, however, the quintessential leadoff man. He strikes out too much. And he may have too much power. He is standing up taller in his stance and has moved his hands back to give him more drive. He has trouble getting coverage on the outer part of the plate and doesn't have a good two-strike approach. Expect the power to increase in the coming year and it could be an intriguing combination given his speed.

\r\n\r\n31. Josh Geer – RHP

\r\n\r\nGeer, MadFriars.com Pitcher of the Year, does what everyone else should – commands his fastball, hits his spots, pitches to contact. Working inside was, however, the biggest reason for his success. He has continued to prove everyone wrong along the way. One of his strongest points is his pitch sequences. He knows how to fool hitters, keeping them off-balance by working through his arsenal. His ceiling is limited but there is no argument against his success. He needs to continue twirling his magic.

\r\n\r\n32. Steve Garrison – LHP

\r\n\r\nThe southpaw came into the organization as an unknown and worked ahead in the count and tossed strikes. Armed with four pitches, Garrison understands the game as well as anyone, hitting his spots and commanding his fastball. He throws a slider and a curveball with the slider his out pitch. Garrison won't wow with his velocity but will make the pitch when it is needed and limit damage by working the corners and staying down in the zone.

\r\n\r\n33. John Hussey – RHP

\r\n\r\nHussey went through a tremendous growing year where he lost confidence in his pitches and couldn't get ahead to use his plus-curveball. It got to a point where he was pushing the ball and trying to overthrow, making his command even less effective. His walk totals need to come down and it begins with first-pitch strikes. He was very effective in Instructs and learned max-effort does not lead to success. His mind appears clear now and he remains an untapped talent.

\r\n\r\n34. Jared Wells – RHP

\r\n\r\nNever a proponent of the changeup, Wells became a better pitcher when he was moved to the pen where he can concentrate on throwing two pitches and giving his all. He no longer had to think on the mound and became fearless – flashing his plus-fastball and slider, daring the opposition to beat him. Taking the thinking out of the equation as a member of the pen made Wells a better pitcher, utilizing his natural talents to record outs and put hitters away – the latter something he struggled with in the past.

\r\n\r\n35. Simon Castro – RHP

\r\n\r\nCastro needs to work with 90 percent effort to gain command of the strike zone. Like many young Dominicans, he tends to overthrow and with his huge frame it sends his mechanics off-line and the ball sailing outside or up in the strike zone. The key to his future will be tied to efficiency. While he has a plus-fastball it won't ever matter if he can't stay in the strike zone consistently. Where he throws the ball is more important than how hard it is thrown. His changeup needs a lot of work, but his slider has improved.

\r\n\r\n36. Craig Cooper – 1B

\r\n\r\nCooper has an inside-out swing that lends more to a higher average than power. As a first baseman, that puts him slightly behind. This is a kid who could make a jump in the rankings as he learns to consistently turn on and pull the inside pitch. He has a good feel for the strike zone but hasn't mastered looking for a pitch in a certain area and driving it. He is a very good defensive player and can play the corner outfield positions as well, giving him some versatility.

\r\n\r\n37. Daryl Jones – 1B

\r\n\r\nAt the point where Jones was turning a dismal season around, he went down to injury. Jones was chasing outside of the zone and not seeing many pitches early in the year. He began to understand what pitches he could drive and was making solid contact more frequently before his season ended. He still chases balls away and out of the zone and remains raw with power and potential. The coming year will be big for him to prove his talent can shine through.

\r\n\r\n38. R.J. Rodriguez – RHP

\r\n\r\nHe may be short in stature but Rodriguez has plenty of heart. The closer the game, the more focus he has. He has a tendency to lose his intensity when the game is out of hand and does not have the same attacking scheme, pitching a little too relaxed. Rodriguez always wants the ball in his hand – another positive. His velocity jumped several ticks with an off-season of rest and armed with an already plus-changeup the combination became deadly. He is also working on improving his slider.

\r\n\r\n39. Corey Kluber – RHP

\r\n\r\nKluber got a late start to the show but flashed quality pitches at times, although his rhythm seemed stunted by shorter outings to save his arm. He needs to get a better push off the mound to maximize his size and strength while also cleaning up his changeup – a pitch that he lost trust in after being a quality pitch in college. His even temperament allows him to shake off the bad outings and learn from them. He should see a lot of benefit from the time off.

\r\n\r\n40. Mike Ekstrom – RHP

\r\n\r\nA down year for the ground ball pitcher was a byproduct of command; Ekstrom didn't have it. He was up in the zone for a majority of the year and the opposition took advantage. He maintained his poise throughout the season and never got down on himself. He remained aggressive and was rewarded for his work ethic, picking up the Championship win. Simply put, he has to keep the ball down to succeed.

\r\n\r\n41. Brad Chalk – OF

\r\n\r\nAn injury set Chalk back in his first professional season, but the young outfielder has good pop in his stick and excellent speed. He had the appearance of being lazy early on because of his ailments but turned out some impressive performances at Instructs. Chalk will need to work on pulling the inside pitches more frequently, as he naturally wants to take it the other way. He will also have to bunt more often than he did to utilize his speed. He is a kid that could make a jump in the standings with a healthy season.

\r\n\r\n42. Rolando Valdez – RHP

\r\n\r\nA true competitor, Valdez is a little too hard on himself, and once inside a rut, he has trouble digging himself out. The converted outfielder has a plus-changeup but lost some of its feel this year. His curveball has a tendency to hang and will need a tighter spin to become successful. Valdez throws strikes and has impressive command of his fastball for a player that is relatively new to pitching. If he can command his off-speed pitches, Valdez' future could be bright.

