The San Diego Padres are ready to give center field prospect Blake Tekotte a shot in the Majors. Tekotte, a patient center fielder with speed and some pop, was ranked #158 in my top 175 prospects list. The ranking was a bit higher than most but nowhere near as high as the optomistic Adam Foster who was the only one I saw that had him in their top 100.
Tekotte, a 3rd round pick out of the University of Miami, has played very well in the minors but has been a bit old at each level. After hitting .250/.324/448 in Double-A last year he got to repeat the level this year and was hitting .294/.416/.490 with 6 homeruns, 14 stolen bases, and a 26:31 BB:k rate in 175 plate appearances. The Padres obviously thought this was good enough to warrant a Major League call up one day before his 24th birthday; what a nice birthday present.
Tekotte is a very good defensive center fielder with lots of speed and good instincts. He’s a perfect fit for the cavernous outfield in PETCO. His speed is a valuable asset on offense as well. Tekotte has 79 stolen bases in 346 career games in the minors and has only grounded into 9 double plays in 1555 career PAs. Tekotte has been caught stealing 35 times but only twice this year in 16 attempts.
Tekotte is very patient, walking in 11.8% of his career PAs, but has also struck out in 21.1% of his at-bats. Not an alarming rate but a bit high for a guy that profiles as a potential leadoff candidate. Tekotte has decent pop but could benefit from shortening his stroke a bit according to Steve Carter. From video I have seen, Tekotte keeps his hands back really well but, like Foster mentions, he has some loft to his swing that might not translate really well to the Major League level.
Keith Law’s assessment from a May 17th chat sounds close to what I see:
I think his upside is an average regular in CF, actually. Not a star, and probably just a fourth guy, but could be more than that.
I never saw Tekotte as a star and has more of a chance at being a 4th outfielder than a star but I do see him as a potential 2.0-3.0 fWAR guy even if he hits only .250 thanks to the speed, defense, and patience. There really is no projection left in Tekotte, he is what you see, a patient center fielder who can handle the position very well and the Padres will gladly take that.
The corresponding move has not been announced yet and talking with Padres bloggers The Sac Bunt and Mickey Koke we were left wondering if it’s trip to the disabled list for Cameron Maybin or if Will Venable is getting benched. Having Tekotte and Maybin lessens the value of each since both are true center fielders with Maybin posting a +3.7 UZR and 1.6 fWAR so far this season but the black hole in right field could be helped by another center fielder. The outfield gets even more crowded, though, with Ryan Ludwick (+3.5 UZR and 1.1 fWAR) and Venable (+1.2 UZR) performing well on defense and Chris Denorfia (-1.5 UZR and 0.7 fWAR) performing well with the stick. Eric Patterson seems like the most logical cut since he has a -1.6 UZR and is hitting .200/.300/.350 in 71 PAs and Mickey Koke agrees but The Sac Bunt believes Venable needs the playing time to figure things out and he won’t get them as a 5th outfielder.
To me, the best case scenario is that they sign Russell Branyan and part with Patterson and send Venable to Triple-A. They have plenty of outfield depth with Tekotte, Maybin, Ludwick, and Denorfia and they Padres could use the power that Branyan would supply while allowing Venable time to figure things out in Triple-A.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis, On the Farm - Prospects Tagged: | Blake Tekotte, Cameron Maybin, Chris Denorfia, Padres, Prospects, Russell Branyan, Ryan Ludwick, San Diego Padres, University of Miami, Will Venable