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10/08/08 9:00 AM ET

Help on the way for last-place Padres

Budding hurlers, dynamic hitters bolster San Diego system

Before the 2008 season began, MLB.com took an in-depth look at every big league team's Minor League system. Now it's time to recap and analyze all 30 organizations, from top prospects to the recent Draft class.

There was little doubt that San Diego was a team in transition this season. The parent club didn't fare that well and there wasn't a great deal of buzz coming out of Petco Park, but there will be before long.

The Padres have some solid young pitchers coming up through the system who are steady, can eat up innings and fit nicely in the middle or back end of the rotation. There are no top-of-the-line studs just yet, but there are plenty of position players who can produce, alleviating the problem of not having a homegrown No. 1 starter on the farm.

Chase Headley, Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, Cedric Hunter and company should provide plenty of offense and excitement in the coming years in Southern California. The pitching that's on the horizon is solid, but the offense is the portion of the game that will really be worth watching.

Organizational Players of the Year

MLB.com Preseason Picks

Kyle Blanks, 1B: The thought before the season was that Blanks would run roughshod over the Texas League and he did, hitting .325 with 20 homers and an organizational-best 107 RBIs. Blanks was a one-man wrecking crew, hitting .377 with 33 RBIs in August. There wasn't much he did wrong, and now he'll have a chance at some PCL pitching in 2009 before heading to San Diego.
Blanks drives in nine

Mat Latos, RHP: Latos was the preseason pick for Pitcher of the Year and when he was on the mound, he certainly pitched well enough. Latos was 3-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 15 games (11 starts) in the Midwest, Arizona and Northwest Leagues. But an oblique problem kept him on the shelf for much of the summer, preventing him from getting serious postseason consideration.
Latos' ninth K

•  Monday, Oct. 6: Washington Nationals
•  Tuesday, Oct. 7: Seattle Mariners
•  Wednesday, Oct. 8: San Diego Padres
•  Thursday, Oct. 9: Pittsburgh Pirates
•  Friday, Oct. 10: Baltimore Orioles
•  Monday, Oct. 13: Atlanta Braves
•  Tuesday, Oct. 14: San Francisco Giants
•  Wednesday, Oct. 15: Cincinnati Reds
•  Thursday, Oct. 16: Colorado Rockies
•  Friday, Oct. 17: Detroit Tigers
•  Monday, Oct. 20: Kansas City Royals
•  Tuesday, Oct. 21: Oakland Athletics
•  Wednesday, Oct. 22: Texas Rangers
•  Thursday, Oct. 23: Cleveland Indians
•  Friday, Oct. 24: Arizona Diamondbacks
•  Monday, Oct. 27: Florida Marlins
•  Tuesday, Oct. 28: Toronto Blue Jays
•  Wednesday, Oct. 29: St. Louis Cardinals
•  Thursday, Oct. 30: Houston Astros
•  Friday, Oct. 31: Minnesota Twins
•  Monday, Nov. 3: New York Yankees
•  Tuesday, Nov. 4: New York Mets
•  Wednesday, Nov. 5: Los Angeles Angels
•  Thursday, Nov. 6: Chicago White Sox
•  Friday, Nov. 7: Milwaukee Brewers
•  Monday, Nov. 10: Chicago Cubs
•  Tuesday, Nov. 11: Boston Red Sox
•  Wednesday, Nov. 12: LA Dodgers
•  Thursday, Nov. 13: Tampa Bay Rays
•  Friday, Nov. 14: Philadelphia Phillies

MLB.com Postseason Selections

Kyle Blanks, 1B: I picked Blanks as the preseason Player of the Year in March and it seems like a bright move, since he also gets the nod as our Postseason Player of the Year.

