Damn this system is deep, after spending the last few days studying the Padres farm system like Jay Wrong looking to drown the sorrow of another losing season, that’s all I can say. In fact, I’ve come to have an even greater appreciation for GM A.J. Preller, and the sheer depth of this system. Since Preller took control of the organization he’s turned over the farm system in a failed attempt to compete, and then almost immediately sold off the win now pieces to land himself a new and better crop of prospect talent. Long known for his savvy signings on the international market during his time with the Rangers, Preller went bananas in the international period in 2016 landing seemingly everyone but Kevin Maitan. With the first wave of talent making it’s way to Petco in 2017, the future is looking bright for long suffering Padres fans. Preller has been aggressive on the trade market too, constantly reminding Dave Dombrowski that he has some ungodly incriminating evidence against him. Seriously, it’s got to be so good… Then came the Rule 5 draft, where the Padres pulled the unprecedented task of acquiring the top three picks, and adding a fourth player later. It’s his cold, calculated, and creative approach to acquiring talent that has made him one of my favorite executives in baseball. So believe me, I was more than happy to check in on his dragon eggs for this Sunday’s post. It’s the Top San Diego Padres Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Anderson Espinoza, RHP | Age: 18 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A
It is with the heavy heart of a disappointed Red Sox fan that I write this blurb on Espinoza. After signing for $1.8 million out of Venezuela in the 2014-15 International period, the small righty burst onto the scene gaining the admiration of scouts, front office types, and dynasty owners a like. He offers a double plus fastball, and two plus secondary pitches in his change and curve. The move to the Padres is certainly a long term upgrade as his park, division, and league setup improves dramatically. It’s important to keep in mind how young Espinoza has been at each level along the way. He has easy repeatable mechanics, and effortlessly ramps his heater up to the upper 90’s, even touching 100 on occasion. The only negative I can see is his slight build, but you know how I feel about short righties. Hopefully my spirit animal AJ Preller can build a contender by the time he hits Petco.
Hunter Renfroe, OF | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
Do you like power? Raw, nasty, blistering, sticky power? Sees head nodding.. Yes, me too, and Renfroe has it in spades. With bat speed, serious swing tilt, caveman strength, and a pull happy approach there’s real 30 homer power here. The flaws are in the approach, though it’s yet to really hurt his minor league batting average, as he’s a career .283 hitter in the minors. I would expect him to break camp with the Friars, and start from the jump. Serious contender for NL rookie of the year. Grey covered him earlier in the offseason, it has gifs!
Manuel Margot, OF | Age: 22 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Levels: MLB/AAA
In an attempt to make the Padres great again, Dave Dombrowski traded away a significant package of talent in order to acquire Craig Kimbrel. Margot was the jewel of that haul. As he looks to be on the cusp of a major league job in 2017, with a chance at making an immediate impact. Arguably the premier hit tool/speed prospect in the minors, .300 batting averages and 25+ steal seasons should be a staple of Margot’s game. The reports on the power are conflicting, but I see him topping out at 12-15 homers unless he adjusts his swing. Regardless he makes hard contact to all fields, and knows how to put the bat on the ball.
Adrian Morejon, LHP | Age: 17 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Refugee
I’m just going to come out in the open and say this, I sweat Morejon. He and not Lazaro Armenteros (Lazarito) is my top ranked Cuban coming out of last year’s international class, and there’s good reason. Here’s what I wrote about Morejon when I ranked him 12th in my first year player draft rankings. “Cuban lefty with oodles of upside, and the stuff to match. Throws a plus fastball in the low to mid 90’s range, and two changeups. One that’s more of a knuckle change with late dive, and the other which is your traditional change with sink and run. Also features a curveball that he’s shown feel for. Smooth mechanics, and clean arm action are both pluses toward his ability to stick as a starter.”
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Jacob Nix, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A
A talented righty who was part of Houston’s Brady Aiken debacle. I don’t want to rehash the thing, but more or less when they didn’t sign Aiken they lost his slot money, some of which they needed to sign Nix. Instead he did a post grad year at the infamous IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and was then taken in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft. Nix throws a mid 90’s fastball, a high 70’s 12-6 curve, and a changeup, and throws all of them for strikes. Looks to be a mid-rotation innings eater with solid ratios.
Allen Cordoba, SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: A
Cordoba has been racking in the accolades since coming over to the states. After winning the MVP of the Gulf Coast League in 2015, he followed it up with a batting title in the Appy League last year, posting a .362 average. The Padres added him as the jewel of their Rule 5 draft haul this year, which means he’s going to get a shot to stick on the big league roster all season. He brings an above average hit tool and speed to the table, as well as good instincts. The Padres obviously believe he’s advanced enough to handle some reps with the big club.
Eric Lauer, LHP | Age:21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level:A/Rk
Ladies and gentlemen your division 1 ERA leader for 2016, with a sterling average of 0.69. Lauer is a lefty with good stuff across the board, and plus control to match. Some scouting reports label him as a number 5 starter, but with his track record dating back to High School, it’s tough for me to buy there isn’t mid-rotation upside here. He throws two above average offerings in his fastball and slider, and two average offerings in his curve and change. Lauer’s pitchability, easy mechanics, and consistent strike throwing tell me he’ll be a fast mover, more than likely reaching Petco sometime in 2018.
