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01/23 Sacrificial Links

January 23rd, 2010 by

Sacrifical Links

Padres add Stairs for veteran presence (ESPN)

According to Jerry Crasnick, the Padres have signed Matt Stairs to a minor league deal with an invite to the big league camp.

I like this deal, but I like having a left-handed power-bat on the bench. This seemed to be the offseason to get one, with a couple of veterans finding themselves disregarded, but following Jason Giambi’s return to the Rockies and the AL Central’s interest in Jim Thome, the pickings still seemed slim. Truth be told, Stairs was not very good last year, or the year before, his monster bomb off of Broxton in the NLCS not withstanding, but he has dropped 30 pounds. If Stairs comes into Spring Training as serious as his weight-loss suggests, he would be a great addition to our already impressive bench.

Headley at hot corner a heated decision (Union-Tribune)

Tim Sullivan fills us in on some behind the scenes gossip behind Chase Headley’s move to third.

Buddy (Black) and I were on the same page,” Towers said recently, describing the Padres’ philosophical divide before his dismissal as general manager. “I’d keep Kouz and trade Headley. But DePo (Paul DePodesta) has always been a huge Headley fan. Huge. As was Sandy (Alderson). Headley was kind of our poster child.”

To which Black responded with a diplomatic “That serves no purpose.” Because of course he did.

I hope that someone gives Towers a studio job, just so we can watch him react to Padres updates as they happen.

Posted in hot stove, players, sacrificial links | Comments Off

Trade Kouz cause he doesn’t suck

June 28th, 2009 by

You can’t trade bad players just because they’re bad. If baseball were that easy, Padre fans would never have the pleasure of telling the thrilling tales of Mark Bellhorn. You trade players when their perceived value is greater than their actual value.

-Melvin Nieves, 08/11/08

Following Khalil’s MVPadre winning season of 2008, we at The Sac Bunt made the case (cases, really) for why he should be moved. His value was at an all-time high and it wasn’t really representative of his actually production. For all of his power prowess, and Khalil hit 27 home runs that year, his complete inability to draw a walk more than evened things out, leaving him with a wOBA that season of .322. Yet the Padres attempted to sign Khalil to an extension, one that he fortunately turned down, and now he’s working through his problems both on-field and off, in St. Louis.

Lesson learned, right?

In a recent blog entry on Kevin Kouzmanoff, Paul DePodesta aptly quoted Mark Twain, saying, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” DePo was using Twain’s words to discuss Kouzmanoff random success after May 14th, but it might work better if used to talk about the third baseman’s current trade value.

In his discussion, DePo points out the tear Kouzmanoff’s been on since May 14th, which includes 9 home runs in 140 at-bats. Stretched out over a full season, that’s more than 30 home runs, an especially impressive feat playing in Petco. But DePo noticeably fails to mention Kouzmanoff’s 27 strike outs and 5 walks over the same stretch. That’s a BB/K of 0.19, which is consistent with Kouz’s 0.17 mark in 2008. It’s also lower than Khalil’s 0.25 in 2007.

At the time, trading Khalil wasn’t as simple as simply finding a trade partner. There was no one in the system to take his place, so the team would have to go outside to find a replacement. With Kouzmanoff, the same problem does not exist.

As we’ve discussed, Chase Headley has become a bit of an enigma in this organization, though he’s been hot over the past couple of weeks. He’s also a more-than-viable option for this team at third base. And it would seem that a decision is begging to be made, with the outfield becoming suddenly stuffed. Along with Headley, the Padres have the newly unretired Tony Gwynn, Scott Hairston, Brian Giles, Kyle Blanks, and Will Venable. While it seems that the sand in Giles’ Padres hourglass is just about out, there’s no benching an active Hall of Famer or the team’s best non-Adrian hitter. And Towers has also pledged playing time for Venable, while Blanks’ presence demands some as well.

(For our coverage of Blanks’ call-up, search ‘Chase Headley’ in our archives and look for articles from June of last year.)

The best reason to trade Kouzmanoff, though, is because this team isn’t any good. We’re currently 32-41 and something like seven games out of the Wild Card. We also have a Pythagorean of 28-45 and are absent our two best pitchers (although Kevin Correia has really turned it on as of late). While some of the young talent are playing surprisingly well, the aforementioned Tony Gwynn and Everth Cabrera leading the pack, by no means should the team think that this dinner party is going end without someone getting piss drunk and saying something inappropriate about someone else’s wife. Let’s just take it easy, explore what the market for Kouzmanoff is (the Indians recently traded Mark DeRosa for Chris Perez and a PTBNL, for instance), and get ready for 2010 and beyond.

Posted in hot stove, players, statistics | 3 Comments »

Nerdgasm UPDATE

April 21st, 2009 by

In February, we reported on the upcoming movie adaptation of Moneyball, directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Steve Zaillian, and starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane. At the time, I said:

I hope DePodesta … mentions something about this on his blog. Hopefully he can give us a casting scoop on who’s going to play him.

Now we have our answer: Demetri Martin, of Important Things with Demetri Martin and Ang Lee’s upcoming Taking Woodstock, will be playing our favorite special assistant for baseball operations.

David Justice and Scott Hatteberg will also be in the movie, playing David Justice and Scott Hatteberg, respectively.

It’s a real film, Jack.

Posted in media, misc | 1 Comment »

Anything is possible!

March 13th, 2009 by

Remember how delusional Grady Fuson got when Baseball America announced the farm system as 29th in the league? I anticipate the team’s response following this:

Organizational Rankings: #25 – San Diego Padres

Our much revered Fangraphs has begun listing all 30 Major League clubs in descending order and, as you don’t even need to click to see, the Padres ended up at 25th. 

The grading was broken down into Ownership, Front Office, Major League Talent and Minor League Talent. Some highlights:

Ownership: N/A

This is an ownership group in transition, and we just don’t have enough information to give them any kind of grade.

This one seems kind of obvious. They go on to say that there is a sense of shadiness behind the sale to Moorad, as he still had a stake in the Diamondbacks. Personally, I think it’d only be appropriate if a conflict of interest blows up in our face. Nothing’s impossible.

Front Office: B-

Kevin Towers is a smart, likable guy, and currently the longest tenured GM in the game… However, there’s some serious question marks about how the team will be run going forward. With Alderson on the way out, does he take Asst. GM Paul DePodesta with him? Can Towers avoid being fired if the team struggles in 2009, especially with new ownership?

