Well, that’s all folks. Here’s the final list that is corrected for the error I made earlier (it was no big deal — just the numbers in the 20′s were off by one). This will go up in its own page soon, and I’ve got some other plans for prospect related stuff. Hope you enjoyed it, at least a little bit ; ) Seeing that I’m very, very far from being a minor league guy, I don’t mind the list. Then again, as I’ve said before, this lists are just about impossible to do, even if you are an expert. Anyway, I look forward to BA’s top 10 tomorrow (and Sickels’ and Goldstein’s coming up). Also, check out madfriars.com for more prospect lists as well as analysis, interviews, and so on. Here’s mine:
1. Matt Antonelli - Second base, 23, San Antonio
Antonelli was selected in the first round (17th overall) by the Padres in 06 and the pick drew some criticism from Padres fans (myself included). Antonelli didn’t hit for any power in low A Eugene and finished the year with a .286/.412/.356 line. The concerns were mostly with power and that he didn’t have any. How quickly can a year can change things, ey? In high A Lake Elsinore this year, he hit .314/.409/.499 in 406 PA’s. He moved up to AA San Antonio and put up an impressive .294/.395/.476 line in 223 plate appearances. Overall, he blasted 21 homers in the two stops. It won’t blow you away, but it’s also a far cry from the Ryan Freel type projections that were being thrown around. It sounds like his defense at second may still need work, but he has the athleticism to make it happen. I could still see him possibly moving to center down the road, but at this point, considering age, numbers, scouting, positional value, speed, etc., I think he offers one of the best chances at reaching his potential in the system — and it is a potential that may be all-star caliber.
2. Chase Headley - Third base, 24, San Antonio
It’s pretty much a toss up between Headley and Antonelli for the number one spot (and maybe even Latos). Headley, I think, is a little overrated based on a great year last year. He hit .330/.437/.580 in AA. In 2006 in Lake Elsinore, he hit .291/.389/.434 and in 05 he put up a .264/.367.424 line in Eugene (with a few PA’s in Lake Elsinore) the previous year. Still, the scouts overall like his bat and his defense seems to be around average. If the Padres need a spark mid-season, I could see him take over at third and push Kouzmanoff to left.
3. Mat Latos – Starter (R), 20, Eugene
Latos was finally signed as a draft and follow just before last year’s draft. He debuted in Eugene and had a pretty nice showing.
56.3 innings, 30.1 k%, 8.9 bb%, .04 hr%, 47 gb%, .399 BABiP, 2.72 FIP
So he got a bit unlucky and actually pitched better than his ERA (3.83). Still, it’s only 56.3 innings in low A ball, so you still need a good deal of scouting here. His fastball has been described as “electric” in most places I’ve seen and he has good, improving secondary stuff. At 20 years old after a solid year in Eugene and the stuff to back it up, he’s probably the only pitcher in the system with a decent chance to develop into an ace-type pitcher.
4. Yefri Carvajal – Right field, 19, Eugene
Carvajal hit .340/.404/.500 in 114 PA’s in rookie ball last year. As we know, those numbers can be pretty unreliable, especially when the small sample size is considered. He moved up to low-A Eugene and hit .262/.291/.369 in 127 PA’s. With that said, this is pretty much another scouting/age/projection pick here. I don’t really like player comps (because who the heck knows how these guys will turn out), but I see a Jose Guillen type player, if things break out about right. You know, for the league minimum, that’s a fine player to have on your team.
5. Kyle Blanks – First base, 21, Lake Elsinore
First thing that always comes up with Kyle Blanks: Size. He’s 6-6, 270. How many players have had long mlb careers at 270 pounds or more? Well, depending on your definition of long, the answer is probably zero. Prince Fielder checks in at 260. Frank Thomas: 257. Frank Howard was 255 pounds. But not many people at this weight have long mlb careers. Now, I’m not sure how much to make of it … certainly big guys have been successful in the bigs and people who are 6-6, 270 may often find themselves playing football or some other sport. It certainly seems to concern the scouts, though. Mainly, I’m guessing, because they really haven’t seen anyone quite this big. Apparently, as BA says in the handbook, he got up around 300 toward the end of last season.