\r\n\r\n43. Jesus Lopez – SS

\r\n\r\nThere are few who made the strides that Lopez did offensively. The numbers may not tell the true story of how much he improved. Lopez took to the Padres approach that preaches patience and squared a lot of balls up – lining out to a defender more than anyone in the system. If he can keep that approach consistently, his luck will turn. Lopez already is a plus defender that sports a cannon arm. He will rush his throws at times and needs to settle his feet before going to first.

\r\n\r\n44. Alexis Lara – RHP

\r\n\r\nThe right-handed Lara has the potential to be very good and could jump up this list. He is efficient with his pitches and can throw two off-speed pitches over for strikes. He tends to favor the slider as a strikeout pitch but his changeup might be the better pitch. He will overthrow at times, looking to blow the rock past a hitter rather than pitching to contact and trusting his defense. His delivery is extremely violent, but also allows him to hide the ball well. His fastball has late pop, and he can keep his pitches in the zone.

\r\n\r\n45. Drew Macias – OF

\r\n\r\nMacias regained the step he lost a year ago and proved to be an outstanding defender at three outfield positions, running good routes and covering a lot of ground. His bat has also come a long way, as has his patience at the dish. He really grasped the patiently aggressive approach and tried to drive pitches he could handle. Macias hit a lot of balls hard this season – but oftentimes they went right at people. His body could hold a little more weight and that could add the power desired to go with plus-defensive skills.

\r\n\r\n46. Jeudy Valdez – SS

\r\n\r\nValdez has the potential to be great – he just has to cut down on the mistakes. He needs to level out his swing plane, go with the pitch, and stop leaking forward and diving out to get the outside pitch while adding consistent overall mechanics at the plate. He has speed and will hit for power once his swing becomes repeatable. He made up for some of the deficiencies with great bat speed. His defense is an area that needs a tremendous amount of work, and stamina will be a question he must answer next year.

\r\n\r\n47. Sean Kazmar – SS

\r\n\r\nKazmar had a down year and lost his confidence in Double-A, putting a lot of pressure on himself and not having fun. He improved when sent down, reclaiming his swagger and going back to the basics of putting a good, easy swing on the ball. When he was moved to shortstop in the California League, Kazmar sparkled. He showed range, soft hands, excellent footwork, and saved quite a few runs. It could be the position he mans from now on.

\r\n\r\n48. Orlando Lara – LHP

\r\n\r\nLara was loaned to Mexico for much of the season but has a chance to move up the rankings with a prolonged stay in the states. He has a plus-changeup and an improving curveball to go with a fastball that appears harder than it is. He has to fine-tune his command and work on consistent mechanics, as he lost the smoother side to his delivery this season. He was falling behind in the count and would leave fastballs out over the plate. Pitch sequences will be important to him moving forward.

\r\n\r\n49. Robert Perry – OF

\r\n\r\nPerry was a sparkplug wherever he went and has surprising pop for a player of his stature. He has good mechanics, puts his whole body into a swing and has a short stroke while maintaining a natural ability to get the bat head through the zone. A polished player that goes to the ballpark each day with confidence, Perry has a great feel for the game and picks up on tactics being used by the opposition from the dugout – a natural leader who will share that information. He is also a solid defender and will have to continue to use all the fundamentals to get the job done.

\r\n\r\n50. Nathan Culp – LHP

\r\n\r\nCulp hurls four pitches and has good control of each of them. His ability to spot his fastball is ahead of most, and a big key to his success. While he won't wow with his stuff – his changeup has become very good - he has great pitchability. The crafty lefty is competitive and loves to be challenged – pressure situations don't seem to faze him. When his cutter is on, he gets a lot of ground balls outs and is happy to let his defense do the work for him.

\r\n\r\n51. Jeremy Hefner – RHP

\r\n\r\nThrowing strikes better than any new draftee, Hefner took advantage of what he saw from the competition and had a keen eye for seeing the weaknesses of his opponent. Challenging hitters, especially early on, was one of his strengths. He has a good fastball that should gain a few ticks with some rest, and his slider is effective. His changeup needs some work, but he has constantly worked on it since his arrival. Rest will be big for him, as he threw a ton of innings this season and went through a dead-arm period. His smooth mechanics offer a lot of future potential.

\r\n\r\n52. Juan Ciriaco – SS

\r\n\r\nThere are some who believe Ciriaco will be a big leaguer and be a very good one. More production needs to be present before that can become true. He redid his swing this year under the care of Jim Lefebvre and regained his confidence along the way. He has solid power in his wiry frame and has better balance at the plate than in the past. His instincts at shortstop aren't great and he doesn't always plant his feet when he throws. He may end up at second. Learning where his pitch to drive is will ultimately tell his tale, as he has never had great discipline.

\r\n\r\n53. Matt Teague – LHP

\r\n\r\nTeague can't throw a ball straight; he has a lot of natural movement on his pitches yet finds a way to consistently hit the target. There is, however, such a thing as throwing too many strikes. Hitters began to attack early in the count, as they knew he was always around the plate. He needs to find a pitch that will drop out of the zone to keep hitters from teeing off. A great listener with a willingness to learn, Teague will be better as his defense improves.

\r\n\r\n54. Luis Martinez – C

\r\n\r\nMartinez has the body of a catcher and a terrific feel for his pitching staff, as they enjoy throwing to him. He has good footwork and a solid arm but needs to improve on his positioning and ability to frame the ball. He is also learning pitch sequences and what to call when. A hard worker who was late on the fastball in Eugene, Martinez learned how to take what the pitcher gave him and stay with the ball by putting in extra time. He has good pop in a strong frame and his discipline at the plate improved through the season.

