Tuesday, August 5, 2008

To Lake Elsinore

This afternoon I'll be driving up to Lake Elsinore for their game tonight against High Desert. In addition to being an easy drive from San Diego, I always enjoy going to Elsinore due to the atmosphere there (not to mention some of our bats).

Cesar Carrillo will be pitching tonight, which I'm anxious to see. I haven't seen Cesar pitch first-hand since he's returned from Tommy John surgery. Based on our reports, his arm speed, velocity, and stuff is returning bit-by-bit with every start. After giving up 19 earned runs in his first 17.1 innings, Cesar has posted a 3.77 era in his past three starts.

On the offensive side, there will be plenty to see. A number of guys are having outstanding years: catcher Mitch Canham (.285/.393/.430), second baseman Eric Sogard (.302/.397/.431), third baseman Brian Joynt (.302/.377/.505), leftfielder Sam Carter (.282/.371/.466), centerfielder Cedric Hunter (.314/.361/.419) and rightfielder Kellen Kulbacki (.347/.440/.620).

Yes, you read those numbers correctly on Kulbacki - .347/.440/.620. He leads the Cal League in all three categories.

Kellen was our first compensation pick (4oth overall) in the 2007 draft after a great collegiate career at James Madison University. Despite a slow start after signing, Kellen finished the 2007 season with a .301/.382/.491 line in short-season Eugene and was named a Short-Season All-Star by Baseball America. Unfortunately, Kellen missed some time in spring training in 2008 and started the year on the disabled list before heading to Ft. Wayne for a brief stay where he hit just .164 in 61 ab's. Nevertheless, we sent him to Elsinore, which was the original pre-injury plan, and he struggled getting hits at the beginning there as well, hitting .182 over his first 18 games. To his credit, though, he did maintain his plate discipline.

Then Kellen went off... in a big way.

Since May 27, Kellen has hit 20 homers and compiled a cartoonish overall batting line of .388/.460/.721 in about 250 plate appearances. I doubt there have been many two month stretches in the minor leagues in recent memory that can match that. Pretty amazing.

I'll write more tomorrow about some of these other prospects, who are very good in their own right, as well as some other arms in our bullpen (like Wilton Lopez who has allowed one earned run in 18.2 ip). It should be a fun night.

32 comments:

Alex said...

How can you write about Kulbacki's college career and not mention the .943 SLG he posted in his sophomore year? Sure it was in the Colonial Athletic Association, but come on, a .943 SLG? When your isoP is greater than your batting average, you usually think of a player with a high amount of K's and .230ish BA like a Branyan or Dunn, but when you bat .464 and do that, it's just cartoonish (to use your words)

I don't see how I could even pitch to that guy if I was pitcher in the CAA, I think it'd be more productive to give him the Bonds treatment.

I'm too busy to actually look into it, but I'll assume Lake Elsinore is an offensively skewed park, but still, it's always nice to see young players have success.

It seems obvious Kulbacki is the prized gem of this team's offense and easily the best prospect based on this year and his 2007 low A experience.

So I'll ask two questions about him:
1) how do the other aspects of his game rate, such as his defense, arm, and base running ability.
2) Who holds the record for highest single season slugging percentage in NCAA history? I tried a google search but came up empty, is there any chance you know?

nieto17 said...

those are impressive numbers from Kulbacki, any chance of a callup to Double A?

another question, Which prospects do you expect to be called up to the Padres when the rosters expand in September?

Zev said...

I did a google search on Lake Elsinore's field dimensions and came up with this: LF- 330'
CF- 400' RF- 310'. (http://www.baseballpilgrimages.com/A/lakeelsinore.html). In the image posted on the website there seems to be a sizable wall in right.

Kulbacki is a left handed hitter so the short porch in right is definitely benificial, not to diminish his ridiculous stat line.

NEpadrefan said...

