Monday, August 17, 2009

Upbeat day for Padres

Lots of encouraging developments for the Padres today.

I'll have more later on the team's fruitful negotiations with its top draft picks. The moves reflect well on new CEO Jeff Moorad on several levels, starting with his decision last spring to empower Padres scouts, who believed in prep stars such as Donavan Tate, Everett Williams and Keyvius Sampson but knew each was going to cost more money than the Padres usually pay at those draft slots.

Put it this way, Padres hardcore fans should plan on going to Peoria, Ariz, later this summer to see Tate, Williams and Sampson. The Padres considered each of them a first-round talent.

Hat's off to Padres area scout Tim Holt, who was convinced that the club should draft Williams, a hitter who some rate above Tate. I know of three American League clubs that graded Williams as a first-round talent but had concerns about signing him. Sampson, meantime, has been clocked up to 96 miles-per-hour.

The Padres should allow fans into Petco Park earlier this week, so they can watch these guys hit. I'm hearing Tate will take batting practice with the Padres on Tuesday, followed by Williams on Wednesday. Both outfielders were graded as highly athletic.

Here's some more good news, from Padres pitcher Chris Young, who had arthroscopic surgery to resolve a shoulder impingement.

"Surgery went very well. They found the problem and fixed it without having to repair anything structurally. I was relieved to know that: a) it was a problem that would not have gone away with rest; and b) that it was a minor fix which should allow me to make a full recovery."

Young's friend Randy Wolf, coming off a similar procedure, is giving the Dodgers a strong season. If Young can regain his typical fastball -- 88-90 miles-per-hour -- he should be fine because he has so much deception, especially when working high in the strikezone. Look at what Phillies rookie J.A. Happ -- a pitcher who interested the Padres last offseason -- is doing with medium-speed fastballs, often thrown beween the belt and neck. Many hitters struggle against deceptive, high fastballs, even those clocked under 92 mph.

The Padres will need to go slowly with Young. Even when he was healthy, he usually needed until late May or June to fully build up.

Young's return should help Mat Latos, who hasn't seen Young prepare for a game that counts. No one is more focused on game day.