\r\n\r\n55. Danny Payne – OF

\r\n\r\nPayne is patient to a fault. While the Padres preach patience, they also want their hitters to be aggressive. Payne will let good pitches snake by him and fall behind in the count rather than attacking a fastball down the middle early in the count. He needs to learn the pitches he can drive, and when he sees that pitch, he has to take the stick off his shoulders. He will have to make the adjustment to take the next step or face being on the defensive all the time.

\r\n\r\n56. Mike Baxter – OF

\r\n\r\nFor the last two years, Baxter has been a tale of two halves. The first half of the year has been awful and the second half very good. He is a hard-nosed player that hustles and religiously puts in the effort to improve. He has a short, compact swing but sometimes his trigger is late in reacting, changing his timing. He has room to add weight to his frame and that could drive him to future success. He also has to work on his jumps in the outfield.

\r\n\r\n57. Eric Sogard – 2B

\r\n\r\nSogard is another player with great makeup and will give you his all each day. He has trouble with the ball on the outer half of the plate, showing a tendency to drop his bat head underneath the ball to compensate. He has good plate awareness and does not often chase outside the zone. Sogard is also fundamentally sound with bunting, the hit-and-run and baserunning. He lacks the range and footwork for shortstop but could develop into a solid second baseman.

\r\n\r\n58. Seth Johnston – 2B

\r\n\r\nJohnston has a consistent approach at the plate and has the ability to hit .300 each year. He is a very good two-strike hitter who will take the ball the other way and use all parts of the field. He does not have the power you crave and that could hold him back. Adding a slight lift to his swing may help. His biggest knock is a lack of position. He does not have the range to play shortstop and his hands are adequate for second. Outfield could be in his future.

\r\n\r\n59. Yesid Salazar – RHP

\r\n\r\nThis was a learning year for Salazar. When he was first moved up, he felt he had to change his game and began overthrowing – trying to put the ball past more experienced hitters. He settled down and regained his confidence, asking for the ball in pressure situations. He is an aggressive pitcher who will challenge hitters but has to focus on staying on top of the ball and keeping it down in the zone. His breaking ball has to take the next step as well.

\r\n\r\n60. Andrew Parrino – SS

\r\n\r\nParrino is the definition of a gamer. He leaves his body and soul on the field and never takes a day off. That personality rubs off on the rest of the team, as they see how hard and consistent he works. He is an aggressive hitter that is learning the strike zone and what pitches he can hit. The balls he did connect on were often drilled, sometimes right at defenders. If he can learn to be more patient, Parrino could rise up this list. He has the ability to stick at shortstop and can slide over to second base with ease.

\r\n\r\nAs with scouts and front office personnel, each individual compiles their own list and submits them. We will take the same tact here. Look for another prospect list in the near future.

\r\n","mobileBody":" \r\n\r\nDO NOT reveal the rankings, either partially or in full, on other message boards, blogs, sites, etc. Remember, this is copyrighted material and we'd hope everybody would respect the other paying subscribers by not divulging any of the information in the rankings, including the listing of names.

\r\n\r\nWe encourage you to talk about the rankings in our subscriber forum.

\r\n\r\nNo player that missed most, if not all, of 2007 or is projected to miss all of 2008 was eligible to be ranked, eliminating Cesar Carrillo, Matt Bush, Nick Schmidt, Jose Oyervidez, John Hudgins and Pascual Juan from consideration. Six-year free agents were also ineligible, eliminating Yordany Ramirez, Luis Cruz and Paul Abraham from consideration.

\r\n\r\nWhat is your philosophy on the value of a prospect as it relates to MadFriars.com Prospects rankings?

\r\n\r\nLong-term success at the major league level. It has been said that the easiest thing to do is get to the majors but the hardest thing to do is stay there.

\r\n\r\nIt is easy to predict who will reach the major leagues. It is harder to predict who will not only reach their dream but also have long-term success. The word prospect is defined as \"the possibility of future success.\"

\r\n\r\nFuture success – not future mediocrity.

\r\n\r\nWhen determining the rankings below, there are a multitude of things to consider. Will they reach their potential? How much improvement has to happen? A position player may have all five-tools – but will he learn to use them at a major league level? How far have they come in the past year? How far can they go?

\r\n\r\nThose are just a few of the questions one needs to ask in determining a prospect's status. But – there is one trait that can't be measured – what the eye sees. It is an important quality and one that a scout lives by – his eyes. When talking about a prospect, there is a certain level of overzealousness. The eyes don't lie.

\r\n\r\nIf you have a firm understanding of the mechanics of pitching and hitting, how a slider should break, and everything in between the foul poles, you can be more confident in your assessment. Scouts don't look at stats. While production is certainly worth noting, gems can be found by watching the player, their mechanics, the break of the pitch, the swing plane – the list goes on and on.

\r\n\r\nThe top 60 San Diego Padres ranked below are a blend of more than just traits, tricks, assessments, theories, beliefs, and eyes. Not only do we see every player, we back it up by talking to players, coaches, and scouts. If we don't see a player, he is not ranked.

\r\n\r\n

MadFriars.com Top 60 Prospects
\r\n\r\n1. Mat Latos - RHP

\r\n\r\nOff-speed pitches that will end up being plus offerings compliment an already electric fastball. In fact, he has given up a plus knuckle-changeup to learn a straight change. He is a bulldog on the hill, far different than his off the field persona. Latos listens and learns and will be even better next season when he gets some rest and starts bringing the fastball consistently in the mid-90s. He could be a future number one starter at the big league level.

