Sizing Up The Padres Pitching Prospects II

The San Diego Padres will dip into the prospect pool at some point in 2010. Who are the starters closest to the majors? Also, every season is filled with pitchers who make a statement – we eye those sleepers. Finally, what pitching prospects still have question marks that need answers?

Closest to the majors:

Cesar Ramos

On the 40-man roster, Ramos has always had the stuff to compete at the highest level but has struggled to put it together in a cohesive fashion. He is a bulldog that goes deep into games but has bouts of inconsistency that often come via the big inning.

Cory Luebke

The left-hander proved his lofty draft status after a total revamp of his delivery. Everything became better when he stood up taller in his finish. He lacks that true plus pitch, although his fastball is a tick above average, but is well-rounded with three average offerings he can toss for strikes in any count.

Cesar Carrillo

The fastball velocity is back but the command that made him a first round pick has not returned to pre-surgery form. He lacks a bit of passion and must find that to become the pitcher he can be. Perhaps it is that he was so close before injury and the slow tread back has taken its toll. It starts with confidence on the mound – that alone will make his pitches crisper.

Ernesto Frieri

A consistent performer that may not look pretty on the mound, Frieri likely profiles better as a reliever. Few have his confidence and fewer still possess his fastball command. If he can make his two secondary pitches more usable, Frieri could be dark horse starter or long reliever.

Jeremy Hefner

A true workhorse, Hefner is a ground ball pitcher that is consistently around the zone. If he can embrace the curveball, he has a chance to be someone to watch. Given his arsenal, it takes quite a few hits to produce runs off him. That allows him to work deep into games – a trait that is always coveted.


Jorge Reyes

A 17th-round pick, Reyes has top round talent. Given a more structured environment, Reyes has the stuff to thrive. He has a plus slider that is a wipeout pitch and exhibits fastball command. With the right mentor, Reyes has a chance to be a dominant pitcher – and one that will move quickly.

Nick Schmidt

Putting a first-round pick in the sleeper category may sound strange, but coming off surgery, he remains a bit of an unknown – especially since others in the system have not bounced back from similar surgeries. Schmidt should, however, be the norm – he is an hard worker that put every ounce of energy into his return. His stuff started to return to pre-surgery form before he hit a wall in his first season back on the mound.

Anthony Bass

Armed with three quality pitches that he can throw for strikes and a deceptive delivery, hitters struggle to get good wood off him. The right-hander has a average fastball that plays higher and a plus changeup. He will throw his slider a bit too often and forget the changeup at times. Pitch sequencing will be essential to his ultimate success since he has the rest of the tools.

Pedro Hernandez

The diminutive lefty has a plus changeup and fastball command. He has increased his velocity over the last year but struggled in Eugene, as his confidence wavered and he gave the hitters too much credit. Hernandez has to improve his pitch sequencing and maturity – he will shy away from contact and his best pitch if he starts getting hit.

Nick Greenwood

A deceptive delivery and ability to change speeds was a recipe for success. Hitters struggle to make hard contact on his offerings, and he works down in the zone with command. He has a plus changeup and needs to improve his curveball. Some whisper he may be a southpaw suited for bullpen work but a third pitch could give him the makings of a quality back end starter.

Erik Davis

A 16-game winner, Davis gets by on pitch location rather than plus stuff. He is a backwards pitcher that works off the success of his changeup and curveball before pounding in a fastball he spots well. Davis knows how to pitch and reads hitters' swings well, disrupting their timing.

Pedro Martinez

Taking care of himself physically has been one of the big question marks. He has come to camp overweight in the past but seemed to dedicate himself better in 2009. The result was better fastball command, a plus changeup and improving curveball. He is on the right path if he can keep his weight under wraps.

Juan Herrera

Lacking an internal fire, Herrera has taken a step backwards in development. The fastball command has not improved as much as expected, and the staff is unsure he wants to improve. He seemed disappointed he did not come to the states last year and sulked because of it. The arm speed is still fantastic and his ceiling is incredibly high.

Chris Wilkes

Fastball command and a plus changeup have marked Wilkes' early career. He thought he had to change in Lake Elsinore and was lit up, affecting him even when he went back to extended spring. Wilkes is a ground ball machine with his moving two-seamer and can find success at the back half of a rotation by keeping things simple and working to his strengths.

The jury is still out:

Juan Oramas

The Mexican League ERA champ is a little bit of a mystery since he has not pitched stateside. He has a moving fastball in the low-90s with projection and a plus-plus curveball that makes hitters look silly. Improving his changeup will be essential. Also, he has a tendency to overthrow at times, causing his location to suffer.

Aaron Breit

Lack of confidence was a huge hurdle that Breit has seemed to overcome. He has some of the best stuff in the system with a plus fastball and curveball. He has not made significant strides with his changeup but uses it more than in the past. Learning how to hold leads will be important, as he seemed to falter when given slim margins.

Nathan Culp

With 35 regular season wins over the last three years, Culp is only here because there is a question whether his stuff can play at the highest level. He pitches to contact and gets a lot of ground balls, meaning it takes quite a few hits to score upon him. In the Jack Cassel mode – although Culp is a lefty – he has to overcome the perception and prove he is still the winner he has shown. It is a yearly thing.

Stiven Osuna

Trusting his fastball is an important piece of the puzzle. When he does, he is really good. When he lacks that intrinsic feel, Osuna is a one-pitch guy that has hitters sitting on an above-average changeup. Consistency is the biggest obstacle – along with pressure from more quality arms in the system. He is still young and could either implode or explode.

Miles Mikolas

He had an awful start to his career but was voted the Most Improved Pitcher at instructs. In Eugene, it was easy to pick up the spin of his ball, as he telegraphed each pitch. He became better at disguising his stuff and working the corners rather than the middle of the plate. Still, he needs to show it in live action before everyone is a believer.

Deiber Sanchez

An overachiever who gets more out of stuff because of his aggressive, strike-throwing attitude, Sanchez may have been able to succeed at the low levels on desire alone. At some point, however, he will need to have the stuff to back it up and it is unclear whether he has that in his arsenal.

Simon Berroa

He has a considerable ceiling but has not made attempts to learn English, especially when he was rehabbing various ailments. There is some question as to how much he wants this and whether he has the aptitude to listen and take instruction.

Jon Berger

A pitchability guy that won't blow you away with his stuff, Berger understands how to set hitters up. He will, however, make some mistakes and the higher levels opponents can take advantage. He needs to take steps in refining his pitches and even adding more velocity.

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