Sunday, May 10, 2009

Padres Farm System Update

Sunday May 10, 2009

San Diego Padres Farm System Update

According to Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union Tribune, Kyle Blanks will begin playing left field for AAA Portland on Monday.

If Blanks is successful at this experiment in left field, Kevin Kouzmanoff may be traded to make room for Chase Headley at third base.

Headley is the template for the Padres move of an infielder to a corner outfield position. Headley made a successful transition from 3B to LF last season and his defense has improved this season. Blanks has superior speed to Headley, though at 6'6" and 285 he is far from the prototypical LF.

Blanks hitting .291/.391/.527/.918 with 7 hr in 31 games is forcing the Padres hand in finding a place for him to play on the big league squad.

Elsewhere in the Padres farm system,
  • Kellen Kulbacki is made his first start of the season on Saturday for the AA San Antonio Missions after shoulder surgery in the off season.
  • 2003 1st round draft pick Tim Stauffer is throwing well in extended spring training and should be ready to join the Missions later this week.
  • Mat Latos has not allowed a run in 3 starts and 11.2 innings with the low A Ft Wayne Tincaps so far this season and may soon be promoted to High A Lake Elsinore.
In unrelated news, Padres beat writer Tom Krasovic was let go by the Union Tibune as part of a waive of layoffs by the new ownership group. In all 192 people were let go.

Who Will the Padres Draft in June? Part Deux

Sunday May 10, 2009

Who Will the San Diego Padres Draft in the June MLB Amateur Draft?

The draft is approaching and the Padres have their highest draft pick since 2004.

At the number 3 overall pick, impact type players are certain to be available when the Padres turn comes up.

For 2009 there is a glaring dearth of positional players that are expected to go high in the draft, but as many as 3 of them may go in the top 10 overall picks.

In the first part of this article I profiled 4 players that the Padres have either been rumored to be interested in or whom the Padres are currently scouting heavily.

In this section I will profile 6 players I think are high tools type players or players that the Padres should be scouting heavily.

So who will the Padres pick and why?

LHP Tyler Matzek of Capistrano Valley HS (CA)
This 6'3" 190 lb lefty is among the most polished high school pitchers I have seen in many years. His delivery is absolutely effortless and his mechanics are spot on.

While his fastball sits at 91-93, he can crank it up to 95 when needed and he has a two Plus secondary pitches in an 1-7 curve that is nasty and a slider that breaks late. He also mixes in an improving change up that could be a 4th plus pitch.

He may not have #1 upside, but I can see him being a very good #2 in the major leagues for years to come.

He may go as high as number two overall and the Padres could gain something they have not had in years, a dominating lefty starter.

I can see him going to the Padres with the number 3 pick.

OF Donovan Tate of Cartersville HS (GA) (Boras)

The 6'3" 210 lb Tate may be the best overall athlete expected to be drafted in the first round. He is already committed to North Carolina as a Quarterback and wants to play baseball for the Tar Heels as well.

Tate has blazing speed, his 6.4 in the 60-yard is .3 faster than any current player in the Padres system, and he throws a 92-93 mph fast ball.

But it is as a hitter and an outfielder that most teams are looking at Tate. Tate is projected to have 80 speed, 70 arm and 60+ defense, while hitting with 20+ home run power as a professional.

The drawbacks are that Tate is very raw as a hitter and is lacking in patience at the plate. Combine that with Boras as an agent/adviser and the fact that he has already committed to the University of North Carolina in football and that his father, Lars Tate, was a former NFL player and you have a potential signability problem.

Tate may be the first high school player taken in the June Draft and he may fall out of the top 10 rounds depending on how hard teams feel it may be to sign him.

RHP Aaron Crow - 1st round pick of the Washington Nationals (#9 overall) in 2008 out of the University of Missouri and current independent league Forth Worth Cats pitcher. (Boras)

Crow is a 6'2" 205 lb power pitcher who is a fierce competitor. His fastball touches 96 mph and he normally sits 93-94 with with good command to both sides of the plate. He also throws a hard biting slider and a change up that shows real promise.

He was drafted with the 9th overall pick by the "Natinals" in 2008, but they failed to come to terms and Crow went on to pitch for the Cats.

A potential drawback is a hitch in his pitching mechanics that has many scouts leary of future injuries. It is the same type of mechanical flaw that most feel led to Mark Prior's devastating shoulder injuries.

Where Crow goes in the June draft will depend heavily on how he pitches for the independent league Ft. Worth Cats who started their season May 4th. Crow threw 4 scoreless innings in his first start before giving way to the bullpen.

