San Diego Padres: Top 10 Prospects

* My apologies for the late posting of San Diego’s Top 10 prospects… but I think the wait was well worth it, especially if you picked up a copy of the FanGraphs Second Opinion fantasy baseball companion (It’s 582 pages)!

General Manager: Jed Hoyer
Farm Director: Randy Smith
Scouting Director: Jaron Madison

FanGraphs’ Top 10 Prospects:
(2009 Draft Picks/International Signees Not Included)

The Padres organization doesn’t get a ton of ink or love, but it has some really solid prospects – especially in the Top 5 of the Top 10 list. On the downside, the club has a big backlog at third base and the corner outfield positions.

1. Simon Castro, RHP, Low-A
DOB: April 1988 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2006 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Mid-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 90-95 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Castro took a big leap forward in 2009 at low-A ball as a 21-year-old pitcher. The right-hander posted an impressive 2.80 FIP while allowing just 118 hits in 140.1 innings of work. Castro also showed excellent control (2.37 BB/9) while missing a lot of bats (10.07 K/9). The prospect has a big, strong pitcher’s frame at 6’5” 200 lbs, but he’ll have to watch that he doesn’t get too big. It won’t be such a big deal while pitching in San Diego, but Castro’s ground-ball rate was a tad below 40% so it would be nice to see him improve his worm-burning rate.

2. Logan Forsythe, 3B, Double-A
DOB: January 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 supplemental 1st round – University of Arkansas
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Forsythe or Darnell. Darnell or Forsythe. Take your pick. Along with Edinson Rincon, the club has impressive depth at the hot corner. The big league club also has a pretty good young player at the position in the Majors in Chase Headley. Of the trio in the minors, Forsythe is my pick. He had a solid ’09 season while playing in both high-A and double-A. At the junior level, the right-handed hitter batted .322/.472/.504 in a very good hitter’s environment. Moved up to double-A, he hit .279/.384/.377 in 244 at-bats. Although he held his own against all pitches, Forsythe enjoyed facing southpaws in ’09, with a .951 OPS (compared to .821 versus right-handers). The drop in power after his promotion (ISO from .182 to .098) is a little worrisome, but Forsythe should still hit for average and get on base (20% walk rate in high-A). He even showed some smarts on the base paths with 11 steals in 13 tries. The 23-year-old prospect will need to cut down on his strikeouts (25.8 K% in double-A).

3. James Darnell, 3B, High-A
DOB: January 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2008 2nd round – University of South Carolina
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

A step behind Forsythe, Darnell began the year in in low-A as a 22-year-old and hit .329/.468/.518 in 222 at-bats. He then batted .294/.377/.553 in 235 at-bats after a promotion to high-A. Although Darnell does not project to hit for average as consistently as Forsythe, he has a little more reliable pop in his bat (ISO of .189 in low-A, .260 in high-A). Like his fellow third base prospect, he shows patience at the plate, but he whiffs less often (16.2% in high-A). Darnell is the more athletic of the two third basemen so he’s more likely to switch positions (second base, right field) and Forsythe has a solid defensive profile (including a strong arm) for the hot corner.

4. Jaff Decker, OF, Low-A
DOB: February 1990 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2008 supplemental 1st round – Arizona HS
MLB ETA: Mid-2012 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Because of his age (19), Decker was kept in low-A ball all season despite solid numbers. He posted a triple-slash line of .299/.442/.514 in 358 at-bats. The left-handed hitter showed above-average patience at the plate with a walk rate of 18.7% but his strikeout rate was a tad high at 25.7%. With that said, he does show power potential after posting an ISO of .215. At 5’10”, 200 lbs, Decker is going to have to watch his conditioning if he’s going to stick in the outfield. He also doesn’t hit quite as well against southpaws (.881 OPS) as he does against right-handers (.962 OPS).