Really, not to be a bloodsucker, but it seems like they went a little soft on the front office. Towers’ legacy in San Diego speaks for itself, but he had a rough 2008. Go through our archives and you won’t see too many “Hey, we signed this guy!” articles, unless they were followed by a “Hey, we traded this guy for not a whole lot!” article. Then there’s our impossibly disappointing minor league system, the uncertainty going forward, and our general 2009 awfulness, and that B- grade seems a bit generous. 

Major League Talent: C-

Regression needs to be expected from both, and there just isn’t much in the way of run production for the Padres outside of (Gerut and Giles) and Adrian Gonzalez. Chase Headley is a solid enough young player, but when he represents the hopes of your future line-up, things aren’t great.

Fangraphs makes a potentially dubious statement in “the pitchers aren’t as good as advertised, and the hitters are a bit better than everyone thinks.” I’m not sure why the pitchers are flat-out not as good but the hitters are just kinda sorta better. Petco Park still eats statistics for breakfast. The Three-G’s all had a road OPS near .900, with Adrian topping out at .946. Only Giles made it over .800 at home. Maybe the scrub seatholders are only a bit better on the road, but I don’t like defining the team by them. 

Minor League Talent: C-

There aren’t any position prospects here that everyone loves, and the ranks of the pitching prospects are full of guys who throw 87 MPH and try to get by on smarts. It isn’t a horrible farm system, but it’s not a very good one either, and for a team in need of a talent injection, that’s a problem.

Hey, “isn’t a horrible farm system.” That’s pretty good! But seriously, this cuts to the core of this team’s problem. We can talk all day about the missing $30 million and how that’s hindering the team, but the fact remains that this team needs that $30 million because it has yet to start producing its own talent. While other teams in our league are filling out their lineups with homegrowns, the Padres have Chase Headley and Nick Hundley. And with the exception of Kyle Blanks, no one’s really close. I think this fact needs better representation in the Front Office grade.

I’ll leave you with Fangraph’s summation of this team’s fortunes going forward. Have a good weekend!

Overall: C

 If you’re a glass half full guy, you can hold onto the fact that the D’Backs were very well ran while Moorad was in Arizona, and that the front office is full of guys who could run a team well. If you’re a glass half empty guy, then you see an organization that lacks talent, has only a couple of really valuable players (two of whom have full no-trade clauses), and who plays in a division with two teams that are better, younger, and have greater revenue steams. I have a feeling that San Diego is in for some tough times ahead.

Posted in media, sacrificial links | 4 Comments »

“It’s impossible. It just has to be.”

March 3rd, 2009 by

Grady Fuson, if you didn’t know, is in charge of overseeing the Padres minor league system, and he recently took exception with Baseball America’s ranking of the Padres farm system as 29th best, or 2nd worst, in the league.

As we’ve discussed before, the public perception of our farm system is bleak. Along with BA, Keith Law ranked the team at 19th, and John Sickles and Baseball Prospectus were also less than enthused. But neither of them were as harsh as BA, which is where Fuson’s directed his ire.

Said Fuson: “It’s impossible. It just has to be.”

Fuson, who oversees the farm system and the draft, said the Padres belong in the Top 10, not the bottom two.


“Let’s take the true Baseball America that we all know,” Fuson said Monday. “We all know that they love high school, first two rounds, and/or overpaid type players. The reality is that we are a little more selective in that group. So, in other words, we don’t take every high school guy that runs and throws, or that has a 93 mph fastball, just because he throws 93. We’re a little more selective with delivery, with a true ability on projecting some command down the road.

“When it comes to the offensive players, do I want (those) that can run and throw? You bet. But we are also very offensive-minded in our selections. With that said, I think we should be judged a little bit on the quality in the last three or fours years on the offensive players – not just the one-dimensional bangers – but with skills that can play. How can you define those guys as non-upside guys?”

Padres officials come to the defense of the organization’s farm system

One more time: “It’s impossible. It just has to be.”

I remember there was a time when it looked like the Padres were putting together an All-Star front office, with Fuson and Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta. I imagine it’s difficult to find anyone who would term the F.O. as an All-Star squad at this point, and Fuson’s defensiveness does nothing to help matters.

I realize that Fuson defending the minor league system is not a problem. It’s his job, afterall. And it’s good that he takes offense to BA’s dramatically low ranking, which I’m not necessarily endorsing. But top 10? Are we supposed to take Fuson seriously?

Does he actually think that the Padres have a top 10 minor league system?
Let’s assume for a second that Fuson actually believes his own non-sense. All of a sudden, I’m not comfortable with Fuson’s ability as a system builder.

From the UT article:

Fuson mentioned, among many others, Kulbacki, a left fielder who batted .332 with 20 home runs last year in 84 games with Single-A Lake Elsinore; pitcher Wynn Pelzer, a right-hander ticketed for Lake Elsinore’s rotation this year, who was 9-6 with a 3.19 ERA at Single-A Fort Wayne; and Hunter, a center fielder who batted .318 with 11 home runs in 134 games with Lake Elsinore.
“You can’t say that Kulbacki doesn’t look like an impact player,” he said. “Pelzer, this guy is smart. This is a guy that has good stuff. If Cedric Hunter’s career is Jody Gerut, that’s a pretty good big league ballplayer. I could see where somebody would say that is not impact, but that’s a pretty good big-league ballplayer.”

Moving past the craziness of comparing Cedric Hunter’s career to Jody Gerut’s injury-riddled one, Fuson sounds like a desperate man who can’t handle criticism. I’d say it’s because he can feel the ax coming, but Alderson has his back:

“Everybody sees the depth that we have in our minor league system. At this point, perhaps people don’t see one outstanding prospect. … Really, only one of our top-rated prospects had a disappointing year in any real sense, and that was Antonelli. Anybody else, like LeBlanc – we were pushing our guys to higher levels. So, that, together with the fact we had a very strong draft (in 2008) and a number of those players are ranked in our Top 10, and we had some great signings internationally – (being ranked 29th) just doesn’t make any sense. Of course, there were other publications that ranked us much higher.”

Of course, we’ve already discussed Alderson’s impending departure, but maybe his comments shed some light on an organizational content with a minor league system that is universally listed in the bottom half of the league (despite their own objection) and is so barren that the big league team is looking at Cha Seung Baek as its third starter. Afterall, it’s impossible that this team is the 29th worst in the league. It just has to be.

Posted in gripes, media | 4 Comments »


February 5th, 2009 by

From Steve Zaillian, writer of “Schindler’s List,” and Steven Soderbergh, director of “Traffic,” comes Michael Lewis’ Moneyball.

Starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane.

