San Diego Padres 2009 Minor League Review
Overall farm talent ranking via Baseball America:
2009 (29) | 2008 (12) | 2007 (29) | 2006 (29) | 2005 (27) | 2004 (25)

Record of Each Affiliate:
Majors: 75 – 87
AAA: 60 – 84
AA: 70 – 70
A+: 73 – 67
A: 94 – 36
A(ss): 34 – 24
R: 28 – 28

The Run Down

The Padres, sans Peavy, are Adrian Gonzalez’s team. Too bad beyond him there are only a few stars ready for the additional limelight. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of young talent already in the majors (Mat Latos, Kyle Blanks, Chase Headley, Everth Cabrera, Tony Gwynn Jr., Clayton Richards, Wade LeBlanc, and Kevin Kouzmanoff). However, this talent will be heavily relied upon unless the Padres spend some more money. Considering Peavy was traded to save money, I highly doubt that this will happen. There are also rumors swirling around that Bell may be traded. Additionally, Kevin Towers was fired as the general manager, however, leaving a pretty rosy situation for whomever they hire as their new General Manager. There is plenty of salary space, a 2008 draft class that is performing out of their mind (they did have a record of 94 and 36 – a 2.5 wins to ever loss), tons of young talent that will be cheap for years to come, and Gonzalez. This 2008 draft class has four players taken between the first and second rounds that had great seasons this year (James Darnell, Jaff Decker, Allan Dysktra, Logan Forsythe – and they are all hitters). The new GM will definitely still have to decide whether Adrian Gonzalez should be traded to open up first base for Blanks (would be a bad move as Gonzalez has taken a leadership role in the clubhouse); trade Kouzmanoff so Headley could play his natural position; and/or trade Bell. I am not going to speculate for there are other authors/bloggers/columnists who will do that.

You will notice that the Padres had an above-average ranking in 2008 and free falling to the bottom. Why? According to Baseball America, it was a combination of top prospects graduating (Nick Hundley and Headley), and several top prospects, especially pitchers, having terrible seasons in 2008 (Matt Antonelli [2B] went from #2 to #9; LeBlanc [SP] from #4 to #12; Drew Miller (SP) from #5 to #26; Steve Garrison [SP] from #6 to #22; and Will Inman [SP] from #7 to #18) and their 2004 first round draft pick Matt Bush [SS] has been an utter failure. The trade of Peavy returned several top 30 pitching prospects from the White Sox farm system (Aaron Poreda [LHP] #3; Clayton Richards [LHP] #5; Dexter Carter [RHP] #23 (who had the best fastball in Chicago’s farm); Adam Russell [RHP] #27), granted only Richards paid dividends this year while the others struggled mightily in the minors once they were Padres’ property. The trade of Scott Hairston to the Athletics brought in a couple of young right-handed power arms in Ryan Webb and Craig Italiano (with a player to be named later that ended up being Sean Gallagher). Italiano had some major injuries (labrum surgery on right shoulder in ’06 and a skull fracture in ’07) but has recovered and Webb is a bit unrefined but received a September call up. Only time will tell if these trades will benefit the Padres, other than saving them money of course.

Players of Interest
The players closest to the majors have either entered the majors (Latos, Blanks, Venable, etc.) or they aren’t worth mentioning. Antonelli was terrible this year at Triple-A and Kulbacki was just as poor at Double-AA. Thus, many of their top prospects that performed well are in the low minors.

Simon Castro | SP | A | 21 10.2 K/9 | 2.4 BB/9 | 140 1/3 IP | 3.33 ERA | 1.11 WHIP
Baseball America’s breakout prospect (ranked #14) pulled through with that prediction throwing a dominating slider and fastball that peaks at 97-98 mph that averages between 92 to 95 mph. He improved his walk rate and control while keeping his strikeouts near his prior performance. Look for him to start in High-A with a quick promotion to Double-A and a possible promotion to Triple-A or the majors by mid-August. I could see him doing really well again next year (as long as he continues to induce ground balls against righties (47.6GB% vs RH), but does have a pretty decent rate of 39.8 GB% overall and keeps his control in check).

Jaff Decker | OF | A | 19 | in 258 AB – .299/.442/.514 | 25 2B | 16 HR | 92:85 K:BB | ranked #3
Other than having an awkward first name, Decker had an awesome year. I am not even sure where to start with this lefty hitting youngster. His numbers are helped by having other top hitting prospects Darnell and Dykstra hitting around him too. He has tremendous plate awareness, plus power “potential” and a stellar arm (think low 90’s fastball). Oh, did I mention he turns only 20 in February? He should moved up to High-A and reach Double-A by mid-June if all goes well.

