MadFriars.com Top 20 for 2009

Jaff Decker

Twenty-eighth, 29th, 12th and 29th again for 2009 have been the most recent rankings by 'Baseball America' for the San Diego Padres minor league system compared to the rest of baseball over the past four years.

Additionally, many others haven't been particularly complimentary.

So the $64,000 question is how bad (or good) is the San Diego system?

The only real way to judge a system's success or failure is by the performance of the major league team and how many of their draftees/or acquired minor league players helped the team to win by direct contributions or enabled it to acquire other players.

During this decade, the Padres have won two division titles, came within a pitch of winning a third and have generally fielded a competitive team, mainly on the basis of shrewd trades in which they dealt young players such as Oliver Perez, Xavier Nady and Jason Bay for more established veterans such as Brian Giles and Mike Cameron. Yet the team developed only a few players, Jake Peavy and Khalil Greene, that played significant roles on the team.

In 2005, Grady Fuson took over as the vice president of scouting and player development in which he attempted to develop a type of player around San Diego's PETCO Park, arguably the most difficult offensive park in the majors. Throw in the fact that the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are in the division and San Diego plays over 100 games in some of the most pitcher friendly parks in all of baseball.

The organization believes the most likely scenario in which it wins a championship in its new park will occur when it has a pitching dominate team that forces teams to put the ball in play while offensively it has a patient, grind it out approach that scores runs on walks and extra-base hits.

Controlling the strike zone is the overall theme with command more important than velocity and on-base percentage more important than undisciplined power. Left-handed hitters have to be able to use the whole field, but the park is somewhat beneficial to right-handed hitters that can pull the ball. Finally, with runs at a premium, sub par defensive players can't survive in this model. San Diego is just beginning to see players such as Chase Headley, Nick Hundley and Will Venable develop – prodigies that Fuson hopes will be the type of players the Padres cultivate well in the future.

So are the Padres one of the five worst organizations in baseball?

It's really too early to tell the full affect of whether or not it has worked because most of the players drafted in 2005 or afterward have just begun or have not yet arrived on the major league level. Assigning individual organization rankings by a year is, at best, an educated guess but irrelevant in value. For example, anyone want to project what Jaff Decker's numbers will be in 2012?

What is important is determining if the team is going in the right direction, if an organization has established a set of principles, goals and is attempting to implement that philosophy. Under these criteria, it's difficult to argue that San Diego is not going in that direction.

The Rankings

We combined our individual rankings and provided expanded analysis on whom we believe are the best players in the organization. In addition to the basic information on the players we listed, the statistics we thought were most relevant, highlights from the past year, negatives, projections or ceilings and what could happen in 2008 ,are provided.

We didn't rank Nick Schmidt, Allan Dykstra or the highly regarded Adys Portillo, despite the Padres substantial investment in them, because they haven't really had significant, or any, playing time on the professional level. Any evaluation would be based on what we have read and heard, as compared to what we have seen and reported; so we will wait until we have more information.

1) Cedric Hunter
Position: CF
Height/Weight: 6-foot-0, 185-pounds
Age: 21
Bats/Throws: L/L
How Acquired: San Diego, 2006 third-round

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
LE.318.362.44262618642/474711

Hunter at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Hunter led the minors in hits, and when the California League season ended, he was leading all of pro baseball. A first-team All-Star, he played a solid defensive center field and was able to put up superior numbers when surrounded by better players. He played particularly well in the second half, hitting .335/.358/.486 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage), with six of his 11 home runs coming during the month of August.

Negatives: His tremendous hand-eye coordination allows him to get to pitches others can't but also hinders his ability to be more selective and drive the ball. The Padres would like to see a little more selectivity, which they believe will give him more power. Improving upon his on 12-for-18 mark in the stolen base department is also on the agenda.

Projection: Medium - The player that we are seeing now is pretty much the player that he will become on the big league level. It's possible we could see more power as his body and approach at the plate mature.

MadFriars.com Assessment: He'll be very young for Double-A, but he should be able to put up better numbers again this year. His game offensively is about shooting the ball into the gaps – a strength given the unfriendly home park in San Antonio. There are parts of his game that need improvement, but he could become the ideal number two hitter with gap power while playing a flawless center. He has a game built for PETCO.

