Feature Photo: Anderson Espinoza, RHP, Padres
Ed. Note: Click here to listen to Defreitas and Faleris discuss a solid Padres’ system on Episode 2 of Defensive Indifference, the official Podcast of 2080 Baseball! You can also follow along as we publish reviews of all 30 teams this offseason by clicking here. And as always, follow us on Twitter and Facebook!
By David DeFreitas and Nick J. Faleris
El Paso Chihuahuas (Triple-A, Pacific Coast)
San Antonio Missions (Double-A, Texas)
Lake Elsinore Storm (High A, California)
Fort Wayne TinCaps (Class A, Midwest)
Tri-City Dust Devils (Short-Season A, Northwest)
AZL Padres (Rookie, Arizona)
DSL Padres (Dominican)
Peoria Javelinas (Arizona Fall)
The system has staggering depth and potential for impact across the low- and high-minors alike, with the Padres leveraging all avenues of acquisition over the past 18 months – trades, the MLB Draft, and international signings – to compile one of the most impressive collections of young talent in the game.
CREAM OF THE CROP
Anderson Espinoza, RHP, Class A Fort Wayne | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 70/60
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/160 B/T: L/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 18y, 9m
Player Stats | 2080 Spotlight | 2080 Video
The Tools: 80 fastball; 60 curveball; 70 changeup – Espinoza projects to three plus or better offerings, headlined by a lively mid-90s fastball that regularly reaches the upper 90s and creeps into triple digits. The curve is a sharp 12-to-6 breaker that can miss bats in and out of the zone and comes with solid depth. His best secondary is a plus to double-plus changeup that he throws with deceptive arm speed and pitch plane, while showing sharp arm-side dive. He projects to above-average command/control at maturity.
The Profile: The slightly undersized righty possesses some of the best raw stuff in the minors and comes with true front-end potential. While not overly physical, Espinoza is sturdily built and showed no signs of tiring late in the season despite logging 108 1/3 innings pitched in 2016, which is on the heels of throwing just 58 1/3 in 2015. He throws with a clean and easy low-effort arm, maintaining a steady head throughout and showing more than enough athleticism and easy of motion to project above-average command and control in the future.
Espinoza still needs to learn how to assert himself on the mound, as the hard-throwing Venezuelan product can get too timid with his stuff, settling for “get me over” offerings too often, while working too much of the white and failing to adequately challenge overmatched bats. While he is still learning to sequence and execute, it is already apparent that he has a high level of comfort with his full repertoire, matching arm speed and arm slot across all three pitches while demonstrating a willingness to work forwards and backwards as situations dictate.
Espinoza will draw a challenging assignment with the hitter-friendly Cal League in 2017, with the soon-to-be 19-year-old working to find more consistency in his execution and game planning. He looks the part of a future front-end arm, though the process of refining his impressive skillset into that “future self” will require some time and reps, which will likely come with some bumps along the way.
Manuel Margot, OF, Triple-A El Paso | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 60/55
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/180 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 22y, 2m
The Tools: 55 hit; 70 run; 65 field; 50 arm – The double-plus run and plus to double-plus glove should carry everyday value for Margot, with average arm strength completing the impressive up-the-middle profile on the defensive side. Offensively, Margot projects to an above-average hit tool thanks to his high-contact rates and solid bat speed, and though the power is below average he has a chance to find a niche as a center fielder who can go get it on the grass, swing it in the box, and chew up some dirt on the bases.
The Profile: Margot debuted this summer in San Diego as a 21-year-old in the midst of a Triple-A campaign that saw him slash .304/.351/.426 over 124 games. One of the key components of the package that sent Craig Kimbrel (RHP) to Boston, he utilizes a quick and compact stroke to maintain high contact rates, regularly putting the ball in play and excelling at spraying line drives gap-to-gap across the field. It’s an aggressive approach in the box, which could make for a continual adjustment period against MLB arms at the outset as teams cycle through different attacks to try and exploit his aggression.
