Christmas in February

Today is one of the greatest days of the year for minor-league baseball sickos like me. The Baseball America Prospect Handbook came in the mail. I’ll spare you all the explanations, because it’s pretty self-explanatory. Fort Wayne alums in bold, guys who have yet to play at the Class-A level (read: potential future TinCaps) in italics.

Padres’ Top 30
1. Donovan Tate, of
2. Simon Castro, rhp
3. James Darnell, 3b
4. Jaff Decker, of
5. Logan Forsythe, 3b
6. Cory Luebke, lhp
7. Wynn Pelzer, rhp
8. Everett Williams, rhp
9. Edinson Rincon, 3b
10. Aaron Poreda, lhp
11. Drew Cumberland, ss
12. Keyvius Sampson, rhp
13. Adys Portillo, rhp
14. Rymer Liriano, of
15. Lance Zawadzki, ss/3b
16. Kellen Kulbacki, of
17. Blake Tekotte, of
18. Jeremy Hefner, rhp
19. Jerry Sullivan, rhp
20. Craig Italiano, rhp
21. Chad Huffman, of/1b
22. Jorge Reyes, rhp
23. Cedric Hunter, of
24. Ryan Webb, rhp
25. Luis Durango, of
26. Cesar Ramos, lhp
27. Matt Antonelli, 2b
28. Dexter Carter, rhp
29. Matt Clark, 1b
30. Cole Figueroa, ss/2b

Best Tools
Hitter for Average – Jaff Decker
Power Hitter – Matt Clark
Strike Zone Discipline – Logan Forsythe
Fastest Baserunner – Luis Durango
Athlete – Donovan Tate
Fastball – Wynn Pelzer
Curveball – Keyvius Sampson
Slider – Wynn Pelzer
Changeup – Jeremy Hefner
Control – Chris Fetter
Defensive Catcher – Luis Martinez
Defensive Infielder – Beamer Weems
Infield Arm – Lance Zawadzki
Defensive Outfielder – Donovan Tate
Outfield Arm – Rymer Liriano

Projected 2013 Lineup
Catcher – Nick Hundley
First Base – Adrian Gonzalez
Second Base – James Darnell
Third Base – Chase Headley
Shortstop – Everth Cabrera
Left Field – Kyle Blanks
Center Field – Donovan Tate
Right Field – Jaff Decker
No. 1 Starter – Mat Latos
No. 2 Starter – Simon Castro
No. 3 Starter – Chris Young
No. 4 Starter – Kevin Correia
No. 5 Starter – Cory Luebke
Closer – Wynn Pelzer

Lots to digest here. Of the top 30 prospects, only 4 have played above Class-A without playing in Fort Wayne. Forsythe just didn’t come here (skipped to Lake Elsinore; we got James Darnell instead), Poreda, Italiano and Webb came over in trades. Sounds to me like the Padres have treated Fort Wayne pretty well lately.

As far as the top prospects in baseball, three writers ranked their personal Top 50s. Tate was in two of the three writers’ lists. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played in a professional game yet. Also, the Padres are ranked the No. 20 system in baseball, up from their No. 29 ranking last year.

I really don’t have any complaints about the list. It was tough to see Allan Dykstra go from No. 8 a year ago to off the Top 30, but he can re-establish himself with a big year in the California League in 2010. It was also pretty crazy to see Tate as the Padres’ starting center fielder for 2013 considering he hasn’t been in a pro game yet, but if people think he’s that good I’ll believe it until I see otherwise.

These rankings got me thinking about the top 10 players I’ve seen in my three years working in the Minor Leagues. I’ll have that list for you on Monday and, just to be clear, ranking prospects is incredibly tough. After the top two, just about everybody is interchangeable. Also on Monday I’ll have a picture that will make you insanely jealous.

Now to the football… Sunday is the Super Bowl. If you haven’t seen (and chances are you have), TinCaps food czar Bill “The Polish Rifle” Lehn is in Miami working on the food and beverage staff. I talked to him the other day and he told me it was 82 degrees and sunny. I didn’t hear if he was still working out on a daily basis, but if he eats as much as I would on a trip like that, his lead in TinCaps Biggest Loser could evaporate quickly.

Anyway, as a Browns fan I feel like a pretty neutral observer for the game on Sunday. As much as I would like to pick the Saints to win the game, I think it’s the Colts all the way. Let’s say 35-21, and it won’t be as close as the score.

What I’m most concerned about on Sunday is what I’m dubbing “Cat Bowl II.” For the second consecutive year, Chris Watson and his lovely wife Jamie are hosting a get-together. Last year, their cat (we’ll call her Angry Basket Cat) decided it would be hilarious to sit in a basket right next to me on the couch and then fling “waste” at me while climbing out of said basket. I am a staunch believer that the worst dog in the universe is better than the best cat of all-time, so you can imagine my frustration at the whole situation. Well, we’ve crossed paths a couple of times over the past year and Sunday is the official re-match. I won’t make a prediction for this titanic struggle, but Clubber Lang will. Get ready, Angry Basket Cat.

OK… It’s time to get out of here. It’s snowing outside and I still have some things to do. Here’s your musical guest, Mr. Conway Twitty!

Have a great weekend!


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