Sizing up the Padres shortstop prospects

The San Diego Padres have struggled in growing shortstop prospects over the last few years, but the tide appears ready to turn. Two have immense ceilings. One is major league ready. Two sleepers reside that may surprise people. It isn't a barren wasteland anymore.

Highest ceiling:

Lance Zawadzki

There is no denying the talent of Zawadzki. He is one of the few five-tool talents the Padres have. Power, average, speed, strong arm and fielding prowess are all off the charts in terms of potential. Meeting all of the potential has been a challenge on the mental side, as Zawadzki is insanely hard on himself. His base running is amongst the best in the system, his power is beginning to blossom, and his fielding is coming along, as he learns when to come in on balls and when to hang back. His footwork has also improved, giving him better balance on throws.

Drew Cumberland

Injuries have been his biggest deterrent, although none have been the kind that threaten to recur – most coming on freak plays or tough breaks. With game changing speed and a knack for putting the ball in play on the ground or on a line, Cumberland is the epitome of excitement. He can lay down a bunt or hurt you with a liner into the gap, and his refined approach and bat control give him the ability to take a walk or play small ball and use the entire field. Defensively, Cumberland has great lateral movement and makes all the plays.

Closest to the majors:

Beamer Weems

The strongest defensively among all shortstop prospects, Weems makes it look effortless. He is the only one at the position that doesn't get caught on in between hops – knowing when to hold back and when to press the action. His offense took positive strides in year two, as there was talk heading into instructs last year that the Padres would abandon his left-handed hitting ways. He remains a switch-hitter and is a lot more patient at the plate. His added strength allowed him to make more solid contact, but as he lost weight during the season, his bat regressed. He will need to work on a conditioning program to maintain a healthy weight through the year.

Sleepers:

Alvaro Aristy

Hit with a 50-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy doesn't sit well, but the ultra thin Aristy is graceful in the field and his future will depend largely on his bat. He has surprising strength in a little frame and must add muscle to his frame. He also needs to become better at small ball – using the entire field, laying down bunts successfully and moving runners over.

Dean Anna

Playing a solid defensive shortstop with the ability to slide to the other side of the bag, Anna's bat came a long way in the last year. He has a quiet rhythm in his swing that allows him to let the ball travel deep, improving his pitch recognition. With quick hands, he gets the bat through the zone. He knows what kind of player he is and executes a line drive swing well. He does not have much speed and that could play against him. Need to make their move:

Sean Kazmar

Constantly praised because of his versatility, Kazmar sometimes will suffer from the "big man" syndrome. Simply put, he has to keep the ball out of the air to be successful. When he is swinging for the fences, Kazmar is an easy out. When he keeps a level swing and looks to line the ball up the middle of the field or to right-center, he sees success. His patience at the plate also needs to continue its improvement. Defensively, Kazmar is a plus defender at second base and shortstop.

Jesus Lopez

A fluid defender that makes all the routine plays and never seems to be out of position, Lopez lacks superior range that would make his defense elite. The main concern has, however, always been his hitting. He has never strung together consistency on the batting front. Since he will never draw a lot of walks and hacks early in counts, Lopez needs to improve his hard contacts. Because he is a bad ball hitter, he tends to hit weak ground balls to get himself out.

The jury is still out:

Chris Tremblay

In Eugene, Tremblay did not have a single extra-base hit. Part of the problem has been in adapting to the professional game. He strides towards the plate and the opposing pitchers pounded him inside with regularity. Until he can show the ability to adapt and change his style, inside pitches will remain a problem. Given that he is in his first professional season, it is too early to say whether he can make the adjustment.

Jorge Minyeti

Considerably patient for a kid coming out of Latin America, Minyeti saw some struggles when his playing time diminished. He has a tendency to take his aggression out in at-bats when he makes a bad play in the field and will need to learn to separate that part of the mental process to see success. He has a patient approach and runs well, creating opportunities on the base paths. Minyeti doesn't have the strongest arm but can play three positions on the infield.

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