RHP Zack Wheeler of East Paulding HS (GA)
The 6′4, 180 Wheeler is long and lanky and undoubtedly will grow into his body over time. His fastball sits at 90-93 with good late movement and can hit 96. Many scouts believe that his velocity will increase as a professional as he adds some bulk.

Wheeler's secondary pitches include a + hard slurve at 74-78 and change up that still needs work. He has a consistent delivery and good command of his fastball and slurve.

Wheeler projects as a #1-#2 type pitcher and also to go in the top 10 on draft day and may go as high as #3, but is likely going to be drafted after the Padres pick at #3.

LHP Mike Leake of Arizona State University
At 6'0" 180 lbs, Leake is not an imposing figure on the mound, but he gets outstanding results.
This season he has gone 12-1 in 13 appearances with a 1.47 era. In 97.2 IP he has given up just 59 hits while striking out 104 vs just 18 walks.

His 2 seam fastball sits 88-92 with lots of late movement. He has good command over all of his pitches. His change up and curve have a sharp break and has went to a slider more this season. None of his pitches are ++, but he throws strikes and keeps batters off kilter by changing speeds and location. His delivery is smooth and compact and he works very quickly.

Of all the people on this list, Leake may have the quickest path to the major leagues, but his ceiling is lower than many on here. In most books he projects as a #2 or most likely a #3 starter.

Leake will probably be on the board long past the Padres pick at #3, but he will definitely be drafted in the top to middle of the 1st round.

LHP Matthew Purke of Klein HS (Tx)
At the beginning of the season Matthew Purke topped many lists of high school pitchers. A good but not outstanding prep season has seen him fall from a consensus top 5 pick to somewhere in the top-mid 1st round.

The 6'3" 185 lb Purke throws from a 3.4 arm slot which gives his fastball good sink. His fastball sits at 89-92 and regularly touches 94. He has a plus curve, but his slider and change up need work. What worries many scouts most is his long delivery and "inverted w" mechanics. This means his hands break low and this puts stress on his shoulder as his hand catches up with his stride.

Purke will probably still go in the top 10-12 in the 1st round, but I do not believe he will go at #3 to the Padres.

A few other names have been thrown around by many of the MLB draft mavens, but the Padres are not known to have heavily scouted them so I would place them on a list of interesting players, but not likely to be drafted by the Padres at #3.

They include:
RHP Tanner Scheppers of the Independent League St. Paul Saints
RHP Shelby Miller of Brownwood HS (Tex.)
RHP Jacob Turner of Westminster Christian Academy (Mo.)

Now the big question.

Who do I feel the Padres SHOULD take in the draft?

If he is available I think the best pick on the board is Dustin Ackley. He is a true 5 tool player.

Who do I think the Padres WILL take?

If he is still on the boad I believe the Padres will take Ackley. He is simply the best player on the board other than Strasburg. If he is not available I believe the Padres will either take Alex White of North Carolina or Aaron Crow of the Ft Worth Cats.

I have had my say. Now what do you think?

Geer Gets Pounded, Eckstein Gets Hurt, Padres Get Swept By Astros

Sunday May 10, 2009

San Diego Padres get swept by the Sad Sack Astros in Houston.

2009 is starting to take the same path as 2008.

Yes I know I am being negative and there is a lot of baseball left to play, but this Padres team was favored to win this series over a 12-17 Astros team that was hitting under .250 coming into this series while playing in one of the best hitters parks in baseball.

The Astros pitching staff was in tatters leading the NL in hits allowed and trailing only the Washington "Natinals" in WHIP.

So what happened to set me off on this rant?
  • The Astros pitching staff shut out the Padres in game one.
  • Brian Moehler, who came into the 2nd game with a 14.00 ERA and a BAA against of .479 in 3 previous starts and shut out the Padres for 5 innings before giving up just one run in 7 innings. Possibly the worst starter in baseball and he looks like Maddux against the hapless Padres batters? Give me a break.
  • And today the Padres most consistent starter gives up 7 runs, 5 earned in 3.1 IP.
Injuries derail a good start and the season is over before it really begins.

I do know that the Padres lead the league in injuries once again this season so I am cutting them some slack.

The Padres have 5 pitchers currently on the DL including 3 starters and their most effective reliever from 2008.

The big bat the Padres were counting on off the bench has been on the DL since before the season began and the promising young speedster SS broke his hand and is out until the beginning of July.

What else can happen to this team?