\r\n\r\n2. Chase Headley – 3B

\r\n\r\nHeadley silenced the critics with an amazing season, capped by Texas League Player of the Year and MadFriars.com Player of the Year honors. He hit for power and average while playing stellar defense. A switch-hitter, Headley made tremendous strides with consistency from both sides of the dish. His makeup is outstanding, and he is expected to put in the same work this off-season as he did last. He needs to duplicate his success to eliminate those believing this was a one-year trend.

\r\n\r\n3. Matt Antonelli – 2B

\r\n\r\nAntonelli's permanent change of position and significant improvement in the power category made him an easy choice in this position. Already blessed with patience at the dish, he upped his aggressiveness, didn't miss pitches he could drive yet still maintained a high on-base percentage. He is easily the best leadoff hitter in the system. Antonelli has the will to succeed and odds are he reaches his goals – soon. He needs significant improvement in his work around second base but has been there one year. His stamina will also be in question next August.

\r\n\r\n4. Cedric Hunter - OF

\r\n\r\nWhat Hunter did at the age of 19 in the Midwest League was impressive when you consider there was little protection around him. Hunter adjusted to the constant diet of breaking balls and still has work to do on that front. Ironically, it will make him even better down the road. He still has an excellent feel for the strike zone, and his power is still developing. Hunter still needs work in the outfield and with his arm. He also needs to become better on the basepaths and there was a feeling from scouts that he didn't hustle all the time.

\r\n\r\n5. Chad Huffman - OF

\r\n\r\nYou can tell a lot about a kid by looking into his eyes. Huffman's are one of pure determination and grit. What separated Huffman from the rest is he hits good pitching. While others may pile it on versus the inferior competition, Huffman is getting his knocks against quality hurlers. He is a terrific athlete, hits for average and power while also playing quality defense. He is among the best clutch hitters the Padres have. There are very few holes in his game.

\r\n\r\n6. Yefri Carvajal - OF

\r\n\r\nWaiting for a breakout year, Carvajal delivered. He is a true five-tool talent that can hit, hit for power, field and throw, and run (his weakest trait). The young Dominican is still learning patience at the plate and must continue to stay away from breaking pitches away. One of his failings has been swinging at anything in a hitter's count rather than looking for his pitch in a specific location to drive. At bats will solve a lot of woes. He also needs experience in the outfield at night to lose his tentativeness and should add right field to the mix once he gets comfortable.

\r\n\r\n7. Kyle Blanks – 1B

\r\n\r\nBlanks loosened up his stance to free up his hands and lose the stiffness that held him back, resulting in more drive through the ball and power potential. The big man delivered big hits and maintained a solid average. This behemoth has even more power potential trapped inside. He has good plate awareness and will drive pitches in his sweet spot. Blanks was pitched vastly different than he was in the past, seeing plenty of breaking balls away and fastballs in. He still needs work on connecting and pulling the fastball on the inside corner. He worked hard at the Instructional League on his work around the bag at first and must continue to improve there.

\r\n\r\n8. Wade LeBlanc – LHP

\r\n\r\nLeBlanc is one of the best at setting a hitter up and putting them away. The southpaw has two plus-changeups that baffle hitters. He gets a little too fine with his attempts to control his fastball instead of simply trying to throw it for a strike. He has tremendous aptitude for the game and has a natural ability to see a hitter's tendencies. Once he learns to command the fastball consistently, specifically to the inside part of the plate, he will be in the big leagues.

\r\n\r\n9. Drew Cumberland – SS

\r\n\r\nCumberland doesn't have many flaws in his swing. He has an easy, compact approach at the dish and hits the ball square on pitches middle-in. He has power potential and a lot of the tangibles you look for in a baseball player. He has a tendency to dive out over the plate and try and pull the ball on anything touching the outside corner. Cumberland will have to learn patience and allowing the ball to get deep to take it the other way. His shortstop defense will need to make significant strides in the coming year for him to remain here.

\r\n\r\n10. David Freese – 3B

\r\n\r\nFreese is a ‘baseball player' that is a terror with men on base. He drives the ball with authority to all parts of the field and can turn on the inside fastball. He will get pull happy at times and needs to maintain that consistent approach of hitting the ball where it is pitched. Freese is another player with terrific makeup that is driven to succeed. It is hard to believe pundits actually thought his defense was sub par – it has been stellar since he arrived into the system. Age is working against him.

\r\n\r\n11. Drew Miller – RHP

\r\n\r\nMiller battled through injuries this year but still turned in a quality year. He has a power fastball and spent a significant portion of the season working on his changeup and slider – flashing a feel for both. There were times he hit too much of the plate with his fastball and it was tattooed. Miller worked more with a four-seam and will need to begin trusting his two-seam, allowing its natural movement to dictate an at bat rather than trying to hit a corner. Ironically, it was his changeup that was being taken over the fence, a pitch he had trouble keeping down in the zone. He has higher expectations of himself and improved on lowering his walk totals.

\r\n\r\n12. Kellen Kulbacki – OF

\r\n\r\nKulbacki got off to a slow start but really turned around his game as the season wore on. Transitioning to the wood bat proved more difficult than initially proposed, but Kulbacki started swinging the stick with authority down the stretch while staying back on each pitch. He has good plate awareness, and he should be able to drive a lot of pitches, as his pitch recognition continues to advance. His outfield work was lackluster for half the season, but he looked confident in Instructs and must carry that over to next season.