2) Jaff Decker
Position: Corner OF
Height/Weight: 5-foot-10, 190-pounds
Age: 19
Bats/Throws: L/L
How Acquired: San Diego, 2008 supplemental first-round

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
AZL.352.523.5412145655/36185
EUG.200.333.2001222/5--

Decker at Instructs in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Both Kyle Blanks and Cedric Hunter had big years in the Arizona Rookie League, but Decker may have had the best and was this year's MVP. Despite a high school career that seemed more like an Xbox game than reality, scouts found much to not like about him. He has a thick build which scared off many teams because they believed it limited him to only one position with all of his value in his bat. One big problem in this analysis, Decker is a very good baseball player, and as a professional, he remained a very good baseball player. Defensively, he split time between center and left, but because of his arm he should end up in right field. Best statistic: with runners on and two outs, he hit .522/.645/.870.

Negatives: He's going to have to work to not put on excess weight, but with his statistics there isn't a whole lot to pick on.

Projection: Medium - A solid approach gives him the foundation to continually improve in the power category. With a terrific eye, he is able to drive balls based on his choosing and that should mean a lot of doubles with plenty of pop. This kid should do damage at every level.

Madfriars.com Assessment: After growing up and spending all but three games of his major league career in Arizona, the weather and the competition will be a major adjustment. Decker practically defines the term "seamhead" and should thrive in his first full season on a very good Fort Wayne team.

3) Kyle Blanks
Position: 1B
Height/Weight: 6-foot-6, 285-pounds
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: San Diego, 2004 42nd-Round (Draft and Follow)

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
SA.325.404.51454316051/904820

Blanks at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: "Gigantor's" best season so far, hitting a career high .325 in a very tough park to produce offensive numbers. In August, he swatted .377/.454/.614 and showed significant improvement defensively at first base throughout the season. He hit .339 with runners on and had 107 RBI in 132 games. As has been noted in the past, Blanks is a very good athlete for his size, legging out five triples this year.

Negatives: The Padres seem to believe he is limited to first base, which is a big problem when your best offensive player on the big club Adrian Gonzalez is entrenched there.

Projection: High - He has tremendous power potential and the past two years we have just begun to see what he has the capability to do. An all-around player, he is focused more on using the whole field but could become a monster in the power department, as he continues to mature.

Madfriars.com Assessment: For a man his size, he could really put up some staggering power numbers in the much more hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, which is either going to force San Diego to try him in the outfield or make a very difficult decision.

4) Mat Latos
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 215-pounds
Age: 21
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: San Diego, 2006 11th-Round (Draft and Follow)

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
FW 0-33.282523/824129
EUG2-01.041723/31332
AZL1-03.211423/21255

Latos at Instructs in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Injuries limited him to only 56 innings, but when he was on the mound, he blew away the competition. He has one of the best, most consistent fastballs of anyone in the organization, and this includes the big team in San Diego, sitting in the mid-90s. His slider and changeup have come a long way, but he needs to be more consistent with throwing them to have the type of success the Padres expect.

Negatives: He lost a year of development, and there are some concerns about how seriously Latos takes his job.

Projection: High - If Latos had been healthy the full year, he probably would have been the number one prospect. He is the rare pitcher that has a chance to become a top of the rotation starter.

Madfriars.com Assessment: Chances are he'll begin the year in Fort Wayne or Lake Elsinore, depending on how well his secondary pitches develop. Either way, look for him to be at the A-ball level for a full year. His path to the big leagues is truly in his own hands.

5) Kellen Kulbacki
Position: RF/LF
Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 190-pounds
Age: 23
Bats/Throws: L/L
How Acquired: San Diego, 2007 supplemental first-round

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
FW.164.260.29570109/194 2
LE.332.428.58935110147/523820

Kulbacki at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: For a three month stretch, June to August, it is difficult to find anyone in baseball that was more dominant than Kulbacki. He has a good arm and plays a credible right field, but offense is where his true strength lies.

Negatives: Although he was still recovering from a pulled hamstring, the first two months were pretty bad. Additionally, he started off slow in Eugene the year before after a long layoff and an adjustment period to wooden bats. Some question his defensive ability and if his overly patient approach will work against better competition.

