Top Prospect #17: Jorge Padilla

If only Jorge Padilla could show some consistency, it would be easier for the Phillies to consider him for a major league spot. By now, Padilla should have been pushing for big league stardom. Instead, he'll get little consideration this spring and could be out of the organization without a strong 2005 campaign.

Jorge Padilla is likely coming into a season that will determine a lot for him. Early in his career, Padilla showed some power potential and hit for decent averages. Over the 2000 and 2001 seasons, Padilla hit 27 homeruns and .284 at Piedmont and Clearwater respectively. Since then, he's managed just 16 homers and his average has dropped to .262 in those three seasons. Padilla has gone from a solid prospect to a prospect that the Phillies hope can rediscover the smooth stroke that they fell in love with years ago.

One problem has been injuries. In 2003, Padilla missed the last three months of the season with recurring problems with his left hand. Earlier in his career, he was on the DL for heel problems, a pulled hamstring and a right oblique strain. This past season, Padilla was able to play in 117 games, the second most in his minor league career. Now, Padilla needs to put injuries and any other potential excuse behind him and show that he is deserving of being a part of the Phillies future plans.

The Phillies would love to be able to consider Padilla for a utility role in the outfield, but for now, he hasn't come close enough to showing that he is worthy of such an opportunity.

1998 Martinsville 5 25 .356 23 90 10 32 3 0 2 4 24 .383
1999 Piedmont 3 17 .208 44 168 13 35 10 1 0 5 44 .231
1999 Batavia 3 30 .252 65 238 28 60 10 1 2 22 79 .315
2000 Piedmont 11 67 .305 108 413 62 126 24 8 8 26 89 .346
2001 Clearwater 16 66 .260 100 358 62 93 13 2 23 40 73 .334
2002 Reading 7 65 .256 127 484 71 124 30 2 32 40 77 .322
2003 Reading 2 23 .295 46 173 21 51 13 1 11 18 29 .363
2004 Scranton 7 45 .253 117 364 51 92 12 0 11 48 75 .348
Career 52 315 .270 584 2050 290 553 105 14 87 181 411 .332

Acquired: Drafted out of the Florida Air Academy (Melbourne) in the third round of the 1998 Draft.

Batting and Power: Padilla has hit as high as .356 in his first pro season and .305 at Piedmont in 2000, but has struggled for consistency. In between, he has sunk to lows of .208 at Piedmont and has generally hit in the .250 - .265 range during his minor league career. The Phillies thought of Padilla as a consistent .270 hitter with good power. Much like his average, Padilla's power numbers have also been inconsistent to say the least. With 52 minor league homeruns over seven seasons, it's especially depressing when you consider that 27 of them came between 2000 and 2001.

Baserunning and Speed: Early in his career, Padilla didn't show the kind of speed that the Phillies thought they would see from him either. The past four seasons have been better, including swiping 55 bases between 2001 and 2002. Again, there has been a cooling off period with Padilla stealing just 22 bases in the two seasons since his career high of 32 at Reading in 2002. Part of the problem is that Padilla suffers from "Reggie Taylor Syndrome." The more he runs, the more he gets hurt.

Defense: Defense is one thing that has remained pretty strong for Jorge Padilla. He can use his speed to get to balls in the gap and has a decent arm. He's a pretty heady type defensive player who knows where to throw and how to make the most out of his skills. He's also not afraid to take charge on balls hit between him and another fielder.

Projection:  Padilla was supposed to be one of the big catches out of the '98 Draft. Needless to say, that hasn't happened. More than just getting his power back, the Phillies have been looking for consistency out of Padilla and haven't found it. He'll get some at bats this spring, but a lot would have to happen for him to get any serious consideration to make the big league club. Instead, he'll head back to AAA and likely spend the entire season there, with only a small chance for a September call-up. While his prospect status is iffy, he could quickly regain much of the interest that the Phillies had in him if he can string together a strong season or two. Keep in mind that Padilla just turned 25 last August, so there is time for him to make his mark.

ETA: Next spring, Padilla will get more consideration if he puts up good AAA numbers in 2005. If not, he will likely be off the radar and perhaps, headed to another organization for the "change of scenery" that many players need at some point in their career.

Comparison: It was always a stretch, but some scouts saw in Padilla what the Phillies have gotten from Bobby Abreu. Now, the Phillies would simply like to have him become what Jason Michaels has made of himself. Keep in mind that Padilla was drafted ahead of the likes of Ryan Madson, Geoff Geary and Nick Punto in the ever popular '98 Draft and that's just looking at the Phillies picks in that draft.

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