Matt Buschmann, RHP: Buschmann earned postseason kudos after going 10-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 27 starts at San Antonio. He finished up strong, going 4-1 with a 2.35 ERA in his last 10 starts. He allowed only seven earned runs in the five no-decisions he picked up during that stretch.
Buschmann goes seven strong

Climbed the Ladder

Kyle Blanks, 1B: Blanks not only led the way offensively among Padres prospects, his performance defensively was also quite nifty. He was the top first baseman in the Texas League with a .993 fielding percentage, committing eight errors in 1,117 total chances. He was second in the league in RBIs, second in hits (160), fourth in OBP (.404) and fifth in slugging (.514).

Will Venable, OF: Venable has done just about everything he could do to succeed in the Minor Leagues. He's excelled at every level and this season had a nice run at Portland of the Pacific Coast League. Venable hit .292 with 14 homers and 58 RBIs, had a .361 OBP and scored 70 runs. He struck out a bit much this season (once every 4.3 at-bats) but he was facing some veteran pitching in the PCL, so he gets a pass. He also hit .264 in 28 games with the Padres.
Venable launches one

Cedric Hunter, OF: Hunter showed the maturity and work ethic the organization was looking for, and it resulted in a splendid season. He hit .318 with 11 homers and 84 RBIs for Lake Elsinore in the California League. He topped the circuit with 186 hits and was second with 98 runs scored. He remains part of a wonderful core of players that San Diego is developing.
Hunter's two-run blast

Matt Buschmann, RHP: Buschmann joined the burgeoning ranks of Padres prospects who seem to enjoy pitching in San Antonio. He's got 22 wins and a sub-3.00 ERA over his two full seasons of pro ball and figures to be a staple in the Portland rotation next season. He was the organization's full-season ERA leader this year.

Eric Sogard, IF: Next year will be the determining factor regarding Sogard's numbers and whether they were the result of playing in the California League or not. He did have a wonderful season, though, hitting .308 with 10 homers and 87 RBIs for Lake Elsinore, raising his average 57 points from 2007. He more than doubled his home run and RBI output as well.
Sogard strokes a two-run double

Kept Their Footing

Josh Geer, RHP: It was going to be difficult for Geer to match the kind of season he had in 2007, when he won Texas League Pitcher of the Year laurels. Still, he had a fine season at Portland, going 8-9 with a 4.54 ERA in 28 games (27 starts). He did allow a few homers (22 in 166 2/3 innings), but when he got promoted to San Diego he more than held his own, going 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA in five starts.
Geer's fourth K

Wade LeBlanc, LHP: LeBlanc also had a big Texas League season in 2007, one that would be difficult to follow up. While he pitched well in Portland (11-9, 5.32), he wasn't as effective as Geer. He, too, allowed his share of long balls (21 in 138 2/3 innings), but did strike out 139 (fifth-best in the organization). LeBlanc also got the chance to pitch for the Padres and was 1-3 with an 8.02 ERA in five games (four starts).
LeBlanc strikes out the side

Yefri Carvajal, OF: Carvajal played in his first full professional season and did a fine job at Fort Wayne, hitting .268 with four homers and 55 RBIs. He struggled early (.207 in April) and late (.247 in August) but hit .296 in May, June and August while driving in 38 runs. He also had seven outfield assists.
Carvajal doubles twice

Steve Garrison, LHP: Garrison, whom the Pads acquired in the Scott Linebrink deal in 2007, had a solid first full season with the San Diego organization. He was 7-7 with a 3.83 ERA in 24 starts for San Antonio, striking out 108 in 129 2/3 innings.
Garrison goes seven hitless

Cesar Carrillo, RHP: Carrillo made a successful return from Tommy John surgery, going 3-5 with a 5.97 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) for Lake Elsinore. His numbers across the board weren't brilliant, but no one expected them to be after being on the shelf for a year. Look for him to be stronger and more dominant next season, either in Double- or Triple-A as he continues his comeback.
Carrillo Ks a pair

Slipped a Rung

Matt Antonelli, 2B: Antonelli had one of the ugliest seasons in the Minors this year when you consider how highly thought of he was after a smoking 2007 run in Lake Elsinore and San Antonio. The Wake Forest product hit .215 at Portland, and only a solid August (he hit .290) prevented that number from scraping the Mendoza Line. He had been hitting .195 until the final month of the season. He fared no better when he was called up to San Diego, hitting .193 in 57 at-bats.

