Thursday, December 4, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg
For an overview of the process I use to grade players, the factors I use to determine a player's rank and other frequently asked questions, please click here. All grades are subject to change based on any new information I receive before the season starts. If you disagree, you can make your case by contacting me.
You can find a full listing of each team's top prospect list in the Top Prospects of 2009 Archive Page. Each team will also have their Team Page published when their top prospect list becomes available. Team pages include team rosters, stats, payroll and front office information, past Baseball-Intellect articles, and links to some of the team's best fan sites. We stay with the San Diego Padres...
Also See: San Diego Padres, Prospects 1 - 5
Body Type - 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, so I'm not sure how much room he has left to fill out
I compiled a scouting report on Dykstra a little while back and one thing I focused on was the way he planted his front foot. He employed a knee-twist that I felt took away from some of his raw power in that his hips would open up a little too soon and he didn't have as efficient a hip rotation as possible.
Of course, the clip was based off video supplied by the MLB Scouting Bureau and it was shot in 2007. As I noted heading into those breakdowns, take them with a grain of salt because they don't tell you everything. They give you a good idea of a player's swing, but you aren't always getting the whole picture--especially when the sample size of a player's swing is so small and the swings in the video aren't very good to begin with.
Fast forward to today, where I was fortunate enough to come across some video by MLB.com that gave me a better idea of what Dykstra's swing looked like in his junior season at Wake Forest. Dykstra in 2007 is on the left, while Dykstra in 2008 is on the right.
Some of the adjustments:
1. He sets up with a wider base
2. He takes a longer stride
3. He plants his foot at a more closed angle. Dykstra is then able to enact a more powerful hip rotation as he rotates on a firm front leg.
These adjustments do make me feel better about Dykstra's future. He doesn't jump out at me as a sure-fire stud of a player, but I think he can certainly hit at the big league level. The problem with Dykstra is that he really has to hit for his bat to play at first base. He's going to walk and he'll hit for power, but he's also going to struggle to hit for average, which will hurt his OBP. He's going to strike out since he see's a ton of pitches--often being too patient--and his swing is still on the long side.
Best Case Outcome - A slightly above average first baseman
More Likely Outcome - Average first baseman
Body Type - short and lacking projection
Fastball - typically sits between 88 and 92, but it plays up because of Inman's deceptive delivery...it's really nothing more than an average pitch
Curveball - above average pitch thrown in the high 60's to low 70's...there is a big difference in velocity between his curveball and fastball and that throws off the timing of opposing hitters
Change-Up - improving pitch...used sparingly in the past, but he has had more confidence in the pitch as he's improved his ability to maintain his arm speed when throwing it
Mechanics - slow tempo with a tall-and-fall type wind-up...he could stand to speed up his delivery and make better use of his momentum...his arm action is long as he straightens his arm all the way back before it makes its way through his arm circle
Inman does have good front side mechanics, as he rotates his upper body late and maintains a firm glove out in front of his chest. His arm does recoil some after release, which does raise his risk for injury.
By the Numbers - Known for his exceptional command, he really took a step back in that department since reaching Double-A in 2007. In about 209 Double-A innings, Inman has had a BB% around 11, which is below average. His K% has taken a hit as well, but it still remains in the very respectable 23 - 24 percent range. Inman is an extreme fly ball pitcher, which works well in San Diego.
Mental Make-Up - Inman is said to have excellent composure on the mound and should be able to deal with the ups and downs of pitching. His command doesn't show it, but he likes going right after hitters.
Best Case Outcome - I don't have all that much faith in Inman, but you have to respect his performance thus far, especially when he wasn't pitching to the best of his capability. At best, he's a No. 4 starter, though playing in San Diego might give him uptick in his numbers.
More Likely Outcome - Solid No. 5 starter or possible role out of the bullpen.
Body Type - strong build, little projection
Antonelli's stock as a prospect really took a sharp drop last year as he struggled his way to a line of .216/.335/.322/.657 at Triple-A Portland. This was after a season in which he had an .879 OPS combined at two levels: A+ Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio.