Anyway, it might be a concern (and a legitimate one), but it’s also a big part of the reason why the guy has some major power. He hit .301/.380/.540 last year in a high offensive environment in the PCL, but he’s only 20 and he’s on the fast track. At first base, he really has no where else to go, but his defensive reports seem solid. Of course, at first base he’s going to have to be a hell of a hitter to live up to this hype, but I think there’s a reasonable chance that he can do that.
6. Cedric Hunter - Center field, 20, Fort Wayne
I have Hunter this high still for two reasons, really. Positional value and age. He’s still playing center and he’ll only be 20 this season. As Geoff noted today, his numbers didn’t look great in Fort Wayne, but it was a pretty good pitchers’ league and they were actually slightly above average. Whether he turns into a star type player or not may depend on how much power he develops. Although he’s stayed in center, it doesn’t sound like his range is great there. You can be a decent player with average defense in center, and an offense based on walks and batting average … but it’ll certainly be a plus if he can develop enough power as he moves along to keep pitchers weary of going right after him and to produce extra base hits.
7. Will Inman - Starter (R), 21, San Antonio
Inman may be the most interesting prospect in the system. Let’s see what both the stats and scouts say about him.
As an 18 year old in 05, he dominated the rookie leagues in the Brewer system. 47 inn, 59 k’s, 12 bb’s, 5 hr’s. In 2006, he moved up to single A West Virginia … we’ll go by percentage per batter from here on out:
110.7 innings – 31 k%, 5.6 bb%, .07 hr%
In 2001, he pitched in 3 levels (high A Brevard County, AA Hunstville, AA Portland)
A+: 78.7 inn, 31.3 k%, 7.3 bb%, .1 hr%
AA Hunstville: 39.7 inn, 24.3 k%, 9.2 bb%, 3.6 hr%
AA Portland: 41 inn, 23.4 k%, 11.1 bb%, 4 hr%
Combined this year in AA, he put up a ~ 4.80 FIP. But it’s important to remember that he’s a 20 year old and he’s already putting up respectable numbers in double A. From a pure statistical sense, he’s a top prospect — maybe about as can’t miss as you can get for a pitcher.
Inman was drafted 85th by the Brewers in 2005. Here’s what BA said about him way back then:
Inman broke the state’s career strikeout record, passing 500 as a senior. His stocky build at 6 feet, 205 pounds doesn’t portend the same projection scouts as Thompson, and many stopped following him because he failed to break 90 mph at the 2004 Commonwealth Games and his delivery showed some effort
They went on to say that he hit 90-92 later that year. Anyway, the scouting outlook hasn’t changed much since then. He ranked third in the BA Handbook where they said “he’s not projectable and needs to refine his secondary pitches.” Here’s Kevin Goldstein from the 07 BP Annual (he ranked him 75th overall, by the way): “On a pure numbers level, Inman is a monster. On a scouting level, he’s only pretty good. … It’s hard to project player with his skill set as stars, but his location is really special.”
Bridging the gap
1. Production metrics–such as batting average, isolated power, and unintentional walk rate for hitters, or strikeout rate and groundball rate for pitchers.
2. Usage metrics, including career length and plate appearances or innings pitched.
3. Phenotypic attributes, including handedness, height, weight, career length (for major leaguers), and minor league level (for prospects).
Therefore, both stats and scouting data (i.e., phenotypic attributes) are employed. For the Padres, the goal is to evaluate what Inman will become, not what he’s been. The stats may get them part of the way there and the scouting may do the same, but they have to weigh the data properly to successfully predict, within a reasonable range, what Inman will do as he progresses toward the major leagues. We just get to sit back and watch.
8. Wade LeBlanc – Starter (L), 23, San Antonio
LeBlanc is a better pitching prospect than many of the ones lower in the system, as he’s shown an ability to get strike outs. In the minors, his k rate (per batter) has been above 20%, his walk rate around 7-8%, and he’s only allowed 14 homers in 201 innings. Moving up to AA last year, albeit for only 57.3 innings, he maintained an impressive 23.6 k%. So, despite stuff that may not be top notch, he’s shown an ability to miss bats at a relatively young age. The BA Handbook on his stuff …
Best offerings: Curve and changeup
Fastball: 84-88, peaks at 90
Good makeup, durability, and delivery
9. Chad Huffman – Left field, 23, San Antonio
His numbers took a dip with the move up to AA San Antonio (including a ~7% jump in k rate), but that’s to be expected for a 22 year old moving along pretty quickly. He’s really in a similar mold as Kulbacki, besides the fact that he’s older and further along. BA’s 06 draft report:
…Chad appeals to baseball scouts solely for his bat. He should hit for average as a pro, and his power continues to develop
He was drafted as a second basement and the move to left puts that much more emphasis on his bat. He’s done what you’d like so far, and he’s a good bet to contribute to a major league club at some point, although his upside may not be through the roof.
