Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Blanks’

Padres’ Moves Will Dictate Future of Former Wizards

If this headline doesn’t read as a big fat red “DUH!” I don’t know what does. The statement is true no matter the day or time. However, it’s worth stating right now because the Padres are in the midst of utter turmoil adn an uncertain future. With that being the case, it is obvious that the San Diego Padres will be making moves and those moves might change and alter the potential futures of some former Fort Wayne Wizards.

Wiht the Winter Meetings kicking into gear this week, here’s what we know so far:

  • Trevor Hoffman will not be the closer in 2009. This is probalby 99.9% certain. He has not signed with another team yet, so I guess there is a glimmer of a chance he’ll be back, but don’t bet on it. That means there will be an opening for a closer. I’ve speculated on this previously, and I probably didn’t give Heath Bell a fair look, but my money is still on former Wizard, Greg Burke.
  • The rest of the bullpen needs a little shoring up too. Reliable setup man, Mike Adams is likely out until the All-Star Break, so there are some spots up for grabs there too.
  • Kahlil Green will be the starting shortstop . . . for St. Louis (where he may be playing next to former Wizard, David Freese who went to the Cardinals as part of the failed Jim Edmonds experiment. Freese has a very good shot at playing with the Cards in 2009. Back in San Diego, they will need a new starting shortstop. Unless there is a trade, The heir apparent is Luiz Rodriguez, but don’t count out former Wizard, Sean Kazmar.
  • Former Wizards Pitcher, Jake Peavy still has a good chance of being traded (most likely to the Cubs). But, even if he remains with the club, the team still needs pitchers to fill the number three and four slots (Chris Young at number 2 and Cha Seung Baek as the number five guy). If he is traded, that leaves three openings. Maybe one or two of those slots will get filled from the ranks of the minors, but I expect trades and/or Rule 5 Draft picks to be used here. Former Wizard, Wade LeBlanc is likely to earn one of the spots up for grabs IMHO. Former Wizar, Josh Geer also would be likely, but there’s a chance he may be heading for Tommy John surgery, which will kill his 2009 season (if anyone has any updates on this, please comment below). Former Wizard Mike Ekstrom may also be a dark horse contender.
  • Former Wizard Jon Ellis are unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and could potentially be snagged by other clubs. The sidearmer is an interesting gamble for a club who is willing to take a chance and I suspect he’s as good as gone.
  • The catching corps is owned by former Wizards. Right now, it looks like the starting gig will go to Nick Hundley, with Luke Carlin serving as backup unless a veteran presence is added. Wonder why Colt Morton never gets much consideration. Jose Lobaton probably has a pretty solid chance and playing with the big club in 2009 too.
  • Ironically, the Padres seem to have an excess of outfielders. This time last year, they were converting former Wizard, Chase Headley from third base to outfield. Now, they have Headley, and fellow former Wizard Will Venable to slot into the outfield with Scott Hairston, Brian Giles and Jody Gerut. Couple that with an emerging former Wizard outfielders Drew Macias and Chad Huffman, and you have a couple odd men out (yes, that’s seven guys for three slots). It’s still likely that Giles will get traded (proably during the 2009 season). Moving Headley back to third and trading incumbant third baseman Kevin Kousmanoff is an option, but not one that the club seems to endorse.
  • Second basse and first base seem to be in good hands with Edgar Gonzales and Adrian Gonzales respectively. Former Wizard Matt Antonelli might serve as a backup or utility player at second. If San Diego doesn’t move Adrian and he stays healthy, first base remains blocked for uber-prospect Kyle Blanks, so you may see him traded. But I suspect Blanks will play a full season at triple-A in Portland and then the club with consider their options at first for 2010.

So there you have it. The Padres season outlook remains dim, but the bright side is that they don’t have a lot of bad contracts and they are in a highly winable division if the Dodgers don’t run away with it early. Methinks, barring any huge trades to fill holes in the field, suspect we’ll see a roster witha lot of former Wizards.

Former Wizards on Some Wish Lists

It’s been kind of intersteding to observe some bloggers who are hoping for the possible signing of some former Wizards free agents (many of whom have yet to really make a mark in the Majors) or the moving up the ladder to earn roster spots. Here’s a quick breakdown…

Tenth Inning Stretch Sees Dory Doyne as a Diamond in the Rough:

RHP, 27. Career 3.31 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8.74 K/9, 1.94 K/BB. Was the closer for the Norfolk Tides (International League) in 2007 producing a great season with 2.23 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. Had rotator cuff surgery last year and came back fine producing a 3.43 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 11.57 K/9 and 3.86 K/BB in 21 innings in 4 levels. Another potential steal, he very likely be a middle reliever in the majors next year.