"Since May 27, Kellen has hit 20 homers and compiled a cartoonish overall batting line of .388/.460/.721 in about 250 plate appearances. I doubt there have been many two month stretches in the minor leagues in recent memory that can match that."

My memory's not that great, but Bubba Bell, Aaron Bates, Mark Reynolds, Brandon Wood... even Pablo Sandoval earlier this year all put up stretches like that in the very recent history of the Cal League... Color me jaded, but I'll wait to see what he does in the Texas League before I get too psyched up.

Incidentally, I know they're your guys and it's fun to get excited about what's in the pipeline, but is a sub 850 OPS in the Cal League really "outstanding?" I mean, I know Craig Cooper's a really nice guy and all, but he's not exactly a top-tier prospect and he had a better line in Elsinore last year than most of the guys on that list.

Paul DePodesta said...

The dimensions in Elsinore definitely favor left-handed hitters. It's actually a very difficult park for right-handed hitters.

No worries, though. Kulbacki has hit .339/.431/.545 at home while posting .353/.448/.680 on the road. Further, he has just six homers at home and 14 on the road.

As Alex pointed out, Kellen's track record would suggest that this isn't a park-induced stat line.

NEpadrefan said...

Alex - the answer to Q1 is Pete Incaviglia against infinitely better pitching. He slugged 1.140 for OK State in 1985... 285 bases in 250. DUDE!
Rickie Weeks has the career record at .927.

Paul DePodesta said...

nepadrefan,

Those are all good names. However, Bates, Bell, and Reynolds all played in Lancaster, where the park factors are stupid. Bates slugged .648 at home and .531 on the road, Bell was .747 at home and .577 on the road (and he was 25 years old), and Reynolds went .793 at home and .543 on the road Further, though they all dominated, none of them put up quite the same numbers as Kulbacki. Reynolds' best two months was .337/.449/.668 and Bell's was .370/.465/.654 - both awesome, but neither at .388/.460/.721.

Wood was spectacular in the Cal League - he hit .321 with 43 homers. However, his best two month stretch was .341/.402/.682, which is still behind Kulbacki. Furthermore, Wood struck out in nearly 22% of his pa's in the Cal League, whereas Kulbacki has struck out in just 15% of his pa's while doing damage at the same rate.

Sandoval was also having a terrific season this year but his .359/.412/.597 just doesn't quite match .388/.460/.721.

I'm not saying that Kulbacki is a better or worse prospect than any of these guys or anyone else who has put up big numbers, for that matter. I was just trying to point out that Kulbacki's accomplishments are rare.

As for the guys with the sub .850 ops', you ought to look at some of their component stats. For instance, Eric Sogard has 68 walks to just 51 k's as part of his .828 ops. Similarly, Mitch Canham has 60 walks and 60 k's as part of his .823 ops.

One of the interesting things about evaluating our system is that Ft Wayne is a very difficult hitting environment, Lake Elsinore and the Cal League is more forgiving, San Antonio is very tough, and the PCL is again hitter-friendly. Therefore, the normal path for a lot of our guys goes up and down as they move through the levels.

Sean said...

I went to a Lake Elsinore game last year, while I was on vacation in South California. I loved the atmosphere, but there wasn't too much of a crowd there.

Alex said...

It should also be noted:

a) Bubba Bell's strong A+ year was a repeat season in a sense. In 06 he had some games at high A and then played most of the season in AA, then in 07 was demoted back to high A (also two years older than Kulbacki)
b) Aaron Bates was also someone who had been in AA the year and then was demoted to A+ (also over a year older)
c) Pablo Sandoval is a year younger, but also was repeating high A. Also, if he can keep up the way he's hitting in AA, he could be wind up with a nice future
d) Reynolds and Wood are fair observations, but beyond the component argument Paul pointed out, it should be noted both of those players are quite good. Reynolds has been a very productive mlb player for almost two seasons now and Wood should have a very nice mlb career.

