In the middle of the Arizona Fall League, Padres prospect Jaff Decker took time to tell a little bit of his story and what he’s working on heading into the 2012 campaign. Check out the video from MLB.com:
A native of Peoria, AZ, Decker grew up just down the street from the Padres Spring Training Complex. He was selected by the Friars with the 48th overall selection in the 2008 draft and has hit .273 with a .411 on-base percentage and .475 slugging percentage over his four seasons in the Padres system.
He reached Double-A for the first time last year, helping the San Antonio Missions to the 2011 Texas League championship.
So far with the Peoria Javelinas this Fall League, Decker is hitting a monstrous .500 (11-for-22) with four walks. He has posted a .593 on-base percentages, having reached safely in 16 of his 27 plate appearances.
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.
Earlier today, Orlando Hudson visited the Malcolm X Library in Valencia Park and read to kids during storytime. The library received a one thousand dollar grant as part of the visit. The next trip will take place on Tuesday, August 16 at the San Diego County Library’s San Marcos Branch (#2 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos, 92069) with a player to be announced.
Following today’s series and trip finale in Philadelphia, the Padres return home for a nine-game homestand against three NL West division opponents (Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles). Here is who the Friars are scheduled to face over the first two series of that stretch:
ARIZONA (7/26-28): LHP Joe Saunders, RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Daniel Hudson
COLORADO (7/29-31): RHP Jason Hammel, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP Juan Nicasio
The Padres are 7-7 combined against the Diamondbacks and Rockies so far this year, including a 3-3 mark at PETCO Park. Remember to pick up your free issue of the Blueprint. Here is a preview of this homestand’s cover:
The Padres are wearing their 1983 jerseys today. The jerseys have had patches added in memory of former manager Dick Williams, who passed away on July 7.
The Padres’ manager from 1982-85, Williams led the Friars to a 337-311 record and .520 winning percentage over four years, finishing at .500 or better each season. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, in 2007 and to the Padres Hall of Fame in 2009.
Williams managed parts of 21 seasons in the Big Leagues, including stints with the Boston Red Sox (1967-69), Oakland Athletics (1971-73), California Angels (1974-76), Montreal Expos (1977-81), Padres (1982-85) and Seattle Mariners (1986-88). He posted a .520 career winning percentage (1,571-1,451), advancing to the postseason five times.
Primarily an outfielder, Williams played parts of 13 seasons at the Major League level with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1951-54, 1956), Baltimore Orioles (1956-57, 1958, 1961-62), Cleveland Indians (1957), Kansas City Athletics (1959-60) and Boston Red Sox (1963-64). He appeared in 1,023 games, hitting .260 (768-for-2,959) with 157 doubles, 12 triples, 70 home runs, 331 RBI and 358 runs scored.
Chase Headley is tearing it up this road trip, hitting .533 (16-for-30) with four doubles. Last night marked his third four-hit game of the trip. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, last MLB player before Headley with at least three games of four or more hits on one road trip was (former Padre) Marcus Giles for the Braves in 2003. Atlanta had a brief road trip of four games (a four-game series in Montreal) and Giles had three four-hit games in that series.
The Padres will look to turn the tide tonight with Mat Latos taking the hill. He was slated to face Josh Beckett, who has been scratched due to illness. RHP Alfredo Aceves will start in his place. Tonight’s game will be Latos’ fifth career Interleague start. He is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA (7 ER/25.2 IP) in his four previous outings against the American League.
In other news from Boston, it has been a busy homecoming for General Manager Jed Hoyer. He was swarmed by media on the field prior to last night’s series opener:
The Padres made a bunch of roster moves today, including adding Anthony Rizzo to the lineup and recalling outfielder Will Venable. Here is tonight’s lineup, with Rizzo slated to make his Major League debut:
For more on Rizzo, check out this piece by MLB.com’s Corey Brock.
A little rain can’t stop this gnome!
Reminder, the Padres Garden Gnomes will be given away on the next homestand on Saturday, June 4 during the Padres 5:35 pm game agains the Astros. Check out more information here: http://www.padres.com/gnome
Congrats to the winners of our first photo contest. Take a look at the winning submissions below.
First, our grand prize goes to Luke and Brant. Luke (left) decided to celebrate his sixth birthday by going to his first Padres game with his friend (and dad, of course).
Our first runner up is Justin, who came to the May 19 game and got a shot with the Aztec band. I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!
And finally, our second runner up is David, who sent in this artsy shot of Luke Gregerson watching the game from the bullpen.
It’s as simple as that, folks. Come to a game, take a picture, come to another game on us. Keep an eye out for our next contest. Got an idea for a good contest? Leave a comment with your thoughts.