Even with the potential for some offensive struggles while adjusting to big league arms, Margot should provide steady value with the glove and with his legs, covering good ground in the outfield and producing positive value on the bases. He continues to improve his reads and jumps, both in the field and on the dirt, and could end up swiping 25 bases per year at maturity, while providing impact glovework in center field. He will enter 2017 competing for regular time in San Diego, and stands as the long term center field solution for the club as an up-the-middle contributor capable of doing some damage with the stick.
Cal Quantrill, RHP, Class A Fort Wayne | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 65/55
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/165 B/T: L/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 21y, 10m
The Tools: 65 fastball; 60 changeup; 55 curveball; 50 slider; 60 changeup – Still working his way back from Tommy John surgery, Quantrill saw most of his stuff return to pre-surgery form, though the Stanford product is still regaining his feel for execution and command. The fastball is a plus to double-plus offering that sits in the low-to-middle 90s with good heft, and it can draw empty swings and soft contact alike. His changeup is a future double-plus weapon that already plays to an easy plus grade – with good deception and swing-and-miss utility – and he will show a couple different looks on the breaking ball, flirting with an average slider and curve that could each bump a half grade at maturity.
The Profile: Despite having perhaps the best blend of stuff and refinement amongst college arms in the 2016 MLB Draft class, Quantrill was not able to get back on the bump soon enough in the spring to get evaluators comfortable with his post-TJ stuff. As a result, he slipped to the Padres with the eighth overall pick, giving them one of the highest upside arms in the entire draft and adding a potential front-end arm to their system along (soon to be joined by Anderson Espinoza, who was acquired from Boston in exchange for LHP Drew Pomeranz later in the summer).
The pure stuff is impressive, and the only missing link in 2016 for the imposing righty was feel and consistency – attributes that he possessed in excess prior to succumbing to surgery as an underclassman in Palo Alto. Quantrill’s athleticism, easy arm and high level of comfort on the mound help to project him to above-average command in the future. Combine that with two potential double-plus offerings in his fastball/changeup combo, and a couple more average-or-better pitches with his breaking balls, and it gives him the look of a future number two starter on the high side, or a steady number three on the low side. He will likely start at either Class A Fort Wayne or High A Lake Elsinore, and could reach Double-A San Antonio this summer, setting him up for a major league debut sometime in 2018.
Luis Urias, 2B, High A Lake Elsinore | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/50
Ht/Wt: 5’9”/160 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 19y, 6m
Player Stats | 2080 Report | 2080 Spotlight
The Tools: 60 hit; 50 run; 50 field – A potential plus hit tool carries the profile, with Urias showing an advanced approach at the plate, quick hands, solid tracking, and good feel for utilizing the whole field. The power is below average, but he should produce enough hard contact to the gaps to keep upper level arms honest, and force them to work the margins of the zone where he can leverage his approach to draw some walks. It’s an average glove with fringe-average arm strength that fits best at second, where he could be solid but unspectacular contributor. The speed is average.
The Profile: Urias impressed as an 18/19-year old in the Cal League this summer, showing a surprising level of refinement in the box, including a confident command of the strike zone and impressive feel for the barrel, producing quality contact to all fields and showing room to project out even more regular hard contact at physical maturity. His hands work well to drive the barrel to the ball across the quadrants, and he handled himself in various game situations and counts with surprising deftness and maturity.
The value in Urias’s profile is driven almost exclusively by the hit tool, though he will not be a detriment with the glove and could grow into a solid-average defender at the keystone. He is still raw on the bases, struggling some with his jumps and, en route, with reads on balls in front of him, though the hope is his average speed will dissuade him from getting unnecessarily aggressive as he continues to learn his game and work to fully leverage his skill set.
Urias should debut in the Texas League this spring at the age of 19, making him one of the youngest talents at the Double-A level. He projects as an everyday guy for the Padres at second base, with the upside of a first-division regular who could serve as a quality number-two bat, perhaps combining with Manuel Margot to form the foundation of the next quality Padres offense.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/50
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/220 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 24y, 10m
Player Stats | 2080 Spotlight
The Tools: 50 hit; 60 power; 50 run; 55 field; 60 arm – Renfroe will show five legit average-or-better tools, highlighted by plus raw power and a plus arm out in right field. The former Mississippi State Bulldog has worked to tighten his approach at the plate and to cut down on his empty swings, giving him a chance for an average hit tool. He’s a good athlete with solid-average speed and enough feel with the leather to project as an average to above-average fielder in right.