5. Wynn Pelzer, RHP, High-A
DOB: June 1986 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 9th round – University of South Carolina
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-93 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Pelzer has risen rather quickly through the system and should begin 2010 in double-A. The right-hander uses a solid two-pitch repertoire (and a developing change-up), as well as a solid ground-ball rate (53%) to produce nice minor league numbers. He posted a 3.30 FIP in high-A despite playing in a very good hitter’s park. He showed average control and posted a walk rate of 3.52 BB/9 and a respectable strikeout rate of 8.78 K/9. His HR/9 rate of 0.36 was very encouraging. Pelzer has some work to do against left-handed hitters (1.49 vs 1.03 WHIP).

6. Edinson Rincon, 3B, Short-season
DOB: August 1990 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2007 non-drafted international free agent (Dominican Republic)
MLB ETA: Mid-2014 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

With Headley, Forsythe, and Darnell ahead of him, the organization can be patient with the raw Rincon. The right-handed hitter had a lot of success in short-season ball in ’09 after two years in rookie ball. The teenager hit .300/.415/.468 in 267 at-bats and showed solid patience with a walk rate of 14.2%. His strikeout rate was high at 22.5% but he showed some developing power with an ISO rate of .169. Rincon has a strong arm but he may soon out-grow the position and move to right field (or first base, but his arm would be wasted there).

7. Cory Luebke, LHP, Double-A
DOB: March 1985 Bats: R Throws: L
Signed: 2007 supplemental 1st round – Ohio State University
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Repertoire: 87-91 mph fastball, slider, change-up

Luebke, a southpaw, started the year in high-A and allowed 73 hits in 88.1 innings. He also posted a FIP of 2.58. He showed excellent control (1.73 BB/9) and posted a good strikeout rate of 8.15 K/9. Moved up to double-A, he had a 3.83 FIP and was a little more hittable (38 hits in 41.1 innings). Although he posted allowed a similar batting average against both right-handed and left-handed hitters on the year, Luebke showed a better ground-ball rate against lefties (58.2 vs 47.8%) and a more impressive strikeout rate (10.00 vs 6.70 K/9). He projects to be a No. 3 or 4 starter in the National League.

8. Aaron Poreda, LHP, Majors
DOB: October 1986 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2007 1st round – University of San Francisco (Chicago AL)
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 2
Repertoire: 89-95 mph fastball, slider, change-up

A prized acquisition from the White Sox (in the Jake Peavy deal), Poreda has a good arm even if some of the shine has come off of him a bit since being drafted in the first round. The left-hander sacrifices some velocity for control but he can still reach the mid-90s with his heater. The big issue with him, though, is that his secondary pitches have never been overly strong. After making 11 starts in double-A at the beginning of the year, Poreda had mixed results in triple-A. He also made 14 appearances, all out of the ‘pen, at the MLB level for both the White Sox and the Padres. In 13.1 innings, he posted a 4.45 FIP and allowed 10 hits and 13 walks.

9. Lance Zawadzki, SS, Double-A
DOB: May 1985 Bats: B Throws: R
Signed: 2007 4th round – San Diego State University
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

A personal favorite of mine, Zawadzki is on the cusp of making the Majors, possibly as a utility player. The shortstop had a solid line in double-A in 09 and hit .289/.372/.416 in 346 at-bats (He began the year in high-A and had 145 at-bats). The switch-hitter does a little bit of everything but nothing overly well. He stole 14 bases in 15 tries and showed a nice line-drive swing. His strikeout rate is high (21.4%) for his modest power (.127 ISO). Zawadzki had more success against southpaws in ’09 but his BABIP played a big part (.408 vs .293).

10. Sawyer Carroll, OF, Double-A
DOB: May 1986 Bats: L Throws: R
Signed: 2008 3rd round – University of Kentucky
MLB ETA: Mid-2011 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3

Carroll beat out a couple of other outfielders for the 10th and final spot on the prospect list. A corner outfielder, he had a nice offensive season while playing at three levels during his first full pro season. The left-handed hitter produced a triple-slash line at low-A (where he had his most at-bats) of .316/.410/.464. He continued to hit above .300 at all stops and he stole a total of 19 bases in 27 tries. He also laced 40 doubles and showed a good eye at the plate with a walk rate above 13%. If his power doesn’t develop a little bit more, Carroll should slid into a fourth outfielder’s role in the Majors.

Up Next: The Seattle Mariners

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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13 years ago

hm, I’d be satisfied with an .881 ISO.