I can see arguments against some of the other guys on the list, but Kulbacki is one guy that there is really no argument against at this point. He's done everything you could want or expect from him at this point. You could even go as far as to say he's the Padres top prospect now that Headley is up in the bigs.

I'm not saying people should go buy their Kulbacki jersey's already, but there's no reason at all to be down on him thus far, at least on paper

JD said...

I grew up playing ball with Cesar (until we were 10 or so when he moved out of our Little League area). I'm really pulling for him and hoping he can bounce back from the TJ surgery. If he makes it, I can go around saying how I have video of my hitting a ball to the wall off a Major Leaguer. :) (So what if we were 8 years old; that counts!)

Tom said...

JD, I'd be bragging about that if he never got higher than rookie ball.

Brandon Wood. Huh. Seems like the kind of guy the Padres might want to pursue, given organization depth (virtually none) and dissatisfaction with Greene (well before he gave into the demands of yahoos and showed some emotion).

djh57 said...

Yes right field is short, but it is a very, very high fence. So it yields more doubles, not HR's. Yes right field is short, but it is a very, very high fence. So it yields more doubles, not HR's. 2007 park factors indicate it is not really much of a hitters park – but many in the Cal league are.

See the link below which shows all the Padres minor league park factors – San Antonio is also very tough.

http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080110&content_id=337889&vkey=news_milb&fext=.jsp

Dan said...

I've been fortunate enough to be able to scout Canham and Kulbacki in 2006 with the Cape League. I had Canham pegged as being a future star, but Kulbacki must have came on since. What commentary do you have to Canham's power ability after seeing him? I thought he had the chance to make the switch to a corner spot from catcher and really pepper the gaps in Petco. Have things changed? How is Canham's catching work?

mweldon said...

Didn't Wilton Lopez get sent down from AA after putting up some poor numbers? His A stats look amazing, though, and from the naked eye, it looked like he throws really hard.

Has Evan Scribner given up a run yet?

Kulbacki just seems out of this world right now. I compare his performance to that of other recent LE graduates like Barfield and Nady. They both did outstanding at LE, but Kellen's numbers put them to shame. I would love to see him get a little AA time this year.

Alex said...

Different Alex here.

Hey Paul,

I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. Its related to the minors, but not the Lake specifically. I've been following Euclides Viloria, who was a big signing for the Pads a little bit ago and who struck out about 800 batters in the AZL last year. However, he's yet to pitch this year. Is he injured or something?

Thanks,
Alex

hector said...

These kids are very exciting. I love how the new administration has drafted.

I am getting nervous about the unsigned players in this year's draft.

Can you put a percentage to what you think are the chances of signing:
dykstra? darnell? mooneyham? and some of the others?

Millsy said...

Paul,

Hey thanks for the write up about Kulbacki. He seems to be on his way. He's impressive all around and his approach to the plate should allow him to continue what he's been doing. Do you project him as an outfielder with defensive abilities? I'm told he's not a huge speedster. Any chance of a 1B move?

padresrevolution.com said...

Carrillo's overall line wasn't pretty tonight(4.2 IP, 3 R, ER, 4 H, 4 BB, K) but I guess what's most important is that he's healthy and getting stronger going into 2009. Does he look like he's getting back to the guy he was a few years ago? How hard was he throwing?

Paul DePodesta said...

Different Alex,

Villoria had shoulder surgery back in April. Fortunately, he's doing very well in his recovery, and we're hopeful that he'll be throwing again this fall in an instructional league.

Paul DePodesta said...

millsy,

We expect Kellen to stick in the OF. He's played a very solid RF so far this year (despite an error last night), and we believe he could play in either corner.

Gavin said...

Paul,

The point of this isn't to call you / the FO out, but to give you a chance to respond to what is undoubtedly a major concern for diehard Padre fans. Here is a copy of a question asked of Baseball America's John Manuel in a chat this morning:


Dave (San Diego): A follow up to the Strasburg question: do you blame the Padres (lack of due diligence) for the rash of injuries to their recent 1st rounders, or is it just plain dumb luck?