The Profile: Renfroe finished his 2015 season on an upswing with Triple-A El Paso, then kept that momentum through the entirety of the 2016 season, showing an improved approach at the plate to go with his always-present raw power and traditional right field defensive profile. Despite his barrel path and overall aggressive approach threatening to limit his ability to fully engage his plus raw pop, Renfroe demonstrated a much headier approach in 2016, showing he has an idea as to what he wants to do in the box and excelling at identifying fastball counts and opportunities to unleash aggressive hacks.
A solid runner with plus arm strength and feel for the leather, Renfroe should produce at least average defense out in right field, with a chance he blossoms into a true above-average contributor in time. He continues to make adjustments across his game, and now looks more the part of a quality everyday right fielder than he did at this same time a year ago. He had a brief but loud debut with the Pads this past summer, slashing .371/.389/.800 and launching four home runs and three doubles in just 36 plate appearances. He should compete for an everyday job in San Diego this spring and could settle in as a quality five-hole hitter with good pop and a well-roundedness to his overall game, chipping in some value in the field and on the bases.
Javier Guerra, SS, High A Lake Elsinore | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/50
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/165 B/T: L/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 21y, 2m
Player Stats | 2080 Report | 2080 Spotlight
The Tools: 50 power; 50 run; 60 field; 70 arm – Guerra’s value centers around his potential for impact defense at the six-spot, powered by excellent hands and a double-plus arm, each of which allow him to max out on his effective range. There’s some explosiveness with the bat, which could help him to reach average power at maturity, though his below-average hit tool could limit his ultimate offensive upside. He’s a solid-average runner who can cover enough ground to get the job done at short and moves better underway than he does up the line.
The Profile: Guerra joined Manuel Margot as part of the haul shipped by Boston to San Diego in exchange for RHP Craig Kimbrel last spring, though he showed more trouble adjusting to the change of scenery and bump in competition than did the future center fielder. Guerra had a lackluster year with High A Lake Elsinore from a production standpoint, slashing .202/.264/.325, but the raw talent and tools were constantly on display for evaluators, beginning with the glove an arm strength.
Guerra has the potential to grow into a true impact defender at shortstop, thanks to his above-average body control and ability to finish plays at the margins of his range. His double-plus arm plays across the diamond, though at times he can get lackadaisical in his actions, leading to the ball sailing on him. There is still refinement needed, but as a foundational matter, the defense should anchor his major league value without much trouble.
At the plate things are a little less certain, with Guerra showing above-average raw power in BP, with an ability to drive the ball around the park with over-the-fence strength to the pull side. The bat is in and out of the zone quickly, however, resulting in a good amount of swing-and-miss in his game. When focused and locked in, Guerra can flash above-average offensive potential with the looks of a future .260 bat and 15-plus home runs annually. Still just 20 years old, he is a good candidate to return to Lake Elsinore with a chance to hit the reset button and tackle the league in earnest for a second year. The upside is an impact glove at the six-spot with a little bit of pop on the offensive side, and a solid utility role serving as the fallback.
Yimmi Brasoban, RHP, Double-A San Antonio | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 60/50
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/185 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 22y, 5m
Player Stats | 2080 Report | 2080 Spotlight
The Tools: 70 fastball; 60 slider – Brasoban has the traditional look of a potential late-inning arm based on the quality of his double-plus heater and potential plus slider. The fastball works regularly in the 95-to-97 mph velo band, coming with late life through the zone, while the slider sits in the upper 80s, and touching 90 mph, with tight, tilted action.
The Profile: At present, the largest hurdle to clear for Brasoban to realize his potential as a shutdown late-inning arm is finding more consistency with his slider and with his overall execution. At his best, the hard-throwing righty can locate his fastball to both sides of the plate, working effectively to keep the ball down and limit hard contact. Because the depth and bite on the slider is still inconsistent, Brasoban can struggle to drop it in for strikes when needed, at times limiting its utility to that of a chase pitch when ahead in the count. At it’s best, the slider shows plus potential with hard two-plane action and looks the part of a swing-and-miss offering. Even a small improvement in consistency with the breaking ball could allow for a big jump in in-game effectiveness.