\r\n\r\n13. Mitch Canham – C

\r\n\r\nThere are few people who have the raw power of Canham. He has tremendous strength in his hands, wrists, and arms, and once he follows through with his lower half and stops leaking forward he could be a terror with the stick. He is a natural leader and his makeup is off the charts. His catching skills need a lot of refinement, as he has trouble blocking the ball and his footwork needs improvement to throw out runners attempting to steal. He is still learning the game but has a good feel on how to attack a hitter by using his pitcher's strengths and using the weaknesses he sees.

\r\n\r\n14. Cory Luebke – LHP

\r\n\r\nIt was clear Luebke knew how to pitch but what surprised was the pop on his fastball. The left-hander dialed it up to 93 MPH, despite a boatload of innings heaped upon him in college. He throws strikes, works the lower part of the zone and is understands the game. It would not be a surprise to see him pushed next year. Luebke does have to sharpen up his slider and improve the changeup, but he is a kid that will put in the extra work. He has never really had a coaching staff willing to teach him so he is eager to learn.

\r\n\r\n15. Nick Hundley – C

\r\n\r\nIt was a positive year for Hundley. While he struggled with the bat early on after essentially skipping a level, he rebounded nicely. His primary focus last off-season surrounded his defensive play and he improved ten-fold this season. Getting out of his stance and in position to throw quicker than ever before helped him patrol the basepaths. He also improved his ability to call a game, pitch sequences and framing. Hundley still will struggle blocking some balls and has to improve his consistency with the bat – he will dive out over the plate rather than going with the pitch.

\r\n\r\n16. Rayner Contreras – INF

\r\n\r\nArmed with more lightning in his bat than people realize, Contreras was beginning to realize his potential before getting hurt. Skipping a level and with little support around him, he still managed to hit well and learn the nuances of the game. Contreras is still growing into a solid frame and he calmed down his high leg kick to get more balance at the dish. He is on the verge of being a special talent and will have to continue learning the strike zone. His defense must also be shored up. Contreras will rush his throws before setting his feet and has lapses of concentration fielding the ball.

\r\n\r\n17. Aaron Breit – RHP

\r\n\r\nBreit had his struggles this season with confidence and loss of command. When he was in the strike zone he was catching too much of the dish with his fastball. On the positive side, he never got down on himself and was always willing to take the ball. He eventually battled through the lows and was pitching well in the final month – a long time coming. Much was the product of a mechanical change he stuck with rather than going back to his old ways in an effort to help him down the road. The worst appears behind him.

\r\n\r\n18. Will Venable – OF

\r\n\r\nVenable skipped a level and still wound up getting plenty of hits. The unfortunate part is hits are not enough with age working against him. He has to drive the ball on a consistent basis and turn singles into doubles and two-baggers into homers. A year like Antonelli or Headley could shoot him back up the charts. Venable is athletic and has a tremendous work ethic. His arm isn't great but he makes up for it with solid baseball instincts in the outfield. Still, you wonder if he can really play center of right field at the big league level.

\r\n\r\n19. Euclides Viloria – LHP

\r\n\r\nConsider what Viloria did – at his age – incredible. His biggest fault was stamina. He would come out with guns blazing only to falter by the fourth inning, leaving pitches up in the zone and losing command of his arsenal. He has a plus-changeup and good deception on his fastball, making it jump onto hitters. Viloria is also a confident pitcher. If he learns to keep his mechanics in line and stay closed, he could be even better. As he tires, he flies open and his pitches are elevated as a result.

\r\n\r\n20. Matt Buschmann – RHP

\r\n\r\nBuschmann showed how good he could be when he keeps his three-quarters delivery in line. He has a tendency to drop down and will throw across his body, setting off his release point. He has excellent movement on his two-seam fastball and gets a lot of ground balls. He is also not afraid to pitch in the big game. Buschmann also has a very good slider that flattens out when his elbow drops. Buschmann is a hard worker that wants to be outstanding at his craft. He is on the right path.

\r\n\r\n21. Pablo Menchaca – RHP

\r\n\r\nThere was no one in the organization throwing the ball as well as Menchaca – we just didn't see it in games. He was dominating in extended spring training with an easy delivery and heavy fastball. He has command of three pitches and is continuing to get stronger. The problem is he lost much of the year to injury and has to keep the demeanor on the mound heading into next year. He could make a big jump up this list and has frontline starter stuff.

\r\n\r\n22. Wilton Lopez – RHP

\r\n\r\nLopez is likely the most asked about prospect in the entire San Diego system – by outsiders. Teams around the league were waiting to see if he was Rule 5 eligible – eager to snare him up. The Padres, however, will not have to fear losing him, and he may make his mark by then as they plan to push him. Lopez has an electric fastball that sits in the mid-90s with good sink. He also has a changeup that is coming along and a slider that needs work. Lopez pounds the strike zone and is not afraid to go after hitters. The development of his secondary pitches will be vital.

\r\n\r\n23. Manny Ayala – RHP

\r\n\r\nAyala knows his stuff as good as anyone else. He has very good fastball command and his changeup is a plus-plus pitch. He can make up for mistakes by throwing the changeup in any count, any situation. He attacks hitters and throws inside, setting up the rest of his arsenal. He approaches practice and sideline sessions as if he was in a game and that carries over. He had a shoulder injury late in the year, and he will have to prove he can continue to throw strikes at the higher levels while getting results.

\r\n\r\n24. Jeremy McBryde – RHP

\r\n\r\nA tough first year professionally does not diminish his immense talent. He has a power sinking fastball that hit 94 MPH this season and profiles to gain a tick or two with some rest. He also has two sliders but needs to improve their consistency, as well as developing a changeup he can count on. His major problem came from pitch sequence. He would go back to the fastball too often and did not use his secondary pitches to keep hitters off-balance.

