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Hitting in the Great Northwest

At the lower levels of the minors, you see a wide variety of experience levels, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the short-season leagues. The Padres' Northwest League affiliate in Eugene had contributions from an 18-year old three months out of high school, college graduates taken in the top rounds of this year's draft, returners from last year's team, and several players who started the year further up the system.

With such different experience levels, evaluating a player's status as a prospect can be a challenge. Selecting the team's batter of the year is made harder because nine players who logged time with the Emeralds ended the year in the Midwest League. Among those who shined in a small number of games was Josh Alley, whose eye-popping .500 on base percentage (to go with a .500 slugging percentage...

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