Injuries slowing Padres' top prospects

Injuries slowing Padres' top prospects

Injuries slowing Padres' top prospects
SAN DIEGO -- Much like with the current Major League roster, injuries this season have felled a handful of the Padres' top Minor League prospects, though several are still making inroads toward reaching the big leagues.

Of the Padres' top 20 prospects, as selected by MLB.com, pitchers Casey Kelly (No. 1), Robbie Erlin (6), Joe Ross (9) and Juan Pablo Oramas (13), outfielder Jaff Decker (12) and infielder/outfielder James Darnell (17) are currently on the disabled list.

That said, several players in the system, regarded by many as the top farm system in all of baseball, are progressing toward reaching the Major Leagues.

Infielder Jedd Gyorko, who started the season with Double-A San Antonio, was promoted to Triple-A Tucson last month and continues to swing the bat well. Gyorko, a second-round pick in 2010, is hitting .364 with six home runs, 21 RBIs and 32 hits in his first 20 games for Tucson.

There's a good chance that Gyorko, the fourth-best prospect according to MLB.com, could make it to San Diego at some point this season.

For several other Padres prospects, they're at least a year or two away from reaching the big leagues, including many who comprised the 2011 Draft class.

"The Draft class is progressing nicely. The guys at the top of the Draft are performing and some later-round guys are as well," said Randy Smith, the Padres' vice president of player development and international scouting.

Second baseman Cory Spangenberg, who was the 10th overall selection in 2010, signed early and got a jump on his professional career. That allowed him to start this season at high-Class A Lake Elsinore of the California League.

After a slow April, Spangenberg has his batting average up to .303 with a .387 on-base percentage. He already has 20 stolen bases and has been good defensively for the Storm.

There was a lot to like about the Padres' 2010 Draft class, including catcher Austin Hedges, a second-round pick with advanced defensive skills who only slipped that far because of a very strong college commitment to UCLA.

Hedges, the eighth-best prospect in the system according to MLB.com, is hitting .266 with five home runs and 25 RBIs for Class A Fort Wayne. Hedges has been selected to play in the Midwest League All-Star Game.

Hedges' teammate in Fort Wayne, shortstop Jace Peterson, the 58th overall pick in 2011, was selected to play in the Midwest All-Star Game as well. Peterson, the Padres' 18th-best prospect, is hitting .304 with a .399 on-base percentage.

"He thinks that he's going to succeed all the time," Smith said. "He's an exciting player. He figures out a way to do something."

The Fort Wayne team is loaded with prospects, including pitcher Cody Hebner, a fourth-round pick from 2011. Hebner is 5-2 with a 3.79 ERA in his first 11 starts for the TinCaps.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.