Now, granted, only Zaillian is officially signed on. And we don’t know that Pitt’s going for the Beane role (although it seems like a safe bet), but this is some serious OMG news.

I hope DePodesta, who Alderson doesn’t expect to follow him out the door, mentions something about this on his blog. Hopefully he can give us a casting scoop on who’s going to play him.

Posted in media, misc | 1 Comment »

Padres 101: Rebuilding Through the Draft

August 6th, 2008 by

Build, Break, Rebuild

“The draft has never been anything but a fucking crapshoot. We take fifty guys and we celebrate if two of them make it. In what other business is two for fifty a success? If you did that in the stock market, you’d go broke.” -Billy Beane

Padres101While 2003 may have been the end to an era, it would be difficult to argue that much had changed following the 2004 Amateur Draft. In a draft where the executive decisions were inexplicably carried out by owner John Moores, the Padres drafted local Mission Bay High School product, Matt Bush. The team immediately felt the return of their $3.15 million investment when, 13 days later, Bush was arrested in a night club scuffle under suspicion of “felony assault, and misdemeanor trespass and disorderly conduct… [and] underage drinking.” What’s worse, the dude’s a biter.

The move was immediately scrutinized as many believed it was merely predicated due to a financial bottom line as opposed to acquiring top shelf talent. While this isn’t necessarily a fair assessment (Bush was considered a Top 10 prospect in many circles and the Padres weren’t the only team who refused to pay premium prices for first round picks), the move ushered in a new philosophy and face for the front office:

Sandy Alderson and John Moores

John Moores rebuilt the Padres’ entire draft and development department, from the top down. Sandy Alderson, former executive with Major League Baseball became a part owner and team CEO. Grady Fuson, who nearly worked his way to general manager in the Texas Rangers’ system due to his extensive experience as a scout and talent evaluator, was named Padres Director of Scouting. Paul DePodesta, former Executive Vice President and General Manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers became Padres Special Assistant for Baseball Operations.

The franchise distanced itself from frivolous spending and settled with modest payrolls ranked either near or below the Major League average; fan favorites left via free agency. While the casual fan saw departing players and the concept of a modest player payroll as a black mark upon the franchise, the team began a new approach to the draft to create an advantage.

Since the move to Petco Park, the Padres have struggled promoting from within due to years of neglect that relegated their farm system near useless, ranking near the worst in the league up until this past season (courtesy of Baseball America):

2005: 27th

2006: 29th

2007: 29th

2008: 12th

The marked improvement can definitely be attributed to the new franchise philosophy and although this couldn’t happen overnight, the franchise continues to exhaust every effort in order to restock their depleted farm system. The methods in which Alderson and company sought to improve this franchise were dubbed by sportswriter Tom Krasovic as “Sandyball,” and simply reiterated the importance of acquiring extra draft picks in any way possible:

[Getting extra draft picks] is done by offering salary arbitration to a free agent who played for your club the previous season. If the player declines and signs with another team, the original club gets one or two high-end picks in the next June amateur draft. Under Alderson, the Padres have obtained 12 extra picks, including seven in 2007 and another three for the upcoming June draft. From 2000-2005, they had two extra picks. “The farm system has improved,” Alderson said. “That’s partly because of more draft picks. But it’s also partly more effective use of draft picks.”

The method – from the standpoint of retooling the farm system – worked. As outlined above, over the past three years the Padres have hoarded sandwich picks more than at any other point in franchise history and, in that time, selected more players in the first three rounds than any other team in baseball.

Money allocated for contracts to Padres’ draft picks is also far more significant than in years past. In 2007, the Padres managed to sign all but one of their twelve first day draft picks and this year they not only had a successful Amateur Draft, but they locked up an additional $4.8 million in player contracts during the International Draft – which, not so coincidentally, is the first year in which the Padres’ $8.5 million scouting facility in the Dominican Republic has been open. That total, according to a report in the Union Tribune, was approximately five times their normal amount, “as the Padres spend about $1 million during the international signing period.” Of the five players taken that day, all four that played in Latin America made ESPN’s Top 12 “Best Latino Prospects of 2008” list.

The hope is that their growth and maturity as a franchise continues with an unshakable focus for sustained future prosperity, no matter how the major league squad is playing at the moment. With this front office and the impressions they’ve made through their accomplishments, there’s reason to be optimistic.

Posted in Padres 101 | 1 Comment »

Fun little chat with Paul DePodesta

July 12th, 2008 by

More Recenter Edit: After pulling the article I received confirmation that the contents of the speech were not to be published.  Sorry to all involved.  This sucks.

EDIT: Crap, I’m really nervous.  It sounds like something was said before we arrived about not reporting the contents of Paul’s speech.

On one hand, I don’t particularly understand this since the event was announced to the public and anyone who wanted could buy a ticket.  On the other hand, this isn’t a press conference.  Paul would enjoy way less freedom to speak freely and honestly if he knew the entire interwebtubes were disseminating his every word.

I for one appreciate when a public figure has the desire and opportunity to speak openly.  Because of this, the report may disappear soon.

Of course it has to happen for our one opportunity to pretend to be a real media outlet.

Paul DepodestaBaseball Prospectus hosted a fun little evening at PETCO on Friday, beach towel night.  It featured a talk with San Diego Padres special assistant for baseball operations Paul DePodesta.  Paul is famous as a central character in Michael Lewis’ renowned book “Moneyball”, in my opinion the Most Influencial Sports Book of all Time™.  Paul is also the former GM of the Dodgers, run out of town by the myopic LA media, who (surprise!) aren’t as smart as they think they are.

The Sacrifice Bunt flagged him down after the event (may or may not involving a scared, girlish scream of “ahhh Paul!!” as he walked away) for a quick chat and photo.  During the chat and speech, Paul came across as down to earth, pleasant, and spoke with the care and accuracy one would expect from a Harvard graduate.

Ray commented that Paul’s demeanor seemed opposite of Sandy Alderson’s guarded, defensive, and some might say arrogant attitude during appearances with Billy and Daren on the radio.  I responded that if knuckleheads did no research and attacked me under the guise of balanced “journalism”, I’d probably act the same way Alderson does.


If we weren’t already doing it this way, is this the way we would start?

Posted in media, petco park, the funny | 5 Comments »

2008 Draft Recap: The Best of the Rest (Part 2)

June 17th, 2008 by

On Friday, I began reviewing the 2008 Padres Draft. This is a closer look at the remaining first day draftees and some choice selections from the second day of selections.