James Darnell | 3B | A/A+ | 22 | @A in 222 AB – .329/.468/.518 | 17 2B | 7 HR | 51:57 K:BB | @A+ in 235 AB – .294/.377/.533 | 18 2B | 13 HR | 38:30 K:BB | ranked #10
Looks like Kouzmanoff and Headley better start hitting or Darnell (ranked #10) may sneak up on them. With good plate discipline, a plus runner, average range at third, a strong arm, and the ability to play RF if the Padres see fit, Darnell’s future is looking brighter. Additionally, he was one of three South Carolina players taken in the 2008 draft (after Justin Smoak and Reese Havens), but Baseball America says some consider him the better athlete with more potential.

Allan Dykstra | 1B | A | 21 | in 411 AB | .226/.397/.375 | 22 2B | 11 HR | 103:102 K:BB | ranked #8
Looks like Jack Cust has a new competitor in the strikeout-walk-homer triad competition. Well, that is if Dykstra can learn to hit more homers. He has something called avascular necrosis of the hip which is a condition that results in the hip joint not receiving blood. The result is pain in the groin, butt and down the front of the thigh. Eventually stiffness of the joint (hip in this case) or a limp while walking will occur and the long term effect is interference with sleep. He got this condition from falling during a basketball game. Pretty freak incident. However, that happened before he was drafted last year, but one must remember that this is a degenerative disease. He hit for average in college, has great zone control but does strikeout quite frequently, has good power, poor swing mechanics with his lower body, below average defender, runner and athlete. Looks better fit for an AL team.

Logan Forsythe | 3B | A+/AA | 21 | (totals) in 480 AB – .300/.429/.440 | 22 2B | 11 HR | 111:102 K:BB | ranked #11
He has had several injuries, but this year he was scrap free. He has a “short, compact swing; good defense; and an above average arm.” Supposedly, he won’t develop tons of homer power but great gap power as he has a natural line-drive swing. He didn’t do amazing like Jaff Decker, but he was pretty solid. As with most young hitters, he struggled at Double-A and will probably open there again.

Sawyer Carroll | OF | A/A+/AA | 23 (totals) in 479 AB – .317/.413/.489 | 40 2B | 9 3B | 8 HR | 19/9 SB/CS | 106:80 K:BB
Stellar name, tons of gap power, decent speed on the base paths but needs to be more efficient. Granted there is a small sample size, he never hit below a .316 average (A), a .402 on-base percentage (A+), and a .438 slugging percentage (AA) [.316 /.410/.464 (A), .320/.402/.531 (A+), .317/.440/.488 (AA)]. I am going to assume he will make Baseball America’s rankings this year as top 30 Padres prospect. He is a bit old to be a stellar prospect, but he still has some potential to surprise. Plus, with the year he had, his age now matches the level of play he should be playing in – Double-A, and should open there in 2010 season.

Wynn Pelzer | SP | A+ | 23 | 8.8 K/9 | 3.5 BB/9 | 150 2/3 IP | 3.94 ERA | 1.28 WHIP
Threw 32 more innings than last year, improved his strikeout rate, regressed in his walk rate, but overall had a pretty good year. He doesn’t change speeds well, throwing his fastball between 93 and 95 mph, possesses a hard biting slider, and a poor change and splitter. Long term he looks better as a power reliever in the mold of a Brad Lidge. Look for him to move in the Double-A rotation with a September call up as a reliever.

Cody Decker | OF | R | 22 | in 198 AB – .354/.421/.717 | 21 2B | 15 HR | 42:19 K:BB
Not sure if Jaff[y] and Cody are brothers — couldn’t find it on the internet. Did find out Cody had 47 homers in college at UCLA playing first base and was drafted in the 22nd round this year. Matter of fact, he hit 36 homers this year alone if you combine his college homers and Rookie league homers (though that is a poor thing to do). Just look at his Cube ratings. He is doing pretty well for himself so far. He should start at Single-A next year.

  1. I saw Jaff and his teammates play this postseason against the Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers’ affiliate). Had a chance to heckle Jaff for his name. (Dee Gordon’s theme song is “shake your laughy taffy” so I yelled “shake your laffy jaffy” while sitting behind Decker in leftfield.

  2. Padres are a mess btw. I guess at least they’re not the Pirates.

  3. Steve says:

    @Grey: That was awesome. Even the Hammer was just about sniggering.

    I remember the Captain from Inside Wrestling magazine in the 70s…

  4. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Andre Ethier’s Mom: Was surprised Stephen didn’t mention Nadir Bupkus. Thought he was the Padres top prospect.

    @Steve: Always imitated, never duplicated… Because of his passing I went on one of those scavenger hunts through Google looking for info. You know, you start looking at one thing then you realize two hours later you just found out about every wrestler that died in the last year. RIP Playboy Buddy Rose.

  5. generic says:

    Jaff Decker & James Darnell could and should be flat out studs.

    Decker deserves Top 30 consideration for all of the minor leagues next year, in my opinion.

  6. Stephen says:

    @generic: I think Top 50 would be a more realistic, probably mid 30s. Darnell needs to progress two levels next year for him to be a stud, but Decker will be a stud if he can repeat ’09 in ’10.

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