One of the most potent bats in the upper minors this year belongs to San Diego Padres outfielder Jaff Decker. Although a mild recent slump has lowered his batting average slightly for Double-A San Antonio in the Texas League, he’s already hit 10 homers and has drawn 25 walks, giving him an overall .292/.429/.664 line. His 1.092 OPS is a full 40 percent better than the current Texas League OPS, testimony to his dominance.
Lake Elsinore outfielder Reymond Fuentes entered exclusive company at the 2009 Draft, becoming the sixth Puerto Rican player ever taken in the first round — and the first since 2000 — when the Boston Red Sox chose him 28th overall.
This was supposed to be the year that Mat Latos announced his presence with authority. The young right-hander with more heat than an Arizona summer was tabbed by San Diego Padres manager Bud Black to lead the rotation and help the Friars duplicate the magic of 2010. Six starts into the new season, San Diego is still waiting for last season’s Latos to show up. Their fear should be that he already has.
Bullpens don’t get much better than the one the Padres had last year. Led by Heath Bell, Mike Adams and Luke Gregerson, Padres relievers combined for over 500 innings of 2.81 ERA ball, averaging more than one strikeout per inning while allowing the fewest walks per frame of any MLB bullpen. But the Padres had weaknesses elsewhere and teams were interested in San Diego’s relievers, so GM Jed Hoyer faced a decision last offseason.