Antonelli's patience and plate discipline stayed virtually the same...he walked in 14% of his plate appearances, which was a small uptick better than in 2007. His strikeout numbers also remained virtually unchanged at 16%. So what happened?
Antonelli saw his BABIP drop to .251, which we can consider to be unlucky though luck wasn't the only factor at play. He hit a large number of weak fly balls, especially of the infield variety. Antonelli had an infield fly percentage of 24, which was much higher than his prior two seasons. An infield fly is just as good as a strikeout.
The causes of Antonelli's struggles were likely a combination of struggling to see the ball out of the pitcher's hand as well as an inefficiency in his swing mechanics. Centering the ball and making hard contact become much tougher if you aren't seeing the ball well and that typically happens when a player falls into a deep slump. He admitted he was struggling with his mechanics and confidence toward the end of last year.
Antonelli also suffered from a drop off in power--his ISO dropped from .182 to .106. The interesting thing is that Antonelli--after being drafted--made some adjustments to his swing that contributed to an increase in power. Antonelli's draft video is on the left, while a clip of him in 2007 is on the right. The angles are obviously different, but the difference between swings is clearly evident.
See how he waits on the ball longer by adjusting his loading process and stride into foot plant? The adjustments allowed him to keep his hands back and turn them and the hips together on a firm front leg. He stopped lunging towards the ball. As for what happened to Antonelli's swing in 2008, I can't say because I haven't found any tape that shows a clear difference.
Overall, Antonelli really was never the above average to borderline all-star some expected him to be, but he was certainly better than his numbers in 2008 indicated. He gets a mulligan for last season and hopefully the offseason turns out to be the perfect remedy for him.
Best Case Outcome - Average everyday second baseman
More Likely Outcome - Slightly below average everyday second baseman or above average utility player
Body Type - strong, durable build
Fastball - average at best fastball, sits between 85 and 89 on most nights...has good movement which allows him to get away with mediocre velocity
Change-Up - his best pitch, comes in on the same plane as his fastball...maintains arm speed, has good fade and gets a lot of swings and misses on the pitch...the pitch is anywhere from 6 - 10 mph slower than his fastball
Curveball - he doesn't throw it all that much, but it's a potential major league average pitch...he can throw it for strikes and vary the amount of break on the pitch, but it can flatten out on him at times and there is a tendency for him to leave it hanging in the strike zone, where opposing hitters can pounce
Mechanics - judging by his low velocity and big frame, it's clear LeBlanc doesn't have very efficient mechanics in terms of throwing for velocity. He repeats his mechanics well and his front side mechanics are solid, but his tempo is slow and he doesn't scap load well.
LeBlanc misses a healthy amount of bats because of his change-up and sports good control, but he has little margin for error in terms of his stuff. That is going to make his adjustment to the majors more difficult than pitchers with better stuff who can get away with more mistakes.
LeBlanc is also an extreme fly ball pitcher and prone to giving up the long ball. He'll be helped a lot by playing in Petco, but it will hurt him elsewhere.
Best Case Outcome - No. 5 starter
More Likely Outcome - Swing man or middle reliever who can go multiple innings at a time
Body Type - short and somewhat stocky....does not have a projectable build
Sogard doesn't have a ton of natural ability, but he exhibits a high baseball IQ and he gets the most out of his ability. He doesn't have elite athletic ability, but he displays excellent hand-eye coordination, which helps Sogard possess great plate discipline and square up on the ball when contact is made.
Sogard has a short path to the ball and possesses a nice combination of bat speed and quickness. He's got some pop, but a lack of physical strength leaves his power potential limited.
Defense - solid...he makes the plays he gets to and he has plenty of arm for second base
Speed - slightly below average though he is a solid baserunner
Best Case Outcome - Average everyday second baseman
More Likely Outcome - Somewhere between utility player and slightly below average second baseman.
