Friday, August 8, 2008

Eugene Emeralds

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend three days with our Short-Season A affiliate, the Eugene Emeralds.

At the time of my arrival, the team had been through a tough stretch and had a 12-21 record. Nevertheless, they rallied to win all three games while I was there and have gone on to win 11 out of the 14 since then, dispelling any notion that I brought any good luck. Oh well.

Going to Short-Season A is generally my favorite trip of the year. There is just nothing better in mid-to-late summer than taking a few days to see your new draftees playing together in pro ball for the first time. It's even better when you get to see them experience some success, as the Ems have this year (currently 1.0 game out of first).

To be honest, I generally don't put a lot of stock into individual performance in Short-Season, at least as it relates to predicting a player's future. Some players take a while to sign and lose their sharpness, other are exhausted from a long college season, and others are simply bigger and stronger and more immediately capable with the wood bat. Of course, it's always nice to see a few guys put up big years.

Sawyer Carroll was our compensation pick after the third round this year out of Kentucky, and he has more than fulfilled our expectations of him as a hitter. Sawyer currently leads the Northwest League in slugging and extra base hits, is second in runs scored and rbi, and third in homers.

Dan Robertson, out of nearby Oregon State, has been the team's engine since the season began. Playing the outfield and occasionally DH'ing, the sparkplug has put together a .370/.448/.487 line so far to go along with 17 stolen bases in 21 attempts. Playing all-out all the time on both sides of the ball, Dan has quickly become a fan favorite in Eugene.

Blake Tekotte, despite taking some time due to Miami's participation in the College World Series, has also had a stellar start to his pro career. The leadoff-hitting centerfielder is hitting .319 with a .406 obp, and a .560 slg, already smacking four homers in fewer than 100 ab's.

Our most recent signings, Matt Clark and Cole Figueroa, don't seem to have missed a beat, as combined they're hitting .338 with a .470 obp and a .513 slg in 100 pa's. Even better, both players have shown a good feel for the strike zone in addition to their power.

Two very young players, Jeudy Valdez and Emmanuel Quiles, also really impressed me with their play while I was there. Jeudy is a 19-year old SS who shows middle infield instincts along with real bat potential. Emmanuel is an 18-year old catcher from Puerto Rico who can really throw and also showed some pop during my visit. We have certainly pushed these two players by placing them at this level, but they are handling it well and should be better for it next year.

On the pitching side, Pablo Menchaca, Geoff Vandel, and Simon Castro are all in the top ten in the league in ERA (4th, 5th, and 7th, respectively). Menchaca shows a good sinker, Vandel is a lefty with solid secondary pitches, and Castro has the biggest arm of the group, reaching 95 mph.

Out of the pen, Anthony Bass, our 5th round pick this year, has posted a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings of work. His velocity has consistently been up to 93 mph, and he's shown a good slider as well. Robert Musgrave, a left-hander from Wichita State, has simply been outstanding, striking out 48 batters and walking five over 30.1 innings.

There are a number of others having nice years as well (OF Bobby Verbick, RHP Tyson Bagley, RHP Nick Vincent, RHP Erik Davis, RHP Tyler Davis, etc), which is why the team is now on a roll. Hopefully they can finish off their run and win a championship in their first season together.

36 comments:

VoIPChoices.com said...

First!!!
What? no comment on the whole Brian Giles ordeal? What are your thoughts to him nixing any deal?

mweldon said...

Call up Tekotte. We need a lead-off guy. Nah I'm just kidding. Kind of.

It's great to hear that our draft class is doing well. Starting with the 2005 class, it seems the Padres have improved greatly in this area.

I'd still like to hear your assessment of the L.E. game you saw last week.

Alex said...

As I've noted in earlier posts, I like Tekotte as a 3rd round pick. Even if short season stats don't matter much (especially for college players playing against high schoolers) success is success.

Plus, if he makes it to the show and does well, I know a certain Mexican Brewery of a similar name that would love to have him as a spokesperson

Paul DePodesta said...

sorry, voipchoices, I am not permitted to comments on waivers.

