Too many OFer's, not enough other pieces ?
The Padres are entering a very interesting area with regards to their OF situation. Currently they have been trying hard to make a round peg fit a square hole in Chase Headley. Converting to a corner OF position is far from rare, but it only works if the player making this conversion has the athleticism to play anywhere, or simply hits the ball so well you forgive his defensive shortcomings. Chase does neither ! A 3rd baseman by trade, and by all accounts a pretty good one, he was asked last year to move to LF in order to get his bat into an anemic lineup hoping that by doing so both and Kouzmanoff could help Adrian Gonzalez drive in runs. That didn’t happen, and this season marks essentially the one year point, both in calendar and at bats, to this experiment. Quite frankly it’s been a disaster. So much so that the Padres finally asked Kyle Blanks, their top prospect at the time, who is a 1bman by trade to take his shot at the OF. Now there is a difference here between the two guys and it’s a bit crazy. Kyle Blanks is a behemoth of a man standing at 6’7” and weighing in somewhere between 265-280 (reports vary), but in very good shape. Fact is he’s just one huge human being, not fat, and is very athletic. He routinely shocks those that have never seen him by legging out a triple, or straight stealing a base off the catcher. The point is he can run well (not just for his size) is playing a very solid if not good OF (granted it’s a small sample so far), he’s shown a very strong accurate arm, and seems more comfortable in both LF and RF already compared to Chase who has had over a year to get acclimated. So the question becomes why in the world is Chase Headley still getting time in the OF, when better options are sitting on the bench ?
Now take into consideration the recent acquisition of Tony Gwynn Jr. to the roster. Obviously the name alone makes all Padre fans go a bit weak in the heart, but is he really in this teams long term plans?
Will Venable descends from good baseball stock, but his age, and experience make him a long shot player. He’s shown flashes of tremendous potential, and on a team in better shape, might stick as a 4th OFer for a couple years until he was ready, but can the Padres afford to waste time on a guy that really may never be more than just ok ?
Drew Macias is possibly one of the best fielding OFer’s in this system, but is a very light hitter. He can play all 3 OF positions, and appears better suited to come in off the bench. His future is more likely suited as a bench role player, and would be a great fit in the spacious Petco, where OF defense is a premium in late game maneuvers.
Ok those are the guys on the big league roster that might be in the mix for a starting position over the next few years, now lets talk about the farm system and what we have near ready and on the way.
AAA- There really aren’t too many guys that have a great chance to be ML impact type players. Huffman, Baxter & Cooper are all nice players, but none of them seems to have the stuff to really make in impact on this teams OF, and I’m not sure any of them are better than the guys already on the big league team right now in the OF. That alone is saying quite a bit about the caliber of player they currently are.
AA- Luis Durango is an Base stealing, OBP & hitting machine w/ very little power. He’s pegged as a speedy top of the lineup, stage setting type of hitter who very well could replace Tony Gwynn Jr. in CF as soon as next year, but more likely 2011.
Other guys at the lower levels that have to be considered within two years are :
Jaff Decker – This kid possess all 5 tools, is built to be a RFer. He can hit, hit for power, has a cannon, good range and deceptively good speed. His body type is not what you’d expect to be certain, but as the old saying goes “never judge a book by it’s cover”. Think a shorter, stockier, stronger Brian Giles, and you’ll get the visual.
Sawyer Carroll is a beast, and is starting to really make a name for himself. It really looks like they hit on a player in the draft when he was taken. He seems to have an excellent overall game as well, and could be manning one of the corner OF spots sooner than later.
Blake Tekkote is another guy to keep an eye on. He’s a fast CFer who brings excellent defensive skills to the table every night, and has the potential to hit for a high avg and obp.
Now the Draft 2009 –
Donovan Tate is the guy the Padres drafted with their 3rd overall pick. He’s a legit 5 tool stud with tremendous upside. If this kid is signed, he will undoubtedly be moved quickly though the system barring any setbacks, and could be staring at a 2011-12 entrance which further clogs this OF situation.
Williams is another OFer taken in the draft, considered to have + speed and be a legit HS power hitter, he could/should be easier to sign, but they could be waiting to see what Tate does and if he signs or not.
So to recap – Headley, Gwynn, Blanks, Venable, Macias, Huffman, Cooper, Baxter, Decker, Carroll, Tekkote, Tate, Williams (and this isn’t all, just the guys that are at, and could be impact type players, at the ML level)
Play Ball !!!