There’s no question the righty has the mentality and approach for late-inning work, as he seems to thrive on challenging hitters with the fastball – moving the pitch effectively in and out, and elevating on occasion to expand the zone. If he can harness the slider into a more consistent weapon through additional reps, the strikeout rate could see a jump, and the Padres could have a high-leverage arm to add to the mix in the big league pen in short order.
ON THE HORIZON
Dinelson Lamet, RHP, Triple-A El Paso | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/50
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/187 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 24y, 4m
Quick Hit: Lamet represents one of the system’s few potential rotation pieces above the lower minors, with the former international signee showing aptitude for a plus fastball that can reach the middle 90s and an above-average slider that works middle to upper 80s with inconsistent shape but with solid two-plane action. He made progress with his changeup this past year, to the point where he is now throwing it more regularly and with more confidence. While it might not ever grade out to more than fringe-average, the quality of the fastball and slider could render that shortcoming irrelevant, limiting the utility of the offspeed to that of a simple change-of-pace pitch to disrupt timing.
Lamet’s struggles with refining his slider to become a consistent weapon, as well as the lagging development of a third offering, would generally point to a future in the pen. While that remains a decent fallback option, the Padres have the luxury of running the power righty out of the rotation for at least another year given their limited prospects for competing for the NL West title in 2017. That patience could pay off in the form of a solid number four arm capable of putting together the occasional shutdown, high-strikeout performance.
Franchy Cordero, OF, Double-A San Antonio | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/45
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/175 B/T: L/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 22y, 3m
Player Stats | 2080 Report | 2080 Video
Quick Hit: After struggling to find consistency in the Midwest League during his 2015 campaign, Cordero enjoyed a nice mini-breakout in the Cal and Texas Leagues in 2016, slashing a combined .290/.344/.450 over 602 plate appearances (including 16 PAs during a single-series call-up to Triple-A El Paso). While the production was a step in the right direction, the remain significant obstacles to Cordero tapping into his offensive upside with regularity, most notably a pull-centric swing and tendency to expand the zone once he falls behind in the count.
Cordero projects as a quality corner defender in the outfield who can handle center field in limited exposure. He tracks down balls well and shows athletic actions generally, but he can struggle to read balls to the gaps while in center, making left field a more natural everyday fit. That puts pressure on the bat to produce, and it could force Cordero into a bit of a tweener designation.
Advocates point to the strides that he made in 2016 as evidence that there is room for growth on the offensive side, while detractors point to consistent struggles to control the outer half of the plate and already- high strikeout rates that are likely to continue to increase at the upper levels. If all clicks he could be a solid everyday contributor in a corner, with the more likely fit as a solid fourth outfielder option.
Phil Maton, RHP, Triple-A El Paso | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/50
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/220 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 23y, 8m
Quick Hit: The former Louisiana Tech standout came off the board in the 20th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, and from that day forward San Diego has enjoyed 80-plus innings of dominant performances from Maton, with the righty reaching Triple-A El Paso to close out the year. His fastball is a low- to middle-90s plus weapon, hurled with a loose and athletic arm action that has some whip, and produces deception with the arm speed and angle. Maton gets good extension, as well, helping the ball to jump on hitters.
His slider will flash above-average, and plays best at the higher end of it’s low- to-middle-80s velo range where it has shorter, cutter-like action. He can drop in a changeup as well, disrupting timing and keeping hitters from sitting on the hard stuff. It’s impossible to argue with Maton’s results, as he has averaged 14.5 strikeouts-per-nine innings over his 84 1/3 inning pro career, and he’s posted an unbelievable 8.5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s a potential late-inning arm for the Padres who could debut as early as this summer.
