Bill Gayton, the Padres Scouting Director was
quick to refute the findings of the small North Carolina based publication the next
day in the San Diego Union stating, "The organization is in good shape.
The sky is not falling. Obviously, we want information to be positive rather
than negative, but that isn't always realistic."
However, not everyone was quick to accept Gayton’s
explanation, most notably one very important person, John Moores.
When introducing Sandy Alderson as the new President/part-Owner of the
Padres, The Padres owner cryptically agreed with negative analysis, stating on
the Padres web site, “We can make some improvements in what we do, particularly
in our farm system and our player development. That's a slow process, but
absolutely necessary for us to stay competitive. We have some terrific people
right now, but I think Sandy
will make everybody better."
Is the player development system in as dire shape as many claim? A quick answer is no, but first it is
important to understand what The Prospect Handbook does and how it may have
affected many people’s opinions.
The Prospect Handbook is a complicated matrix analyzing different players at
varying stages of their development, which results in a numerical ranking of
not only a organization‘s top players, but for all of baseball. In short, the book places greater weight on
young players who have success at higher levels, especially if the player
possess projectionable “tools”, (For position players
hitting, hitting for power, fielding, arm strength and speed. For pitchers it is having significant
velocity or “plus” pitches and the ability to control them), because they
believe that they have a better chance of being impact players or Major League
The Prospect Handbook provides its readership with a snapshot of the process
of where a system may be in a few years, but not where it is right now.
Arguably, the only method in which to judge a systems success or failure is its
effect on the club, right now. To do so, three criteria come into play (1) how
many players on the team are products of the system and their affect on the
team’s success or failure (2) if the team is able to use prospects to obtain
proven talent without taking away from the core of its success and finally (3) how
the talent performs on a major league level.
The Padres have been picked by many baseball writers to be one of the better
teams in the National League, and possibly win the National League West. The
team has developed talent, with three key positions manned by products of the
system; Khalil Greene, Xavier Nady
and Sean Burroughs. The starting pitching staff is led by one of the better
pitchers in baseball, Jake Peavy, with Adam Eaton and
Brian Lawrence comprising a solid starting rotation.
Anyone want to think where the Padres would be without these guys now?
In 2003 the team was able to acquire one the best outfielders in the
National League, Brian Giles, on the strength of three products from their farm
system, Oliver Perez, Jason
Bay and Cory Stewart.
Finally, the two top rookies in the National League for 2004, Bay and
Greene, were teammates on the Portland Beavers and products of a “failing” farm
Despite various projections about what will or will not be, the record will
always override any type of projection. The Padres farm system has been to
demonstrate in 2005 its ability to meet its objectives, develop key players,
enabled the team to acquire quality talent from other teams without
significantly sacrificing its own Major League talent and produce two of the
top rookies in the National League.
It’s difficult to characterize that record as a failure.