Top Prospect #13: OF Jorge Padilla

Jorge Padilla has plenty of talent, but after a down season in 2002 and an injury plagued season in 2003, the Phillies do have some concerns about the future of their 24 year old outfielder. Since Padilla does have such raw talent, the Phillies believe that he can rebound quickly enough and strongly enough to move back into their list of Top 10 Prospects.

When the Phillies were scouting Jorge Padilla, the first thing that they – and other scouts – noticed was his bat speed. Padilla had developed so much speed with his swing that it almost looked like an optical illusion. That swing, and Padilla's natural power, led to a lot of balls leaving parks quickly when Padilla connected.

The problem with Padilla has been one that many players encounter. Once Padilla hit AA, his progress slowed. Many players fall by the side of the road to the majors at the AA level and in his first season at AA Reading, Padilla got a rude awakening. While he has a quick swing, he often pulls the trigger too quickly and leaves himself open to chasing pitches that wind up out of the strike zone. Pitchers exploited that hole many times in 2002 and Padilla's numbers dropped off sharply. Even though it was a down season, Padilla still found a way to become the first player in Reading history to record 30 doubles and 30 stolen bases in the same season.

Padilla returned to Reading in 2003 and was putting up good numbers average wise, but was still off of his usual homerun pace. Then, injuries hit and Padilla would finish his second AA season playing in just 46 games for Reading. Suddenly, Padilla had gone from being a top prospect to being a guy who in two seasons had hit just 9 homeruns. A far cry from the 16 that he put up in 2001 at Clearwater.

Early in his career, Padilla wasn't known as a base stealer, stealing 12 bases in his first three professional seasons. Suddenly, Padilla turned on the speed and learned how to read pitchers and swiped 23 bases in 2001 and 32 in 2002. Padilla was on a similar pace in 2003, stealing 11 bases in 46 games.

Defensively, Padilla has the potential to be one of the best outfielders at any level. He is best suited to right field, but has enough range to play center field, at least on an occasional basis. His arm is strong and accurate. If there is any weakness on defense, it's that he doesn't always get a great jump on balls hit his way.

Padilla has been somewhat injury prone throughout his minor league career. He missed the last two weeks of the season in 1998 with a dislocated finger and spent time on the DL in 2000, 2001 and considerable time on the DL in 2003.

On the bright side, Padilla just turned 24 last August and that raw talent is still there. The Phillies are far from giving up on him and look for him to have a comeback kind of season in 2004. It's not out of the question that Padilla could surface at AAA by the mid-point of the season if all goes well at Reading.

Jorge Padilla's Career Stats

 

Year/Team

HR

RBI

AVG

SB

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

BB

KO

1998 Martinsville (Rookie)

5

25

.356

2

23

90

10

32

3

0

4

24

1999 Piedmont (Low A)

3

17

.208

0

44

168

13

35

10

1

5

44

2000 Piedmont (Low A)

11

67

.305

8

108

413

62

126

24

8

26

89

2001 Clearwater (High A)

16

66

.260

23

100

358

62

93

13

2

40

73

2002 Reading (AA)

7

65

.256

32

127

484

71

124

30

2

40

77

2003 Reading (AA)

2

23

.295

11

46

173

21

51

13

1

18

29

Career Minor League Stats

44

263

.273

76

448

1686

239

461

93

14

133

336

 


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