#42 – Jaff Decker, OF/P, Sunrise Mountain HS (AZ):

Despite Decker’s plus power, a lot of teams scouted him as a P as he throws a 93 MPH fastball with a good curve. I’ve seen comparisons from Matt Stairs to Brian Giles although he looks like the lovechild between Joba Chamberlain, Paul McAnulty, and the Little League World Series version of Sean Burroughs. That’s to say he’s got a live arm, good offensive approach, and well, he’s kinda short and stocky. The kid has a plus arm, great defensive instincts, and had 14 HR in 72 AB last season. I’ve got to be honest, I’m not crazy about this pick. Yes, he’s incredibly talented and is much more athletic than he appears, but his projections at the next level will have to be near the most optimistic end of the spectrum to possibly justify going after him at this spot.

Dacker confirmed that early next week he’s crossing the T’s and dotting the lower-case J’s on the nearly $890k contract that will put him in a Padres jersey next season.

#46 – Logan Forsythe, 3B, U Arkansas Fayetteville:

One of the great things about Forsythe is his versatility. Not only is he seen as a good defensive 3B, but DePodesta indicated that he’s played all over the diamond for Team U.S.A.:

Logan is a 3B for the University of Arkansas, though he played all around the diamond for Team USA last summer (he has also caught in the past).
Known for incredible makeup, Logan has been a coach and fan favorite. He played the entire summer for Team USA with a broken foot and refused to come out of games. Furthermore, he continually showed his best performances against the best competition and in the biggest moments.

In short, we think this is a very well-rounded player with great intangibles.

Now, I’m not so sure that drafting a guy with amazing versatility and then bragging about him playing on a broken foot is a way to win over many critics, but DePodesta obviously has different values than I do. I guess that’s just a way of saying he’s a “gamer.” And he isn’t the only person who believes that Forsythe could be an impact player behind the dish. Keith Law, while down on the rest of our draft, seemed to have nothing but good things to say about him:

[The Padres] got a potential sleeper in Logan Forsythe, who is a much better hitter than his overall stat line indicates and is a potential convert to catcher (he’s caught some before, and one team that worked him out as a catcher predraft said he was a natural fit there).

I don’t know what Law is referring to when it comes to implying that he’s a better hitter than his stats indicate, but a .353/.479/.533 line is impressive nonetheless. What impresses me is how creative the Padres have become when drafting catchers. Prior to the Ramon Hernandez acquisition, San Diego had a dark period when it came to backstops. Since, we have experienced a rather bright period and a lot to look forward to with Mitch Canham, Nick Hundley, and Colt Morton. One of the major similarities between these players is they weren’t necessarily full-time backstops. Plus they have the athletic ability to play elsewhere, allowing additional versatility.

To bring in a player like Forsythe, who has the potential to be as good, if not better, than some of our most recent catching draft picks is a thrilling prospect.

#111 – Sawyer Carroll, OF, U of Kentucky:

Carroll’s 2008 was a monstrous season; it speaks for itself, really:

.419 234 69 98 22 3 19 83 183 .782 44 33 .514 12 – 12

Carroll was just named to his fourth consecutive first-team All-American selection and ranked among one of the best in the SEC across the board offensively:

Carroll led the SEC with a .419 average and 83 RBI, ranking second in slugging (.782), second in on-base percentage (.514), fifth in runs scored (69), third in hits (98), second in doubles (22), fifth in home runs (19), second in total bases (183) and sixth in walks (44). Carroll, a senior from Henryetta, Okla., exited UK as a third-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres, walking away as the career record-holder in batting average (.386).

I find it hard to believe that Carroll was overlooked because he was a senior, but I really can’t come up with any other reason as to how somebody who absolutely dominated SEC play for four seasons drops to the third round and nobody takes a chance.

A little deeper digging, however, reveals that there might be some merit to his modest draft position. Carroll wasn’t necessarily a power hitter prior to this season. As DePodesta chronicles in his blog, Carroll hit the gym, packed on some serious muscle, and saw his HR total jump from 3 to 19. Perhaps many believed that this season’s power surge was an anomaly, but DePodesta and company are willing to take the chance. Can’t say I blame them provided the potential outcome of Carroll replicating these results in Petco Park someday.

#135 – Jason Kipnis, CF, Arizona State U:

Despite DePodesta’s evidence to the contrary, Jason Kipnis is not destined to be a CF.

Jason has played both CF and LF for ASU, though he has become the primary CF as the season has continued. He is a left-handed hitter who hits at the top of their lineup and has had a monster year, hitting .363 with a .484 obp and .677 slg. He’s a pesky player who is a very tough out, hitting the ball to all fields and running the bases aggressively (24 bases so far this year). Over the summer last year, Jason hit .318 with a .505 obp and a .591 slg while stealing 24 bases. Despite a limited projection in terms of physical size, he plays very hard and is surprisingly strong – 13 homers this year and 9 over the summer.

The summer statistics that DePodesta references are from his time in the wood-bat Valley League last season, where Kipnis was not only named an All-Star, but also won the Home Run Derby. Sure, he was a contestant despite having only 2 HR at the break compared to his 29 walks and competed under the pseudonym “Kevin Bishop,” but he still won, dammit.

True, he has the ability to hit for average, great patience at the plate, suitable power, solid base running abilities, and the range to be a CF. It’s just that damned arm. Kipnis, a former red-shirt freshman for Kentucky U, was originally slated to play SS before being dismissed from the team due to rules violations. He eventually transferred to ASU, moved to the OF, and was a bookend in a lineup that featured offensive juggernauts Ike Davis and Brett Wallace (both first-rounders). Granted, the last thing this club wants is a malcontent, noodle-armed CF (Milton Bradley meets Dave Roberts?), but he’d likely be well-suited to fill out LF in Petco Park.

There have been comparisons to former ASU standouts Travis Buck, Andre Ethier, and Chris Duffy…but other projections are a little less glowing:

Kipnis caught on quickly as the new player at ASU, and ranked right with power hitters Brett Wallace and Ike Davis as key contributors as the Sun Devils raced out to a fast start to 2008. A smooth, lefthanded swinger, he was hitting .350-12-61 with 21 stolen bases as the team entered the final week of regular season play. His aggressive style of play, speed and occasional pop made an impression on Arizona-based scouts, but he didn’t show enough raw speed to profile as a fixture in center field or raw power to play regularly on a corner. His arm is best suited for left field. Kipnis is a draft-eligible sophomore who is not physically developed, and another year in school could significantly improve his standing in the draft. There is a prevailing thought among scouts that he could even re-invent himself as an offensive-oriented second baseman with another year in school.

