Saturday, July 25, 2009

Signs of life down below

In weeks ahead, I'll write about several prospects among Padres minor leaguers. I'll also revisit the top-10 prospects story I wrote on the farm system last December

Here, I'll present a few statistics the system is generating as a whole.

Let's start with the hitters. I like to say that when a Padres minor leaguer draws a walk, an angel gets its wings. That's what the Padres seem to believe. Anyway, the Padres are again staffing the heavens with seraphim. As an aside, if you like poetry that's accessible, read Questions about Angels by Billy Collins. Dude's a madman, but a lucid one.

Naturally, Padres minor leaguers are first in walks per plate appearance. No wonder, then, that the system is also first in on-base percentage. But there's heft to the body of work. The lads are fifth in slugging, eight spots better than last year. Hence a combined on-base and slugging percentage (OPS) that's second among the 30 systems. Third in batting average and fourth in both runs per game and RBI per plate appearance, the system is having a strong year with the bat.

What's more, a typical Padres minor leaguer now actually can run faster than Herman Munster; the system is 14th in stolen bases per plate appearance, one year after finishing last.

The pitchers are having a good year, too. True to the organizational mantra -- pound the strikezone -- the six staffs combined are third in walks per inning.

Tenth in overall ERA, the pitchers are also in the top third in home runs per inning (eighth) and strikeouts per inning (10th).

I'm told that, starting in 2007, the Padres selected more for strikeout potential, and it's evident with their pitching staff at Fort Wayne, a low-A club in Indiana. The staff was the first among the minors' 180 clubs to amass 401 strikeouts. For that feat the pitchers were given a trophy by a firm that invests 401K funds.

If it's the same company that "managed" my 401K, the trophy soon will implode.

The system's 253-222 record, good for a .533 win rate, is fourth among the 30.

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