Here's the slate of Padres Affiliates who begin their season on April 8, 2010, some notes on the games and some prospects I'm following closely because either this year is key for them or they are top prospects that I hope to see progressing towards the majors:
Sacramento RiverCats @ Portland Beavers 7:05 PST
Notes: Both Mazzaro and LeBlanc have major league experience. Portland's Aaron Cunningham, Eric Munson, Ryan Webb and Chris Denorfia all played last year as RiverCats at some point. OF Luis Durango and INF Lance Zawadzki of the Beavers are beginning their first full seasons in AAA. Look for Mark Worrell to make his return to games that count after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.
Beaver Prospects I'm Following Closely: OF Luis Durango,OF Aaron Cunningham, INF Lance Zawadzki, 2B Matt Antonelli, P Wade LeBlanc, P Will Inman and P Cesar Carrillo.
San Antonio Missions @ Northwest Arkansas Naturals 4:00 PST
Nathaniel Culp (L) vs Aaron Crow (R)
Notes: Aaron Crow was a two time first round pick who did not sign with the Nationals the first time and then was later drafted by the Royals. He is making his professional debut in this game. Both Culp and Crow attended the University of Missouri. Culp was 8-9 with 4.21 ERA for San Antonio in 2009. He was a 4th round pick by the Padres in 2006. 3B James Darnell, OF Brad Chalk, 1B Matt Clark, C Luis Martinez, SS Buster Weems, P Simon Castro, P Jeremy Hefner, P Craig Italiano, P Bryan Oland and P Wynn Pelzer of the Missions are making the AA debuts, although Castro, Hefner and Pelzer are SPs and will start in future games.
High Desert Mavericks @ Lake Elsinore Storm 7:05 PST
Jacob Wild (R) vs Anthony Bass (R)
Notes: Lake Elsinore is inheriting many of the players that contributed to Fort Wayne's Midwest League Championship last year including the starting pitcher Anthony Bass who began 2009 with the Tin Caps. The Storm roster includes two Padres 1st round picks in LHP Nick Schmidt and 1B Allen Dykstra. Schmidt is repeating with the High A affiliate as he still works his way back from Tommy John surgery. Dykstra is rejoining the Storm after being a part of their playoff push in 2008 and then playing with the Tin Caps in 2009. C Roberto Lara, 1B Cody Decker, SS Drew Cumberland, INF Vince Belnome, OF Dan Robertson, OF Blake Tekotte, P Nick Schumaker, P Jorge Reyes, P Alexis Lara, P Zachary Herr, P Chris Fetter, P Erik Davis, and P Brad Brach of the Storm are playing their first year of High A ball. Top Prospect OF Jaff Decker will join the team later in the year and make his High A debut.
Storm Prospects I'm Following Closely: 1B Allen Dykstra, SS Drew Cumberland, INF Vince Belnome, OF Dan Robertson, OF Blake Tekotte, OF Jaff Decker, P Nick Schmidt, P Anthony Bass, P Chris Fetter and P Erik Davis.
Bowling Green Hot Rods @ Fort Wayne Tin Caps 4:05 PST
Alexander Colome (R) vs Nick Greenwood (L)
Notes: The defending Midwest League champs get a mostly brand new roster this year, but to the naked eye it looks almost as talented as last year's. The infield is what baseball prospect dreams are made of with 6'7" 1B Nate Freiman and a 3 piece set of athletic Dominicans who can't legally drink alcohol in 2B Jeudy Valdez, SS Jonathan Galvez and 3B Edinson Rincon. The Padres 2009 second round pick OF Everett Williams patrols CF flanked by speedster Bo Davis and the toolsy hitting machine Rymer Liriano. 2009 Padres 5th round pick Jason Hagerty and U of Miami standout puts on the tools of ignorance along with Griffen Benedict who was the Padres 2009 16th round pick and son of former major league All Star Bruce Benedict. The pitching staff has Nick Greenwood starting opening day who helped Fort Wayne down the stretch last year after dominating with the short season Eugene Emeralds. The rotation also features Dexter Carter who came in the Jake Peavy deal, Michael Watt who came over in the Greg Maddux deal and Padres 2009 3rd round pick Jerry Sullivan out of Oral Roberts. The Hot Rods pitcher, Colome, is one of the Tampa Bay Rays' top prospects, which is impressive given the depth of the Rays' minor league talent.
Tin Caps Prospects I'm Following Closely: Pretty much the entire roster. It's a very talented team.