Bleeding Blue and Teal Thinks Peter Ciofrone is a bagain:

The 25 year old Ciofrone did very well for himself after being promoted to AAA Portland.  He put up a very impressive .314/.389/.519 line in 97 games with the Beavers, smacking 18 homers and showing slightly above average plate discipline from the left side of the plate.  The power is a new addition to Ciofrone’s game, but if he can keep it up he could be a nice bargain for Seattle.

Corey Brock Dishes on the Chances of Kyle Blanks Getting Moved:

The Padres think very highly of Blanks, but with first base in the capable hands of All-Star and Gold Glove winner Adrian Gonzalez, there is always the possibility he could get moved in a deal.

Rays Index suggests that Tampa Bay’s decision to add Dale Thayer to the 40-man roster will mean loosing Eddie Morlan in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

A quick look at the numbers shows Dale Thayer (2.82 tRA, 10.0 K/9 at AAA) was much stronger than Morlan (4.40 tRA, 8.62 K/9 at AA) this past season. Of course Thayer will be 28 next season and Morlan will only be 23. Morlan is only one season removed from being one of the best relief pitcher prospects in baseball. Still, Thayer is more likely to help a major league club in 2009. So if it is Thayer versus Morlan for one spot, we would have understood either choice.

Three Rivers Sports thinks Luis Cruz has the potential to become the best young middle infielder in the Pirate’s organization.

He is a little more than a year younger than Bixler as well, and while his numbers after being called up in September weren’t good, they at least demonstrated the ability to cope with major league pitchers, as he struck out just twice in 67 at-bats, and his OPS was far superior to Bixler at .547

STLToday ranks David Freese as the 5th best prospect in the Cardinals organization. Methinks he’ll be starting the season at 3B for the Cardinals. Fresse was also named by Scout.com as the Cardinals’ Minor League Player of the Year.

Former Wizard, Possible Future T’Caps Earn Honors

The annual George M. Trautman Awards are presented in each of the 16 domestic Minor Leagues by the Topps Company in conjunction with Minor League Baseball. This year’s crop features former Wizards first baseman and designated hitter, Kyle Blanks. He earned the award for the Texas League after putting together a great season at Double-A San Antonio.

Two other Padres’ farmhands too home the honor for their respective leagues, so hopefully one or both will make their way to Parkview Field as members of the innagural TinCaps squad. Dan Robinson earned the honor from the Northwest League while playing with Eugene. He hit .377 with 3 dingers and 45 RBIs in 73 games. Slugger and 2008 draft pick, Jaff Decker took home the honor from the Arizona League after hitting .352 with 5 home runs and 32 RBIs.

Related Press (from 11/7/08):

Is Trading Peavy a Part of Padres’ Offseason Plans?

Jake Peavy with the Fort Wayne WizardsWith us being on the verge of closing the book on the 2008 MLB year, I thought now would be a good time to introduce what is sure to be one of the biggest Wizards Alumni topics.

If you don’t maintain a blog about Fort Wayne Baseball or are not an avid fan of the San Diego Padres, you may not be aware that the Padres are considering dealing their ace, former Wizard Jake Peavy.

It’s certainly a notion the organization must consider. After a miserable season, rumors of a sale in the wake of an ownership divorce and what appears to be a conscious decision to rebuild with youth, Peavy would pretty much be a wasted talent for a large portion of his remaining contract; which runs through 2013. They might as well see what they can land on the market in terms of prospects who will be Major League ready when the team is ready to truly compete again.

The Friars initially courted five teams; Atlanta, St. Louis, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros.

Reportedly, Peavy said at the regular season’s end that he would not consider waiving his no-trade clause for a trade to an AL team. He’d also require a full no-trade clause wherever he ultimately ends up.

Peavy, 27, has full no-trade rights through 2010 per the three-year, $52 million extension he signed in December. But in 2011 he can be traded without his consent to 14 clubs, and in 2012-13 can block a trade to only eight clubs.

“The Astros inquired about Peavy in July and appeal to the pitcher, whose close friends include Astros ace Roy Oswalt” [SignOnSanDiego]. However, before Astros fans even had a chance to get excited about the news, reports soon surfaced that it is unlikely Houston would have the pitching prospects that San Diego seeks in return.