\r\n\r\n25. Luis Durango – OF

\r\n\r\nDurango is, by far, the most exciting player in the system. He has plus speed and a knack for putting the ball in play. While it appears he has good plate discipline, this is an area that could improve. Durango simply has the best bat control and places the ball where fielders aren't, even on tougher pitches. He needs to continue to advance in his game awareness on the bases and in the outfield. While his outfield defense improved at Instructs it is still well below average.

\r\n\r\n26. Will Inman – RHP

\r\n\r\nThe toughest pitcher to evaluate on the list because of his late arrival – we only saw him in one game. There was, however, a reason this kid was in Double-A at 20. He has a deceptive delivery that hides the ball well, although it could be considered violent. He doesn't have a plus pitch but sets hitters up better than most, mixing in each pitch in off-counts. He was tired at the end of the season and his ball began to elevate. Stamina will be a key moving forward, as will calming down his delivery while not losing his ability to hide the ball.

\r\n\r\n27. Ernesto Frieri – RHP

\r\n\r\nFrieri has developed excellent command of his fastball and sometimes will use it exclusively. Not only does it look faster than it appears, but he was hitting 95 MPH on the radar gun at the end of the year. He loves to pitch and thrives on more work placed on his shoulders. His intensity increases when men are on base and gets results. He used to be too hard on himself but has learned to let bad outings roll off his shoulders. Frieri had a solid slider at one point but the pitch lost its depth and his changeup is now the better pitch.

\r\n\r\n28. Joe Thatcher – LHP

\r\n\r\nThatcher came over from Milwaukee and simply got outs by working ahead in the count. He sports a cut-fastball that has quality movement to it and his best attribute surrounds location. He doesn't miss up in the zone. Coming from his independent league stock, he has tremendous drive, pitching each inning as if it were his last. He attacks hitters and strives off pressure situations - fearless. He will have to improve his changeup, as major league hitters often adapt over a full season. There has been talk about him adding a sinker and that could provide a different angle to hitters.

\r\n\r\n29. Cesar Ramos – LHP

\r\n\r\nRamos is a big-game pitcher that often is at his best when the pressure to perform is on. He has a very good curveball and works to contact. Ramos lacks a put-away pitch and needs to improve upon his fastball command – a pitch that has a lot of late movement. He learned to go inside more than in the past and can setup his off-speed pitches away. A consistent worker, he tosses four pitches; when his cutter is working, he will get hitters to pound the ball into the dirt.

\r\n\r\n30. Javis Diaz – OF

\r\n\r\nAlready blessed with raw speed, Diaz improved his body positioning and balance in his baserunning through the year, improving his stolen base success tenfold. He also is one of the better bunters in the system. He isn't, however, the quintessential leadoff man. He strikes out too much. And he may have too much power. He is standing up taller in his stance and has moved his hands back to give him more drive. He has trouble getting coverage on the outer part of the plate and doesn't have a good two-strike approach. Expect the power to increase in the coming year and it could be an intriguing combination given his speed.

\r\n\r\n31. Josh Geer – RHP

\r\n\r\nGeer, MadFriars.com Pitcher of the Year, does what everyone else should – commands his fastball, hits his spots, pitches to contact. Working inside was, however, the biggest reason for his success. He has continued to prove everyone wrong along the way. One of his strongest points is his pitch sequences. He knows how to fool hitters, keeping them off-balance by working through his arsenal. His ceiling is limited but there is no argument against his success. He needs to continue twirling his magic.

\r\n\r\n32. Steve Garrison – LHP

\r\n\r\nThe southpaw came into the organization as an unknown and worked ahead in the count and tossed strikes. Armed with four pitches, Garrison understands the game as well as anyone, hitting his spots and commanding his fastball. He throws a slider and a curveball with the slider his out pitch. Garrison won't wow with his velocity but will make the pitch when it is needed and limit damage by working the corners and staying down in the zone.

\r\n\r\n33. John Hussey – RHP

\r\n\r\nHussey went through a tremendous growing year where he lost confidence in his pitches and couldn't get ahead to use his plus-curveball. It got to a point where he was pushing the ball and trying to overthrow, making his command even less effective. His walk totals need to come down and it begins with first-pitch strikes. He was very effective in Instructs and learned max-effort does not lead to success. His mind appears clear now and he remains an untapped talent.

\r\n\r\n34. Jared Wells – RHP

\r\n\r\nNever a proponent of the changeup, Wells became a better pitcher when he was moved to the pen where he can concentrate on throwing two pitches and giving his all. He no longer had to think on the mound and became fearless – flashing his plus-fastball and slider, daring the opposition to beat him. Taking the thinking out of the equation as a member of the pen made Wells a better pitcher, utilizing his natural talents to record outs and put hitters away – the latter something he struggled with in the past.

\r\n\r\n35. Simon Castro – RHP

\r\n\r\nCastro needs to work with 90 percent effort to gain command of the strike zone. Like many young Dominicans, he tends to overthrow and with his huge frame it sends his mechanics off-line and the ball sailing outside or up in the strike zone. The key to his future will be tied to efficiency. While he has a plus-fastball it won't ever matter if he can't stay in the strike zone consistently. Where he throws the ball is more important than how hard it is thrown. His changeup needs a lot of work, but his slider has improved.

\r\n\r\n36. Craig Cooper – 1B

\r\n\r\nCooper has an inside-out swing that lends more to a higher average than power. As a first baseman, that puts him slightly behind. This is a kid who could make a jump in the rankings as he learns to consistently turn on and pull the inside pitch. He has a good feel for the strike zone but hasn't mastered looking for a pitch in a certain area and driving it. He is a very good defensive player and can play the corner outfield positions as well, giving him some versatility.

