A Minor Review of 2008: The Padres

The Graduate: Chase Headley | Born: May 1984 | Outfielder

Chase Headley has bounced around defensively a little bit as the Padres worked to get his potent bat into the Major League line-up. He has settled into the outfield for now and had a decent debut season. He hit .269/.337/.420 with an ISO of .151 in 331 MLB at-bats. His rates have some room to improve at 8.3 BB% and 31.4%. Bill James’ 2009 projections expect even better numbers from Headley in 2009.

The Riser: Matt Buschmann | Born: February 1984 | Right-Handed Pitcher

Matt Buschmann was stolen in the 15th round of the 2006 draft out of Vanderbilt University, which is a heavily-scouted college. He has made significant improvements in his pro career and is finally on the cusp of a big league role. Buschmann survived the 2007 while pitching at a very good hitters’ environment. His 2008 numbers were even better upon a promotion to Double-A and he allowed just 137 hits in 147 innings of work. His rates included 3.53 BB/9 and 7.18 K/9. His fastball is fringe-average at 88-90 mph, along with a potentially-plus slider and a developing change-up.

The Tumbler: Matt Antonelli | Born: April 1985 | Second Baseman

Matt Antonelli was the 17th overall pick of the 2006 draft and big things were expected from him… but his ability to hit completely disappeared in 2008 – at both the Major League and Minor League level. Antonelli hit just .215/.328/.322 at Triple-A and .193/.292/.281 in 57 big league at-bats. The Padres promoted Antonelli aggressively to Triple-A to begin the 2008 season after just 187 Double-A at-bats in 2007… and it appears to have been a mistake. Expect him to spend much of the 2009 season in Triple-A.

The ’08 Draft Pick: Cole Figueroa | Born: June 1987 | Second Baseman

As if the Padres did not already have enough second base prospects, with the likes of Eric Sogard and Matt Antonelli, the club picked up another talented player in Cole Figueroa. When I interviewed Matt LaPorta prior to the 2007 draft, he pointed to Figueroa as his most talented college teammate. Figueroa, who was drafted out of high school by the Blue Jays, had a solid pro debut by hitting .289/.413/.474 with an ISO of 184 in 114 short-season at-bats. He should open 2009 in High-A ball.

The ’09 Sleeper: Eric Sogard | Born: May 1986 | Second Baseman

It can be tough to project prospects in a system that has a minor league level that significantly favors either hitters or pitchers… but such is the case with San Diego’s High-A affiliate. Eric Sogard’s 2008 season, though, may have been a result of a breakout, rather than related to his environment. An excellent college hitter, Sogard hit .308/.397/.453 with an ISO of .146 in 536 at-bats in 2008. He slugged 42 doubles and 10 homers, while posting more walks (12.8 BB%) than strikeouts (11.6 K%). Neither of those rates are directly affected by playing in a hitters’ park.

Up Next: The Baltimore Orioles

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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15 years ago

Bill James seems too bullish on Headley. Granted, Headley has had consistently high BABIP throughout the minors. But Bill James is predicting a BABIP of .369 for 2009, which is crazy high no matter how many line drives a guy hits (and Headley hits quite a few of them). His stats seem particularly bullish for a guy that will probably strike out more than 25% of the time.

On the other hand, I feel better about Antonelli than most. His 14.4 BB% and 19.1 K% were both good enough. But his .251 BABIP is crazy low. Antonelli doesn’t look like he hit a ton of line drives, but his BABIP should have been much higher, and better luck would have taken his triple slash line into the realm of respectibility. His power drop-off is a little concerning though.