San Diego Padres In 2010: Who To Keep?
Since the Padres are basically done for 2009, I decided to take a look forward to next season, and see who is worth keeping from the current squad. I am pleased to say that it's not quite as barren as one might think.
The future is now for the Pads latest set of prospects, all culled from the last few years of minor league drafts, and trades. Given time, this might actually be a tough team down the road.
Tony Gwynn Jr.—Keeper
What was Milwaukee thinking? In Gwynn's DNA lies the seeds of a great hitter, you just have to let him actually play.
Gwynn Jr. has become a different player since his arrival in San Diego. He still has quite a ways to go to follow in Tony Sr. footsteps, but there is hope here. The way to be successful in baseball, is to tailor your team to your ballpark, and Gwynn is a great addition.
Junior has shown range in center, a quality the Padres have sadly lacked since moving into Petco. With the gigantic expanse of outfield here, three speedsters patrolling the pasture is a must.
Look for big things from Gwynn in 2010.
He is currently batting .290 with three steals in 2009.
Jake Peavy—Keeper (hopefully)
With a young pitching staff such as the Padres, it is paramount that the Pads keep the old gunslinger down there, to lead by example.
Peavy has fallen on hard times so far in 2009, having been on the DL for a couple months. After rejecting a trade to the Chicago White Sox earlier, Jake made it very clear that he would rather win here in San Diego, then get paid in the BIG CITY.
First class, all the way...
Peavy has stated that he expects to pitch again in 2009, and hopefully he gets to stick around for 2010.
He has pitched in 81.2 innings this season and has gone 6-6 with a 3.97 ERA and 92 strikeouts.
Chad Gaudin has been solid since arriving here in San Diego, stepping it up while Peavy has been disabled. I snagged him as a free agent in fantasy play, and Gaudin has been a good pick up. I also claimed Josh Geer, and he did not fare so well. That's what you call a shot in the dark—sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Geer had no chance, but he was worth a flyer.
Gaudin will more than likely begin next season in the rotation—right now pencil him in at No. 3. That is, unless they trade him...
His strikeout ratio serves him well, on a Padre staff starving for backward K's. Given some offensive support, Chad could be sitting on three more wins, no problem.
Gaudin has pitched 93.1 innings and has a 4.82 ERA with 96 strikeouts.
Kyle Blanks may be the biggest hitter I have seen, since the end of the McGwire era. Just a big kid of 22, built to smash baseballs. Blanks crushed one today at Washington down 2-1 in the top of the ninth, and there was no doubt about it when it left the bat. The word CLUTCH came to mind.
That's how it used to be in baseball, ya scout 'em, sign 'em, develop 'em, and tear up the league with 'em, when they get there. I like Blanks, its been a while since the Padres brought out a prospect of his caliber. If he can find a home in the outfield, or if Adrian Gonzalez gets traded, look for Blanks to put up huge numbers the next five years. Just a hunch...
Even though he's batting just .187, Blanks has three homers and 10 RBI in his rookie season.
Kevin Kouzmanoff—Tough Call
Kouz is a hard read, he is getting better, and he is not getting better. With Chase Headley out of position, and out of the outfield at the moment, Kouz might be traded within the next few days.
Kouzmanoff has shown a steady glove, but all too often his bat takes a siesta. He is prone to the occasional big day however, with 52 RBI, on a team that is at the bottom of the offensive stat pack.
If the Padres can find a taker, look for a trade before Friday, July 31.
Kouzmanoff has 13 homers, 52 RBI and is currently batting .243.
Wil Venable—Tough Call
At 28, Will Venable visits the Logan's Run Life Clock, as a prospect. Soon the flower will start to blink, and while Venable has shown some promise, his time runs out.
His minor league numbers are decent at best, and the Padres could probably upgrade here. A great next two months could change that, and Venable needs to seize the day. If Wil sticks for 2010, look for him to either start, or be the fourth outfielder.
Venable is batting .216 with one home run and five RBI.
Nothing personal Jose, it's just business. Catcher has become the weakest spot in the Padres system, and there is no help in sight. Lobaton will be back in the minors, as soon as a more polished major league catcher can be found.
The problem is that catching has become a wasteland in all of baseball, with very few blue chip prospects for the toughest position in the game. With C Nick Hundley down for most of the season, the Pads have been scratching for just a body.
Lobaton will probably get a look next spring, he needs to be ready.
Lobaton is batting just .176 this season.
Latos is another nice prospect delivered by the farm system. Perhaps Sandy Alderson knew more that everyone thought, as these current prospects all came in on his watch.
Latos has electric stuff, and gives the Padre pitching staff some much needed fear factor. My concern is with his violent throwing style, it's a shoulder surgery waiting to get scheduled.
Mat will start for the rest of 2009, although on a strict pitch count.
Right now, I see him at No. 4 in the rotation in 2010, with a chance to move up quickly if Gaudin falters, or is dealt.
Latos has started two games (1-1) and has nine strikeouts and a 3.72 ERA in 9.2 innings.
David Eckstien—Tough Call
Eck is a gamer, and there ain't nothing wrong with that.
If Eck was still 25, pencil him in for the next seven years, but that ship has sailed. Eckstein brings all he has got every day, and leads by example. He is going to make a great bench coach when he hangs up the spikes. Eck has been on the D.L. since June, and will probably see some action in the next couple months.
Since Padres second base prospect Matt Antonelli has regressed at Portland, Eckstein may well be back in 2010.
Chase is also a decent, if not spectacular prospect. Headley has shown flashes of brilliance, and also has looked like a rookie, from time to time. His average needs some work, and he could learn some patience overall at the plate.
Headley should start at third base in 2010, barring Kouzmanoff keeping his job, by ripping the ball during these last two months. Returning to his natural position should help him out bat-wise, with less to worry about.
Headley has nine homers, 36 RBI and is batting .238 this season.
The Rest—Who Knows
Chris Young should be back, if healthy, but after that, your guess is as good as mine. The Padres do actually have a some talent, the trick will be finding more.
Look for 70 wins in 2010, and an improvement over this season.
The Padres farm system has been pretty well harvested during 2009, and the mark of a good organization is to fill those holes with more top prospects.