The Pads consistently have one of the best farm systems around. But right now, they're being caught between a series of system-depleting promotions (Jake Peavy, Sean Burroughs) and trades (Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, Cory Stewart). Even so, some high-ceiling talents like Khalil Greene, Josh Barfield, Tim Stauffer and Justin Germano are in the fold, and their one of the organizations that wisely places a premium on college talents. They're in a down cycle right now, but that won't last for long. Overall ranking: 18th
Top Ten Prospects
1. Khalil Greene, SS, Age: 23
Greene, the Pads' top pick of the 2002 draft, is the undisputed shortstop of the future in San Diego. The organization is fully confident that he can handle the position from a defensive standpoint, and his bat will progress eventually. He has a strong record of performance in the low minors, but his numbers in double and triple-A are a mixed bag. He showed improvement after a mid-season promotion to AAA-Portland, but he left his plate discipline somewhere in the Cal League. Expect him to struggle for 2004, but he does have a broad offensive skill set. Eventually, he could be an All-Star caliber shortstop at the major league level. ETA: 2004.
2. Xavier Nady, OF, Age: 24
Nady was a second-round pick in 2000 out of Cal. He had an excellent season-and-a-half in the hitter-friendly Cal League, showing good patience at the plate and an impressive power stroke. That prompted the organization to skip him over double-A entirely and assign him to the PCL. Unsurprisingly, he struggled. He opened the 2003 season as the Pads' starting right fielder, and for a while he looked like Pujols-lite. But pitchers made adjustments, and he struggled badly as the season wore on. Back in triple-A, the results weren't much better. Nady's ceiling has been overstated by some, and he'll probably settle in as a player with a great deal of platoon value. He's probably not a productive every-day corner outfielder at the highest level, but he could emerge as a Glenallen Hill lefty-killer type. He may have more value to the Pads in trade than in performance. ETA: Now.
3. Josh Barfield, 2B, Age: 20
Barfield, scion of Jesse, showed an ability to hit for average in previous seasons, but not much else. That changed in 2003. At high-A Lake Elsinore, he put together an excellent batting line for the season: .337 AVG/.389 OBP/.530 SLG. His walk rate still isn't strong, but he made strides with it this season. Also in his favor are his 46 doubles, which point to developing home-run power. The Cal League is very much a hitter's circuit, so he'll face some challenges next year in the generally pitcher-friendly Southern League. Even so, there's a lot to like here. Those kind of offensive skills in someone who plays an up-the-middle position are hard to find. Keep your eye on this one. ETA: Late 2005.
4. Tim Stauffer, RHP, Age: 21
Stauffer was the fourth overall pick in the June draft out of the University of Richmond. He disclosed a pre-existing shoulder problem, so the Pads were able to sign him on the cheap. He didn't pitch this year, but the team believes the injury won't have any lasting effects. Despite being picked one slot behind Kyle Sleeth of Wake Forest, Stauffer was the best pitcher in the draft. In college, he showed excellent command and strikeout abilities. There's every reason to believe he'll one day wind up as a productive front-of-the-rotation guy at the highest level, but until he proves his shoulder is fine some skepticism is warranted. ETA: Late 2005.
5. Justin Germano, RHP, Age: 21
The Pads selected Germano in the 13th round of the 2000 draft out of a California high school. He's showed outstanding command throughout the minors, but his hit rate has been somewhat elevated. This year it's been more of the same at A-Lake Elsinore and AA-Mobile. The rate at which he's surrendering hits is troublesome, but it's hard to ignore his command and strikeout abilities. He's performed reasonably well in double-A as a 21-year-old, and that's impressive. ETA: Late 2004.
6. Jake Gautreau, 2B, Age: 23
Gautreau was the Pads' top pick of the 2001 draft out of Tulane. A third baseman by trade, the Pads have moved him to second because of a surfeit of corner-infield types. He showed his offensive potential not long after being signed with a strong season in the Northwest League, but since then a series of bizarre gastrointestinal ailments have seriously retarded his progress. He improved his walk rate this year at AA-Mobile, but that's about all he did. If he can stay healthy in 2004, he may be in for a nice rebound season. However, with prospects it's best to view health as a skill, and so far Gautreau has exhibited little of it. ETA: 2005.
7. Michael Johnson, 1B, Age: 22
The Pads drafted Johnson out of Clemson with their second-round pick of the 2002 draft, but he didn't sign until almost a year later. In college, he showed good power, an ability to hit for average and outstanding patience at the plate. He wasn't too impressive in the Cal League this year, but considering his first extended taste of wooden bats came in high-A, some slack is warranted. Long-term, his offensive potential should be realized. ETA: Late 2005.
8. Javier Martinez, RHP, Age: 20
Martinez is another free agent signed by the Pads out of Mexico. He throws a fastball with good movement and is working to develop his breaking pitches. This season in the Cal League, he made strides with his control without sacrificing his strikeout abilities. The result was a K/BB ratio of better than 3.0 — a nice mark for such a hitter's league. He'll need to consolidate those gains as he moves into the high minors, but he's definitely one to watch. ETA: 2005.
9. Ben Howard, RHP, Age: 24
Howard is presently getting a long look as a member of the major league rotation, and he'll have a shot at remaining there to start the 2004 season. In the minors, Howard has had little trouble striking guys out, but his control has ranged from mediocre to awful. This season at AAA-Portland, he's cut down significantly on his walks, but unfortunately his Ks also took a major dive. Scouts love his stuff, so he'll get more chances, but there's just not much in his record to portend of success at the highest level. ETA: Now.
10. Rusty Tucker, LHP, Age: 23
Tucker, a 21st-rounder out of the University of Maine in 2001, has been one of the better closers in the minors for the last couple of years. He struggles with his control, but his K rates have always been impressive. If he harnesses his stuff, he could be an elite reliever at the highest level. Unfortunately, Tucker recently underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow and won't pitch again until late 2004. ETA: 2005.
[list]Classic Jerry Colmanisms
[*]"Montreal leads Atlanta by three, 5-1."
[*]"They throw Winfield out at second, but he's safe."
[*]"Johnny Grubb slides into second with a standup double."[/list:u]