AZL Padres Player of the Year

Summary: The sun-baked Arizona League (AZL) Padres led the organization in hitting at .279/.358/.433, which is a big credit to their hitting coach, Bob Skube.

Overview: We used a simple formula for the awards, whichever team the player appeared at the most determined their eligibility. For the top prospect we took into account of not what the players did this year, but their age and ability to improve.

Level: The Arizona League is the bottom rung of the ladder in the Padres' organization and the first place that high school players, Latin American players and college players that are drafted late land. The games are played at the Padres spring training complex in Peoria before, and we are being generous, "limited fan support." As anyone can imagine playing in the mid-summer heat of Phoenix is no joy.

Conniff Confidential

Player of the Year:

Cody Decker
.354/.421/.717
First Baseman

Decker, 22, simply had a monster season, leading the AZL in home runs (16), RBI (63), total bases (142) and extra-base hits (39). His .717 slugging percentage was 75 points above the second place finisher in the league. The stocky right-handed hitter at 5-foot-10, 230-pounds demonstrated at UCLA that he could hit, but his age and doubts about his ability to play positions other than first base led him to fall to the 22nd-round of this year's draft. Regardless of what anyone projects or thinks, he's earned an opportunity at the next level and the organization is toying with trying him in the outfield.

Runner-up:

Rymer Liriano
.350/.398/.523
Outfielder

Liriano, 18, finished second to Decker in nearly every major team offensive category while playing a good center field. He profiles more as a corner outfielder and also stole 14 bases in 19 attempts to go along with 17 extra-base hits, eight of which went over the wall. The only cause for concern may lie in his ability to control the zone with 52 strikeouts in 241 plate appearances.

Savage Sub-Rosa

Player of the Year:

Cody Decker
.354/.421/.717
First Baseman

Duh. The Arizona Rookie League MVP put on a dominant performance. He led the league with a 27-game on-base streak while averaging 1.2 RBI per game. He hit .411 with runners in scoring position, using the entire field as his playground. What impressed the Padres was his ability to mentor and leadership skills coupled with his hitting. The concerns are he was old for the league and doesn't project well at any other position but first. As mentioned above, he has earned the right to prove his naysayers wrong.

Runner-up:

Rymer Liriano
.350/.398/.523
Outfielder

A postseason All-Star, Liriano was an offensive force that grew significantly during the season. He hit .413 with runners in scoring position and continues to mature into a body that projects to be lean and full of muscle. He hit over .300 during each month of the season - impressive considering his history consisted of a strikeout or homer in the DSL> While he struck out too much and didn't draw enough walks, his ability to recognize pitches improved.

Others of Note: Jonathan Galvez, 18, attracts attention with the potential in his lanky frame and ability to hit. This year he finished at .295/.399/.503, although he didn't have a great year defensively with 20 errors in 52 games. Third baseman Jonathan Alia is a converted first baseman and put up some good numbers, .304/.377/.485, but the Cal-State Dominguez Hills product is going to be 24 in December and will need to advance quickly to have a chance. Outfielders Wande Olabisi , 21, .255/.325/.409 of Stanford and Cameron Monger, 21, .295/.357/.429, of New Mexico never got off on the right track on college, but have spectacular physical skills. The big question is will the baseball part of the equation catch up to the potential? Monger played all three outfield positions and stole 29 bases in 34 attempts while Olabisi stole 13 in 14 attempts. Both had trouble controlling the zone with Olabisi notching with 52 strikeouts in 159 plate appearances while Monger had a little better luck with 52 strikeouts in 229 plate appearances.

Manager Commentary: "He was my best player, on and off the field. His makeup, the way he carries himself, the way he goes about his business. He comes out to play every day – every inning of every game." – Jose Flores on Cody Decker.

Top Prospect: Rymer Liriano

A true five-tool talent, Liriano is one of the better pure athletes in the Padres system with an intriguing blend of speed and power. He has surprising speed and a solid arm. He needs to improve his route running and overall outfield play. His power is among the best in the system. He did cut down his strikeouts during the second half, laying off the breaking balls away and learning the pitches he can handle. If he can learn to control his temper and the strike zone, the sky is truly the limit.


MadFriars Top Stories