\r\n\r\n37. Daryl Jones – 1B

\r\n\r\nAt the point where Jones was turning a dismal season around, he went down to injury. Jones was chasing outside of the zone and not seeing many pitches early in the year. He began to understand what pitches he could drive and was making solid contact more frequently before his season ended. He still chases balls away and out of the zone and remains raw with power and potential. The coming year will be big for him to prove his talent can shine through.

\r\n\r\n38. R.J. Rodriguez – RHP

\r\n\r\nHe may be short in stature but Rodriguez has plenty of heart. The closer the game, the more focus he has. He has a tendency to lose his intensity when the game is out of hand and does not have the same attacking scheme, pitching a little too relaxed. Rodriguez always wants the ball in his hand – another positive. His velocity jumped several ticks with an off-season of rest and armed with an already plus-changeup the combination became deadly. He is also working on improving his slider.

\r\n\r\n39. Corey Kluber – RHP

\r\n\r\nKluber got a late start to the show but flashed quality pitches at times, although his rhythm seemed stunted by shorter outings to save his arm. He needs to get a better push off the mound to maximize his size and strength while also cleaning up his changeup – a pitch that he lost trust in after being a quality pitch in college. His even temperament allows him to shake off the bad outings and learn from them. He should see a lot of benefit from the time off.

\r\n\r\n40. Mike Ekstrom – RHP

\r\n\r\nA down year for the ground ball pitcher was a byproduct of command; Ekstrom didn't have it. He was up in the zone for a majority of the year and the opposition took advantage. He maintained his poise throughout the season and never got down on himself. He remained aggressive and was rewarded for his work ethic, picking up the Championship win. Simply put, he has to keep the ball down to succeed.

\r\n\r\n41. Brad Chalk – OF

\r\n\r\nAn injury set Chalk back in his first professional season, but the young outfielder has good pop in his stick and excellent speed. He had the appearance of being lazy early on because of his ailments but turned out some impressive performances at Instructs. Chalk will need to work on pulling the inside pitches more frequently, as he naturally wants to take it the other way. He will also have to bunt more often than he did to utilize his speed. He is a kid that could make a jump in the standings with a healthy season.

\r\n\r\n42. Rolando Valdez – RHP

\r\n\r\nA true competitor, Valdez is a little too hard on himself, and once inside a rut, he has trouble digging himself out. The converted outfielder has a plus-changeup but lost some of its feel this year. His curveball has a tendency to hang and will need a tighter spin to become successful. Valdez throws strikes and has impressive command of his fastball for a player that is relatively new to pitching. If he can command his off-speed pitches, Valdez' future could be bright.

\r\n\r\n43. Jesus Lopez – SS

\r\n\r\nThere are few who made the strides that Lopez did offensively. The numbers may not tell the true story of how much he improved. Lopez took to the Padres approach that preaches patience and squared a lot of balls up – lining out to a defender more than anyone in the system. If he can keep that approach consistently, his luck will turn. Lopez already is a plus defender that sports a cannon arm. He will rush his throws at times and needs to settle his feet before going to first.

\r\n\r\n44. Alexis Lara – RHP

\r\n\r\nThe right-handed Lara has the potential to be very good and could jump up this list. He is efficient with his pitches and can throw two off-speed pitches over for strikes. He tends to favor the slider as a strikeout pitch but his changeup might be the better pitch. He will overthrow at times, looking to blow the rock past a hitter rather than pitching to contact and trusting his defense. His delivery is extremely violent, but also allows him to hide the ball well. His fastball has late pop, and he can keep his pitches in the zone.

\r\n\r\n45. Drew Macias – OF

\r\n\r\nMacias regained the step he lost a year ago and proved to be an outstanding defender at three outfield positions, running good routes and covering a lot of ground. His bat has also come a long way, as has his patience at the dish. He really grasped the patiently aggressive approach and tried to drive pitches he could handle. Macias hit a lot of balls hard this season – but oftentimes they went right at people. His body could hold a little more weight and that could add the power desired to go with plus-defensive skills.

\r\n\r\n46. Jeudy Valdez – SS

\r\n\r\nValdez has the potential to be great – he just has to cut down on the mistakes. He needs to level out his swing plane, go with the pitch, and stop leaking forward and diving out to get the outside pitch while adding consistent overall mechanics at the plate. He has speed and will hit for power once his swing becomes repeatable. He made up for some of the deficiencies with great bat speed. His defense is an area that needs a tremendous amount of work, and stamina will be a question he must answer next year.

\r\n\r\n47. Sean Kazmar – SS

\r\n\r\nKazmar had a down year and lost his confidence in Double-A, putting a lot of pressure on himself and not having fun. He improved when sent down, reclaiming his swagger and going back to the basics of putting a good, easy swing on the ball. When he was moved to shortstop in the California League, Kazmar sparkled. He showed range, soft hands, excellent footwork, and saved quite a few runs. It could be the position he mans from now on.

\r\n\r\n48. Orlando Lara – LHP

\r\n\r\nLara was loaned to Mexico for much of the season but has a chance to move up the rankings with a prolonged stay in the states. He has a plus-changeup and an improving curveball to go with a fastball that appears harder than it is. He has to fine-tune his command and work on consistent mechanics, as he lost the smoother side to his delivery this season. He was falling behind in the count and would leave fastballs out over the plate. Pitch sequences will be important to him moving forward.

