"The more he plays, the better he gets," Black said. "I see an increase in bat speed and with that an increase in power. I see a guy who gets a good jump on the ball -- he is an instinctual player."
The Padres are certainly high on Venable, whom they picked in seventh round of the 2005 Draft out of Princeton, where he played basketball and baseball. Venable has played 2 1/2 years professionally and, as Black feels, will only get better.
"He hasn't had a lot of playing time going back to even high school. ... This guy was a basketball player," Black said. "So the reps one might get if they solely focus on baseball ... he just hasn't got those reps."
He's made up for it professionally. He hit .313 with 11 home runs and 92 RBIs in 2006 with Class A Fort Wayne and then made the big jump to Double-A San Antonio last season -- bypassing Class A Lake Elsinore -- and hit .278 with eight home runs and 68 RBIs.
Venable hit .228 with three home runs in the Arizona Fall League, though he was limited because of tendinitis in his shoulder. But he's healthy this spring.
Venable will likely open the season with Triple-A Portland of the Pacific Coast League.
Fast start: Brian Myrow says it usually takes him some time to get his swing in, well, the swing of things each spring. That's not the case this year, even though the first baseman doesn't feel completely locked in.
Myrow had six hits in his first 11 at-bats, including five consecutive hits.
"It takes me a while. I've been fortunate to get the hits I've gotten so far because I don't feel like I'm hitting the ball that well," Myrow said. "Some of these guys, they look like they're in midseason form, hitting balls off the wall."
Myrow said he was hitting under .200 in his first 30 at-bats last season with Portland before getting his swing down. He ended up winning the PCL batting title with a .354.
Camp cuts: The Padres announced on Thursday that they have reassigned five players to their Minor League camp.
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The five players are pitchers Josh Geer, Edwin Moreno, Mike Megrew and Cesar Ramos, plus infielder Kyle Blanks.
Some of them could still appear in Cactus League games, but they will spend most of their time working out with the other Minor League players.
They're No. 1: Ramos was one of the first cuts of camp, though that's certainly no indication of where he stands in the eyes of the organization. Ramos, a supplemental-round pick in 2005, will get more work in Minor League camp.
Ramos is coming off his best season as a professional, going 13-9 with a 3.41 ERA in 27 starts with San Antonio with two complete games. A fastball-changeup guy, Ramos was able to use his slider more consistently in 2007.
Ramos will likely open the season at Portland.
Class of '07: The Padres were so impressed with the professional debut of left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke -- a supplemental-round pick out of Ohio State -- that they promoted him to Lake Elsinore after successful stops at short-season Eugene and later Fort Wayne.
Luebke was a combined 5-3 with a 3.07 ERA in 15 games after going 9-1 with a 2.07 ERA for Ohio State. He'll likely start the season at Lake Elsinore.
What they're saying: "I'm going up there trying to do the same thing. I cut it down a little bit. If I strike out, I strike out. But I'm going to go up there and hit the ball hard." - Padres prospect Chase Headley, on his approach with hitting with two strikes.