Phillips said...

Paul,
I know I've bugged you about this before, but will there be an update on our draftees (who is signed, who is not and whether or not there will me any movement there) at some point? Or will that come after the last day to sign?

Thanks, love the site and the updates as always.

field39 said...

Kulbacki hasn't played for three games. Is he hurt? If you tell me he is having elbow surgery, I am going to scream.

Paul DePodesta said...

field39,

I believe Kellen felt some soreness is his right (non-throwing) shoulder. He's been held out as a precaution.

hector said...

Congrats to the whole staff.

I love the way you guys are building up the farm system. I check it daily on milb.com

BostonSportsBuzz said...

Hey Paul, this is my first trip to your site and I have to admit I think this is one of the coolest things I've seen in a while. For most of us baseball fans (sorry, I'm a Red Sox guy), the notion of being able to communicate directly with one of the game's top front office execs and hear their opinions on everything going on with their team (at least everything you're allowed to comment on) is unimaginable. In an era when many conventional media types and front office personnel wouldn't want to touch a blog with a 10-foot stick (or maybe a 10-foot baseball bat), it's awesome to see you on here updating on an almost-daily basis.

Anyway, that's my long "thank you;" I was actually also wondering what your view was on the whole Manny saga and whether or not San Diego inquired about him at all (if you're allowed to disclose that). What do you think of Bay and what the Sox had to give up in addition to Manny (Moss, Hansen, cash) to get the deal done?

Thanks again, keep up the great work.

hector said...

Paul,

How do you feel about the dates for signing draft picks?

The "draft and follow" was a nice way to preview some of your high school draftees, but was it cost effective?

Why did it disappear?

Nathan said...

It's August, which in San Diego usually means it's time for Street Scene (moved to september this year), but it also has in recent years meant that it's time for the annual "veteran Padres players question the front office" festival, usually via quotes in the union-tribune. What does the front office do, if anything, to assuage player concerns about front office moves (or lack thereof)? Is that something the front office is concerned about, or is it generally dismissed as something that comes along with the dog days of summer?

Larry said...

Paul,

What did you think of the structure of Eugene's Civic Stadium (which was built as a WPA project in 1938)?

And what would you say if you knew that a former baseball reporter who used to hound you for tidbits installed all the toilet paper dispensers there in 1991, power-washed away all the pigeon droppings a few times and set a single-game record for Pepsi sales?

Would it matter that he never lost to Bullis?

electricfriar said...

Paul,
Congrats to the front office for building up our minor league system. It's great to hear that we've got good, quality prospects down on the farm. That, coupled with our inroads in the Dominican makes me excited for our future!!

Question- With some of these guys having hot starts, do you foresee any of them starting off next year in Mobile? Or will most everyone be slated for Lake Elsinore?

The EveryServer said...

Yeah, great job building the farm. If only you had done as well building the major league club. . .

Ace2110 said...

Paul,

Any word on the 40M payroll comments in the UT this weekend?

I hope you can give us a quick comment that despite the ownership issues, which have been well covered, a 40M payroll in 2009 is crazy.

HawkPadre said...

Mr. DePodesta, could you please clarify what the organization's philosophy is regarding the 2009 payroll? We're hearing a $40 million number associated with the Giles waiver discussions. That scares season-ticket customers and MLB.TV subscribers.

I don't believe in a free-agent splash for the sake of a splash - we all know how Andruw Jones is working out. But, along with building a good farm system, if there is a free agent out there who can be a difference-maker in 2009 we aren't afraid to pull the trigger... are we?

I'd appreciate any candor you can provide. Thank you.

Paul DePodesta said...

ace2110 and hawkpadre,

I believe KT's quotes appeared in a later edition of the article. He mentioned that our payroll has not even been set for next year yet.

Alex said...

On FA splashes,

The big question is what hole would you fill? Currently, the only major hole to be filled for 09 I see is 2B. Obviously you can open up a spot in LF if you trade Kouzmanoff, but Kouz is a very good young player and would be hard to part with. The deal would have to be absolutely exceptional (i.e. Kouz and Bell for Gamel, or something along those absurdly high lines).

