Position Player - Jon Knott - OF
After starting the month of May at .206, Jon Knott caught fire. Currently, he is leading the Portland Beavers in doubles (20), home runs (10), RBI's (30), total bases (102) and extra base hits, the only thing that is lagging is his batting average, at .277. As the summer heats up and Tagg Bozied provides him with more protection in the batting order, Knott may begin to compile numbers reminiscent of Jason Bay's year in 2003.
The big, and continuing impediment to his path to the major leagues is Phil Nevin, Ryan Klesko, Brian Giles and Xavier Nady all of whom occupy the corner outfield/first base positions. However, Knott does provide the only realistic right handed power option for the Padres in the minors who could help if one of the four goes down to injury (Tagg Bozied could help, but he is very limited defensively). Look for Knott to stay in Portland, unless the Padres try to trade for more pitching help around the trading deadline.
Others of Note
With the ability to play every position on the field Bobby Scales has emerged as a legitimate utility prospect, hitting .323/.430/.532 (batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage), with 6 home runs and 29 RBIs. Scales, a switch hitter, would probably be given a shot in most organizations, but with Geoff Blum, Damian Jackson and Eric Young it is tough for him to get much of an opportunity in San Diego. Jesse Garcia and Adam Hdyzu have struggled since being demoted from the majors.
After another rough start (.211 in April) Ben Johnson has begun to build on the progress he showed last year in Mobile and in the Arizona Fall League, raising his batting average to .265. Johnson is second on the Beavers in total bases (83), doubles (11) and home runs (8). Also, the Padres have given him some time in center field increasing his versatility.
Josh Barfield has shown flashes of potential, but continues to struggle making consistent contact above A ball, hitting .251/.307/.337, with 4 home runs and 22 RBIs.
Tye Waller, the Padres director of Player Development, talked about Johnson and Barfield, "I won't say I am happy. It is that jump to Triple-A. Sometimes they are going to be taken to school. There are signs that they are able to put it together. Month by month we want to see improvement. If they have to go there another year, which will probably happen. Players with those kind of abilities are hard to find."
Pitchers - Justin Germano
After waiting until May 13 to post his first win, Germano returned to the form that earned him a promotion to the Padres in 2004. In 10 starts Germano leads the team in strikeouts and posts a very respectable 51/14 strikeout to base-on-balls ratio, and the success of Tim Stauffer, a very similar pitcher, on the major league level can only help his chances for promotion to the big leagues.
Justin, 22, pitched well at times for the Padres in 2004 and should be the first pitcher in line for a spot start. A great deal of Germano's future with the Padres depends on what the team decides to do with Tim Redding once he comes off of the Disabled List.
Brad Baker has 15 saves, but has struggled with his control walking 15 batters in 23 innings, though still striking out 29. Batters are hitting .276 against him, steep for a closer.
Commentary - If one of the big four (Giles, Klesko, Nevin or Nady) goes down, look for the Padres to give Jon Knott another opportunity. How much Bruce Bochy would use him is another question.
For a utility outfielder Kerry Robinson could get a quick call up because of his ability to play all three positions and his previous major league experience. However, with Eric Young scheduled to return to the team by mid-July its unlikely anyone will be called up in a utility role.
Germano has put together a string of impressive starts, especially a recent performance in Colorado Springs. Another injury to a starter coupled with the continued inconsistency of Darrel May and Tim Redding could lead to an opportunity. Baker is still awhile from getting a chance.
Editor's note - Jake Gautreau, the Padres former first round draft pick in 2001, is having a very good season with Buffalo in the International League (Cleveland) and seems to be developing into the type of player the Padres always envisioned, a left handed power hitting infielder.
Gautreau, whom the Padres traded for Corey Smith at the beginning of the year, has been playing both second and third base for the Bisons hitting .287/.333/.561, with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs.
Here is wishing Jake the best of luck as it seems like he has finally gotten his Colitis under control.