Michael Gettys, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+/A
The Padres took a shot on Gettys back in the 2014 draft, believing they could mold the raw toolsy player into a future major leaguer. While there have been bumps in the road, 2016 was a major breakout, as Gettys showed improved bat to ball skills, and plate approach. He has plus speed swiping 33 bases in 2016, and tapped into his average power swatting 12 homers across two levels. Granted the power surge looks suspiciously Cal League aided, where he hit 9 of his 12 homers and ran less. There are still serious swing and miss worries, and he’s still a work in progress, but he made some major strides last season.
Carlos Asuaje, 2B/3B | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
Another member of the traded for Kimbrel club, Asuaje broke out with AAA El Paso in 2016 slashing .321/.378/.473 with 9 homers and 10 steals. In a lot of ways I see a poor man’s lefthanded Dustin Pedroia in Asuaje. He has above average contact skills, average speed that plays up due to a high baseball IQ and good instincts. HIs game power is surprising as well from a player so slight in stature. I think Asuaje is a player that’s going to fly under the radar. He’ll battle with Ryan Schimpf for the second base job, but he has the versatility to play a utility roll.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Cal Quantrill, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A
The Padres had a a huge year in the draft, and international market, best exemplified by adding 3 players in the top 20 of my first year player draft ranks. Quantrill ranked 8th at the time, but my excitement for Morejon has moved them into a dead heat. Quantrill offers a lot less questions marks, while still bringing top of the rotation upside to the table. Here’s what I said in my rankings “After not pitching for most of 2015, and all of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery, Quantrill went to the Padres at pick 8. While his ERA left something to be desired, for his first foray into proball, his peripherals were solid. Had it not been for the injury Quantrill was well on his way to being considered the best pitcher in the country in 2015. I like his mix of floor and upside, and I’ve learned to bet on the talented players coming back from TJ (Lucas Giolito and Erick Fedde to name a few).”
Josh Naylor, 1B/OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A+/A
Between Renfore, Jorge Ona, and Naylor the Friars have a wealth of power bats in the system for he first time in a long time. After getting some hype after a strong showing in the Future’s Game festivities, the Padres traded Andrew Cashner for Naylor. His powerful lefthanded swing and hitting acumen, lead many to believe Naylor could have middle of the order upside. He’ll need to improve his pitch recognition, and show the ability to hit offspeed pitches in order to meet those expectations. Doesn’t play well with others, or with knives, and if you don’t believe me google Stone Garrett Josh Naylor.
Luis Urias, 2B/3B/SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A+/A
A hit tool maven, Urias has used his elite bat control, a patient approach, and pitch recognition skills to a career .319 batting average in the minors. His ability to spray hits all over the field and make solid hard ground ball and line drive contact should keep his average high. Problem is, he doesn’t possess either of the power or speed skills we look for in our fantasy prospects. So while he fits the profile of a top of the order hitter, he’s more likely to settle into the two hole, than to leadoff. His ability to play all over the infield, and make solid and consistent contact make him a high floor player for a 19 year old. After hitting .330 in the high-A Cal League, he’ll more than likely start the season in AA. I’ve seen the appropriate Placido Polanco comps thrown around, and think those are fair.
Fernando Tatis Jr., 3B | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | A-/Rk
Acquired for James Shields, Tatis looks like another steal for the Padres. He possesses plus bat speed and power, looking like an exciting but raw prospect. Son of former major leaguer, and phony Microsoft Paint Di Vinci Fernando Tatis. He has contact issues, and it’s because there’s a lot going on with his swing. Which is definitely something he has to work through. Regardless, I’m interested
Jorge Ona, OF | Age: 20 | ETA: 2021 | 2016 Level: N/A
One of the most heavily debated prospects of the 2016 J2 class, Ona has one undeniable skill on all scouting reports, power. A physical specimen who burst onto the scene in the 2014 Pan American Championship, where he hit .636 with 4 homers in 8 games, and slugged 1.364. The reports out of instructs, and those that have watched him recently, say that he looks rusty, and that not playing competitive baseball for close to two years shows. Fear not, he’s not the first player to show rust after a lengthy layoff, and I’ll trust A.J. Preller’s track record on the international market. I’ve seen comps range the gambit from Kirby Puckett to Dayan Viciedo, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Ona has his fans and his detractors.
Chris Paddack, RHP | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A
An absolute trade robbery was committed when Paddack was acquired for Fernando Rodney. The talented righty was off to a great full season debut prior to the trade, which was then followed by forearm tightness in July, and TJ in August. So you won’t see Paddack for a year plus, but he’s a worthwhile stash due to his elite swing and miss stuff. His changeup is a plus plus pitch, he throws an above average fastball in the mid to low 90’s, and an average curve he’s shown feel for.
Others: Luis Almanzar, Mason Thompson, Jeisson Rosario, Hudson Potts, Reggie Lawson, Gabriel Arias, Logan Allen
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