10. Kellen Kulbacki – Right Field, 22, Eugene
Kulbacki, selected 40th overall in last years draft out of James Madison, had a nice debut in low A Eugene. He hit .301/.382/.491 in a league that hit .259/.344/.386. Here’s what I got in his 3 college years then his debut in the pros:
05: 233 PA’s, 12.9 k%, 6.9 bb%, 11.6 xbh%
06: 246 PA’s, 13 k%, 12.2 bb%, 17.5 xbh%
07: 253 PA’s, 11.5 k%, 22.1 bb%, 13.8 xbh% (James Madison)
07: 262 PA’s, 21.4 k%, 10.3 bb%, 9.2 xbh% (Eugene)
Certainly a big drop off across the board, but I’m not sure what you would expect from a college kid moving into low A ball. Of course, it’s also a pretty small sample and to make any sense of the data, it’d need to be normalized for league, parks, etc. Let’s face it, he wasn’t exactly facing the best competition (159 SoS) and he was playing in a very high offensive environment. Regardless of the numbers, which I’m sure contributed largely to this selection, you still have to have a good enough scouting report to go this high. Baseball America:
Because he’s a well-below-average defender with average speed, all of his value lies in the bat, but most scouts seem confident that he will be an above-average major league hitter. His advanced approach and feel for hitting prompted one scout to say Kulbacki is an average major league hitter now.
Offensively it appears that even the scouts love him. He’ll play a corner, so his offense is going to have to carry him.
11. Cesar Carrillo – Starter (R), 24, Portland
Carrillo was certainly the most polished pitcher in the Padres system, but after Tommy John surgery he has to re-establish himself. If everything goes well I assume he could be back early next season. I don’t have much to say … basically, he’s still a good prospect and TJ surgery certainly doesn’t ruin you (and sometimes it may make you better), but he’s going to have to get healthy and rack up some quality innings before we really know what’s up.
12. Drew Miller – Starter (R), 22, Fort Wayne
Miller had a fine year at Fort Wayne, as he saw his walk rate (per PA) lower 4.5% from his previous stop in single-A Eugene and his k rate jump up 11+%. The only problem was the long ball as he have up 12 homers in just 80.3 innings. He gave up none last year (in only 37 innings, mind you) and with a solid enough 46% ground ball rate, you have to believe that his hr rate will lower as he accumulates innings. Once again we go to the 07 BA Handbook: his fastball is in the low 90 range and tops out at 96. Inconsistent secondary stuff. Anyway, he’s got a lot of potential and he has some time to reach it.
13. Drew Cumberland - Shortstop, 19, Eugene
Cumberland hit .320/.397/.369 in his pro debut (116 PA’s almost exclusively in the AZL). Baseball America:
He has a slight advantage because of premium quickness, speed and athleticism. He was an all-state selection as a defensive back and running back in football and consistently turns in 4.0-second home-to-first times from the left side of the plate, making him a 70 runner.
As much as we all love high obp/high power guys, if you can provide excellent base running and good defense at short, you can be a pretty good prospect (and a pretty good major leaguer). BA also says he’s an above average hitter with gap power, so it’s not like he’s a punch and judy guy. A long ways to go, of course, but he looks like a pretty good prospect at short.
14. Aaron Breit - Starter (R), 22 Fort Wayne
Breit is a guy I was really high on after his performance in Eugene last year (with his accompanying solid scouting report) — in 64 innings in 06, he struck out 69, walked 22, and gave up just 2 homers. 2007 … a different story. He moved up to Fort Wayne and pitched 108.3 innings: 80 k’s, 47 bb’s, 8 hr’s (6.73 ERA). His K rate (per PA) dropped about 10% and his FIP jumped from 2.74 to 4.34. Still, he kept the ball down and got unlucky (most likely) with base hits (.362 BABiP) and posted a respectable … .4.34 FIP. When you consider his age, scouting report, and the fact that he probably got a bit unlucky last year, he doesn’t look so bad. He’s going to have to put the 6.73 ERA behind him, but I’m betting that he can do that.
