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It is no secret, my admiration for San Diego Padres GM A.J. Preller. While many remember the early win now moves in his tenure, it is the scouting and development of young talent that has really caught my eye. During his time in the Rangers organization, under the direction of former fraternity brother Jon Daniels, Preller was tasked with International Scouting. Something the Rangers did pretty well over that period. The same eye for talent on the international market has proven fruitful for the Padres, securing the services of several top signees over the last few periods, including Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, Gabriel Arias, Jeisson Rosario, and Tirso Ornelas. Some of his recent trades have helped build even greater depth, adding top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. for James Shields, as well as Logan Allen, Anderson Espinoza, Chris Paddack, Josh Naylor, and Esteury Ruiz in a collection of other trades. All this, and we haven’t even touched on some of the recent drafts. In just the last two seasons the Padres have added, MacKenzie Gore, Cal Quantrill, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Hudson Potts, Luis Campusano, and Mason Thompson. Needless to say I have my work cut out for me in this post. In case you’re not caught up on the Prospect Pod, Lance and I discussed this system on the latest episode. You can listen and read! Shameless Plug! Onto the San Diego Padres Top Prospects.

 

1) Fernando Tatis Jr., SS | Age: 19 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .278/.379/.498 22 HR, 75 RBI, 32 SB

One of my favorite prospects in the minors, he’s off to a rocky start early on, but he’s so young and talented, I’m certain he’ll prevail. Ranked fifth in my latest update of the Top 100 Prospects, and as I said there, Tatis brings “An impressive combination of power, speed, hitting, and athleticism.” His plate discipline, and pitch recognition improved significantly throughout the 2017 campaign, and his bloodlines, and baseline skills point to a superstar in the making. I didn’t say “he’s the closest thing to A-Rod I can remember” for nuthin! ETA: 2019

2) Mackenzie Gore, LHP | Age: 19 | Level: A | 2017 Stats: 0-1, 21.1 IP, 1.27 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 34 K, 7 Bb

If the 2017 draft were to take place today, MacKenzie Gore likely would go 1.1. The Padres landed the athletic lefty at third overall, and he did nothing but dominate in limited action. His unusual mechanics lead some to question his long term durability, but no one questions the stuff or ability. Plus command, great extension, and the possibility of four plus pitches, put Gore on the path to stardom. Got the assignment to full season ball, on a stacked Fort Wayne Tincaps club. Roughed a bit in his first outing, but the skills were there from the clips I’ve watched. ETA: 2020  

3) Michel Baez, RHP | Age: 22 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: 7-2, 63.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 89 K, 10 Bb

A 6’8 giant with four above average or better pitches, a mid-90’s heater, and plus control; Baez is one of my favorite pitching prospects in the minors, and one I expect to move quickly. Needs to tighten up his fastball command, and refine his two breaking balls to reach his front-line ceiling. Currently in extended spring dealing with a back issue. An assignment to AA, and a late September debut, health permitting, would not be a shock. ETA: 2019

4) Luis Urias, 2B | Age: 20 | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .296/.398/.380, 3 HR, 38 RBI, 7 SB

I really like Urias, here’s what I said about him in Top 100. “I just can’t fight this feeling anymore. Urias is one of those prospects that’s always a top 100 guy for me, but bounces around due to my struggles with projecting his upside. He’s proven to be an elite contact hitter, perhaps the best in the minors, but it’s the flashes of power I see that give me the most encouragement. Could develop into Daniel Murphy. The hitting part, not the rampant homophobia.” So far in his AAA adventure Urias was hitting .333/.459/.467 with a homer, entering last night’s game. Could be in the majors bu June, but the Padres have no reason to rush him. ETA: 2018

5) Adrian Morejon, LHP | Age: 19 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: 3-4, 63 IP, 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 58 K, 16 Bb

An advanced teenage prodigy from the Cuban development machine, Morejon features a fastball that touches 96, with two distinct changeups, and an average curveball. The first changeup is a knuckle-grip with distinct break. See Kole Enright getting assed-out below. The other is a more traditional changeup, but hitter struggle to differentiate one from the other out of his hand. Morejon has a combination of pitchability and stuff rare for his age. The only question is, “how much ceiling is left?” ETA: 2020

6) Gabriel Arias, SS | Age: 18 | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .265/.312/.326, 0 HR, 17 RBI, 5 SB