Projection: Low - Kulbacki is the closest of the top five to a finished product. The big question is if he can perform over a full season instead of just part of one.

Madfriars.com Assessment: Nelson Wolff Stadium makes PETCO look like Coors Field, so he will certainly have his work cut out for him in San Antonio. With Brian Giles contract up in 2010, he could get first crack at a starting outfield spot on the big team.

6) Wynn Pelzer
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-0, 200-pounds
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: San Diego, 2007 ninth-round

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
FW9-63.19118100/321146442
LE0-027.0010/1343

Pelzer at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Pelzer led the Wizards' starters in ERA at 3.19, and showed solid velocity, movement and a good slider. He throws more two-seamers than four-seamers now, sacrificing a little velocity for more movement. In the second half, he was 5-3 with a 2.44 ERA, holding Midwest League batters to a .239 average. The Padres rave about his competiveness and toughness.

Negatives: Not the biggest guy in the world, making his durability a question mark. His innings were limited last year after not throwing a lot the season before – his stamina remains unknown.

Projection: High - In college he threw a little harder but has sacrificed velocity for movement. The changeup has come along quickly and his slider can be dominant. The changeup has to take the next step.

Madfriars.com Assessment: Pelzer will be a big part of what will be the Padres' best staff in the minors in 2009 at Lake Elsinore. If he can continue to keep everything down with movement, he may have the best year of any prospect.

7) Chad Huffman
Position: LF
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 200-pounds
Age: 23
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: San Diego, 2006 second-round

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
SA.284.383.41950412467/83409

Huffman at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Huffman was two hitters, one at home, .256/.365/.343, and one the road, .318/.405/.513. He also absolutely destroys left-handed pitching, hitting .376 against lefties while he was .268 against righties. He's a competent outfielder who saw some time in both right and left fields this year. The Padres believe he is still one of the most disciplined hitter that they have and also know that San Antonio is particularly brutal on right-handed hitters. In an off year he still finished in the Top 10 of the Texas League in doubles.

Negatives: Power, power and more power. He a corner outfielder and is going to have to post at least a slugging percentage in the mid-.500's to have a realistic shot at the starting job in left field, especially with Kulbacki in the picture.

Projection: Medium - A very polished hitter with extremely good plate discipline. Playing in Portland will give him his best chance to show the power numbers that he produced in Eugene and Lake Elsinore.

Madfriars.com Assessment: Getting out of San Antonio should be the best thing for him, and he, along with Blanks, could be devastating power combination for Portland. The question is will he show enough power to force his way into San Diego in 2010?

8) Matt Antonelli
Position: 2B
Height/Weight: 6-foot-0, 210-pounds
Age: 23
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: San Diego, 2006 first-round

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
POR.215.335.3225279756/89307

Antonelli at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Any way you look at it, Matt Antonelli had a tough year. He only hit above .216 for one month and .193 in 21 games in San Diego. He is still one of the most gifted athletes in the system, but he also needs to have a consistent approach at the plate, kind of like what he did in his last month in Portland where he hit .290/.391/.493.

Negatives: The 2008 season. Additionally, many are still unsure about his defensive ability at second.

Projection: High - As stated above, he is still one of the better athletes in the Padres' system, and if he can recapture the form he showed in 2007, he's everything the team wants in a middle infielder.

Madfriars.com Assessment: He's not going to compete for a starting job in San Diego out of spring training or, in all probability, in 2009. He is still the Padres second baseman of the future, but he also needs at least three to four solid months of production in Portland before even becoming part of that discussion.

9) Drew Cumberland
Position: SS/2B
Height/Weight: 5-foot-10, 170-pounds
Age: 20
Bats/Throws: L/R
How Acquired: San Diego, supplemental first-round

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
FW.286.348.3502235917/24 101

Cumberland at Instructs in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Cumberland was hurt for most of the season, but when he was healthy he showed an ability to put the bat on the ball and has a solid idea of the strike zone. In his last month before he got hurt, he was hitting .432 as a teenager in the Midwest League.

Negatives: The big question is whether he has the arm to stay at shortstop, but right now, the Padres believe that he does.

Projection: High - The Padres think that he has just touched the surface of his overall ability. One of the better athletes in the Padres system, he turned down a scholarship to Florida State as a defensive back. His speed can be game-changing.