15. Nick Hundley – Catcher, 24, San Antonio
Remember that depth at catcher I was talking about? Here’s another solid, mid-level catching prospect in the Padre organization. In 06 he hit .276/.356/.442 in just over 450 PA’s. Last year, in AA San Antonio, he hit .247/.324/.475. Seems to me like he’s similar to Morton, at least offensively. But he’s much smaller and already way more advanced (level-wise, at least) than Morton was at 23. BA reports on his defense: “He consistently gets the ball to second base in an above average 1.9 seconds.” He could use work in other areas behind the plate, but it looks like he may be a pretty good all around catcher. My guess is he’ll play out the year in AAA Portland, but like I said earlier, I have a feeling one of these catchers may be on the move.
16. Mitch Canham – Catcher, 23, Lake Elsinore
Canham didn’t have a great debut hitting .276/.357/.374 almost exclusively in low A Eugene. But it was only 141 PA’s. He put up pretty good numbers at Oregon State in college and is a big makeup/leadership guy. That might keep you in the majors, but it probably won’t get you there. Like a lot of guys, we’ll learn more about him with more professional PA’s.
17. David Freese - Third Basemen, 25, Lake Elsinore
Freese has done about all you can expect, hitting .307/.399/.516 in his first two professional seasons. But he’s a 24 year old in A ball and that certainly needs to be kept in mind. The defensive reports seem to vary (from BA), but it sounds like he’s going to be average at best in the hot corner. His bat will have to carry him and we’ll know a lot more about him after a full year, I’m assuming, in San Antonio in 2008.
18. Colt Morton – Catcher, 26, San Antonio
Morton has been in the system since 2001 and has racked up upwards of 1,500 minor league PA’s. The Padres have taken it pretty slow with him (and/or he’s been blocked) as he’s yet to reach AAA. Patience, power, and a lot of strike outs are what you are going to get out of Morton. At catcher, his offensive profile is actually pretty good, and his defense isn’t bad, although it sounds like it may still need some work. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him traded or on the Padres roster next year. With Bard in the bigs and Hundley and now Canham in the minors, the Padres are pretty loaded at catcher. If Michael Barrett accepts arbitration, one of Hundley or Morton could become expendable. If Barrett declines, one of them could become the backup catcher for the big club …
19. Felix Carrasco – Third Basemen, 21, Eugene
Carrasco didn’t play much last year and he only has around 310 professional PA’s. He’s a switch hitter who has major power from the left side and is more of a line drive hitter from the right, according to BA. Scouts wonder about his mechanics at the plate and he’s still raw in the field. He needs a lot of work, but at 21 he has some time, and he may have the size and ability to develop into a good player.
20. Corey Luebke – Starter (L), 23, Lake Elsinore
Impressive debut? Yes. Sustainable? I’m not sure. He split 58.7 innings between Eugene, Fort Wayne, and Lake Elsinore and did this:
61 k’s, 8 bb’s, 5 hr’s
At Ohio State, in 274 innings he struck out 217, walked 70, and surrendered 15 homers. If you think his k rate this year looks a little out of whack, well, then I agree with you. Now, Luebke lead the entire Big 10 in strikeouts last year (although he also lead in innings), so perhaps it was just a league that didn’t allow a lot of k’s, even to its best pitchers (FWIW, all teams in the league had a combined 6.2 k’s per 9 in 2007).
Still, I’m not convinced that he didn’t just beat up on younger hitters here as a polished college lefty. It’s only 59 innings and it can’t count for that much (i.e., at this point scouting still rules). As is the case with a lot of guys, next year will be a crucial one for Luebke.
21. Euclides Viloria – Starter (L), 18, AZL
Viloria is a pure age/scouting choice here. Last year, in 56.3 innings in the AZL, he struck out 73, walked 36, and gave up 2 long balls. His FIP was 4.15 partly due to a .359 BABiP, but all numbers from rookie ball have to be taken with a big grain of salt, especially only 56 innings worth. That being said, the k rate is certainly a positive. Again, who knows here … I don’t have a problem taking a risk on a younger/higher upside guy once in a while.