We’ll see how he turns out, but the good money is on Kipnis being a capable but comparatively light-hitting LF, or an offense-minded 2B.

#165 – Anthony Bass, RHP, Wayne St. U:

Thank your local area scout, Anthony Bass. If it weren’t for Padres’ scout Jeff Stewart, you would likely be a second day draft pick. As Bass recounts to his school paper, The South Ends News:

“All of a sudden I got a phone call. I didn’t recognize the number,” Bass said.

It was from Jeff Stewart, the Padres area scout, congratulating Bass on being the 165th selection of this year’s draft. It wasn’t strange that the call came from Stewart, but it was ironic in the fact that Stewart had informed Bass’ advisor that the Padres didn’t consider him a top-10 round draft pick.

“My advisor told me that he got a phone call from Stewart, and he was so upset because his organization didn’t look at his guys as being top-10 round draft picks, when I was on his list as one of those guys,” Bass described. “In other words, they weren’t really looking at me. So my advisor crossed them off the list.”

But a change of heart could be a major gain. Bass, who throws in the 93-94 MPH range, has touched 96 MPH and is expected to crank it up there permanently with proper training at the next step. There are even some that see him as a Division-II Tim Lincecum:

Bass reminds scouts of a Division II-version of San Francisco Giants pitching sensation Tim Lincecum, with a full back-arched delivery, overhand release point and head-jerk on release. While Bass’ raw stuff isn’t quite in Lincecum’s class, few other pitchers are either. Bass does maintain a 90-94 mph fastball, though, and there are reports he’s been as high as 96 mph this spring.

He’s a little rough around the edges, but he has the raw talent to work with. Besides that, he’s the complete antithesis to the type of pitchers the front office has been working with recently, and will help improve balance in the team’s system.


Prior to the draft, a lot of websites speculated that Reese Havens – who ended up going to the Mets – was at the top of the Padres’ draft board. Keith Law suspected this was because the Padres were looking at him as our next SS. I find that hard to believe seeing as every other blog thinks he’s best suited for a corner IF or 2B due to his lack of range.

That being said, it brings up a good question: are the Padres not so enamored with the idea of Khalil Greene as a long-term fixture at SS? Despite Havens going to the Mets with the 22nd pick, the Padres still managed to draft four SS. Six, if you take stock in DePodesta’s projections. Either way, the general focus at the position revolved around plate discipline and hitting to contact. So, if you’re a betting man, I’d wager against Greene having as much leverage with this organization as he did the past offseason when contract talks heat up again after his 2009 campaign.

Here are a couple of the more note-worthy selections at SS.

#255 – William Weems, SS, Baylor U:

A slick fielder, Beamer is known as one of the best defensive shortstops in this draft with great hands, a plus arm, and above average range.

Sounds familiar, huh? Well, it should because it kind of resembles our current

Offensively, he’s a switch-hitter who is more of a contact hitter who does a good job of controlling the strike zone.


Patience, an ability to hit for average, and defense?! Be still, my heart. However, this may be a case of our crack squad of scouts betting on Weems’ high-end projections while biting off a little more than they can chew. Early spring reactions read similar across the board – high praise for defense, major questions with the bat:

[Weems] was much better as a switch-hitter, especially from the left side. He also got to a lot more balls in the field and had one of the best range factors among league shortstops. But Weems still continued to try to make major league highlight plays when he had little or no chance of throwing out a runner, often at the expense of messing up some more routine plays. He’s viewed by scouts as an above-average shortstop in all phases, however. The key with Weems will be how far his bat takes him. He hit .321-9-59 as a sophomore at Baylor and has shown power with aluminum (17 homers in two years) that he has never shown with wood in summer ball (no homers in two years).

After his junior campaign, however, those questions still exist as his .270-7-30 line didn’t inspire much confidence. Pending a painstakingly careful examination of his reaction to a slider low-and-away I’ll reserve further judgment, but the optimist in me believes that Willy Weems (hehe) could be the ideal SS for Petco Park.

#525 – Derek Shunk, SS, Villanova U:

As DePodesta tells us:

A big, physical SS at 6’2″ and 215 lbs, Derek just finished a stellar college career that saw him hit over .300 in each of his four seasons including over .350 in each of the past two.

His .349 AVG, .467 OBP, and .539 SLG all led the Villanova Wildcats. Just as his .933 FLD% was the team worst (for players qualifying with 100+ TC). Shunk is more of a doubles-hitter, and benefits from a patient approach with gap power more than the long ball. Essentially, his game is the polar opposite of Greene’s.


There’s always that one guy drafted in the middle of the second day who the front office will woo with more money than their draft slot would regularly dictate. Generally there are issues regarding health or signability that drive their value down, but in other years would yield a higher draft slot. Such is the example of these few players:

#465 – Brett Mooneyham, LHP, Buhach Colony HS (CA):

Simple issue: signability. Sure, Mooneyham signed with Scott Boras, the biggest asshat of all agents, but the real reason he tumbled down the draft board was because he has already committed to Stanford. Not only was he ranked #78 in Baseball America’s 2008 Top 200 Draft Prospects*, he’s also an incredibly gifted student and many believed that this combination of athletic talent and intellect would be worth the risk of a high second or third round pick. Some sites even said that a Top 10-15 pick wasn’t out of the question given his talent. As for DePodesta’s take:

Brett is 6’5″, 215 lbs, throws up to 94 mph and has a plus curveball. Furthermore, Brett’s dad, Bill, was a first round pick in 1980. Sounds pretty good, huh? That’s why Baseball America rates him as one of top 100 prospects in the draft, and many people believe that he is the best left-handed high school pitcher in the country. At this point, though, Brett is planning to attend Stanford in the fall.

Geez – no need to play your poker face, Paul…

There are hopes that the Padres drop a ton of cash in his lap and he bypasses Stanford altogether, but the outlook is bleak given how much further he could progress up the draft board in the next three season — a fact that he’s well aware of:

“It would have to be something really, really special,” Mooneyham said of the Padres’ offer. “Going to Stanford only comes around once and not a lot of people get that chance.

“I’m going to take my time and think about it. To pass that up would have to take a lot.”

So, as of now, it looks to be a dead issue. However, there’s still the possibility that the Padres could offer him a monster contract or get creative, and it wouldn’t be the first time a team played smart with a potential Stanford Cardinal. The Washington Nationals and Jack McGeary have an interesting contractual understanding where McGeary is Nationals’ property, but still attends Stanford for academic purposes. Under MLB and (I’m assuming) NCAA guidelines McGeary can’t use Stanford facilities or be in any way affiliated with Stanford athletics, yet he is permitted to join the Nationals’ minor league ball clubs starting in June of each year. Granted, this is a unique situation in which McGeary is more of a contractual test subject than anything else at this point, but the team was able to make concessions.

