2008 – Arizona Padres (Arizona Rookie League – Padres Rookie) – 49 games
- 5 HR, 34 RBI, 9 stolen bases
- 55 walks, 36 strikeouts
2008 – Eugene (Northwest League – Padres Short-Season A) – 3 games
- 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
2009 – Fort Wayne (Midwest League – Padres Single-A) – 104 games
- 16 HR, 64 RBI, 10 stolen bases
- 85 walks, 92 strikeouts
Baseball America – #4 (SD – 2010)
Baseball Prospectus – #5 (SD – 2009) – 3 star
John Sickels – #4 (SD – 2010) – B
Jaff (pronounced Jeff) Decker was drafted in the supplemental round of the 2008 amateur draft, and signed very quickly to get his pro career started. He definitely didn’t disappoint, posting a .352/.523/.541 line with the Padres’ Arizona rookie league team in 49 games. He followed this up with another solid season, posting a .299/.442/.514 line with 16 HR and 64 RBI.
Decker has a very smooth swing, and I have to imagine he will develop more power. While I don’t think he’s going to necessarily be an elite power hitter (think 40+ a season), I could definitely see him being a solid power hitter. A comparison was made to John Kruk (based entirely on his body shape I imagine), but after looking at some of Kruk’s stats, I think this could actually be a pretty decent comparison. Kruk finished with a .300/.397/.446 career line, and based on his average to this point, and was really well known for his plate discipline. Decker’s plate discipline is excellent, as he posted a 18.7% walk rate in 2009. I would want to see him cut down slightly on his strikeouts to really be a good average hitter, but I think that he’ll improve that over time.
Decker has been mentioned to have a bit of a weight problem, as the team asked him to lose weight prior to the start of the 2009 season. As a 19 year old, he was 5’11″ and 220 pounds. Obviously a concern to the Padres front office, I can see why this could prove a problem long-term. At 19 years old, he’s unlikely to be done growing, both due to age, and also due to more conditioning and weight-lifting that is likely as he goes through the minors.
From the same article: “I’ve always been big,” said Decker, who signed for $892,000 after the Padres drafted him 42nd overall. “I can slim down a little bit, but I’ve always been like this, and it’s never held me back from succeeding. It’s just I’ve always had a little extra (weight). My dad’s a big guy. He’s not fat, but he’s just big-chested, with big shoulders.”
Decker spent nearly the entire season playing left field, and that seems likely to be his position long-term as well. This actually bodes well for Decker in my opinion, as the Padres are really very thin in the outfield. At the Majors, they have Kyle Blanks playing LF, mostly because they have Adrian Gonzalez at 1B. Most of the minor league options appear to be either even farther away than Decker, or with a much lower ceiling.
Decker is still probably at least 3 years away in my opinion, especially since the Padres really have no good reasons to rush Decker through the system. I really like his plate discipline, and think he probably develops enough power to have some 20 homer seasons in the Majors. He still profiles as a left fielder, which means his bat is going to need to be that much better to hold down that spot in the Majors. However, I do think his will translate just fine. I think he trends to spend 2010 split between High-A and AA, with 2011 spent at AA, and 2012 at AAA before really earning a shot at the Majors in 2013.
Prediction for 2010
.305/.395/.495, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 8 stolen bases (High-A and AA)
2013. At which point he’ll still only be 23 years old.
Tomorrow’s Prospect for Review: Jenrry Mejia (P) of the New York Mets