San Diego Padres Top 5

April 18, 2009

1. Kyle Blanks -- Blanks is a behemoth who's body type lends itself more to blockingthe blindside of a quarterback than hitting a baseball, but he's goodat that, too. He has moved one level per year thus far, andimproved his wOBA's along the way: .365 in Low-A Fort Wayne, .393 in High-ALake Elsinore and topped out at .396 in Double-A San Antonio last year.He's a first baseman which limits his prospect status a bit, but Blankscan mash more than enough to be an above-average first baseman and he'spretty athletic given his size (6'6'', 270). For what it's worth, he has averaged -4 runs per 150 gamesover the last three seasons on defense, though he made big strides last year -- defensive data's prone to fluctuations, so the +11 in 2008 may not be reliable.

Find more videos like this on

2. Matt Antonelli -- Antonelli was the buzz of second base prospects this time last year and ranked 30th our 2008 top 150.But a very down year in really put a dent into his prospectstatus leaving him in flux among prospect fans. We're still a believerthough, despite his .304 wOBA in Triple-A. Antonelli's walk rate hasremained constant at a very good 13-14% throughout his minor league career. And his 16.0% (AA/AAA) strikeout rate is solid. Look for his.252 batting average on balls in play to improve in 2009 -- he added a lot of muscle entering 2008 (according to Baseball America) which may have slowed him down. We think his body could be in better baseball shape this year, allowing him tobolster his wOBA and reestablish himself as one of the preeminent second base prospects -- if not the best -- in the game by the end of the year. Antonelli opened the 2009 season with an undisclosed injury. Expect him to join Triple-A Portland once healthy.

3. Mat Latos -- Latos has thrown just 112.1 innings since being drafted in the11th round of the 2006 Draft. Signed as a draft-and-follow, he's battled injuries but his stuff isvery good. With an ideal 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame and athleticism,he's a scouts dream. When he did get on the field, he showed why hismid-90's fastball and great slider (editor's note: see previous source) were so lauded, as he struck out 29.7%of the 2008 batters he faced while walking just 5.6% (232 TBF). Withhis injury history (shoulder, oblique, ankle), there's certainly a chance that Latos will end up as a reliever rather than a starter in the pros. If he can stay healthy, Latos could turn into a top-of-the-rotation arm.

4. Kellen Kulbacki -- Kulbacki had a legendary career at James Madison Universitythat landed him in the San Diego organization after he was selected 40thoverall in the 2007 draft. He hit pretty well in 261 plate appearancesafter signing in 2007, posting a .375 wOBA. He really struggled in hisfirst 73 Low-A plate appearances of the 2008 campaign, but the Padres still felt apromotion was appropriate. Kulbacki responded by posting a .430 High-A wOBA -- albeit in the hitters-havenknown as the Cal League. Still, we feel he's a legitimate corner outfielder prospect. His arm plays best in left field, but there's a chance hecould stick in right. As an advanced college hitter withsolid strike zone judgment, he should move quickly and add to the glutof corner outfielders in San Diego.

5. Allan Dykstra -- Unfortunately for Allan Dykstra, he was born in the wrong year. Despite his talent, Yonder Alonso, Justin Smoak,Brett Wallace, David Cooper, and Ike Davis were all selected ahead ofhim in the 2008 Draft. Dykstra has good knowledge of thestrike zone, and my adjusted college numbers put him at third in the AtlanticCoast Conference in adjusted wOBA last season at .509 -- behind Buster Posey (.595)and Alonso (.521). Dykstra also hit for very good power, .331adjusted isolated power at the neutral ballpark of Wake Forest in 2008 -- third in the conference. Like Kyle Blanks, Dykstra's ahulk of a man (6'5'', 240 pounds) and he possesplus-plus power -- his greatest attribute. He has a solid chance of being anaverage first baseman in the major leagues, but I'd bet on him being evenbetter than that. Dykstra's degenerative hip condition has been widely reported. He was limited by a wrist injury -- that he sustained last season -- during minor league spring training.

Find more videos like this on

HM. Jaff Decker -- Decker doesn't have a hulking frame, but his bat is on parwith any of those in the system when it comes to upside. Taken in thesupplemental round of the 2008 Draft (42nd overall) out of Sunrise Mountain, Arizona,Decker hit incredibly well in rookie ball. His 211 plate appearancesample was bolstered by an unreal .447 BABIP, but he still showed greatpoise at the plate and the patience necessary to supplement his power-- 54 walks (25.6%) vs. 36 strikeouts (17.1%), .194 isolated power. I think he fits aMatt Stairs circa the late 1990's with the Oakland A's mold. Short,stocky guy with a good bat and the capability of hitting close to 30home runs a season. Decker has been sidelined this spring due to a concussion.

HM. Jeremy McBryde -- McBryde doesn't get a lot of love in the prospecting world, but he throws hardand has a coupleof solid secondary offerings. We think there's definitely something to like here. Signed asa draft-and-follow after being taken in the 26th round of the 2006 Draft, McBryde doesn't have enormous upside, but there's enough thereto make him interesting. He only got better as the year dragged on in2008, improving his strikeout and ground-ball rates from June throughAugust. He could become a No. 3 or No. 4 starter, or a solid arm out of the bullpen at the major league level.

HM. Will Inman -- Inman is someone who we have believed in despitestanding alone at times on our rankings of him. However, since moving into Double-A, Inman's hadcommand problems, posting walk rates of 11.1% (173TBF, Double-A Huntsville of the Brewers system), 9.2% (171 TBF,Double-A San Antonio of the Padres system) and 12.3% (567 TBF, Double-ASan Antonio). The walks are a great concern and really limit anyupside he has to that of a back-of-the-rotation arm. The above-averagestrikeout rates are still nice -- especially in a hitter's league likethe Texas League -- but aren't nearly enough to compensate for his walkproblem.

HM. Cedric Hunter -- Hunter could be the center fielder of the future in SanDiego. An average runner, Hunter is a very good contacthitter who's not going to put on power displays. He had a stellar 2008campaign, improving across the board from 2007 in the Midwest League-- better K:BB ratio, improved rate stats, and improved wOBA. But the2006 3rd rounder likely benefited from a move into the CaliforniaLeague. Still, he has the potential to someday be a big-league regular.

HM. James Darnell -- Perhaps overshadowed by teammate Justin Smoak, James Darnellhad a great career with the South Carolina Gamecocks. A down juniorseason left him available when the Padres turn came up in the second roundin 2008. He signed late and despite a long layoff, he had a great --yet mostly insignificant -- 78 plate appearance showing inrookie ball (.442 wOBA). Darnell lacks lateral quickness, which doesn'tspell goodthings for him staying at third base in pro ball. His bat, however, willplay at any corner position, though there are concerns about his K:BBratio. It went the wrong way from his sophomore to his junior season(11.4% K, 16.6% BB as a sophomore; 15.3% K, 13.0% BB). If that declinewas a result of a slow start, and not indicative of his truetalents going forward, Darnell's an excellent sleeper. He could rise quickly in prospectstatus to become an above-average right fielder. At best, he could turn into an above-average third baseman.

Find more videos like this on

HM. Adys Portillo -- It's hard to gauge how good a teenager who has yet to throw in acompetitive game stateside really is. But Adys Portillo definitely hasbeen getting rave reviews. A 17-year-old who throws hard, he has fringy secondary offerings at the moment. This is not surprising for raw Latin American teenagers who signfor big bucks like the $2.0 million Portillo got from the Padres.

Find more videos like this on


Mike Rogers can be reached at