Do I expect this to happen? Probably not. But it’s still worth hoping that a player with his sort of credentials ends up in a Padres’ uniform. Plus, if my gut feeling is correct and the Padres cut ties with Khalil Greene, who better to replace his SoCal, surfer looks?

*For comparison’s sake, first day draft picks Allan Dykstra (#38), James Darnell (#58), Jaff Decker (#62), Logan Forsythe (#76), and Blake Tekotte (#85) are the only other players San Diego drafted in the Top 200.

#675 – Chris Wilkes, RHP, Dr. Phillips HS (FL):

Despite going to a high school with the weirdest name ever, Wilkes has a decent fastball (low-to-mid 90’s) with adequate handling of his change-up and curveball. Unfortunately, Wilkes already has a scholarship on the table from Ole Miss this fall–as their QB. Don’t know why you’d draft a guy who’s unpolished even as a high school pitcher and who already has a scholarship to a major university in another sport. But it’s not like I have the front office experience to make a case against this pick.

Here’s to hoping he can be the Padres’ very own Darrin Erstad (I don’t really mean that).

#705 – Nick Conaway, RHP, (No School):

Out of the 16 RHP selected by the Padres, Conaway was second to last. Yet, most every write-up would have you second-guessing the draft board:

Nich was the closer for U Oklahoma last spring during which he had a dominant season. His fastball has reached 97 mph, and he compliments it with a power curveball…his big fastball and 85 k’s in 63 innings last year enticed our scouts to keep in touch with him this spring.

What’s more – he posted a 12.08 K/9 and .209 BAA to lead the Big 12. Fantastic! Draft him high and sign him up! However, that’s where you’d be wrong. Conaway, as you can obviously see, didn’t list a school last season and those stats are from 2007. The reason they aren’t updated is because he didn’t play this year. Following his strong showing with Oklahoma in 2007, Conaway underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery last fall, dropped out of college (although he was planning to transfer to another school), and missed his 2008 season.

Although he has has overpowering stuff at times, his stat line wasn’t the most glamorous. In fact, a closer who posts a 3-3 record, 2 SV, and a 4.83 ERA is downright ugly. Yet, the potential upside yielded a low-risk pick in Round #23.

Bear with me…Part III is due Wednesday and should be short-winded in comparison.

Posted in misc | 3 Comments »

The Layman’s Review of the Padres’ 2008 Amateur Draft (Part 1)

June 14th, 2008 by

Somewhere, Matt Bush – and this time legally, might I add – is toasting the baseball gods for drawing the attention away from being a homegrown bust, albeit just for a moment. As expected, the local radio hosts and message boards are having a field day criticizing a draft that, seemingly, couldn’t get anything right. That is, when users aren’t busy being witty (“Can’tonelli?” Ray, you clever bastard).

And, to be completely honest, it’s easy to understand these negative perspectives. I’m not going to blow sunshine up your ass: there are a lot of big questions revolving around some of our top selections. Were they the best players available? Were they drafted due to financial reasons (cram it with walnuts, Scott Boras)? In the name of all that is holy, why did we draft four corner infielders in our first six picks?!

I have a slight inkling as to why the front office may have gone in the direction that they did, but seeing as the front office employs baseball minds much, much more intelligent than my own, I’d say my opinions are suspect at best. Also, keep in mind that most of these “kids” are younger than me (and I can’t even legally rent a car). There’d be no way for me to properly evaluate a bunch of rug rats without first taking into account that these pitchers are still tossing it up to juveniles and the sluggers are still hacking with metal bats. It’s an inexact science.

Having said that, the media wasn’t short on their opinions regarding some of the problem areas they felt the Padres should address. Every armchair GM and their basement dwelling friends had constructed a mock draft. Our biggest deficiencies, as documented ‘round the Internet, radio, and print, seemed to be in this particular order:

  1. CF: Actually, this could just as easily be expanded to the OF in general. Our organization hasn’t been particularly shy at acknowledging our shortcomings when it come to OF development. They tipped their cards on such issues when top prospects Chase Headley and Matt Antonelli were given a crash course in the OF back in January. As it stands, they addressed such problems when, early in the season, Jim Hollywood Half-Shirt Edmonds turned to bust and LF became a merry-go-round of offensive inconsistency. They stood in awe as they watched far younger outfields – such as the Arizona Diamondbacks – run circles around our club. Both Sandy Alderson and Kevin Towers made it clear during their weekly radio interviews on XX 1090 that those are the prototypical players to fill Petco’s OF. They vowed to target more “toolsy,” “athletic” players in June.
  2. SS*: I’m not sure if this was necessarily addressed directly by any members of the front office, but it sure as shit seems implied. The deterioration in discussions revolving around a potential long-term contract extension for Khalil Greene seemed to predicate a landslide of equal parts discussion and criticism from both the front office and critics. What’s Greene’s value on the trade market? Is he worth the investment? And, most importantly, who’s behind him on the depth chart? As it turns out, there isn’t a plan B within the organization should the organization let Khalil walk. Therefore, these issues compounded with Greene’s offensive struggles to this point, led to the hot topic discussion of who we’d be targeting at SS during this draft.
  3. P: It’s no secret – the Padres’ home park necessitates the need for quality pitching. This isn’t really a unique argument for any team, but it weighs greatly upon a team that plays 81 games in the most offense-stifling environment in Major League Baseball. What made the argument to select an impact pitcher in the top rounds of this year’s draft even stronger would be the failures to keep “safe” picks Cesar Carillo and Nick Schmidt healthy. Many critics pointed towards the Padres’ insistence on taking safer picks who worked with pinpoint control. Finesse pitchers, instead of those who fit more of the flame throwing archetype.

*On a minor note, the middle IF might be in greater flux as Antonelli’s well-documented struggles at AAA makes it appear as if our 2B situation isn’t as rosy as it looked two months ago.

With these positions at the forefront of Friars draft discussion and particular college prospects preemptively targeted by every mock draft available, it would seemingly appear that the Padres may have missed the mark…but that’s beside the point. My primary goal of this first installment is to provide the most rudimentary, layman’s introduction (dude, I’m not getting paid to do this [ed. Note: Preston, remind me to fire you. -Melvin]) to some of the newest San Diego Padres. Or, rather, their newest property. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you still have to live with ‘em…at least for the time being.