The Atlanta Branves quickly emerged as a likley candidate to land the former Cy Young Winner’s services. However, Braves GM, Frank Wren, issued a statement to the Associated Press that insists the “Braves won’t trade their most valued prospects.” 

With the Cardinals choosing to decline their option on Mark Mulder and the uncertainty sorrounding the comeback of Chris Carpetner, one might speculate that St. Louis would at least have interest. A trade to St. Louis would probably take top prospect Colby Rasmus and two pitching prospects. That said, they are still not considered a serious contender:

…the Cardinals and Padres have had only one conversation concerning Peavy, and the discussion didn’t lead to any follow-up negotiations.  And so the chances of the Cardinals getting Peavy appear to be pretty cold right now. 

As for the Cubs, a deal involving Peavy does not appear likely, but Phil Rogers hints that GM Jim Hendry might try to pull off an Adrian Gonzalez for Derek Lee trade. I’ll file that in the “I’ll beleive it when I see it,” category. But now I am thinking of a rotation that starts with Peavy, Zambrano, and Harden!

I personally think they should make the trade if the Cubs would throw in Rich Hill or Sean Marshall. Then, they can flip Lee at the mid-season trade deadline for more prospects while bringing up Kyle Blanks for the rest of the season and have him ready to go as the incumbant first baseman in 2010.

As the Padres continue to explore other teams not on the initial list that Peavy indicated he’d accept a trade to, the Yankees have emerged as a slight possibility. But they would have to give up Phil Hughes; which the probably would not consider. The other New York team, the Mets have shown no interest in a deal.

And naturally, if the Yanks are intersted, so are the Boston Red Sox:

If the Sox were to include highly regarded first baseman Lars Anderson in a package with two of their best pitching prospects, talks between the clubs would certainly become interesting. But officials with other clubs believe the Sox consider Anderson to be virtually untouchable.”

Other AL teams that Peavy might consider include the Angels and Rangers – but they’d have to pay a steep price given his preference to remain in the NL. Yet and it is assumed that Peavy has already vetoed a deal to the Rangers. While the Padres insist they are in no hurry to deal the ace, others speculate it could happen as early as the Winter meetings.

Finally, while Peavy is not officially on the trading block, Padres’ GM Kevin Towers makes it no secret that he’s been talking to clubs in preliminary discussions. He plans to “slow things down” a bit and share his preliminary talks with Peavy and Peavy’s agent (Barry Axelrod) before getting into serious discussions.

But alas, many wonder why the Padres would consider trading Peavy when they have him under contract for so long and he’s been so good. The easy answer is money.  Peavy is to be $22 million in 2013, with a buyout worth $4 million.  

As the Padres move forward, they’re planning to put together a winning team. They beleive they have the position players in their farm, so they’re seeking some high-level pitching talent in return. Paul DePodesta explained it succinctly

As far as Jake’s particular situation, we have him under contract for the next four years with an option for a fifth year. Our task, then, is to determine whether what we would receive in exchange for him would outweigh the benefits of having him for those five years (presumably some player(s) we would get in return could be of service for more than five years, so that needs to be factored in as well). Make no mistake, however – we place tremendous value on Jake’s presence here. That is why any offers for him in past years and every day up until this writing have been rejected.  

Brock Dishes on Blanks, Latos, Hundley and More

San Diego Padres beat writer, Corey Brock recently posted some mailbag questions and answers. His first discusses one of my all time favorite Wizards, Kyle Blanks, and his future for next season and as a potential trading chip down the line given that Gonzalez has the market on first base in SD:

Blanks had a big season with Double-A San Antonio, hitting .325 with 20 home runs and 107 RBIs to go with a .404 on-base percentage that certainly has many in the organization excited about the 22-year-old. This season came on the heels of a .301-24-100 season with Class A Lake Elsinore in 2007.

I would expect Blanks to begin the season with Triple-A Portland, where he will be tested in a veteran league much like Triple-A newcomers Matt Antonelli, Chase Headley and Nick Hundley were to start the 2008 season. Blanks could also be an attractive trade chip given that Gonzalez is 26 and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Brock suggests that Mat Latos could see a return to Fort Wayne to begin next season (which I think is unlikely given he’s a California Florida kid and April in Fort Wayne is spine-tingling cold).

