Feels like I should say something about MacKenzie Gore here, but I don’t know what to say that might be actionable for fantasy purposes. You probably can’t trade for him, nor should you want to, probably. If you have him already, you may have tried to trade him away. I hope you hit the timing just right on that if so. He’s not a spent asset by any means, but he’s been managing multiple deliveries for so long now it’ll be inconveniently tough for him to repeat any of them like an MLB starter. He’s still young though, and this system is about more than Gore. Even as it’s been strip-mined so AJ Preller could chase the playoffs (and the headlines), this Padres minor league group offers potential impact in both the short and long term.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2022 | Highest level played | ETA
1. SS CJ Abrams | 20 | AA | 2023
I’ve been assuming a position change for CJ Abrams, but with all-world shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. battling through a shoulder injury and hoping to avoid surgery, Abrams is just a Last-Jedi away from taking the reins. I shouldn’t do the JJ Abrams Star Wars thing here, probably, because comparing anything to the Rise of Skywalker is cruel, and I actually like CJ Abrams a lot for our game. He might be right there with Witt and Julio for top spot across the minors if he’d stayed healthy this year. A 6’2” 185 lb lefty bat, Abrams’ best features are a double-plus hit tool and 80-grade speed. He’s flashed extra base power but his swing isn’t geared for home run power at the highest levels. He’ll still pop his fair share, but you won’t really care if he lives in the 15-range. His batting average and stolen bases alone will put him in early-round conversations at his roto peak.
2. OF Robert Hassell III | 20 | A+ | 2023
The club opted to avoid a signing bonus hassle when Zac Veen fell to them with the 8th pick in the 2020 draft, staying instead with Robert Hassell III for about $4.3 million, about 1.7 million less than Veen got from the Rockies and well under the $5.18 million allocated for that draft spot. GM AJ Preller and company spent that leftover money on third round pick Cole Wilcox then shipped him off to Tampa in the Blake Snell trade. Probably a pretty good move in the long run, although Snell was pretty slapdick in 2021, and Hassell is no Veen, in my opinion. Even so, Bob the third had an impressive debut season, slashing .302/.393/.470 in 110 games with 11 HR and 34 SB across two levels playing against much older guys. He was 3.8 years younger than the average in High-A, so I’ll take his 18-game stretch there with a grain of salt. He did hit four home runs and swipe three bags at the level but slashed .205/.287/.410 and struck out 28.7 percent of the time. None of these outcomes represent his likely future–not the power or the speed or the strikeouts or the slash line. He traded some safety for power as he got comfortable in Low A and saw that approach exploited in his brief stretch at the next level. At peak, we’re looking at a plus-hit, plus-run type with just enough power and defense to be an everyday big leaguer.
3. C Luis Campusano | 23 | MLB | 2020
In 81 games at AAA, Campusano slashed .295/.365/.541 with 15 HR and a stolen base. He didn’t hit in 11 games in the big leagues (.088/.184/.088), but that’s not uncommon for young catchers getting into the grind of major league game-calling. A lot of young backstops will be filterning into the redraft pool in 2022, but if you miss out on Adley Rutschman or Gabriel Moreno or Keibert Ruiz, you might be able to snag a freebie flier in Campusano, who’s topside is comparable to the top tier. I’m a little worried about the length of his swing, but he’s always been young for his level of competition, and he’s an elite athlete with double-plus strength. It feels important to note that he had a barren first month that skewed his final AAA line. In the 56 games he played there after June 6, Campusano slashed .332/.395/.643 with 14 HR.
4. LHP MacKenzie Gore | 23 | AAA | 2022
Hell I dunno. I’ve been comparatively low on Gore since before I got this gig, and while that’s also true of most pitching prospects, that goes double for Gore. Anytime Prospect World identifies the consensus top young arm as a low-minors guy posting crazy numbers due partly to deception, you probably ought to raise an eyebrow. If he’s blowing dudes away with 103 mph heat, okay sure he can be the consensus Dude, but if he’s a four-pitch lefty with area-code accuracy who gets by on pedigree and a cool leg kick, pump the brakes. The Padres seem reluctant to remove the big lede leg even as they add variations on that theme, specifically a more natural leg raise that keeps his center mess balanced over his back leg. This, to me, is the only real way to become a big league starter. If you can stand in place without wobbling on your plant leg for at least a minute or two, how can you expect to maintain balance at foot strike (when the front leg lands)? That’s when you need to torque your lower half in sync with your arm swing, ideally the same way every time no matter what pitch you’re throwing.
