Whoa this system is deep. And I don’t mean the Swinging Friar’s “No Man Is An Island” kind of deep. I mean it took me a while to get to a player that didn’t have a 50 overall value slapped on them. I counted eight Padres in my Top 100 for 2019, which is pretty crazytown. San Diego has a nice balance of good hitting prospects and good pitching prospects, high ceilings and high floors. It really runs the gamut and should be a fun system to follow for the next year or two.
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019
A big-time offensive talent who held is own as a 19-year-old at Double-A last season, Tatis is everything you want in a fantasy prospect. He has the potential to impact all five standard cats with plus hit, power, and speed. He’ll most likely spend most of this season in the upper minors, but we could see him late summer/early fall with a full go at the starting shortstop gig in the spring of 2020. One thing to watch for this year – his K-rate of 27% in 2018 was pretty high.
2. Luis Urias, 2B/SS | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019
It’s easier to write about prospects who’ve had some MLB appearances already. Urias is one of those – he had over 50 plate appearances with the Padres last season. He’s currently projected to hit second for San Diego in 2019, which bodes well for his counting stats. He’s a plus hitter with good patience and enough pop for 10-12 homers. He’s an average runner, so I don’t think he’ll impact steals. Steamer has him pegged for a .248 average, nine homers, and five swipes in a full season of plate appearances. I’d take the over on all three. Looks like Grey is too.
3. Francisco Mejia, C | Age: 23 | ETA: 2019
Another near-lock for a gig with the big club right out of spring training, Mejia is the type of catching prospect we’re allowed to actually care about due to his offensive ceiling. No, his ceiling isn’t a churlish boor. Offensive as like, he could make an impact in both average and power. Problem is, he’s currently slated as a backup to Hedges. If I’m Hedging my bets, that means Mejia might at best see 40% of the starts without an injury to the main squeeze. More likely less. Can I root for someone to get hurt? That seems wrong. More from Grey on Mejia’s 2019 outlook here.
4. MacKenzie Gore, LHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2021
This starts a mini-tier of pitchers in this system with frontline potential. Gore leads the way. He’s a first round pick from 2017 (3rd overall) with above average pitches across the board and plus command. He paired an 11 K/9 with a 2.7 BB/9 in 2018 despite having some blister issues that limited him to around 60 innings in A-ball.
5. Chris Paddack, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2019
Paddack has a double-plus change and plus command. Splitting time between High-A and Double-A in 2018, he pretty much made opposing hitters his b**** – whiffing 15 per nine and walking just over one per nine. He should be on all radars, even redrafts, as he’s likely just an injury or string of poor outings away from a call to San Diego.
6. Luis Patino, RHP | Age: 19 | ETA: 2022
Patino pairs a plus heater with a plus slider, which gives him some nice strikeout potential. He’s a ways off from the bigs though, so you have to pair the upside with the potential risks. He spent all of 2018 in A-ball, where he struck out nearly 11 per nine and walked just 2.6 per nine. Great upside play for a rebuilding fantasy franchise.
7. Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS | Age: 19 | ETA: 2022
80-grade tools are rare to come by, and that’s Edwards’s speed. He was a 2018 draft pick, and in his first taste of pro ball he swiped 22 bags in 159 plate appearances (caught just once). He also hit over .340 across two levels. That’s what you can expect as the ceiling – major impact in steals with a decent average and run totals. Classic table setter/burner.
8. Michel Baez, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2019
Like Paddack, Baez has a non-zero chance to throw some innings this year in San Diego. He reached Double-A in 2018, and that’s likely where he’ll start off the 2019 season. His 2018 numbers weren’t quite as dominant as 2017, but still solid. He struck out nearly 10 per nine in 105 innings pitched. It will be interesting to see how he fares with a full season in the upper minors. I’m not as high on Baez as the other arms listed above, but I think he’s a decent bet to eat innings in the middle of a rotation.
9. Josh Naylor, 1B | Age: 21 | ETA: 2020
Naylor is a guy that kept getting bumped and ended up just outside my Top 100, but you could make a case for him to be there, and even ahead of Baez and Edwards here. Naylor had a really nice 2018 campaign in Double-A – hitting .297 with 17 homers and nearly identical walk and strikeout rates (~12%). The concern here is that despite his big raw power, 2018 was the first time he’d hit over 15 bombs. So it appears as though Naylor is willing to trade some homers for average. That’s fine, but it dings him as a fantasy first baseman, where you really depend on 20+ homers from that position.
10. Esteury Ruiz, 2B | Age: 19 | ETA: 2022
Ruiz is a solid player across the board, with above average pop and speed and the potential to impact every offensive category. I think his floor is high – a bat first utility type that’s rosterable in deeper formats. The ceiling is still really high as well though, and we’ll learn more about his approach this year in High-A – maybe even some appearances in Double-A in late summer.