Among other former Wizards tidbits, he points out that the Padres are pretty happy with Nick Hundley as catcher but may still try to add a veteran presence (such as Brad Ausmus), and Jake Peavy being traded is still a possible scenario if the offer is right.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Hundley, Cuddyer, Macias, Venable

Nick Hundley Gets Ejected

On Tuesday, former Wizards catcher, Nick Hundley received his first MLB ejection after arguing his strikeout with homeplate umpire, Marty Fosterin, the eighth inning. He was replaced by fellow rookie and fellow Wizards alumnus, Luke Carlin.

Michael Cuddyer Still Trying to Return

Minnesotat Twins’ outfielder and former Wizard, Michael Cuddyer took two batting practice sessions on Tuesday and he had his broken left foot re-evaluated. He was given the okay to start running, but he’s still making very slow progress and the chances of a 2008 return are starting to slim.

“We’re just going to let him get well first,” (Ttwins manager, Ron) Gardenhire said. “Maybe when he gets to the point where he can run a little bit, and maybe put a swing on it, then we’ll see what he can do.”

Drew Macias Hits Homer for First MLB Hit

Usually, when a player collects his first Major League hit, you see a player toss the ball to the team’s dugout personnel so it can be saved. But former Wizard, Drew Macias got his first Major League start the other night. He went 3-5 and homered off a first-pitch fastball from Giants RHP Matt Cain during his first at-bat to collect his first MLB hit and home run.

Gary Jones Discusses Cumberland, Zawadski, Kazmar, Blanks & more

MadFriars caught up with Gary Jones, where he talked candidly about the progress of many former Wizards who are still in the Padres system. If you want to know more about Drew Cumberland, Lance Zawadski, Sean Kazmar, Matt Antonelli, Kyle Blanks and Raynar Contreras, this is the read for you (subscription required).

Will Venable Making Most of His Playing Time

Padres center fielder, Jody Gerut has missed a lot of games due to a sprained left middle finger. Will Venable, who is a recent callup, has thrived while getting extra playing time in Gerut’s absence; including a sixth multihit game on Thursday. He’s going to be on the 2009 Opening Day roster IMHO

Padres to Slash Payroll? What it Means for Former Wizards.

With the news that the Padres will release second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and pitcher Brett Tomko to make room for Wade LeBlanc and Matt Antonelli, anyone can see that the Padres are already making plans for next year. This is the latest in a series of moves that have involved bringing minor league talent to the Padres, and many of them have included former Wizards.

I gotta think there will be many more moves in the remaining days of the 2008 season that could spell opportunities for other former Wizards, which should also make for an interesting Spring Training as the prevailing speculation is that the Padres will continue to slash payroll.

As part of a pitch to get Brian Giles to accept a trade to the Red Sox this past week, a Padres executive painted a stark fiscal picture for 2009, saying club owner John Moores might shrink the payroll to $40 million. [SignonSanDiego -August 9, 2008]

GM Kevin Towers denies this claim, but then again, he also hasn’t seen the budget for 2009 yet. Yet, the Padres already field one of the lowest salaried teams in Major League Baseball.

The Padres don’t have any large contracts on the books for ’09; Giles would be their most expensive player at $9MM unless they choose his $3MM buyout.  After that it’s Jake Peavy at $8MM, Khalil Greene at $6.5MM, Chris Young at $4.5MM, and Adrian Gonzalez at $3MM.  By my count they have six arbitration-eligible players, including Josh Bard, Heath Bell, Scott Hairston, and Jody Gerut [MLBTradeRumors.com].

There is also speculation that John Moores’ divorce is a factor that may adversely impact the team.

California is a community property state, which means Becky Moores — the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs.-John — is in play and there already are indications that player payroll will be cut significantly in 2009 (it’s just over $70 million this year). That’s why the Padres already have worked hard to trade Giles and pitcher Greg Maddux this season, positioning themselves for an early start on the payroll-shedding process [CBSSports.com].

Sean Kazmar with the WizardsSo what does this mean for former Wizards who are trying to crack a big league roster? Certainly, the Padres are trying to add by subtracting. There’s the possibility that the Padres may try to move Khalil Greene and his $6.5MM salary, shich might provide a spot for Sean Kazmar, who made his debut just a couple weeks ago. But the rookie is now learning how to play outfield (a la Chase Headley) during this season’s Arizona Fall League. The move could merely be an attempt to get him more at-bats, or it could mean there is nowhere to play Kazmar in the infield.

