Today is a big day in Padreland, capping off a big weekend. On the heels of last night’s 14-1 win and Dierks Bentley concert, the Friars will look to complete the four-game sweep of the Fish this afternoon, following the Trevor Hoffman retirement ceremony. A quick reminder if you are headed to today’s game…be sure to get here early for the pregame ceremony. Plan to be in the seats by 12:30 this afternoon.
The Padres enter today’s series finale looking for their second sweep of the Marlins this season. The Padres have won all six of their matchups against Florida this year. They have claimed each of the last seven dating back to last season and 14 of the last 18 dating back to August 28, 2009.
A quick note on the Padres improved offense since the All-Star break, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau: The Padres scored 14 runs on Saturday, increasing their average of runs per game since the All-Star Game to 5.2, third-highest in the Major Leagues since the break. Prior to the break, San Diego had averaged 3.3 runs per game, the lowest in the Major Leagues. No team has finished in the top three in the Majors in runs per game after the break after being last in that category before the All-Star Game.
Today we introduce another of the Padres top prospects, this time taking a trip to the mound. Meet…Keyvius Sampson.
At 20 years old, Keyvius Sampson (pronounced KEY-vus) is quickly making a name for himself at the minor league level. Currently in this third year in the Padres organization, Sampson is backing up the hype that had the Padres select him in the fourth round of the 2009 Draft out of Florida’s Forest High School.
After signing in 2009, Sampson took to the mound and posted a 3.38 ERA in four appearances (two starts) during his first professional season, split between Rookie-level Peoria and Short-A Eugene. In his second year, Sampson had some success on the hill, but missed time due to soreness in his arm. He went 3-3 in 10 starts, recording a 3.56 ERA (17 ER/43.0 IP) with Eugene.
Feeling like his old self again, the right-handed flame-thrower has spent the entire 2011 campaign with Single-A Fort Wayne. Through 20 starts this season, he has gone 9-2 with a 2.53 ERA (28 ER/99.2 IP), blowing hitters away with an electric fastball.
“Key has an explosive fastball that runs into the mid 90’s that he compliments with a very good change,” says Padres Vice President of Player Development Randy Smith. “Sampson is a good athlete that competes very well.”
Midwest League hitters would agree. Sampson has limiting opponents to a .175 average while striking out nearly 11 hitters per 9.0 innings pitched. He has not allowed an earned run in nine of his 20 starts, including each of his last three outings, and has yet to surrender more than six hits in a game all season.
For more on Sampson, check out this interview with milb.com.
Yesterday was a big day for the Padres as they agreed to terms with three of their top draft selections on the final day of signing. As is customary with the early picks from each year, it came down to the last minute and the Padres landed a bevy of talent to add to their minor league system.
The club yesterday signed right-handed pitcher Joe Ross, selected in the first round, right-handed pitcher Michael Kelly, selected in the compensation round and catcher Austin Hedges, selected in the second round.
When all the dust settled, the Padres signed 26 of their top 27 picks from this year’s draft.
Here is a little bit of info on the newest Padres, straight from the press release:
Ross, 18, was selected 25th overall in the first round by the Padres. The right-hander was selected out of Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, Calif., where he posted a 0.83 ERA and 95 strikeouts over 67.2 innings during his senior campaign.
Kelly, 18, was selected 48th overall in the compensation round (for right-handed pitcher Jon Garland). He was selected out of West Boca Community High School (FL). The right-hander played in the 2010 Aflac All-American Baseball Classic at PETCO Park.
Hedges, 18, was the Padres’ second-round selection out of Junipero Serra High School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The right-handed hitter was rated as the 12th-best position player prospect in the 2011 draft class by Baseball America, as well as one of the best defensive catchers.
Continuing our Future Friar series, today we take a look at one of the Padres top hitting prospects. In just his second year of professional baseball, he is clubbing his way through the minor league system. Meet…Jedd Gyorko.