I completed a scouting report on Forsythe a while back, which you can read here. To recap what I said then, he showed outstanding plate discipline in college. He doesn't have great power potential, but there is more left in the tank. Forsythe is a hitter that uses his lower body to generate much of his power, but a hamstring injury hampered some of that power. His power numbers during his sophomore season were much better than his junior season.
The greatest strength Forsythe brings to the table is his versatility. He can play a multitude of positions--some even suggest giving him a shot at catcher. He should hit enough to be playable at third base, but if he can show his defense is capable at second base, his value gets a major boost.
Grade - B-
The center fielder from Miami doesn't have a lot of strength, but he possess an athletic frame and has above average to plus speed.
He drifts his body forward and sweeps his bat through the hitting zone. His swing plane is more "fliner" oriented rather than fly ball, and he should be able to maintain a quality batting average, which will lead to a very respectable OBP when combined with his batting eye.
One thing he does that bothers me, is he has a tendency to throw his hands at the ball. So he ends up making contact too far out in front, meaning he's not letting the ball travel deep and meaning his axis of rotation is centered around his core. As I stated earlier, the goal should be to turn the hands and hips together. The below clip should give you a better indication of what I'm talking about. See how the hands get out in front
It's not a powerless swing--he's not lunging and he has a good loading of the hands, but he's certainly not maximizing his power output.
His upside is that of an average center fielder, but he might want to work on tweaking his swing where the hands and hips turn together.
Grade - B-/C+
I haven't seen McBryde pitch, so I'm going with numbers and second hand reports on this one. His peripherals were excellent in the two most important areas: strikeouts and control. He struck out a league-high (among pitchers with more than 90 IP) 27.2% of the hitters he faced and walked just 4.1% of hitters faced, which was good for 4th best. His fastball is easily his best pitch as it's thrown between 92 and 95, but his slider and change-up are both below average pitches that he needs to improve if he is to remain a starter. One number that sticks out like a soar thumb is the .378 BABIP against. No doubt some bad luck contributed to that number, but it's also a sign that he's too often around the plate and not keeping players off his fastball. The BABIP is concerning, but he's a breakout candidate if he can improve his secondary options just a little.
Grade - C+
Huffman was one of my hitters to watch entering the 2008 season. He wasn't necessarily a disappointment, but his production closely resembled his Double-A line of 2007 (.793 OPS in 2007 vs. a .802 OPS in 2008). His power took a sharp drop, posing just a .136 ISO. He still gets on base, but his value is tied to his bat so he needs to get better production.
The silver lining for Huffman is his ability to mash lefties, which will almost assuredly find him some role on a major league roster. In his career, Huffman has a 1.081 OPS vs. LHP compared to an .817 OPS vs. RHP.
Grade - C+
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Other C+ Prospects (in order): Wynn Pelzer, James Darnell, Mitch Canham, Yefri Carvajal, Jackson Quezada, Michael Watt (C+/C)
A quick note on a few of the other C+ prospects...on Pelzer, he's a sleeper heading into 2009...one of the few pitchers in the Padres' system to generate ground balls...good, live arm and somebody that I think would really take to a bullpen role in the majors--his stuff plays up and he's much better against righties than lefties...on Carvajal, young with a lot of potential but the numbers aren't there yet...on Quezada, misses a ton of bats with solid control, overpowering fastball
I will have more on James Darnell in the Newsletter. I will also have more on Steve Garrison who I listed as a C+ prospect, but who's stock plummeted after undergoing rotator cuff surgery in October. He won't be back until after June. So remember to sign up
Honorable Mentions (C Prospects in no particular order): Evan Scribner, Andrew Cumberland, Corey Kluber, Drew Miller, Simon Castro, Erik Davis, Corey Luebke, Anthony Bass, Nick Schmidt, Josh Geer
*Will Venable (>100 ABs) not considered a prospect anymore by my standards
Before closing, I noted Anthony Bass among the Honorable Mentions and he's somebody I want to look at down the road because he has some interesting mechanical attribute--similar to one of the best pitchers in the game.
Next Up:San Francisco Giants, Prospects 1 - 5
Also See: San Diego Padres Team Page
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