Here’s a nice bit of useless trivia: the Padres first round draft pick, Allan Dykstra (#23), played on the Cape Cod Baseball League’s 2007 East All-Star team with top-ranked catching prospect Buster Posey (#5 overall pick by the San Francisco Giants who was actually a reserve). He also played with fellow 2008 San Diego Padres’ draft picks Cole Figueroa (#195) and Blake Tekotte (#101). Another Padres’ draft pick, James Darnell (#69), played for the West.

Now I’m not sure if this is coincidence or not, or what it would even hint at…but it’d be hard to look past the fact that four of the Padres’ first nine selections happened to play in the same game; three of whom on the same team. Does it display the front office’s concern over the translation of power from college to professional ball? I’d like to think that their participation in such a league was a little bit of a free tryout to see what these kids could do swinging the lumber. And seeing as the CCBL is often compared to the high-A Minor League teams they’re set to join in a few short weeks, it’s probably a safe bet that they got a leg up on their development. Who knows?

#23 – Allan Dykstra, 1B, Wake Forest U:

Fun fact: when the Padres announced Dykstra as their first round pick, most of the Padres-centric baseball world collectively shat their pants (I can’t back this up with fact, but the collective groan heard round the county is enough evidence for me). Reasoning? The Padres’ absolute, no-doubt best player happens to play the same exact position. But there’s a lot to like here: insane raw power, outstanding discipline at the plate, not afraid to draw a walk. In a perfect world, if all holds true, he’ll be the prototypical middle-of-the-order hitter the Padres lacked the majority of their short tenure in Petco Park.

That being said, save for Paul DePodesta’s blog — which, in case you haven’t visited yet, is incredible (please hire me) — there has not been a single site I’ve been to that hasn’t mixed one part optimism with two parts reasonable doubt. Make no bones about it – Dykstra appears to be a one-trick pony. He can’t field, he can’t run…but the man-child can absolutely hit, and that is a well-documented fact. Baseball America is not short on praise for his offensive abilities:

Dykstra adds to the long list of quality first basemen in this draft, and at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, he possibly has the greatest raw power of the bunch…
…Due to his size, Dykstra has an intimidating presence in the batter’s box. Dykstra has an advanced approach but at times can be overly patient. combined with being on a Wake Forest team light on hitting, Dykstra is often pitched around and has set the Demon Deacons’ career and season walk records.

DePodesta, of course, sells their first round pick one better:

Allan has had an unbelievably consistent collegiate career, as he’s hit at least 15 homers while also drawing at least 50 walks in each of his three seasons – something nobody else in this draft has done.

So, three consecutive seasons in which he has displayed both outstanding discipline and power. Great news. But this is common knowledge, and mock drafts didn’t shy away from making note of his amazing raw power. To post anything more would be redundant. However, it’s about now that the questions start rolling in regarding the deficiencies in his offensive approach and the rest of his game. The Baseball Prospectus 2008 Live Draft Roundtable was particularly harsh:

Kevin Goldstein: This is surprisingly high. Most saw him as a sup 1st or 2nd rounder. TONS of raw power, not sure where he fits in that organization, but this is defnitely a Grady Fuson type pick.
Bryan Smith: Dykstra: Metal. Bat. Swing.
Kevin Goldstein: …I like Bryan’s scouting report on Dykstra more than Depos.

Now, let me preface this by reiterating how much I love Baseball Prospectus. But outside of questioning his place in the organization, I don’t follow Smith’s assessment. And to be completely honest — it comes off as rather pompous and suggestive without substance. Sure, there has been much to say about Dykstra’s inability to hit the inside pitch, that he’s pull happy, and at times many question his streakiness. But just “metal bat swing?” I understand this is a live blog, but I expect better. Granted, it’s a small sample size, but didn’t this guy make a pretty good impression in the wood bat using Cape Cod League last summer?

“Last summer, Dykstra was named a Cape Cod League all-star after hitting .308 with five home runs,” so sez Baseball America. And DePodesta? “Allan also produced in the Cape Cod League batting over .300 with walks and power, so he has also proven his skills with a wood bat. In short, his track record is impeccable.” Now, this isn’t an end-all fact that his talent at the plate will translate from the Cape Cod League to professional baseball, but if Dykstra has any problem, it’s his inconsistency to command and drive balls in all areas of the zone. As for those questions regarding his position, there’s already rumors – although, mostly unsubstantiated — that Dykstra is slated to try out a corner OF position.

#69 – James Darnell, 3B, U of South Carolina Columbia:

Darnell is an interesting case, for similar reasons as Dykstra. He’s an extreme talent at the plate, and had garnered notoriety as a prospect for being an RBI machine. Yet he was overshadowed by teammates Justin Smoak (#11 to the Texas Rangers) and, oddly enough, a player that many saw as a first round target for the Padres, Reese Havens (#22 to the New York Mets).

Like Dykstra, he also seems to be a player without a position. With Kevin Kouzmanoff currently entrenched at 3B and, whether people want to admit it or not, Headley second on that depth chart. However, fear not: rumor is that he’s a better fit for a corner OF position, which is also a spot on the depth chart the the Padres covet. Not only did DePodesta allude to this in his blog, but many other sites, such as, indicate that 3B might not be the ideal position for him on his path to the show:

He generates his power with long, strong limbs despite having a tall and rangy body. His swing can get long, and many believe that he’ll never hit for that high of an average while racking up his fair share of whiffs, but few may care about that if he continues to turn his power potential into power production as he has the past two years. While he’s a good athlete with perfect proportions and a very strong arm, he would be a better fit in right field.

As predicted, the Padres are banking on that corner OF power potential to justify taking Darnell as their fourth overall pick. And it’s a legitimate power threat; Baseball America had Darnell ranked as a Top 30 prospect – slated for the first round – prior to the 2007-2008 season due to his outrageous hitting ability. Contrary to what has been posted at the MLB Draft Central prospect analysis page, they listed him with above-average speed with a lot of athletic ability. It just doesn’t appear as such because the Gamecocks weren’t known for being aggressive on the basepaths (their lead thief was Whit Merrifield with 11). DePodesta makes note of this in his synopsis:

Darnell is a big, strong 3B who is athletic and skilled enough to play all over the diamond. His strength is what separates him, as he has hit 18 and 19 homers in the past two seasons. The ball absolutely jumps off his bat, and it was no different with wood as he hit 8 homers in just 128 ab’s on the Cape last summer.

Overall, this is a very toolsy player with a lot of life and power to his game.