Gyorko (pronounced JERK-oh), was born in September 23, 1988 (age 22) in Morgantown, West Virginia. He graduated from University High School before attending West Virginia University, where he majored in business management.
The Padres signed Gyorko as a second round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft and he has been terrorizing opposing pitchers ever since. The third baseman hit .302 in his first professional season, splitting his time between Short-A Eugene (26 games) and Single-A Fort Wayne (42 games). He knocked 17 doubles and seven home runs while driving in 41 and scoring 35 runs.
His stellar debut proved to be just the start as he has improved upon those numbers in 2011. In 119 games this year between High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio, Gyorko has hit .333 with a .403 OBP and .559 SLG. The slugger has tallied 40 doubles, two triples and 22 home runs and has already driven in 97 with 102 runs scored.
He began the year at Lake Elsinore, where he hit safely in 69 of 81 games before earning a promotion to San Antonio. With the Storm, he tallied 38 multi-hit games, including 25 two-hit games, nine three-hit games, three four-hit games and one five-hit performance. In the middle of an 11-game hitting streak from June 6-17, Gyorko tallied nine consecutive multi-hit games, hitting .558 over the nine-game stretch.
“Jedd has great hands and feet with a knack for putting the barrel on the ball,” says Padres Vice President of Player Development Randy Smith. ” He is a good defender but it often gets overshadowed because of his bat.”
In 80 games at third base this season, Gyorko has posted a .954 fielding percentage, committing just 11 errors in 238 chances. He has split his time between the hot corner and designated hitter, appearing in 80 games at third.
His performance at Lake Elsinore this year landed him on the California League All-Star team. He led the Cal League to a 6-1 win over the Carolina League and was named the game’s MVP. In their recent Tools Survey, Baseball America rated Gyorko as the California League’s best batting prospect.
Aaron Harang was recognized by the Reds prior to tonight’s game for his contributions to the Cincinnati community. He spent the previous eight years pitching in Cincy before joining the Padres in 2011. Thanks for the Reds for providing photography of the ceremony.
You’ve heard it ever since Jed Hoyer and his team took the reins down here at PETCO Park: The key to winning in San Diego is drafting and developing players who will make an impact at the Major League level. As we approach two years into Hoyer’s tenure, the Padres minor league system has vastly improved, ranking as the eighth strongest this year according to Baseball America (compared to 29th two years ago).
The talent behind this improvement is getting closer and closer to PETCO Park. In an attempt to make sure you know who these guys are when they get here, we will be profiling some of the Padres top prospects over the next few days. Today…meet James Darnell.
Darnell, born January 19, 1987 (age 24), played his collegiate ball at the University of South Carolina before he was signed by the Padres as a second-round selection (69th overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He has slugged his way through the Padres minor league system, already seeing action at Short-A Eugene, Single-A Fort Wayne, Advanced-A Lake Elsinore, Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson before making his Major League debut this week.
He earned his promotion by hitting a combined .317 with a .415 oBP and .573 SLG between San Antonio and Tucson this year, belting 23 homers. He obliterated Texas League pitching, hitting safely in 57 of 76 games with 24 two-hit games, six three-hit games and one four-hit game. He hit over .300 against both lefties and righties in the TL and has hit a combined .406 against lefties between San Antonio and Tucson this year.
A third baseman by trade, Darnell has also seen time in the outfield in 2011. He has posted a .935 fielding percentage at the hot corner this year, committing just 11 errors in 170 chances.
Darnell’s success at the plate 2011 has been recognized outside of the organization as he was named to the 2011 US Futures Team and Texas League All-Star Team, where he was selected as the game’s MVP after knocking a two-run homer.
Over his four seasons in the Padres system, Darnell has hit a combined .304 (399-for-1313) with 95 doubles, seven triples, 56 home runs, 229 RBI, 220 runs scored, a .404 OBP and .515 SLG. He was named the Padres Minor League Player of the Year following his 2009 performance (split between Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore).
Darnell was a college teammate of 2008 first-round picks Justin Smoak and Reese Havens at the University of South Carolina.