09/06/12 10:00 AM ET
Fast risers mark Padres' new Top 20 Prospects list
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
The Padres continued to see the fruits of their recent Drafts, as several players took sizable steps ahead during the 2012 season.
The team saw big contributions from three of the players obtained from the Reds in the December deal that sent pitcher Mat Latos to Cincinnati.
Catcher Yasmani Grandal was a hit after joining the team in late June and first baseman Yonder Alonso proved to be a doubles machine in his first full Major League season.
Elsewhere, while injuries slowed highly regarded pitchers -- Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin, among others -- a handful of prospects made positive strides in the Minor Leagues.
"While the 2012 season was challenging due to injuries and the moves they necessitated, we were pleased the progress of our prospects," said Randy Smith, the Padres' vice president of player development and international scouting.
"In particular guys like Grandal, [Jedd] Gyorko, [Adys] Portillo, [Austin] Hedges, [Matt] Wisler and [Yeison] Asencio. The system remains deep and one of the best in baseball. We should be able to continue to provide players for the Major League club when there is a need and mix in a few surprises as well."
The Padres have six players on MLB.com's Top 100 list: Grandal (No. 43), outfielder Rymer Liriano (58), infielder Jedd Gyorko (60), left-handed pitcher Max Fried (62), Kelly (72) and catcher Austin Hedges (90).
After sporadic playing time in two Septembers with the Reds, Alonso had become an everyday fixture in the Padres' lineup this season. Not only has his defense improved since April and May, but he's become a doubles machine, hitting 33 of them so far in his first full Major League season.
Outfielder Reymond Fuentes, one of four players obtained from the Red Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez deal in 2010, struggled in his first full Double-A season, though he had 35 steals. Outfielder Jaff Decker (foot) was limited to 56 games and pitcher Juan Oramas had Tommy John surgery. Outfielder James Darnell suffered a shoulder injury in May and had season-ending surgery on it in August.
padres' top prospects
Fried, the seventh overall pick in the 2012 Draft, impressed in his first stint in the Arizona League, posting a 3.57 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with 17 strikeouts. The Padres are as equally excited about two other prep pitchers they signed, Walker Weickel and Zach Eflin, who also made their pro debuts this summer. Pitcher Donn Roach impressed after coming over from the Angels in a May trade. Another pitcher, Matt Wisler, enjoyed a big season with Class A Fort Wayne, striking out 113 in 114 innings.
Pitcher Keyvius Sampson skipped over Class A Lake Elsinore and was hit hard at times with Double-A San Antonio (5.00 ERA). Pitcher Joe Ross, a first-rounder in 2011, missed most of the year with a sore right shoulder but was healthy and throwing well at season's end. Hedges impressed with his defensive skills and his bat as a 19-year-old in the Midwest League. Pitcher Adys Portillo was very good for Fort Wayne before making a jump to San Antonio as a 20-year-old. He has big upside.
Top 100 representation
Grandal is set to graduate from this list, as he was recalled in late June from Triple-A Tucson and proved to be an immediate hit. Liriano, after a slow start, had 44 extra-base hits and 32 steals in two stops. He's the Padres' top outfield prospect by far. Third baseman Gyorko terrorized the Pacific Coast League with 24 home runs and a .380 on-base percentage. And he showed he can handle second base, which could be his landing spot in the big leagues in 2013. Kelly, the system's top prospect heading into the season, made his Major League debut in late August and looks like a contender for a rotation spot in 2013. Hedges was everything as advertised in his first professional season, hitting .279 with 38 extra-base hits.