Last week I looked at the potential rotation and bullpen for the Tin Caps. The rotation could very well be one of the top 5 or 10 in all of minor league baseball. Last year the Tin Cap’s lineup was rated as one of the top 10 in baseball by milb.com. With top prospects such as Rincon, Galvez, Williams, Liriano, the AZL MVP Cody Decker and potentially #3 pick in the 2008 draft Donovan Tate the lineup looked like it would tear up the division. Of course we know that Tate never was healthy, Decker started in Elsinore, Liriano struggled before being sent down and Galvez, Rincon, and Williams didnt have the year all of us were hoping for. But that is a different story for a different team. This years team will come in hoping to rebound after a horrendous year in Eugene. Can they do it? Well that all might depend on health but if Jason Hagerty can go from .225/.335/.399 in Eugene to being the real MWL MVP (.302/.423/.494) why cant similar influxes happen in 2011.
Everything in the lineup might all hinge on the health and numbers of Donovan Tate. If healthy he will be the outstanding defensive CF as well the focal point in their lineup. The one positive moving forward was that Tate was named the instructs MVP for the Padres, which is a very good sign. We all know he has “5 tool potential” but after battling injuries for the past 2 years it is time to see the potential start to show up in the box score.
RF: Rymer Liriano will get his 2nd shot at Fort Wayne. Another year older and hopefully another year wiser. Liriano has some of the best raw power in the organization. Combine that with his great glove, strong arm, and great speed on the base paths and you have a top prospect and a potential MLB player. Of course that doesnt really matter when you hit .231 (.288 OBP) and strikeout 119 times in only 117 games.
LF: Rico Noel could easily be the CF or RF but might be subjugated to LF when playing in the same OF as Liriano and Tate. Noel will more than likely be the teams leadoff hitter. Noel is known for his great eye at the plate, great D, and most of all his blazing speed. Noel stole 104 bases in 125 college games. Add another 14 in 32 G in Eugene. The Ems were content with his .277/.426/.357 numbers in Eugene with more BB than K and 14 SB. However, for a leadoff type hitter with little power you would hope his BA would climb closer to .300.
Others: Dan Meeley would be in the starting mix, but after hitting over .300 in the final month with Fort Wayne my guess is he would be ticketed for Elsinore (to join the OF of Williams and Fuentes). The Padres surprised many by having Luis Domoromo skip AZL and go straight to Eugene. He put up unspectacular numbers but considering he was 18 and playing his first year in America it was a huge step forward. He has a chance to make the team as a LF/RF/DH but he could probably benefit from another year in extended/Eugene. Jose Dore is a HS RF that the organization is really high on. However, he signed at the last minute, played in 4 G (though did have 6 hits), and will probably at least begin the year in extended. BTW Domoromo is all of 5 days older than Dore
1B: Wes Cunningham- When Gyorko left there was no more consistant hitter on the Ems then Cunningham. Cunningham was the team leader in TB, OBP, and 2nd to Gyorko in SLG. He also managed to steal 7 bases and be 2nd on the team in 3B with 5. He doesnt have the power potential that we would like to see from a 1B but he is solid and should do moderately well in FW.
2B: Chris Bisson- Bisson is another prospect with blazing speed. He also has some pop in his bat that boosted him to being the Padres 4th rd selection in this past draft. However, we did not see any of that in Eugene or Peoria. He hit only .250/.333/.292 in Eugene. The worst part of that already disappointing line was only 5 SB in 9 attempts. This was a player who stole 68 basses in 93 G in college. Like so many of the 2011 Tin Caps a rebound is in order for this 21 year old 2B.
SS: Chris Tremblay- There was a chance that Tremblay was going to be the Tin Caps 2010 opening day starter, but instead Tremblay repeated Eugene as Galvez passed him up. Another year wiser Tremblay hit .308/.338/.380 in Eugene. He will be old for the league (24 when the season starts), but is fairly consistent with the glove and bat, and unfortunately the Padres do not have another option unless they feel Minyeti is ready.
3B: Daniel Garce- With Gyorko likely to start in Lake Elsinore, Garce might be the best option. Surprisingly the Padres did not sign 1 prospect whose natural position was 3B in the 2010 draft. When Gyorko left Eugene Bingham became the every day 3B (natural SS) but in 30 G he hit just .136/.212/.146. It would be hard for the Padres to make him their starting 3B. Garce has paid his dues spending 2 years in the DSL and 2 years in the AZL. Last year he hit a solid .323/.363/.438. Like almost every DSL prospect he has a problem with the strikeout and it will probably be no different next year. Whether he is ready or not there is a great chance Garce is your starting 3B. Of course there is also always a chance that Rincon repeats Ft Wayne (with Gyorko at 3B in LE) and he would then be the starting 3B.
C- Tommy Medica/Emanuel Quiles/Rocky Gale. I really have no idea who will win the battle. The Padres were very high on Medica during the draft especially for his offense, but he put up some horrendous numbers in Eugene (.176/.318/.216). Some of that might have been due to injuries, but out of an “offensive” catcher those numbers are really bad. On the other side is one of the top defensive catchers in the system in Emanuel Quiles. Quiles repeated Eugene and actually put up slightly worse numbers in 2010. Still his defense and being slightly young for the league will always help. Finally I just like the name Rocky Gale. Gale hit .292/.325/.323 in Eugene which will always help.
Lineup and Bench:
Here is my best guess for the lineup
1 Noel, 2. Bisson, 3. Tate, 4. Cunningham, 5. Liriano, 6. Medica, 7. Domoromo (DH), 8. Tremblay, 9. Garce
Bench: Brian Guinn, Gale/Quilles, Slemp, Domoromo, Bingham or Powers.
There are a lot of “rebounds” needed this year for most of the lineup. However, with the pitching staff that the Tin Caps have 2-3 runs a game should be enough to get them the W