Madfriars.com Assessment: He should begin the year in Lake Elsinore alternating with Lance Zawadzki between second and third. The speed of the Cal League infields should really benefit his offensive game and with another year of getting stronger we could see more gap shots.

10) James Darnell
Position: 3B
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 195-pounds
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: San Diego, 2008 second-round

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
EUG.373.462.582782511/12 92

Darnell at Instructs in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: He signed late out of South Carolina and only played in 16 games, but did turn some heads with his performance. Darnell was somewhat overshadowed in college by more heralded teammates but everyone was impressed by how well he played after a long layoff.

Negatives: Not everyone believes he has the hands and the footwork to be able to stay at third base. He also had trouble adjusting to better breaking balls.

Projection: High - Darnell is one of the better athletes in the system and could develop into a monster at the plate as he adds more strength. His lower body is impressively built and adds power to his swing.

Madfriars.com Assessment: All indications are the Padres will start him in Lake Elsinore, and he could have a big year at the plate, although playing third base at the Diamond could be a real adventure defensively.

11) Jeremy McBryde
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 220-pounds
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: San Diego 2006 26th Round (Draft and Follow)

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
FW8-94.28136.2158/241517865

McBryde at Instructs in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: McBryde has one of the better fastballs in the organization, arriving consistently in the low-90s. When he decides to throw his slider and changeup, he is very tough to hit. He has the potential, and this is a key word, potential, to become a #2 or #3 starter.

Negatives: Trying to throw nothing but his fastball. He did that for the first half in Fort Wayne, and if he does it in the California League, he'll get crunched.

Projection: High - There are simply not that many pitchers with McBryde's arm in baseball, let alone the system. The whole key to him is mixing his pitches and varying speeds.

Madfriars.com Assessment: McBryde was much better in the second half than the first with Fort Wayne, becoming much more of a pitcher as his ERA went from 4.95 to 3.81. The California League is a brutal place for any pitcher, but as McBryde continues to find out, the more he continues to refine his talent, or throw something other than as hard as he can every pitch, the better numbers he will put up.

12) Wade LeBlanc
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 200-pounds
Age: 24
Bats/Throws: L/L
How Acquired: San Diego, 2006 second-round

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
POR11-95.32139139/421368582
SD 1-38.022114/15291919

LeBlanc at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: LeBlanc has the best changeup of anyone in the organization. When he's on, it can appear like a cartoon with batters unable to gauge the multiple speeds of the ball. The big problem that LeBlanc has is getting to the changeup. This year, he began to throw a two-seam fastball for the first time to get more movement on his accurate, yet straight, four-seam fastball.

Negatives: His best pitch after his changeup is a four-seam fastball that he can place wherever he chooses, but when it comes in at the mid- to high-80s, there is a little margin for error.

Projection: Medium - If he can consistently throw his two-seam fastball for strikes, LeBlanc is a solid number four and possibly number three starter in the majors.

Madfriars.com Assessment: When LeBlanc can command the two-seamer, he's very tough, when he doesn't, it's going to be a short outing. He has a decent curveball, but LeBlanc's future success will depend upon his ability to command the two-seamer to get into counts where he can throw the changeup.

13) Will Venable
Position: CF/LF
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 215-pounds
Age: 26
Bats/Throws: L/L
How Acquired: San Diego, 2005 seventh-round

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
POR.292.361.46448612944/1034414
SD.264.339.3911252913/21 8 2

Venable at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Last year, Venable played center field everyday for the first time and put up his best numbers, including an impressive stint in San Diego where he saw substantial playing time. In four seasons within the Padres' organization, Venable has had his detractors – he's too old, he doesn't hit with enough power, he doesn't have the arm to play anywhere but left and mostly that someone with under 400 at-bats in college just has too far to go to make it to the major leagues. So far, he's answered all of the questions and put himself in the position he wants to be, an opportunity for a starting position in San Diego.

Negatives: Many are still unsure if he has the ability to play center or hit with enough power to be a corner outfielder.

Projection: The guesswork is tiring. Every year he improves more than anyone should be allowed.

Madfriars.com Assessment: Of the September call-ups, Venable looked the best of any of the regular everyday players. Each year, the Padres' have seen significant improvement in his game. San Diego likes his athleticism and intelligence, He has a chance to be in PETCO for Opening Day.

