In a year when a majority of the San Diego Padres top offensive prospects have been on the DL or struggled, one prospect has managed to put his name on the map. SS Drew Cumberland

Cumberland came into the year as the 19th best prospect according to madfriars and #16 in my rankings. The writeups were always “great young player, amazing potential, can make things happen with the bat and with his legs, shaky defensively, and starting to get the label of injury prone.” While the injuries were never related (broken bone in his hand from catching a flyball, injured ribs after being HBP, quad injury, concussion, and most recently a wrist injury that took him out of the 2009 playoffs), it got to the point that he was ranked lower simply because in 2.5 years in the Padres system he had yet to stay healthy for longer than a month or two. Well 3 months into the season and a Drew Cumberland led Lake Elsinore officially clinched the 1st half division crown tonight. Drew’s role in the game? Only 3-5, with a RS and a SB (19).

On the year Cumberland is 3rd in the league in BA (.374), 9th in OBP (.411), an even more surprising 4th in SLG (.551), 4th in SB (19), 1st in RS (61), and 1st in hits (85). As such he was named as the starting SS in the California League all star game.

The biggest boost to his status besides the health is that in 55 games he has also hit a whopping 7 HR. While that does not rank in the top 10, for a top of the order speedster SS 7 HR is more than 2x as much as he hit in the 158 career games previously.

G BA OBP SLG 2B 3B HR RS BB SO SB CS F% RF

2008

56

0.296

0.354

0.38

9

3

1

32

17

25

16

4

0.922

4.61

2009

77

0.293

0.386

0.41

18

5

2

57

40

36

19

3

0.949

3.77

2010

54

0.374

0.411

0.551

11

4

7

61

13

29

19

8

0.929

3.84

Even considering that the Cal League is a much more hitter friendly ballpark those stats are eye popping. Cumberland has been an absolute beast offensively and has shown threw the 1st half that he can get on, steal bases, score runs, and also hit a HR if you are not careful. He has done it all.

The two game related factors that are keeping him from reaching elite prospect status are his fielding skills at shortstop and his BB%. The low BB/PA if 9.48% is extremely bad for a leadoff hitter, but it is made up for with a .318 career BA. The fielding though is still a cause for concern. In 2009 they reworked the way he was throwing the ball as the ball was tailing away from the 1B. They saw noticeable improvement, and as such the fielding percentage went up. This year however he seems like a misnomer. He has made a few great plays showing his range and arm strength diving deep into the hole to rob players, but still has problems making the everyday plays, and with turning the DP. The potential is now fully there, as he went from a prospect who could maybe stay at short to a player they think WILL be a starting shortstop in the majors. The major question is consistency. Can he make the routine plays?

Moving Forward: Drew’s prospect ranking has soared in the past few months. It would be hard to expect him to duplicate his first half success, but I wouldnt be surprised. There have been rumors, possibly only created by Mark Grant on a recent Padres telecast, that Cumberland would move to AA, but nothing has remotely confirmed the rumor. While it might be expected to see the BA go down, the OBP should hopefully go up as working the count is something they continually preach in Lake Elsinore. The defense is still a WIP, but his offense has more than made up for it. Provided he can stay healthy it will be difficult to keep him out of the top 5 next year. In fact scout.com now has him listed as a 5 star prospect, the #2 best prospect in the Padres system (Castro #1) and the #2 SS in the minors (Dee Gordon #1). Here is to hoping the kid can stay healthy and lead the team up the 15 to a well deserved Cal League championship.

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