Sorry for jog there. I just want to make clear why I think this has been incredibly hard for Gore to figure out, and why I don’t think it’ll get better until they remove the over-the-head leg swing entirely. It begins his torque too early, and he’s burning energy to correct his balance in little ways all over his body before he even lands. First thing Tampa did with Luis Patino was start chiseling away at his front leg height. Same thing they did with Glasnow and Baz. Sorry for that jog too, but I’d like to clarify that I’m not out forever. I think Gore can get it going again someday. Pitching development is in flux at the top of that organization, from our limited vantage point that saw Larry Rothschiled fired in August. Perhaps a new structural hire or two will help.
5. SS Victor Acosta | 17 | DSL | 2025
Hey look it’s a guy I haven’t been writing about for years! Acosta signed for $1.8 million during the most recent amateur international acquisition window, so he’s probably a few months away from being dealt for a pitcher. I kid, I kid! This 5’11” 170 lb switch hitter might already be too good to move in that typical AJ way. He’s played just 56 professional games, all of them in the DSL, but his 15.8%/18.8% BB/K rate suggests he’s ready for the next step, as does his .285/.431/.484 slash line. He hit five homers and stole 26 bases, but steals don’t matter much in the DSL. The plate skills and power, however, are unique for a switch hitting 17-year-old middle infielder.
6. OF James Wood | 19 | CPX | 2025
The actor? No, that’s “woods” like Tiger and lost in the. This guy might never get lost through the forest because he’s bigger than the trees. Listed at 6’7” 240 lbs, Wood is a defensive end playing center field. I have to be careful with this blurb because I am excited. A left handed hitter who throws right-handed, Wood brings to mind a muscled up Oneil Cruz, and if that doesn’t get your baseball blood pumping, let’s take a glance at his early outcomes. In 26 complex-league games, Wood slashed .372/.465/.535 with 3 HR and 10 SB. He did strike out 32 times (31.7%), but I’d be lying if I said I cared much at this point. In fact, I kind of hope the strikeouts keep his profile muted enough to make him a Supp-draft steal this winter.
7. 3B Euribiel Angeles | 19 | A+ | 2023
Another fun one here, Angeles is a 5’11” 175 lb right handed hitter with excellent hands in the batter’s box. He tore through his first full season assignment in 87 games, slashing .343/.397/.461 with 3 HR and 18 SB. Next phase for him will be to add some strength and hunt for power a little more. He’s more of a sell-ball-hit-ball guy at the moment than a wait-on-my-pitch-and-unleash sort of at-bat extender, but he does have the base-level hand-eye talent to attempt such a switch. The approach was more evident in his High-A sample hitting in less cozy environments and slugging just .361, but it was only 18 games, and he was about three-and-a-half years younger than the average player at that level.
8. OF Joshua Mears | 21 | A | 2024
At 6’3” 230 lbs, Joshua Mears should get off the bus right before James Wood, if they’re ever on the same squad. Mears will look huge for a High-A player for a split second before Wood walks out and breaks the scale. Their skill sets follow a similar paradigm. Whereas Wood is an extreme athlete who breaks the scale, Mears is a more typical corner masher, but both hit the ball real hard and would combine to build a Voltron of batting practice rounds. Okay now here comes gravity, telling us Mears struck out 39.2 percent of the time across 71 games in A ball. He did hit 17 home runs, steal 10 bags and slash .244/.368/.529 with a 131 wRC+, so he was still a force despite all the swing and miss. The list drops off a bit around here, for what it’s worth. I’m not sure Mears or anyone after him should be owned in most dynasty leagues at the moment, though they’ll all be on my free agent radar.
9. 2B Eguy Rosario | 22 | AA | 2023
Will be played by Ryan Reynolds in the biopic, Eguy.
On the field, Rosario enjoyed his best season as a pro, slashing .281/.360/.455 with 12 HR and 30 SB in 114 games. Maybe that doesn’t jump off the page, but if a rookie came up and did that in 114 games, he’d be the darling of the fantasy industry. I’m not suggesting Eguy can simply carry his AA production over to the majors, but it’s encouraging to see that he produced a 118 wRC+ while producing speed in a league where he was three years younger than the average player. AJ Preller’s core competency is international scouting, so the Padres have to be tracked more closely than the average team, especially for, uhhh, guys like Eguy who grow slow and below the radar with lots of reps across time. Entering his age 22 season, Rosario is a five-year professional with 520 games and 2198 plate appearances on his ledger. Padres out here letting it simmer.
10. RHP Kevin Kopps | 25 | AA | 2022
The 2021 Golden Spikes Award winner for best player in NCAA baseball, Kevin Kopps and his hard slider landed in the third round (99th overall). He’s six-foot, 200 pounds, and he doesn’t throw hard (low to mid 90’s), but he can command that plus breaking ball, can cut and spot the heater up in the zone, can pitch multiple innings in any situation, and he’s headed to a pitching staff that needs all the help it can get.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.