John Manuel : (3:26 PM ET ) Both. Having such bad first-round picks EVERY YEAR since 2003 is not an accident. Tim Stauffer, Matt Bush, Cesar Carrillo (at least on his way back from TJ) and then '07 Nick Schmidt . . . you hate to go scoreboard but there has to be a problem with the Padres' process for having repeat problems, it seems.


When adding Dykstra to the list, I think it really becomes a fair question: is there a problem with the Pads' process for evaluating medicals? Have there been any internal discussions on how to improve in this area?

Thanks Paul

field39 said...

Paul,

Do you have a target date, when you expect the majority of the club to be filled with players from the Padre system, who adhere to the Padre hitting philosophy?

Alex said...

Thanks Paul,

Hope his recovery continues to go well.

- Different Alex

Alex said...

Paul,

I've been meaning to ask about this for awhile, but since you brought up Lake Elsinore in the title it seems fitting to mention this now. What are the chances Dirk Hayhurst gets called up in September to the big club?

To those who don't know, Hayhurst is a pitcher that has spent 4 separate seasons in Lake Elisnore and is currently in AAA. I'm not Padre fan, but I first heard of Hayhurst through a blog he had last year through Baseball America. One post in particular, was quite touching and I recommend anyone who hasn't read it, to read it (I mean if you're reading this, you obviously like baseball insider blogs):

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/minors/features/264668.html

He is a guy who has great perspective on his place in baseball and seems just like a great person.

This year in AAA Hayhurst is having his best pro year ever with a K/9 rate of 10.85 and a walk rate of 3.01 (giving him a 3.6 K/BB ratio). So, is thee a spot on the 40-man for Hayhurst so that he can get called up to the bigs? It'd make a real nice story and this guy seems like a reporters dream (in terms of non-superstars that is)

-Real Alex (just kidding other Alex)

Alex said...

It should also be noted on Hayhurst, he's had a great year and has also been quite unlucky in the BABIP department (BABIP of .356 this season)

Obviously when the front office decides who gets called up, performance is really all that matters, but it's nice to see a guy who considers himself a "non-prospect" who not only has the merits for a call-up, but also the personality you root for

Andrew Stebbins said...

Kellin is putting up high school numbers! Wow!

Gavin said...

Paul, can you comment briefly on Pete Ciofrone? He is quietly putting up great numbers at Portland and seems (at least statistically) to fit the Padres' philosophic profile. However, he's a guy whose name never seems to be mentioned on the team's top prospects lists despite the numbers and the fact that he is still only 24. Any insight would be appreciated.

Chris said...

I was hoping to see a comment here about Brian Giles being claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, and what the Padres thoughts were going forward.

hector said...

chris,

per MLB rules, teams are prohibited from making comments on "trade waivers"

hector said...

I am furious again.

Maddux and Giles proved again that winning is not their priority, and they should be the first ones out the door.

Buy him out of the deal and put someone who has more then .500 in slugging. Gerut Hairston and Headley can outproduce most outfields in 2009.

What is more important to the administration SLG or OBP?

I would think that with a high SLG % pitcher will be more careful and that will lead to walks... On the other hand if you are patient enough you will get your pitch...

Nathan said...

Hector,

Maddux and Giles have paid their dues and were granted the rights in their contracts to do as they please, and the Padres knew that when they allowed those provisions to be put in their contracts.

I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to bad mouth players who want to continue to play for the team they are on, for whatever reason.

Tom said...

That's funny, Hector. After people took you to task for your misguided comments about Maddux, you claimed you really weren't mad at him. Now you're furious - AGAIN.

Brian Giles has been almost as valuable a hitter as Adrian Gonzalez this year. The Padres know it, even if you don't.

You don't have any idea why Maddux and Giles exercised the no-trade clauses. But being part of a Red Sox team for 2 or 3 months may mean less to Giles than it would to you, which says something good about his character and something....not so good.....about yours.