14) Simon Castro
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-5, 205-pounds
Age: 21
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: San Diego, Signed out of Dominican Republic, 2006

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
EUG2-33.996564/29543529

Castro at Instructs in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Castro is the type of pitcher that we are beginning to see in the Padres' organization at the lower levels – not as polished but with much more upside – or in layman's terms, they throw a lot harder. Castro has always had a big fastball that can sit in the mid-90s. What have improved substantially are his mechanics and his ability to throw secondary pitches, especially his changeup.

Negatives: He's always had some problems with his control and the development of his secondary pitches, but progress is being made and he is very young.

Projection: High - Castro could develop into a #2 or #3 starter and could become one of San Diego's first success stories out of the Dominican Republic. He has learned English rapidly and has really come a long way since coming stateside.

Madfriars.com Assessment: He'll begin the year in Fort Wayne, a full season league, which will mean a lot more innings and much better hitters. The Padres will take their time with Castro, but so far he's right on track.

15) Ivan Nova
Position: Starting Pitcher/Relief Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 210-pounds
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: 2008, Acquired by San Diego via Rule 5 Draft, December, 2008

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
Tampa8-134.36149109/461688172

Nova at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: The stats don't necessarily backup the Padres selection, but the Yankees were sorry to lose Nova. He improved as the season progressed, posting a 3.58 ERA in the second half after notching a 5.15 ERA across the first half. He puts too much pressure on himself with runners in scoring position, as the opposition hit .340 off him in those situations.

Negatives: While he has fastball velocity, he is not necessarily a strikeout pitcher. Nova has trouble putting hitters away and isn't adept at expanding the zone. He also suffers from mental lapses in concentration.

Projection: High - The Padres are hoping to "hide" Nova on the 25-man roster this season, giving him garbage innings. They believe he has the ceiling of a number two starting pitcher. He has three plus pitches but is erratic with placement. If he gains commands of his offerings, Nova could be a steal in years to come.

Madfriars.com Assessment: A ground ball pitcher that misses down in the zone, Nova won't get taken deep often. There is some concern over his drop in velocity this spring, but a plus curveball and plus changeup remain in his arsenal.

16) Blake Tekotte
Position: Centerfield
Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 170-pounds
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: L/R
How Acquired: San Diego, 2008 third-round

AffiliateAVG.OBP. SLG. PAHITSBB/K XBH HR
Eugene.285.379.4562205527/45316

Tekotte at Instructs in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: The Padres always thought Tekotte could become the quintessential leadoff man, what they didn't expect was the power from the former Hurricane. Tekotte is a solid defender in center field, plus runner and the type of patient hitter the organization craves.

Negatives: A ‘wrap' in his swing takes away from his ability to make consistent contact on pitches inside but is correctable. He is raw in the running game and needs to show marked improvement. Also, if he is going to make it, it will be in center, and right now that is shaping up as a crowded place.

Projection: Medium - Lake Elsinore will give him the best opportunity to show the full extent of his game, as a left-handed hitter with speed.

Madfriars.com Assessment: He was the MVP of the Padres Instructional League and has the inside shot to jump a league and be in center field for the Storm. He could put up some big numbers in the desert and will add to the team's substantial depth of center fielders.

17) Drew Miller
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 190-pounds
Age: 23
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: San Diego, 2005 37th-round (Draft and Follow)

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
LE10-76.10 134100/4617210391

Drew Miller at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: This year was supposed to be the breakout year for Miller, who arguably has as much talent as anyone. Outside of May and July, however, he didn't post an ERA below 4.15, seeing a high of 9.82 in June. He has much more ability than he showed at Lake Elsinore, but the organization also wants to see it demonstrated on a more consistent basis. As Grady Fuson said in an end of the year interview with Madfriars.com, "It's starting to get to the point with Drew where it's more about performance than potential, and he hasn't done it yet. "

Negatives: He has a very good fastball but tends to throw it right down the middle of the plate to go along with an unwillingness to pitch inside. He has quality secondary pitches but needs to use them more.

Projection: High - The good news is he made 26 starts, which showed he could pitch a full season. The biggest adjustments that he needs to make are mental; the tools are there.

