What prospects will the Padres protect?

The San Diego Padres will have a number of decisions to make on their young talent – who to protect and who should be left unguarded – in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft. Adding a prospect to the 40-man roster is the only way to ensure they are protected.

Mike Baxter

A versatile defender that can play the outfield, first base and even catch in a pinch, Baxter has a number of tools but none that stand out. He hits for average and has doubles power but is not a threat to take balls deep with regularity. He has a touch above average speed. Baxter has been solid since tweaking his swing in the Arizona Fall League. It is, however, unlikely that the Padres will protect him.

Aaron Breit

A draft-and-follow, Breit was thought to be a frontline starter. Mental challenges and loss of confidence stalled his progress and sent him to the bullpen. He returned to starting this season and had a solid season but remains a work in progress. Breit has a low-90s fastball and a plus curveball but still needs to work on command. He has often hit too much of the plate. An interesting case that could be worth keeping or a flier on if unprotected.

Matt Buschmann

On his way without plus stuff, Buschmann was derailed this season and ended up in the pen. He has a moving two-seam fastball that produces ground balls and a solid slider that is plus at times. His cross body motion also offers deception. Buschmann has struggled with mechanical issues, not staying on top of the ball in his delivery, which causes his pitches to rise. His ground ball prowess is taken away when his pitches elevate.

Yefri Carvajal

If he had blossomed like many expected, Carvajal would be a hot commodity at this time and certainly protected. With his bat not coming around as quickly as many would have liked and his plate patience still an unknown, Carvajal is safe within the system.

Craig Cooper

A solid season for Cooper in Double-A gives him hope. He is a plus defender at first base and a touch above average in the outfield corners. Cooper has struggled pulling the inside fastball to show more power, despite a sturdy frame. He is a high average hitter with more gap ability. Is that enough given the power production expected from the positions he plays? Probably not.

Nathan Culp

A winner everywhere he goes, Culp has a four-pitch repertoire that he mixes well. He has a plus changeup and often works backwards – not a recipe for success at the big league level. He has command of each pitch and works down in the zone, getting a lot of ground balls. He is reminiscent of Jack Cassel – but from the left side. He will get hit and the thought is a good defense will assist him greatly. He likely doesn't have enough ‘stuff' to be protected.

Gabe DeHoyos

A reliever with a nasty breaking ball, DeHoyos was someone former general manager Kevin Towers liked. It is conceivable he could have helped this year if it wasn't for an injury that derailed much of his season. The right-hander could be someone that another teams looks to but the Padres bullpen appears pretty set and there are other players who merit consideration first.

Brett Dowdy

A utility player that can play a number of different roles with adequate defense at five different positions, Dowdy has some value. He has, however, never been able to translate his plus speed into a usable tool on the base paths. Because he is more of a singles hitter, Dowdy's future potential is limited. The Padres will not protect him.

Jon Ellis

A right-hander with a dirty slider has value but not given his fastball command issues. Ellis has a true strikeout pitch with the slider but struggles locating the ball and gets into more problems because of walks – a huge detriment as a reliever. A big year could push him up the chain as a tool for the big league club, but he has to show consistency within the strike zone before that happens.

Stephen Faris

The right-hander out of Clemson has struggled in a number of areas and was moved to the bullpen this year. He has a good curveball but does not throw the changeup often enough and is spotty with his fastball command. Faris is a competitor and a great hitting pitcher, but that won't be enough to have his rights protected.

Steve Garrison

Surgery derailed Garrison's progress, as he was on his way to San Diego with a mix of pitchability and command. He has terrific fastball command, working the ball in and out and up and down. Garrison also locates each of his secondary pitches and has pitch sequencing down. Garrison is probably the most interesting case because he did not pitch a whole lot in 2009. He is still young and has some maturing to do but offers promise. Garrison is protection worthy, unless injury concerns have people wondering.

Carlos Guevara

A veteran of the Rule 5 Draft after being selected by the Padres in 2007, he has not made significant strides to stand out since. He doesn't overpower with a mid-90s fastball and relies on what has been called a screwball to keep hitters off-balance. His time, however, has come and gone since he was released by the Padres this year and eventually re-signed.