At 2B there are a couple intriguing options, Orlando Hudson (whose season just ended) and Mark Ellis. Both these two are exceptional with their gloves and also provide bats that can be above average.

Hudson is obviously the sexy name because he's the best 2B out there, but he'll also come at a hefty price. I could see Hudson fetching a deal (even with this injury) worth somewhere between 4 years/40-48 million to 5/55. On top of that, he's a type A, so goodbye to a 2nd round pick (top 15 picks are protected)

On the other hand, Ellis will be a free agent whose value is low and the A's likely don't have too much interest in keeping him with their recent acquisition of 2B depth in the minors. Ellis also might not get offered arbitration by the A's because his 08 salary was 5 million, meaning the absolute lowest he could make in 09 with them would be 4 million, and he might accept arbitration in an attempt to raise his value and hit the 2010 FA market. I'm pretty sure he WILL be offered arbitration, but there is at least the possibility that he won't whereas Hudson is absolutely going to be offered arb.

Now, with Ellis' bad year people might be down on signing him, but if Mark Ellis has proven one thing in the past, it is thta he can rebound from a bad year. In fact, his entire career is a series of rebounds, shown by his OPS+'s from 02-08 (103, 81, 127, 84, 110, 87). Ellis isn't old enough where you'd expect his skills to diminish so I think he'd be a good investment. Perhaps a 2 years, 11 million dollar deal or 3/16 would be able to get the job done? Even if it was more like 3/21, that is still a very good deal in comparison with any Orlando Hudson deal. Hudson is a better player, but he might be 10 runs better than Ellis at best and a difference of 6 million dollars per year per 10 runs just too high. Also, I think that 10 runs guess is probably a little high, especially during a good Ellis year.

I don't know what the money situation is like, but I don't see any big name FA's out there the Pads should really pursue (i.e. the Dunn's, Burrell's) given the personnel they have. In my opinion, the ideal Pads off-season would consist of 5 major moves:

1) Re-sign Hoffman
2) Sign Mark Ellis
3) Lock up Chase Headley. Yes, it's early, but Headley is a pretty sure bet to be an offensive centerpiece and I like the idea of locking up this caliber of player early on when that guaranteed money is so enticing to him, he'll take less than what he'd eventually make (i.e. Longoria's 9-year deal). I feel contract's like Longoria's will be the wave of the future for elite young players, and I feel Headley would be a good guy to move on. It's a great way to lock up these guys through their primes at very reasonable rates.
4) Sign an SP that has upside and is unlikely to get offered arb (perhaps Jason Jennings, whose value is very low but could do quite well pitching in Petco)
5) Bring back Maddux and Giles. Maddux is as dependable as they come and his stability is very important to the rotation. Giles just gives too much production at 6 million dollars (which is essentially what he'd cost if you factor in his 3M buyout)

hector said...

Alex,

There is no way you bring back Maddux and Giles, both of them proved that winning is not their priority, and that is contagious.

Hoffman if he wants to come back should be back.

The idea of having Hudson in 2b is intriguing, I love that idea, I think a lot will depend on how Antonelli finishes his AAA season.

I like Headley, is there any chance he could pull of a move to SS? Cal Ripken was a big guy, and the Padres went to the World Series in 98 with a guy will almost zero range (Chris Gomez).

Props on signing Adam Zornes!

As far as the 40 million budget. I don't care how much they spend, it is all about winning, look at the Marlins, but I think it was more than anything sour grapes from someone that did not like the idea of getting traded to Boston, but shall remain nameless :)

Keep up the good work. G

If I was the GM, I would have released him outright just to send him a message.

Alex said...

Hector,

I wasn't advocating Hudson really, my point with him is as that while he's a great player, he would cost too much. In my opinion, Mark Ellis is the better option if 2B is resolved via FA (Atonelli could be the option, but given his poor 2008 I would think the Padres would not be willing to hand over the job just yet).

