Tool Time: Top Hitters for Average

The name of the game is getting on base. With a pitcher winning the battle seven out of 10 times, hitting .300 is a bonus for the hitter. These San Diego Padres prospects have the goods to close in on and surpass the magic number on a yearly basis.

Jaff Decker

A terrific batting eye and feel for hitting is the staple of Decker's game. At such a young age, the outfielder has a firm understanding of the strike zone and uses it to his advantage.

His pitch selection and willingness to wait for his pitch gives him an edge in the average game. He can sit on the breaking ball and hit the fastball with equal ferocity but only offer if it is in his hitting zone.

Luis Durango

The numbers: .335 career average over five seasons in the minors. Was there really any doubt? Luis Durango has won the batting title three straight years in three different leagues, accomplishing the feat in the Dominican Summer League, Arizona Rookie League and Northwest League.

A slap hitter that can seemingly put the ball anywhere on the field, he takes advantage of where the defense plays him and hits it where they aren't. Isn't that the epitome of a successful hitter?

Cedric Hunter

No one in the organization can match the hand-eye coordination of Hunter. His contact rate is in ridiculous territory and leads to lots of hard hits.

Hunter led the entire minors in hits last season with 186 and is getting better with age. With his ability to put bat to ball – and with authority – Hunter will continue to get his hits at a high clip.

Dan Robertson

A solid foundation that sports a clean approach that is quick and short to the ball promotes his high-average ability. Robertson has very little movement in his swing and works the count into his favor.

Blessed with confidence and a burning desire to succeed, Robertson has excellent pitch recognition and selection. He allows the ball to travel deep and can turn on the inside fastball. There is little he can't handle.

Peter Ciofrone

A professional hitter, Ciofrone falls out of bed ready to hit. It is one of the prime reasons the Padres were keen on re-signing him as a six-year free agent.

Ciofrone has repeatable mechanics and a great base from which he generates solid bat speed. Because of his approach, the Padres have maintained the power will continue to blossom. With a great eye, Ciofrone can look for his pitch, and since he does not change the approach, he provides damage in the clutch.

Honorable Mention:

Matt Antonelli

Regardless of what the statistics say from 2008, Antonelli has the potential to annually pass the .300 barrier. Mechanics faltered last year but don't expect that to last. He has the pitch recognition and discipline to break out in a big way.

Kyle Blanks

Despite his tremendous size and power potential, Blanks is a line drive hitter that prides himself on his overall game. He can go the opposite way just as easy as he pulls it and has the strength to hit balls into the outfield even when jammed.

Eric Sogard

A clean and easy swing allows Sogard to let the ball travel deep, giving him an edge on picking up both the fastball and breaking ball. His terrific batting eye ensures he is only swinging at balls inside his zone, making him a consistent threat for .300.

Drew Cumberland

With his plus-plus speed, Cumberland makes ordinary plays to the left side of the infield a bang-bang play. As he matures and continues to get at-bats, the infielder's approach will improve and his ability to get on base will reach new heights.

Robert Lara

A solid batting eye and the ability to recognize pitches allows Lara to be selective in what he offers at. A smooth stroke that is level through the hitting zone maximizes his ability to hit.

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