Chad Huffman

The Padres expected big things from Huffman in 2009, but he largely disappointed until the final month. He has power and will hit good pitching but how much power is often a question. He is a solid defender but everything will come down to the bat. Do they think it will play in San Diego? Another year may answer the question.

Will Inman

One of the toughest choices the Padres have. He has a solid fastball and a plus curveball, but mechanics have been an issue. He is a tinkering machine that is always moving arm angles and working on improving with mixed results. He has calmed down his delivery and added a cutter, but last year was what most scouts have seen when his delivery was out of whack and his pitches were elevated. His upside says he may be protected.

Craig Italiano

Acquired as part of the Scott Hairston deal, Italiano was moved to the bullpen when he joined the organization. He has an electric slider and a mid-90s fastball that profiles well in relief. Italiano also has a cross body motion that generates deception and moving his arm angle to three-quarters has made it free and easy. He will be protected.

Seth Johnston

The third baseman has toiled in Double-A for quite some time and has not established himself as a power threat that controls the strike zone. He has shown bouts of potential but not enough to warrant a protection when there are younger players with more upside.

Sean Kazmar

He has proven he can play defensively at shortstop and thrive. He is also a solid defender at second base. Kazmar has struggled buying into the patiently aggressive approach the Padres preach. He also has enough power that he sometimes will believe he is more of a power hitter, killing his line drive approach and resulting in more popups than necessary from a middle infielder. He could be helpful to another team.

Kendall Korbal

In a rare circumstance, Korball is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft because his original contract was voided when he signed this season. Because of a pre-existing arm injury, Korball was signed to a second contract after a renegotiation of his bonus. Once signed to a second contract, he immediately became Rule 5 Draft eligible. Since he is coming off injury and an unknown to all, there is little chance he gets selected or is protected.

Jesus Lopez

Once thought to be a shoe-in for protection because of his outstanding defense, the play of Everth Cabrera has cast his future in doubt. Lopez puts the ball in play but has little power and the contact he does make is often weak. There is little doubt that he can handle the defensive side of the game, despite not having ideal range for a shortstop, the bat questions will keep him on the farm.

Drew Miller

A talented arm coming off surgery. He has a mid-90s fastball and good breaking ball but has struggled with the changeup. Coming off surgery and missing the entire 2009 season means it is likely he won't have to be put on the 40-man and will go unclaimed.

Eduardo Perez

Acquired as part of the Greg Maddux deal, Perez has not pitched above Low-A. While it has been established that it is not a prerequisite - see Joakim Soria - Perez does not have the stuff that Soria showed. It would be a stretch to see him protected or claimed.

Danny Putnam

Acquired from the Oakland A's, Putnam doesn't have the power normally associated with his outfield position. While he has control of the strike zone and does things well, 40-man roster spots are highly coveted and usually saved for a younger option that has a higher ceiling.

Walter Silva

Another pitcher that was released by the Padres, giving any team the right to place a claim, and went untouched. The right-hander did not show enough during his stint with the Padres to warrant future protection.

Ali Solis

A backstop that has an excellent arm from behind the plate but does not hit nearly enough. If anything, he would be a quality defender as a backup catcher but claims made during the Rule 5 Draft are looking for young players that can become regular contributors. Solis does not fit this bill.

Will Startup

An interesting case given that he is coming off injury. His stuff plays at the next level, as evidenced by his rocket through the system prior to arm trouble. Injury has, however, taken a significant portion of the last two years. It might be more plausible if his status was known and the arm could be trusted. His velocity isn't quite where it was just yet and for someone to expect it out of spring training may be asking too much. Next year, if not protected, it would seem more likely that he would be a claim candidate.

Rolando Valdez

The right-hander has been a bit of an enigma at times. He has a solid arm with a low-90s fastball and a plus changeup. He also has shown a good curveball - sometimes at the expense of the changeup. His mental maturity is also a question mark and he hasn't had enough success to say whether someone would be willing to take a flier on a still raw arm, considering he was an outfielder before the Padres converted him to the mound.

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