Ellis can produce at level not much worse than Hudson and at a much better price. Hudson might provide better overall production, but at double the price of Ellis, so when you look at things that way, Ellis the better commodity. If Antonelli has a great 2009 and is clearly ready for the job the following year, the Padres can likely move Ellis by then after giving him the first year to raise his value. Ellis likely will get a contract somewhere in the 6 million per year range (hopefully a tick lower because of his bad year) for a guaranteed 2-3 years, unless he prefers a one year deal to raise his value.

As for Maddux and Giles, I don't think it's fair to say those guys aren't "winners". They won on the Padres team last year and isn't Maddux the active leader in games won (beefs with that stat aside)??? Pitching is always at a premium in the FA market and the beauty of a guy like Maddux is that you can sign him for only one year as opposed to other options like Burnett, who will likely demand 5 years/60 million+

Alex said...

On the Giles stuff,

I don't know if I've mentioned it here or not, but to me the BOS "trade" reaked of a waiver block by BOS to prevent Tampa from claiming Giles. Only one person on this blog knows if there actually was a trade on the table and he's not allowed to share it, so there's a lot we don't know. In my opinion, despite all of the reports, BOSTON claimed Giles purely to prevent Tampa Bay from making a claim.

WHERE would Boston play Giles? LF? Bay. RF? Drew. DH? Papi. 1B and 3B are also filled with Youk and Lowell so that rules out the bad idea of moving Papi to 1B and youk to 3rd.

Unless Papi is hurt worse than they are letting on, I think it's safe to say Giles would have been a bench player. Now, are you going to blame a guy for wanting to start everyday playing the game he loves instead of sitting on a bench???

Even if the trade was legit, Giles would have plenty of reasons to veto, and for ALL we know there was no deal on the table, Giles might have heard he was claimed and BOS and SD had 24 hours to work something out and said "no, don't bother, I'm not going anywhere"

You Know Me! said...

i know Lance Zawadzki is on the fort wayne team so i might be jumping the gun but can you tell me about this guy. his overall numbers are pretty good. are the padres high on him?

Riley said...

Hey Paul,

I love your site, I try to check it everyday. What was your reasoning in moving Beamer Weems from Eugene all the way up to San Antonio? He was batting just .135 with Eugene in 37 AB's. He has performed well with San Antonio so far though batting .500 in his two games.

-Riley

Gavin said...

Hector, Greg Maddux has been part of one more World Series Championship team than you have...I don't think you're in a position to question his commitment to winning.

I, too, would have rather seen the Pads obtain prospect(s) for both of them. But when did it become a bad thing to have good players who actually WANT to be in San Diego???

hector said...

Given the situation and the fact that Iguchi will not yield any draft pick compensation, I you guys help the Dbacks in the short term, so the Padres benefit in the long run...

I am not a fan of Edgar Gonzalez, can you comment on what do you think of having Scott Hairston as the permanent 2B for 2009?

Thanks

What's He Thinking? said...

Alex-

As a Red Sox fan (who's learning a lot about the Padres here), I can say I didn't see the Giles claim as a block. I saw it as a way to add a great fourth OF. Right now, there's no power threat off the bench in Boston. Casey is the only real bench player, along with Coco Crisp. Neither one is really a threat for an extra base hit. Giles would have done that. Plus at this point in the season, everyone can use a day off, so the Red Sox could have basically played Giles every day with rotating through the OF and DH. I can see why he'd say no to the trade, but at the same time, he's had a great year for a guy his age, and to play in the postseason should have only helped his free agent bidding.

Jon said...

Paul-

I'm good friends with Lance Zawadzki (currently on the Fort Wayne Wizards) and I'll be at the Padres game on 8/15. Considering the Padres are 26 games below .500, what are the chances Lance gets called up for the day?!

LynchMob said...

I saw a report that Sawyer Carroll was promoted to Ft Wayne ... with the Emeralds in a real battle for a playoff spot, I'm bum'd for the team ... but very pleased for Sawyer and his future with the Padres. I'm confident I'll see in San Diego in a couple of years.