Kazmar will join the Peoria Saguaros in the AFL with pitchers Greg Burke, Cesar Carillo, Mike Ekstrom, Wilton Lopez, first baseman Kyle Blanks and outfielders Mike Baxter and Chad Huffman. All of them except for Carillo are former Wizards. If Blanks keeps playing the way he has lately, San Diego may have to move him or Adrian Gonzalez or find a place elsewhere on the diamond for one of the two.

Like Kazmar, Brian Joynt, who played third this season with the Wizards before his promotion to Lake Elsinore will see time in the outfield.

Colt Morton with the WizardsBaxter will also get time at an unfamiliar position. The outfielder hit .270 with seven home runs and 47 RBIs at Double-A San Antonio and will get some looks at catcher. This season has seen three different former Wizards serve the backstop role. Luke Carlin and Nick Hundley have seen the most time between the three, which might suggest Colt Morton could be moved to another team during the offseason. the starting catcher, Josh Bard may not be around for 2009 either if the Friars think Carlin and Hundley can do the job.

Longtime closer, Trevor Hoffman has had some troubles while attempting to nail down games this year. There is divided opinion about whether it is time for a change or not. The Portland pitcher who produced the most saves this year, Jared Wells, is now in the Seattle organization (traded earlier this season). That may bring about an opportunity for Greg Burke, who will see action in the AFL and has collected 23 saves at Double-A San Antonio. Lake Elsinore doesn’t have anyone who is ready to fill that void. And while Jackson Quezada collected 27 saves on minimal opportunities in Fort Wayne, that is probably too big of a jump from Low-A to the MLB (but then again, it worked out well for the Royals and Joakim Soria).

Jackson QuezadaAll this should make for an interesting winter and 2009 Spring Training. There should be some names that are familiar to Fort Wayne fans on the San Diego Roster come opening day. The best part is that we have the whole month of September to see some of these great former Wizards make the most of their opportunities. Chase Headley, Will Venable, Wade LeBlanc, Sean Kazmar, Josh Geer, Dirk Hayhurst, Matt Antonelli, Nick Hundley have joined Jake Peavy on the parent club roster and maybe some others will soon follow.

When you factor in the former Wizards who are with other organizations, there have been nine former Wizards to debut at the MLB level. This ranks second only to 2002, which saw 11 prospects (including Jake Peavy and Oliver Perez) hit the big leagues. With about a month to go, I am sure we’ll see at least 3-4 more.

I’m predicting we’ll see Dale Thayer (P-Rays), Brett Dowdy (SS-Padres), David Freese (3B-Cardinals) this season.

It wouldn’t be too surprising to also see Jon Link who had 35 saves with the White Sox’s Double-A Birmingham Barons and was named the Southern League’s Top Reliever of 2009. He was one of 15 players, and the only reliever, named to the league’s post-season All-Star team and was the lone Baron selected. He was one save shy of the league saves record. But given the Sox’s playoff race, he’s probably a 2009 debut.

Anyone else have thoughts on the Padres prospective 2009 squad and/or which prospects we’ll see make their MLB debuts this season (whether they are in the Padres’ system any longer or not)?

Kyle Blanks the Hottest Prospect in Baseball

Former Fort Wayne Wizards first baseman and designated hitter, Kyle Blanks has taken the top spot in Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet:

Why He’s Here: .480/.536/.960 (12-for-25), 3 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBIs, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 SO
The Scoop: It may be a lost season in San Diego, where the Padres have long been out of contention and unloaded Greg Maddux up the street to the Dodgers. But in the Padres system there are some encouraging storylines and they begin with Blanks, the 6-foot-6, 281-pound hoss who was a 2004 draft-and-follow from Yavapai (Ariz.) JC.

Blanks’ big week was highlighted by his 6-RBI, 5-for-7 showing Wednesday against Frisco. In that game, he ripped a double and two home runs, including the walk-off winner in the 12th inning.

Just 21, Blanks owns the eighth-best average (.313) in the Texas League as he has shown he is not a think-homer-first kind of basher. And look at his 91 RBIs. They are second, behind 25-year-old Tommy Everidge’s 108 and ahead of three others who are in their mid-20s. His 140 hits also are third-best in the league and, cementing his status has to be his home average. It’s .328, in a ballpark hardly known to be kind to hitters. Blanks’ defense also has not been lost on Texas League managers, who like his nifty foot work at first base (he’s committed five errors).

