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Padres Top 10 Prospects

By Jim Callis
February 26, 2003

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A year ago, the deep and balanced Padres system ranked as the fourth-best in the game. San Diego fans got a good look at the talent as the club used 59 players in 2002, including 16 who made their big league debuts. The Padres’ top three prospects entering the season all made their way to Qualcomm Stadium, with mixed results

Sean Burroughs, the organization’s top prospect for three years running, was an initial disappointment after dislodging Phil Nevin from third base. He batted a soft .271, hurt his shoulder and was sent back to Triple-A to play second base. Burroughs still has considerable promise as a hitter, but he didn’t answer the growing questions about whether he’ll hit for much power.

Righthander Dennis Tankersley went 1-4, 8.06 with the Padres, and continued to regress when he was demoted. His performance, coupled with the team’s wealth of young pitching, has some scouts wondering if Tankersley will be more than a middle reliever for San Diego. The news was better for righthander Jake Peavy. With the rotation ravaged by injuries, he was brought to the big leagues shortly after his 21st birthday. He went 6-7, 4.52, surpassing Tankersley as the club’s future ace.

Another pitcher who arrived at Qualcomm ahead of schedule–and a bigger surprise–was 20-year-old lefty Oliver Perez. After beginning the season in high Class A, Perez went 4-5, 3.50 to finish with the best ERA among San Diego’s regular starters.

Ramon Vazquez, acquired from the Mariners the previous offseason, came alive offensively during the second half but looks more like a utilityman than a regular shortstop. Righthander Ben Howard and lefties Eric Cyr and Mike Bynum were knocked around in the majors and battled minor injuries during the year.

Growing pains are to be expected, considering the Padres promoted most of those players before they had wanted to. A side effect is that the system has been thinned out, though it still has blue-chippers such as outfielder Xavier Nady, shortstop Khalil Greene and lefthander Mark Phillips.

But the long-term plan remains in place: Get a nucleus of young talent in place, then take advantage of the revenue when Petco Park opens in 2004. By then, Nady should give the lineup the extra power bat it needs while Greene could fill the void at short. The Padres may have to endure a fifth straight losing season in which they finish no better than fourth in the National League West, but next year they should be ready to contend again.

Top Prospects
Of The Past Decade

1993 Ray McDavid, of
1994 Joey Hamilton, rhp
1995 Dustin Hermanson, rhp
1996 Ben Davis, c
1997 Derrek Lee, 1b
1998 Matt Clement, rhp
1999 Matt Clement, rhp
2000 Sean Burroughs, 3b
2001 Sean Burroughs, 3b
2002 Sean Burroughs, 3b


Prospect Archives

1999 Top 10 Prospects
2000 Top 10 Prospects
2001 Top 10 Prospects
2002 Top 10 Prospects
• Top 10 Prospects Since 1983
• Top Prospects for all 30 teams
1. Xavier Nady, of

Age: 24. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 205. Drafted: California, 2000 (2nd round). Signed by: Don Lyle.

Background: Nady entered 2000 as the consensus top draft prospect, but he had a so-so .329-19-59 junior season at California, and signability was the overriding concern among major league clubs. He slid to the Padres, then signed a big league contract with a $1.1 million bonus. His deal mandated a September callup, but he hasn’t been back to San Diego since, with injuries the main culprit. He had Tommy John surgery after the 2001 season. Last year, he couldn’t play in the field until mid-June and strained a quadriceps muscle in the AFL. Nady has an impressive offensive résumé. He eclipsed Mark McGwire’s Pacific-10 Conference record with a .718 slugging percentage, and was the Class A California League’s MVP and home run leader in 2001.

Strengths: The Padres envision Nady as an impact hitter who will produce for both power and average. He has the strength and stroke to hit 40 homers annually, and he has an advanced approach at the plate. After trying to do too much after his midseason promotion to Triple-A Portland, Nady adjusted and closed holes in his swing. He batted .316-4-19 in the final month, then hit .323 in the AFL before getting hurt. Nady drives the ball hard to all fields. He’s a determined competitor and has worked hard on his defense.

Weaknesses: Nady’s injuries have hampered his defensive development. He was drafted as a third baseman, but Sean Burroughs has a claim there. The Padres talked about trying Nady at second base, but elbow problems ended that and limited him to first base in 2001. Left field is his position now, but he was only healthy enough to play 63 games (including the AFL) there in 2002. He can make the routine plays and has improved his jumps on fly balls. His arm isn’t quite average now but should stretch out as he gets healthier. The only offensive concern with Nady is that he needs more plate discipline.

The Future: The Padres will give Nady a long look in spring training, though he probably needs more time in Triple-A before he’s fully ready. San Diego got just 20 homers out of its left fielders last season, and Nady could exceed that total as a rookie.

2002 Club (Class)

AVG

OBP

SLG

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

SB

Lake Elsinore (A)

.278

.382

.580

169

41

47

6

3

13

37

28

40

2

Las Vegas (AAA)

.283

.329

.422

315

46

89

12

1

10

43

20

60

0

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