The pesky second baseman David Eckstein, the player that typifies the kind of hard nosed, do all you can with what you have attitude the Padres need to win, gets hurt today and is headed to the DL.

Cha Seung Baek left his rehab assignment in Portland yesterday with soreness in his elbow and is headed back to San Diego for an MRI.

The hitters on this team seem to have given up or to be fair, maybe have just have tightened up so much that they simply cannot hit with men on base. A .217 BA with men in scoring position is bad enough. The Padres .115 BA with the bases loaded is simply not acceptable.

So whose fault is it?

Managing the game and inspiring the team.
I have absolutely no confidence in the Padres manager Bud Black to do the right thing in important situations in games or to inspire the team to excel.

It is the managers job to bring pitchers into the game in a timely and efficient manner to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Black has failed.

It is the managers job to call for bunts and hit and runs and when a batter should swing away. Black has failed on a consistent basis to do so effectively in key game situations.

It is the manager and hitting coach's job to get the guys to relax and hit. They have failed.

The Padres players have been among the most injured in the league for much of the last 8 seasons. Part of that is the older players often coming off injury plagued seasons that the Padres have been forced to pick up because of a limited budget.

Part of the blame for the rash of injuries must be assigned to Trainer Todd Hutcheson and Strength and Conditioning Coach Jim Malone.

If it was a fluke thing and the Padres had one season like 2008 every 10 years or so it could be passed off to chance, but to have been in the top 10 in baseball for number of player days on the DL every season since 2001 is not chance.

It is the training staff doing a poor job of conditioning the athletes.

What SHOULD happen to this team?

Fire Bud Black. Now!

To begin the season I was among his biggest supporters, saying to give him a full season without MLB record injuries to see if he could give fans a winning team, but he has failed to execute in so many situations this year, from when to pull a pitcher to when to bunt to whom to play, that I am no longer willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and I truly hope the FO is no longer willing to lose like this either.

As fans we show game after game that we care. It is time for the Front Office to show they care as much as the fans do.

It is time for someone in management to get angry about this. Black is incapable of getting angry, so the ownership or Kevin Towers need to say enough is enough and start making changes.

Bring in Bobby Valentine or Davey Johnson or even Ned Yost. Or any firey manager for that matter. The Padres need to change things up and the first thing that needs to be changed is the attitude and personality of the manager. Bochy was an easy going guy and so is Black. Bring in a fire breathing butt kicker who has won as a manager before.

Sit Brian Giles against left handed pitching. You think Giles' .151 BA is bad, take a look at his .098 BA against LHP. That is right .098. 5 hits in 51 at bats. Maybe platooning him for a month will light a fire under him and he can be the Giles of last year for the 2nd half of this season.

Play Jody Gerut EVERY day!
Gerut was the best leadoff hitter the team had last season and he hit .308 against lefties in 40 games. Maybe you sit him occasionally against the toughest LHP, but for the most part just let him play and get a rhythm going. Oh, did you notice who Gerut hit his HR off today? That is correct, a lefty.

Platoon Chris Burke and Luis Rodriguez.

With Eckstein headed to the DL it will muck up the middle infield since the Padres really have no one they can call up, but for now give Edgar Gonzalez 2B and platoon Burke and Rodriguez.

Bring up Greg Burke, DFA Duaner Sanchez and send down Arturo Lopez.
Burke is absolutely dominating AAA. He has given up just 7 hits and 4 walks in 15 innings while striking out 14 in the worst pitchers league in baseball. His ERA is just 1.80 and he has 6 saves in 6 opportunities.

Sanchez on the other hand is done. His confidence is shot. He absolutely refuses to throw a pitch near the strike zone. Especially not his fastball. Pitch after pitch is off the outside corner and misses by a foot more often than not. He has NO confidence in his fastball and has thrown more than 30% changeups and far too many sliders off the plate. When he does come inside with a fastball he is already behind in the count and it is getting crushed. His ERA is 7.56 and he has given up 12 hits and 7 walks in just 8.1 IP. Opposing batters are hitting .364 off him and on the road it gets worse.

There is little chance that Sanchez gets picked up on waivers so designate him for assignment now and let him go to AAA and regain some confidence.

Lopez has a 19.29 ERA in 4 appearances after today's game. Any questions?

Get a fifth bat on the bench.
The Padres need a right hand hitting bat on the bench. Call up Emil Brown or even Luis Durango.

The Padres are hitting .219 vs left handed pitching. .219!

Get another BAT up here who can help out.

Ok, now I have had my say and my rant is done.

What do you think?