Part of the Padres 2016 J2 class, (I’ve been touting for close to a year and a half now) Arias is a toolsy shortstop, that looks like he could develop more pop in his bat. Arias doesn’t turn 18 until February, and has already played 16 games in full season ball. His bat to ball skills are excellent, and he’s said to flash more power in batting practice. If you take Arias, you have to be willing to wait, but there’s a very good chance it’s worth the investment.  Oh, and a I wrote a sleeper on him. Re-assigned to Fort Wayne out of camp, and has showed well in the early going, hitting 4 doubles, and scoring 6 runs in his first 7 starts. Not bad for an 18 year old in the notoriously brisk April of the Mid-West League.  ETA: 2021

7) Esteury Ruiz, 2B | Age: 19 | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .350/.395/.602, 4 HR, 39 RBI, 26 SB

I’m as confused as you as to why the Royals gave up Ruiz and Matt Strahm for an injured Trevor Cahill rental, and two relievers, Brandon Maurer, and Ryan Buchter. But that’s all besides the point, Ruiz can play. A compact quick swing from the right-side, great baserunning instincts, strong wrists, and explosive bat speed, make Ruiz one of the true rising prospects in the lower minors. Another Fort Wayne Diaper Dandy, and a member of an exciting infield. ETA: 2020

8) Jeisson Rosario, OF | Age: 18 | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .299/.404/.369, 1 HR, 24 RBI, 8 SB

A five tool freak with advanced approach, and feel for the strike zone. Rosario is especially raw in same ways however, and maturity is an issue. He’s mostly been a heavy opposite field hitter, but has shown flashes of driving the ball to his pullside. I love Rosario’s upside and own him all over. ETA: 2020

9) Cal Quantrill, RHP Padres | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: 7-10 , 116 IP, 3.80 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 110 K, 40 Bb

What I wrote about Quantrill in my latest Top 100 holds true here. “Is this too low a rank for Quantrill? On a real life list, I’d say absolutely, but for fantasy what’s his upside? Some see a front of the rotation starter, with his ability to pair a plus mid-90’s heater, with a plus-plus changeup, and two average breaking balls. I think he’s the prototypical number three starter with a low 8 k-rate. I’ve blown hot a cold on Quantrill over the years but I can’t help but ding his value when I see the results. He just has rarely dominated. Dominate Q, and I’ll move you 50+ spots.” Wait, are there 50 spots on this list? ETA: 2019

10) Tirso Ornelas, OF Padres | Age: 18 | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .276/.399/.408, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 0 SB

A middle of the order prototype. Big, long, and powerful, Ornelas picturesque lefty cut is the stuff dreams are made of. At a young age he’s already flashing prodigious power, and an all-fields approach. Tirso is a player I’m buying in all formats where 150+ prospects are owned. He could shoot up Top 100 lists with a strong performance this season at Fort Wayne. ETA: 2021

11) Josh Naylor, 1B | Age: 20 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .280/.346/.415, 10 HR, 64 RBI, 9 SB

Originally Naylor was much further down on this list, but after watching some of his early performances with San Antonio, I’m captivated. Sure he’s a bad body, first-base-only, but he seems to have added the game power to a nice baseline of hitting skills. If he can unlock a 30 homer bat, and pair it with a .280ish average, and strong on base skills, Naylor can develop into a top 12 first baseman eventually. The former Canadian Prep star is on the right track. Quick aside, his younger brother Noah is a 2018 MLB Draft Prospect. ETA: 2019

12) Anderson Espinoza, RHP | Age: 20 | Level: N/A | 2017 Stats: Did Not Play Injured

Time will tell if the Drew Pomeranz for Anderson Espinoza deal was as bad as it seemed at the time. So far it’s been more lopsided in the Red Sox direction. That said, anyone who has seen Anderson Espinoza healthy and pitching, knows it’s too early to call this one. At his best Espinoza generates easy high 90’s velocity, touching triple digits on occasion, with a double plus changeup, and an above average hook with 11-5 shape. Should be back pitching at some point in 2018. Fingers crossed he can stay healthy for the long haul. ETA: 2021

13) Logan Allen, LHP | Age: 20 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: 7-9, 125 IP, 2.95 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 142 K, 44 Bb

Let’s just get this out of the way. I love Logan Allen. Your boy Ralph was heartbroken when the Red Sox decided to throw him into the Craig Kimbrel deal. Here we stand a few seasons later on the cusp of what I view as a potential breakout. Allen mixes an above-average fastball that sits 92-94, an average curveball, and the jewel of his arsenal, a double plus changeup he throws from a “vulcan-grip” that drives the pitch’s movement. So far Allen has had a strong start and a poor start in AA, time will tell if my prediction holds true. Control is the biggest concern with Allen, but if he can truly harness his stuff he could be devastating. ETA: 2019