Former Wizards center fielder, Cedric Hunter also made the list at number 13 while possible future Wizard (or Fort Wayne player anyway), Jeff Decker landed number 11 for his performance in the Rookie-Level Arizona League.

This list is not a re-ranking of BA’s Top 100 Prospects. It’s a snapshot of who are the hottest prospects in baseball at a given time.

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Blanks, Carlin, Torii Hunter, Carrasco, Chulk, Garrison

  • Kyle Blanks, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound former Wizards first baseman went 5-for-7 for the Double-A San Antonia Missions on Wednesday. He tied a career high with six RBIs and had run-scoring singles in the first and fourth before hitting a two-run shot in the sixth. In the eighth, he doubled (his 20th of the season). Then, he slugged his second home run of the game in the bottom of the 12th to give lead the Missions to a 14-12 win.
  • Josh Bard returned to the Padres from the DL on Friday. To make room on the 25-man roster, former Wizards catcher, Luke Carlin, was optioned to Triple-A Portland. Carlin made his MLB debut earlier in the season and was hitting .154 in 91 at-bats on the season.
  • Torii Hunter still feels strange when facing the Twins, the team with whom he spent the first 15 years of his career.”Hunter’s connection to the Twins can still be felt by the way he speaks about the organization. But with his team chasing the top record in the American League, Hunter wants to pull off as many victories over the Twins as he can right now. Still, he said he’s hoping that the two clubs might perhaps meet up again in the playoffs.”
  • Lots of Wizards related news over at MadFrairs.
    • John Conniff interviews one of my personal favorites, Felix Carrasco and Brad Chulk (subscription required).
    • Padres minor league field coordinator, Tom Gamboa, and Padres vice president of scouting and player development, Grady Fuson, talk about the Padres’ prospects – which include many current and former Wizards players. (subscription required)
  • Speaking of prospects, Padres’ front-office executive, Paul Depodesta talks about this year’s draft picks – both that were signed and those who were not. Hopefully we’ll be seeing many of them come through Fort Wayne real soon (seventh rounder, Adam Zornes is already here).

Fort Fragments (Wizards): Cumberland, Canham, Hundley, Headley, Soria, Blanks, Venable

  • Padres Prospect Interview: Drew Cumberland (subscription required) – MadFirar’s Jon Conniff sits down with the Wizards infielder to discuss his DL stint, playing in the Midwest League, playing the game the right way and what it’s like to have a brother (Shaun Cumberland) who also plays professionally (in the Reds’ farm system).
  • Baseball proves therapeutic for beleaguered Storm catcher – In a season that has seen the Padres use five different catchers (three of them are former Wizards), the one drawing the most attention is one at Lake Elsinore. Mitch Canham, who i n 75 games for the Storm this season, is hitting .291 with five homers, 52 RBIs, 19 doubles and a .404 on-base percentage. Plus, he’s a perfect 9-for-9 in steal attempts. but success has not been one of luck for the former Wizard who has worked hard to overcome many struggles of various types in recent years.
  • Q & A With Nick Hundley – SignOnSanDiego sits down with Nick Hundley, who let’s us know that he is not related to Nick or Todd, how much he loves being a catcher, honing his skills at Portland in the beginning of the season and more.
  • Top 5 with Chase Headley – The Padres outfielder/third baseman runs down the top five things he’s learned about living in San Diego.
  • Soria fitting right in with All-Star idols – Kansas city Royals closer, Joakim Soria‘s short list of influences as Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez. And now, he shared midseason honors with them at the All-Star Game. Great article that talks about the “business” Soria and the “funny guy” Soria in light of a season that has seen him prove that last season was just the beginning to a great career for the Rule-5 pick.
  • Blanks hitting his stride in Double-A (subscription required) – The former Wizards first baseman and DH, Kyle Blanks is enjoying a solid season at Double-A San Antonio (despite rumors that he may be on the trade market). Great plate discipline and the tremendous bat speed has gotten the 21-year-old slugger promoted after every year of professional baseball since being taken in the 42nd-round of the 2005 amateur draft.
  • Patient eye paying off for Venable -Will Venable is showing signs of becoming the type of hitter the Padres want him to be: a “patiently aggressive” hitter who gets a good pitch to hit and unloads on it, but also is willing to fall behind in the count rather than chase iffy pitches. The Triple-A center fielder has batted better than .300 in every month this season. Of greater significance to the Padres, he has started hitting home runs and drawing walks since April, when he had one walk and no homers. My money says we see him with the Padres before the end of the season.
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