His power generated in the CCBL is impressive as he quadrupled his total from his 2006 campaign then put an exclamation point on his contributions in 2007 belting a tape measure shot in the All-Star game. One of the major compliments that follows Darnell has been his diligence to weight training, and it shows with his output on the field. Either way, the Padres are banking on seeing him excel at the plate while filling a corner OF spot. With his credentials, there’s high hopes that will follow.

#101 – Blake Tekotte, CF, U of Miami*:

Really appreciating Blake Tekotte isn’t difficult. Considering his great collegiate career and our need for a fleet-footed, top of the order threat, he seems like the ideal player to draft. However, there people who have overlooked his talent due to the belief that there were better options available. Before the draft, a lot of Padres-centric sites focused on Jordan Danks, a White Sox seventh round draft pick out of the University of Texas, to fill our need for a the prototypical lead-off hitter. Danks was formerly projected by Baseball America to go as a first round pick in 2005 out of Round Rock High School (TX). He saw his draft stock fall after adamantly maintaining dedication to join the Longhorns. There’s a good synopsis of his risky decision and journey in this 2005 Baseball America article. This season, sites such as Mad Friars made a strong argument to sink our hooks in Danks early as our supplemental draft pick at #46.

His brother John pitches for the White Sox. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder is a five-tool player (his power should had been better by now but is getting better). He has plus speed with his long-legged stride. Has a great eye and will take a walk. He played leadoff in the first two years in Texas.

Don’t get me wrong, he fits the bill much of the same way Tekotte does. But there’s a reason he fell between a first round to projected third round pick. He is still rail thin and his the power many projected simply hasn’t come about as expected. Checking out any photo of him is evidence enough. Additionally, in what has become a very well-publicized story, both of the Danks brothers were represented by Scott Boras and the asking price likely drove his value down.

Anyway, the only reason I’m really going on about Danks is that I can’t understand how an overdraft obsession with Danks and his former value as a first rounder would keep anybody from being overjoyed with Tekotte. He’s essentially the same burner on the base paths, hits for average, gets on base at a higher clip.  Here’s the kicker: Tekotte he has greater power. During his time in the Cape Cod League, he received All-Cape Cod League honors while leading his team in SB, R, and ranking second in hits. A recent Baseball America writeup of Tekotte reads like most Padres’ fans wet dream:

Tekotte…owns an intriguing all-around package of speed, power potential and defense. He makes consistant, hard contact with gap power and enough bat speed to hit occasional home runs. Tekotte plays a shallow center field but has no trouble tracking down balls over his head thanks to his plus speed and excellent instincts. He also has an above-average arm and is an intelligent baserunner.”

He might not have the power that would translate as a five-tool threat at the professional level, but he’s a solid CF and the Padres are desperate for just that. DePodesta writes:

Blake is a true leadoff hitting centerfielder who is an above average runner and defender. The best part is that he’s also a hitter. Going into the regionals last weekend, Blake was hitting .374 with a .487 obp and a .598 slg to go along with 25 stolen bases. Blake is an exciting top of the lineup guy who sets the tone for that Miami team. He always seems to be in the middle of the action.

The Padres got a free preview of Tekotte during last week’s Miami vs. Arizona match-up on ESPN2 and will be getting an extended preview during the rest of the College World Series. I’d suggest taking a look if you get the chance, he’s definitely a player to watch.

*On a slightly more depressing note, Tekotte had an amazing homepage hosted by the University of Miami that was recently pulled from circulation. It was the inspiration for this entire draft overview. Rumor has it that he actually responded to a couple e-mails from fans welcoming him to San Diego. Either way, in hopes that Tekotte and the University of Miami come to their senses and reactivate his site, I’ve posted this link for your (possible) viewing pleasure.

**Edit: Melvin Nieves to the rescue.  Check out the banned photo of Blake Tekotte.

#195 – Cole Figueroa, SS, U of Florida:

Rounding out the Cape Cod League’s Fearsome Foursome (™, ©, ®) is Florida’s Stephen/Cole Figueroa (seriously, can we get some clarification on this dude’s name?). Figueroa is probably the player I’m personally most interested in. That’s because of his status as a draft-eligible sophomore, plus the minor fact that he has absolutely mashed these past two years. Outside of demonstrating an ability to improve upon his AVG, OBP, and SLG, he also demonstrates value from either middle IF position. Most importantly, many critics thought he was both one of the best freshman in last season’s Cape Cod League, but also them most polished. Bryan Smith, analyst for Baseball Prospectus, noted in a post-Cod League article highlighting the league’s Top 5 freshmen:

Perhaps, in my talk with Cape coaches, Cole Figueroa was the group’s favorite player in the league. All agreed that his upside wasn’t equal to those ranked above him, but his make-up and present ability are light years ahead of his contemporaries. From a baseball standpoint, Figueroa gets great points for his ability to repeat his swing and never give up at-bats. The two, combined with his hand-eye potential, give Figueroa the freshman class’ best plate coverage. However, Cole doesn’t have fantastic power potential, as coaches believe he will be a leadoff hitter at the next level. Figueroa might be able to stay at shortstop but could be a better fit at second base…

The plate coverage and consistent approach is one of the biggest positives of Figueroa’s game. Nearly every first round pick the Padres selected seem to have some sort of hole in their swing. DePodesta is equally impressed with Figueroa’s approach:

At the plate he is a handsy hitter who will hit the ball where it’s pitched but also has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Cole hit .350 this year with a .422 obp and a .534 slg to go along with 20 stolen bases.

A speedy, top of the lineup hitter, with great intangibles who’s seemingly destined for 2B. Sound familiar? To me, it sounds as if Figueroa is the Padres’ back-up plan for Antonelli should his struggles continue. But DePodesta is cautiously optimistic:

Cole is a draft-eligible sophomore, so he still has two years of eligibility left in school. Hopefully we can convince him to start his pro career, as he is a solid left-handed hitting middle infielder who has terrific instincts for the game. He’s another player who seemed to raise his game when it counted the most.

As everything is still up in the air regarding Figueroa’s place with the Padres, I’ll refrain from getting too excited about this pick. But the thought of having him and Tekotte as a staple one-two punch at the top of the lineup is enough to get somebody justifiably excited. Hopefully, things work out and we can add another vital piece to our ever evolving middle IF scene. But I wouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. From the sound of it, Figueroa has a great opportunity to build on two strong seasons and increase his 2009 draft value.

Thanks to Ray & Melvin, I’ve been invited back for two more installments of draft recap. Stay tuned tomorrow for the Best of the Rest (of the first round) as well as an overview of what other needs were met in day two.

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