Alex said...

what's he thinking?,

Perhaps you are right, it just shocks me that a team would be willing to give up prospects for a 4th OF who would be due nearly 3 M the rest of this season, has a 9M dollar contract for 09 (with a 3M buyout) and his salary increases by 2M dollars a year if he's traded.

So if the Red Sox just wanted him for this year they would pay 8 million dollars (assuming SD picked up none of the contract). So 8 million dollars, a prospect or two, for 50-75 at-bats?

If they want him for 09 as well, it's 16 million dollars, the prospect or two, for probably 300-400 at-bats total. Essentially you'd be paying Giles at an A-Rod esque pace for at-bats if that's the going rate for a 4th OF/pinch hitter.

Perhaps SD was to throw in some cash, but that is a ton of money for a 4th OF and when you factor in prospects it just seems too expensive to me.

Then again, this is the Red Sox who have a ton of money, so who knows

hector said...

Alex,

I would not spend 6 million on Ellis, he is injury prone and not a difference maker, I would much rather move Hairston back to 2B or spend a little more on a defensive whiz like Hudson that call also hit.

If winning is not your priority, and you want the semi retirement of living in San Diego, I don't want you on the team. Maddux has been good for San Diego and viceversa, but if winning is important to you, you take the ticket out of here.

Same for Giles, at least Maddux has won something. Giles is the perfect example of someone that was juicing, it is not just petco park killing his power #'s

As far as the trade to Boston, he would have been perfect there. All of those players can't play everyday, you basically can play him in RF,CF,LF and DH He would have gotten regular playing time and a great insurance policy if someone gets injured.

field39 said...

Sawyer Carroll was promoted to Fort Wayne today, prompting my query. Sayer signed early, got comfortable, started producing and advancing in the system. He did this while others have yet to sign, advancing his cause and that of the Padres. Is it possible that by signing early Sayer may get to major leagues earlier than if he signed at the last minute? Is there any reason to wait, when “For a few dollars more” you can get guys into camp quickly and possibly gain a competitive advantage?

Paul DePodesta said...

Multiple Lance Zawadzki questions!

Lance has had a really nice year playing primarily shortstop at Ft. Wayne going .285/.363/.424 along with 24 bags in 26 attempts in a very tough league for hitters. What makes it even better, though, is the progression that we've seen.

In the first two months (typically very tough in the Midwest League due to weather), Lance hit roughly .232/.331/.323. In June he started picking it up as you'll see a lot of players do when they make some adjustments, and he hit .294/.354/.412. Since July 1, however, Lance has gone .331/.393/.537, which has been outstanding.

As for him getting called up to the big leagues this week... it's a bit early. Sorry. Nevertheless, he has shown great progress this year.

Paul DePodesta said...

field39,

You can't move up if you aren't playing! There's no doubt that getting in and getting going can be an advantage for a player. Players inevitably go through learning curves as a professional, though some are able to move more quickly than others based on talent and ability to adjust. That said, at the end of the day, this is a skill game, and the only way to get better is more reps and against better competition. The earlier you can begin the trek, the better player you'll be in the long run.

Paul DePodesta said...

larry,

I was particularly impressed with the toilet paper dispensers. I was wondering who was responsible...

rconnolly said...

I can’t take it anymore! As a TRUE Padre fan I feel it is my duty to express my disappointment and outright disgust with the way this origination is heading


Paul – I am sure you are a really nice guy and I am not blaming you directly for the whole outcome of this season or the entire direction of this organization.
So here I go. ..


#1
Why are we the only team in MLB without an Advance Scout? I know you were not with our origination in 1998, but I personally know a couple of the long time club house guys. I have confirmed this with two sources. When we went to the World Series in 1998 the San Diego Padres felt that Jeff Gardner our Advanced Scout was so helpful and insightful they voted him in a full share of their World Series Bonus. That speaks volumes to the confidence the information an Advance Scout brings to a club house! Please explain to all of our loyal San Diego Padre Fans why John Mores and Sandy Alderson feel our club who are sitting tonight at 46-73 and on pace to lose 100+ games would not benefit from a Jeff Gardner figure as an Advance Scout!