\r\n\r\n49. Robert Perry – OF

\r\n\r\nPerry was a sparkplug wherever he went and has surprising pop for a player of his stature. He has good mechanics, puts his whole body into a swing and has a short stroke while maintaining a natural ability to get the bat head through the zone. A polished player that goes to the ballpark each day with confidence, Perry has a great feel for the game and picks up on tactics being used by the opposition from the dugout – a natural leader who will share that information. He is also a solid defender and will have to continue to use all the fundamentals to get the job done.

\r\n\r\n50. Nathan Culp – LHP

\r\n\r\nCulp hurls four pitches and has good control of each of them. His ability to spot his fastball is ahead of most, and a big key to his success. While he won't wow with his stuff – his changeup has become very good - he has great pitchability. The crafty lefty is competitive and loves to be challenged – pressure situations don't seem to faze him. When his cutter is on, he gets a lot of ground balls outs and is happy to let his defense do the work for him.

\r\n\r\n51. Jeremy Hefner – RHP

\r\n\r\nThrowing strikes better than any new draftee, Hefner took advantage of what he saw from the competition and had a keen eye for seeing the weaknesses of his opponent. Challenging hitters, especially early on, was one of his strengths. He has a good fastball that should gain a few ticks with some rest, and his slider is effective. His changeup needs some work, but he has constantly worked on it since his arrival. Rest will be big for him, as he threw a ton of innings this season and went through a dead-arm period. His smooth mechanics offer a lot of future potential.

\r\n\r\n52. Juan Ciriaco – SS

\r\n\r\nThere are some who believe Ciriaco will be a big leaguer and be a very good one. More production needs to be present before that can become true. He redid his swing this year under the care of Jim Lefebvre and regained his confidence along the way. He has solid power in his wiry frame and has better balance at the plate than in the past. His instincts at shortstop aren't great and he doesn't always plant his feet when he throws. He may end up at second. Learning where his pitch to drive is will ultimately tell his tale, as he has never had great discipline.

\r\n\r\n53. Matt Teague – LHP

\r\n\r\nTeague can't throw a ball straight; he has a lot of natural movement on his pitches yet finds a way to consistently hit the target. There is, however, such a thing as throwing too many strikes. Hitters began to attack early in the count, as they knew he was always around the plate. He needs to find a pitch that will drop out of the zone to keep hitters from teeing off. A great listener with a willingness to learn, Teague will be better as his defense improves.

\r\n\r\n54. Luis Martinez – C

\r\n\r\nMartinez has the body of a catcher and a terrific feel for his pitching staff, as they enjoy throwing to him. He has good footwork and a solid arm but needs to improve on his positioning and ability to frame the ball. He is also learning pitch sequences and what to call when. A hard worker who was late on the fastball in Eugene, Martinez learned how to take what the pitcher gave him and stay with the ball by putting in extra time. He has good pop in a strong frame and his discipline at the plate improved through the season.

\r\n\r\n55. Danny Payne – OF

\r\n\r\nPayne is patient to a fault. While the Padres preach patience, they also want their hitters to be aggressive. Payne will let good pitches snake by him and fall behind in the count rather than attacking a fastball down the middle early in the count. He needs to learn the pitches he can drive, and when he sees that pitch, he has to take the stick off his shoulders. He will have to make the adjustment to take the next step or face being on the defensive all the time.

\r\n\r\n56. Mike Baxter – OF

\r\n\r\nFor the last two years, Baxter has been a tale of two halves. The first half of the year has been awful and the second half very good. He is a hard-nosed player that hustles and religiously puts in the effort to improve. He has a short, compact swing but sometimes his trigger is late in reacting, changing his timing. He has room to add weight to his frame and that could drive him to future success. He also has to work on his jumps in the outfield.

\r\n\r\n57. Eric Sogard – 2B

\r\n\r\nSogard is another player with great makeup and will give you his all each day. He has trouble with the ball on the outer half of the plate, showing a tendency to drop his bat head underneath the ball to compensate. He has good plate awareness and does not often chase outside the zone. Sogard is also fundamentally sound with bunting, the hit-and-run and baserunning. He lacks the range and footwork for shortstop but could develop into a solid second baseman.

\r\n\r\n58. Seth Johnston – 2B

\r\n\r\nJohnston has a consistent approach at the plate and has the ability to hit .300 each year. He is a very good two-strike hitter who will take the ball the other way and use all parts of the field. He does not have the power you crave and that could hold him back. Adding a slight lift to his swing may help. His biggest knock is a lack of position. He does not have the range to play shortstop and his hands are adequate for second. Outfield could be in his future.

\r\n\r\n59. Yesid Salazar – RHP

\r\n\r\nThis was a learning year for Salazar. When he was first moved up, he felt he had to change his game and began overthrowing – trying to put the ball past more experienced hitters. He settled down and regained his confidence, asking for the ball in pressure situations. He is an aggressive pitcher who will challenge hitters but has to focus on staying on top of the ball and keeping it down in the zone. His breaking ball has to take the next step as well.

\r\n\r\n60. Andrew Parrino – SS

\r\n\r\nParrino is the definition of a gamer. He leaves his body and soul on the field and never takes a day off. That personality rubs off on the rest of the team, as they see how hard and consistent he works. He is an aggressive hitter that is learning the strike zone and what pitches he can hit. The balls he did connect on were often drilled, sometimes right at defenders. If he can learn to be more patient, Parrino could rise up this list. He has the ability to stick at shortstop and can slide over to second base with ease.

\r\n\r\nAs with scouts and front office personnel, each individual compiles their own list and submits them. We will take the same tact here. Look for another prospect list in the near future.

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