Three for the Show: Right Fielders
This is the eighth (is this thing still going?!) in a ten-part series where I will identify the top three players at each position in the Padres’ minor league system. Up next: Right Field.
Please excuse any typos that may occur in this article, as teardrops are continuously falling into my keyboard as I type this piece. In case you’re wondering why that may be, it’s because of this. I’m starting to think it’s time for the Padres organization to mandate that every top prospect in the system be required to have their ulnar collateral ligament removed as early as possible in their career. Let’s just get it out of the way now so we don’t have to deal with it when they’re on the verge of making the bigs. Seriously, though, is anyone looking into this problem? Okay, rant over.
So, it’s moot for this season, but Rymer Liriano is still worth a line or two here. Prior to his injury, Liriano probably had the biggest potential of any player in the Padres system, especially after his strong showing in the Arizona Fall League as a 21-year old. He hit .319/.376/.505 against some of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Signed at 17, he’s had a whopping 5 seasons of experience, sporting: .270/.338/.419. The numbers aren’t off the charts, but the potential could be. He has the tools and the frame to be an everyday regular and the potential to be an all-star.
Shifting to guys actually playing this year, let’s not overlook Sawyer Carroll. He’s likely someone you haven’t heard much of (if at all), but you should. In the five seasons since being drafted in the 18th round out of Kentucky, Carroll has done nothing but be consistently solid, owning a career line of: .274/.361/.432. Other prospects grab the hype, but Carroll continues to produce. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him get his cup this year, especially if injuries play a role. The team likely views him as a 4th OF, but with Tekotte gone, Carroll and his lefty stick might be a regular on the Tucson Express.
Jaff Decker is the guy who will have lots of eyeballs on him this season. Decker was a pretty hot commodity after a .262/.374/.500 season in Lake Elsinore as a 20 year old in 2010. He put up decent numbers the following season in AA San Antonio, though AVG and SLG took some dips. Then, the injury bug struck last season, limiting him to only 223 PAs. Overall, in 5 seasons, he’s compiled a line of: .264/.406/.459. Obviously the OBP and SLG are really interesting, especially taken together. His frame (5’10” 190) leads people to believe he’s not athletic enough for RF, but in all reality he’s athletic and smooth in the field and has a strong arm. For Decker, it’s a matter of finding his rhythm at the plate and getting a full season in again. Reports from Spring Training indicate that he looks healthy and ready to produce. This will be a pivotal season for Decker’s development and track to the bigs.
Justin Miller is another name worth noting. Drafted in the 30th round of the 2011 draft, Miller has produced in his two seasons: .313/.389/.452. He’s seen four leagues already and hasn’t been daunted by any of them. Granted, he was 23 in Low-A last season, but the numbers are still worth watching. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops against better pitching in AA.
Some drama and plenty of interest at this position for the Padres and their system.