Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another left fielder?

Within a Padres farm system that's a consensus top-3 outfit according to farm-ologists of repute, a flawed prospect can get lost and, heck, might even disappear if he piles up 106 errors in 232 games.

Edinson Rincon's headaches as a third baseman notwithstanding, the 21-year-old bears watching as he heads toward his sixth -- yep, sixth -- professional season. "He's a sleeper," says farm director Randy Smith.

Smith acknowledges Rincon may be moved to left field, depending on how the dominoes fall.

It's a growing Padres trend, this booting of prospects who are corner infielders (some in name only) to left field. Chase Headley, whose best position is third base, went with gritted teeth to left a few years ago, followed by the first baseman Kyle Blanks. Next may be the Triple-A third baseman James Darnell, who isn't the most accurate of throwers and has Headley blocking him and third baseman Jedd Gyorko, a consensus Top 100 prospect, looming nearby. With the Padres also considering their starting left fielder Carlos Quentin for a contractual extension, seemingly the last need this organization has is for another left fielder in the pipeline.

Too many promising hitters on the farm, however, wouldn't be a problem for the Padres or any other organization. Rincon's righty bat intrigues the Padres, no less so after the four hits in seven at-bats in Cactus League play this month.

"This dude, he can flat out swing it," Smith says.

The Padres know Rincon almost like a son, having employed him since Smith and scout Felix Francisco signed him out of the Dominican Republic in May 2007. Smith finds him "highly intelligent," says he "works like crazy."

His statistics don't yet tell deep stories, as Rincon hasn't reached Double-A. Consider them a conversation starter: .283 batting average, .367 on-base percentage, 86 doubles and 30 home runs in 1,318 at-bats.

Because he's stronger than most of his age peers, the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is known as "El Toro." (The Bull.)

"I think he's going to be a huge bat," says Smith.

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