14) Joey Lucchesi, LHP | Age: 24 | Level: MLB | 2017 Stats: 11-7, 139 IP, 2.20 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 148 K, 33 Bb

This Padres system is so deep that a pitcher I hold in high regard can drop all the way to the teens. Despite his detractors, and skeptics Lucchesi has defied the odds and found success in the early part of his major league career. Pig-backing a meteoric rise through the Friars system in just a season and a half. A combination of stuff, pitchability, and deception, from a downright awkward delivery, has continued to baffle the competition across several levels. Lucchesi’s fastball sits 90-94, but generates lots of swings and misses, with it’s angle, movement, and pinpoint accuracy. Lucchesi’s changeup sits 80-82, and gives the looks of his curveball out of his hand. So far in his MLB career the lefty has been heavy on fastball-changeup, perhaps some curveballs were incorrectly marked. It comes as a surprise that it’s a pitch he’d stay away from, as it was regarded as a solid above-average offering during his time in the minors. There’s two camps with Lucchesi; those that believe Lucchesi’s luck will eventually run out, and big league hitters will unlock the code, or those like myself, that believe Lucchesi is truly good at all the little things, and though unorthodox, feel his attention to detail will drive continued success. ETA: 2018

15) Franchy Cordero, OF | Age: 23 | Level: MLB | 2017 Stats: .326/.369/.603, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 15 SB

There’s two very obvious things about Franchy’s game, first: he hits the ball very hard, second: he runs really fast. Already in three games since a callup earlier last week, he has a couple of homers. He’s prone to chase a bit, and there is some swing and miss, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility he turns out to be a really productive fantasy player. It’s also possible he’s a AAA all-star. I hope it’s the former and not the latter as Cordero is more fun than fat girls and mopeds. Did i use that correctly? ETA: 2018

16) Hudson Potts, 3B | Age: 19 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .253/.293/.438, 20 HR, 69 RBI, 0 SB

A power-hitting infielder with some question marks. Potts struggled in the first half of 2017, before turning it on in the second, hitting 14 homers. There is some swing and miss in his game, but he’s not one to chase outside the zone a ton from what I’ve seen. There’s a nice baseline of skills to profile as everyday power-hitting corner infielder, if Potts can polish his approach, and bat to ball skills, he could unlock middle of the order upside. ETA: 2021

17) Chris Paddack, RHP | Age: 22 | Level: N/A | 2017 Stats: Did Not Play Injured

It’s been a long and bumpy road for Paddack, as he’s had to overcome Tommy John, and some shut downs due to soreness along the way. The latest word is he’ll be assigned to a full-season affiliate by the end of April, but that remains to be seen. When healthy, Paddack mixes a low-to-mid-90s fastball, and a double plus changeup with precision. He’ll also spin a curveball that gets fringe-average grades. The reports claim BSOHL, but he’s coming off an injury, I’d expect that. Like the player a lot, but there’s a ton of risk with this profile. ETA: 2020

18) Luis Campusano, C | Age: 19 | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .269/.344/.388, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 0 SB

A power-hitting backstop, with a tireless work ethic, Campusano was the first catcher selected in the 2017 draft. So far he’s flashed raw pop in the pros, hitting 4 homers in his debut, and already connecting for one in the first week of the season. He has the right combination of defensive skills and hitting ability to blossom into a fantasy relevant catcher. ETA: 2021

19) Jorge Ona, OF | Age: 21 | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .277/.351/.405, 11 HR, 64 RBI, 8 SB

The once hyped Cuban amateur star has struggled since coming stateside. Ona has failed to show the raw power he displays in batting practice due to a long swing and an inability to shorten up. If he can make the proper adjustments there’s a very good to great power upside in Ona’s bat. ETA: 2020

20) Austin Allen, C | Age: 23 | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .283/.353/.497, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 0 SB

Another power-hitting catcher, this one with the track record to back it up, and an ETA in the next 12 months to boot! Allen has returned to AA San Antonio with a bang, smacking 4 homers in his first 7 games, 5 of those behind the plate. The issue for Allen is I’m not sure his bat plays at any other position, and his defense is poor. In fact he was run on 126 times in 2017, and only caught 26 runners. If he can overcome his defensive shortcomings Allen could be a solid fantasy catcher. ETA: 2019

Other Names: Eguy Rosario, Pedro Avila, Eric Lauer, Jacob Nix, Andres Munoz, Luis Almanzar, Edward Olivares, Jordy Barley, Trey Wingenter, Mason Thompson, Michael Gettys, Reggie Lawson, Henry Henry, Luis Torrens, Franmil Reyes, Mason House.

 

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