Cesar Ramos, LHP: Ramos was a 13-game winner and had a 3.41 ERA in the Texas League in 2007. He moved up to the PCL and went 9-11 with a 5.29 ERA in 28 games (27 starts). He experienced a decline in innings pitched, an increase in walks and the opposition hit .306 against him after batting .249 last year. He did pitch to a 3.81 ERA in July and August.

Drew Miller, RHP: Miller struggled mightily in the Cal League, despite going 10-7 in 27 games (26 starts). He had a 6.10 ERA (6.93 over his final 10 appearances) and the opposition hit .313 against him, including .319 after the All-Star break. He surrendered 19 homers and allowed four earned runs or more 10 times. He also allowed five runs on six hits in a third of an inning in his lone playoff start.

On the Radar

Kellen Kulbacki, OF: Kulbacki spent the majority of the season in the Cal League, hitting .332 with 20 homers and 66 RBIs in 304 at-bats. He also had 61 Midwest League at-bats during which he hit only .164 with two homers and nine RBIs.
Kulbacki's four-RBI night

Wynn Pelzer, RHP: Pelzer was 9-6 with a 3.19 ERA in 29 games (23 starts) for Fort Wayne. He had a better than three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio and held the opposition to a .248 average.
Pelzer Ks three in a row

Luis Durango, OF: Durango jumped into the picture in a big way this season, combining to hit .328 at Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore. He hit .305 in 93 Midwest League games and then scorched the Cal League, hitting .431 in 72 at-bats after getting bumped up. He walked 62 times and fanned only 50, contributing to a nifty .415 OBP.
Durango delivers a triple

Ernesto Frieri, RHP: Frieri made stops at three levels, spending the bulk of his time with Lake Elsinore. Overall, he was 10-6 with a 3.90 ERA in 36 games (21 starts). He fanned 125 and walked only 36 in 140 2/3 innings.
Frieri fans three

Nathan Culp, LHP: Culp led the organization with 14 victories while posting a respectable 3.83 ERA in the Cal League. He relied mostly on guile, striking out only 74 in 157 1/3 innings. But he also only walked 23 batters and has issued 47 walks in 300 2/3 innings over the previous two seasons, a stretch during which he's won 27 games.
Culp sets down the side

2007 Draft Recap

1. Allan Dykstra, 1B: Dykstra signed late and didn't get on the field until the season was almost over. When he finally did start playing, he played well, hitting .292 with a homer and 10 RBIs in seven games for Lake Elsinore. He struggled in the playoffs, though, hitting .158 in 19 at-bats.
Dykstra drills a grand slam

2. Jaff Decker, OF: Decker spent the bulk of his season in the Arizona League, not too far from where he was born before getting bumped up to the Northwest League for the final week of the season. Overall, he hit .343 with five homers and 34 RBIs in 169 at-bats.
Decker singles twice

3. Logan Forsythe, 3B: Forsythe hit .257 in 35 at-bats between the Northwest and Arizona Leagues. He drew six walks and scored four runs.
Forsythe doubles in debut

Others of Note: OF Blake Tekotte (101st overall) hit .285 with six homers and 29 RBIs for Eugene of the Northwest League, despite batting only .178 over his final 10 games. He stole seven bases and scored 43 runs in 47 games. ... RHP Anthony Bass (165th overall) was 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA and seven saves in 34 1/3 innings over 25 games for Eugene. ... SS Beamer Weems (255th overall) hit .207 in 87 at-bats at Eugene and San Antonio. He drove in 11, struck out 20 times and walked 20 times. ... LHP Andrew Albers (315th overall) struck out seven and didn't allow a run in seven Arizona League innings.

Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.