Madfriars.com Assessment: He should start the year in San Antonio, which is by far the best pitcher's park in the organization. If we are going to see his performance equal his potential, this should be the place.

18) Steve Garrison
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 185-pounds
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: B/L
How Acquired: Acquired by San Diego for Scott Linebrink

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
SA 7-73.82130108/371235955

Garrison at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: Padres general manager Kevin Towers thought Garrison was the best pitcher that he saw in San Antonio last year, as the slight left-hander flashed his command of four solid pitches. Early in the year he threw a seven-inning no-hitter but began to tire as the second half wore on. He doesn't have a big fastball but is athletic and cerebral and could be the best pitcher from the Scott Linebrink deal.

Negatives: How well he will come back from shoulder surgery is a big question mark. Also, does he have enough "stuff" to be a major league starter.

Projection: Low - This is not a knock, but no one is projecting Garrison to suddenly put on 20-pounds and dramatically increase his velocity. Additionally, his injury makes forecasting his future a guess at best.

Madfriars.com Assessment: No one is sure when he'll be able to return after shoulder surgery. He should be back in San Antonio and hopefully pick up where he left off.

19) Will Inman
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-0, 200-pounds
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired: Acquired by San Diego for Scott Linebrink

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
SA9-83.52135140/711196753

Inman at Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona.
2008 Highlights: The good news is Inman led the Texas League in strikeouts with 140 in 135.1 innings, and the bad news he also led the league in walks with 71. As one major league scout noted, his success begins and ends with his velocity. When he is setting around 91 to 93 mph, it makes his changeup and curveball very difficult to hit. When he's in the high-80s, too many pitches come in at the same speed, causing him to get hit. Then he starts to nibble a little too much. At 21, he was very young for the Texas League and has an unorthodox motion, which makes it difficult for him to repeat his delivery.

Negatives: His control problems are mainly generated by an inconsistent arm slot which causes problems not only with location but velocity as well.

Projection: Medium - He's very young for the league and this was his first year where he experienced problems with walks. If he can maintain a consistent arm slot, it will improve his velocity and control, giving him a chance to become a back of the rotation major league starter.

Madfriars.com Assessment: He could start the year in Portland, but a return trip to San Antonio is more likely. There are some who believe he will see success as a reliever. The Padres will give him every chance to continue starting.

20) Josh Geer
Position: Starting Pitcher
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 190-pounds
Age: 25
How Acquired: San Diego, 2005 third-round

AffiliateW-L ERA IP K/BB HITS RUNS EARNED RUNS
Portland 8-94.54167107/451879584
San Diego2-12.672716/92988

Geer poses for a picture.
2008 Highlights: Although he is probably not going to be more than a fourth or fifth starter in the major leagues, it still means he is going to get the ball every fifth day. Josh will take that over any pundits praise any day of the week. In 2007, he was the Madfriars.com Pitcher of the Year but ran into a little more trouble in the pinball environment of the Pacific Coast League. Geer doesn't have a big fastball but throws a consistent moving sinker to both sides of the plate along with a solid changeup and an improving slider.

Negatives: While Geer does have a very good sinker he has a very small margin of error, especially when he gets the ball up.

Projection: Low - Geer believes that he may be able to add a few ticks of velocity onto his fastball, but he is pretty much a finished product physically.

Madfriars.com Assessment: Everyone has a different opinion on Geer. Some believe he can become an effective innings eater. Others see him as the second coming of Mike Thompson and Jack Cassel. If he's healthy, he will have a great opportunity to settle the debate once and for all by occupying one of the five slots in San Diego, based on a very good major league debut last year. The key for him is continuing to throw to both sides of the plate, improving his changeup and keeping the ball down.

By Position:

First Base: Blanks (3)Second Base: Antonelli (8)
Third Base: Darnell (10) Catcher: None
Shortstop: Cumberland (9)
Center Field: Hunter (1), Venable (12), Tekotte (16)
Right Field: Decker (2), Kulbacki (5) Left Field: Huffman (7)
Starter/RHP: Latos (4), Pelzer (6), McBryde (11), Castro (14), Miller (17), Geer (20)
Starter/LHP: LeBlanc (13), Garrison (18)
Relief/Starter: Nova (15), Inman (19)

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