#2
Poor Drafting Decisions! Once again it’s not fair to bring issues to the table that you were not part of the organization at the time. But why do we have to be so blatantly cheap all the time. Why with the very first pick in the 2004 Draft we pick a hot headed high school kid (Matt Bush) who we changed positions from a projected outfielder to a pitcher that played a part of him going through Tommy-John surgery! We passed on Justin Verlander, Jarred Weaver, Stephen Drew, and Jeremy Showers. All proven college players that are now on the big league clubs. 8 out of the top 15 players in that draft are all in the majors. We had the very 1st pick and dropped the ball! Matt Bush is in A ball or is he still in rookie ball trying to get assigned? I understand there are no guarantees in drafting players but take this year for example. It doesn’t take a long time to figure out that if you want to be successful in PetCo Park speed and solid defense is going to be crucial. Why would we go out and sign Alan Dykstra a big slow 240lb power hitting 1st basemen, a position that is our strongest point on our whole club and our only all-star! By the way we still haven’t not even signed Dykstra I wonder if we’re going to eat up another wasted draft pick. If I have done my research correctly we have only had three 1st draft picks make it to the big leagues since 2000. That’s horrible and embarrassing.



#3
I not only voted on Prop C for the new stadium, I was a strong supporter / advocate with the idea that this new Ball Park would help the Padres become more profitable so that they would be able to sign the free agents like K. Fukudome and not have an issue with signing there 1st round draft picks or paying for an advance scout, or re-signing Mike Cameron etc. etc. Don’t bring up back to back NL West Champions we were blown out in the 1st round by a better St. Louis team twice and we even fired Bruce Bouchy because it.


In conclusion… We need a major change.. We need the true San Diego Padres fans to stand up for what they believe is right. We need the true San Diego Padres Fans to show John Mores the same interest in his investment and he has shown in the San Diego Padres! I am not calling out for a boycott of the Padres…. But I would be lying if I wasn’t seriously thinking about it.

Rob Connolly

Paul DePodesta said...

Rob,

I appreciate your frustration - we all do considering the way this season has gone. It has been a huge disappointment.

A few quick answers:

1) We are not the only team without an advance scout. In fact, we invest more dollars than most teams as it pertains to preparation/information. I take this particular situation personally, because I was the advance scout for the Cleveland Indians in 1997 and 1998 (World Series and ALCS) and we did it there in much the same way as we do it here with a few significant differences: 1) we didn't gather nearly as much info in Cleveland as we do here and 2) we employed one person in Cleveland for the job and here we have three people working a lot of hours to put every report together. The notion that we don't have an advance scout or that we're trying to save some tiny amount of money is ludicrous. I, personally, have advanced hundreds of games live and via video. Both ways have plusses and minuses, but if I could choose only one method - it would be video by a landslide. If we have had a problem with preparation, it certainly is not due to a lack of information.

2) The 2004 draft has been well-documented. In fact, I would say that the organization's decision to bring in Sandy Alderson and Grady Fuson in 2005 was a reponse to the 2004 draft. Since then, Grady and Chief Gayton have put together an excellent string of drafts that according to Baseball America have moved the Padres' system from 29th in the game up to 12th as of the begininng of this season (we're hoping for higher this winter). We're certainly not where we want to be yet, but there has been tremendous progress. The best part is that we're starting to see the fruits of those drafts at the Major League level with the emergence of both Chase Headley and Nick Hundley. We expect that there will be many more over the next few years. After all, having the minor league system producing quality big leaguers is the goal.

3) The payroll this year is as high as the Padres have had, so I don't think you can fault ownership there. It was no secret that we made a huge bid for Fukudome but lost out to the Cubs, and we made repeated big offers to a number of others. We also have spent significant dollars on signing our core players, like Jake Peavy, Chris Young, and Adrian Gonzalez, to long-term deals to keep them here in San Diego rather than being forced to trade them before they reach free agency. The fact of the matter is that we haven't gotten it done this year, and the blame for that rests with all of us - front office, staff, and players.

Again, I understand your frustration. Furthermore, your comment speaks to your passion for the Padres, which we greatly appreciate.