22. Will Venable - Right Fielder, 25, San Antonio
Career minor league line: .287/.355/.415 in ~1,300 PA’s. If he was projected as a slick fielding center fielder, my outlook would be different. It seems as if he’ll play a corner, despite some attempts to try him out in center. At this point, he hasn’t really shown signs of being the type of hitter that is going to make an impact in a corner, without playing great defense. This year will be a big year for him, as he really needs a breakout campaign. On the plus side, he’s shown a knack for being a good base stealer with 45 thefts in 53 attempts. Don’t give up on him yet, but I’m not overly optimistic that he’ll become a major league player (a starter, anyway).
23. Steve Garrison – Starter (L), 21, Lake Elsinore
Garrison’s numbers have also been pretty impressive. In 270.3 minor league innings, he’s k’ed 207, walked 61, and given up 8 homers. He’s done everything well so far, besides get a ton of strikeouts (which, of course, can’t be overlooked). His size isn’t ideal but at 21 and with his track record, he has a pretty nice outlook. The 07 BA Handbook was petty high on him, rating his four pitches all as a tick below average, but complimenting him on his makeup, control, and smarts out on the mound.
24. Ernesto Frieri – Reliever (R), 22, Lake Elsinore
He’s not very big at 6-2, 168, but it’s tough to overlook his numbers so far. In 181 innings, he’s struck out 197, walked 82, and given up only 9 homers. His BABiP took a big dip last year, allowing him to pitch to a low 2.29 ERA between Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore. He isn’t that good, but his peripherals, with his age in mind, earn him a spot on this list.
25. Mike Ekstrom -Starter (R), 24, San Antonio
Ekstrom is probably similar to Buschman, although he has already completed a year at AA San Antonio holding his own. This ranking is basically built on his ability to simply not allow home runs — he has give up 10 in his last 309.2 minor league innings. First inning has his groundball rate at 55% in 06 and 48% last year. He had a .370 BABiP in 07 in San Antonio, yet he was still able to to put up a respectable 4.76 ERA. If that drops down to a more normal rate (and it was around .315 for Ekstrom before last year), and he continues to keep the ball down, I think he can become a decent back of the rotation guy.
26. Matt Buschman – Starter (R), 24, Lake Elsinore
Buschman put up a 2.89 ERA at Lake Elsinore thanks to great control and great work keeping the ball down. According to first inning, he had a 53% groundball rate last year, after a similar showing in 2006 keeping the ball down. He’ll be 24 next year, so he’s going to have to show that he can perform like this at higher levels.
27. Rayner Contreras – Third Basemen, 21, Fort Wayne
Contreras moved from second to third and is a small guy at 6-0, 150. He had a decent offensive year in 07 with a .744 OPS in a league with a .696 OPS(the Midwest League). He had some major fielding problems at third, though, with 27 errors in just 61 games. He’ll have to develop some pop and polish his fielding, but at 21 he has some time.
28. Simon Castro – Starter (R), 20, AZL Pads
This is basically a pure scouting choice here. He got roughed up last year in the AZL with a 6.22 ERA in 50.7 innings. Still, he struck out 55 and only gave up 4 homers. The control, however, must have been way out of whack as he walked 30, hit 9 batters, and had 12 wild pitches. Ouch. The 07 BA handbook basically says he has good makeup and a fastball that sits at 93-96. His secondary pitches need a lot of work, but he has a chance to turn into a front line starter.
29. Nick Schmidt – Starter (L), 22, Fort Wayne
I’m not willing to put Schmidt higher based on where he was drafted alone. It seemed like he had some shaky mechanics then and now after surgery he has a lot to prove. According to old reports, Schmidt will likely miss all of the 2008 season. I’ve talked enough about him, so I won’t ramble on here.
30. Cesar Ramos - Starter (L), 24, San Antonio
BA had Ramos 10th last year and I don’t really see that. Then again, I don’t see him pitch and I’ve never heard scouts talk about him. Anyway, his peripherals are pretty ugly so far — 205 k’s, 101 bb’s, 27 hr’s in 364 innings. Actually, the home run rate and walk rate are not bad, but his k rate is extremely low — around 13%. You can make it in the bigs like that, but it becomes a hell of a lot tougher. We’ll see.