Jose Torres, LHP, Double-A San Antonio | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/50
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/175 B/T: L/L Age (as of December 1, 2016): 23y, 2m
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Quick Hit: Torres’s 2016 spanned appearances at three levels, stretching from High A Lake Elsinore to Triple-A El Paso and ultimately finishing with a stint in the Arizona Fall League. His fastball is a mid- to upper-90s offering with arm-side action and some weight, helping some to keep the ball on the ground and avoid hard contact. He would miss more bats with a more consistent breaking ball, though his slider can flash average with sweeping action in the low 80s.
Even with the inconsistent secondary offering, Torres carries value as a live-armed lefty who shows some feel for working the ball to both sides of the plate and isn’t afraid to challenge hitters. He has late-inning upside, with a fallback role being that of a quality lefty specialist.
Miguel Diaz, RHP, Class A Wisconsin (Brewers) | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/45
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/175 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 22y, 0m
Quick Hit: Selected by Minnesota with the first overall pick in this year’s Rule 5 draft, and subsequently traded to San Diego, Diaz has a traditional Rule 5 profile as a young power arm with two MLB-caliber offerings but some questions as to consistency and command due to missed developmental time and limited reps. After missing time in 2015 with a fracture in his throwing elbow, Diaz returned to action in 2016 showing much the same as he did pre-surgery, sitting comfortably in the low 90s and touching 95-to-96 mph with his fastball, and breaking off an upper-70s slurvy slider with some depth and snap to it when thrown right.
The changeup is still in its nascent stages, and the slider probably lacks the consistency he’ll need for it to be a dependable weapon out of the Padres’ pen in 2016. But if they can find enough clean-up work for him to keep him on the 25-man roster for the full year, he would make an interesting addition as an upside arm who will be just 22 years old in 2018, and who already has a track record missing bats and steadily improving the quality of his stuff. A shift to the pen could speed up his ultimate ascent to the big leagues. Otherwise he’d slot in with the impressive wave of arms (listed below) that will be making their way to the High A California League and Double-A Texas League over the next two seasons.
Allen Cordoba, SS, Rookie Johnson City (Cardinals) | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/40
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/175 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 21y, 0m
Quick Hit: Acquired in this December’s Rule 5 draft, Cordoba is a tooled-up middle-infielder who has yet to reach full-season ball and will be tasked with sticking on the 25-man roster for the entirety of 2017 if he’s to stay in the Padres organization. Provided he makes it through camp, he has a conceivable path to stick in San Diego predicated upon his utility as a plus-run pinch-runner and some chance for him to serve in a quasi-utility role across the infield.
The glove isn’t impactful, so the defense is more about versatility than straight positional value. Despite limited Stateside reps, the ability to track and the bat-the-ball feel presents as preternatural, so the offensive side of the equation comes down to whether he has enough inherent contact ability to stay afloat in limited action action vs big league arms. It would seem to be a long shot, but it’s an interesting Rule 5 test case in identifying specific attributes that could help a prospect in the lower minors keep his head above water for a season in order to bring a high-upside talent into the system.
Luis Torrens, C, Class A Charleston (Yankees) | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/175 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 20y, 7m
Quick Hit: Another 2016 Rule 5 acquisition (this time in trade), Torrens has a chance to stick as a low-cost backup option with a quality catch-and-throw game and enough feel to handle a Padres staff that shouldn’t be overpowering. Long term, the hope is you can sneak Torrens into the system and give yourself three seasons to try and work the bat up to a level where he could serve as a passable everyday option.
At present he brings a decent approach to the plate, showing a strong command of the strike zone and willingness to work a count. There’s some strength in the frame, but he can get caught with a passive weight transfer feeling for contact, rather than driving the barrel through the ball. If the Padres can get him back on a developmental track in 2018, at which point he will still only be 22 years old, there’s a chance for fringe-average hit and power to emerge.
Jose Rondon, SS, Triple-A El Paso | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/195 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 22y, 9m
Quick Hit: Rondon profiles as a low impact bat capable of providing solid up-the-middle defense at short and at second. In the box he is a high contact bat, but the aggressive approach severely limits his on-base utility and there isn’t much in the way of pop to help secure value. The result is likely to be a batting average-driven profile that only plays as a down-order stick with a fringe-average hit tool that plays a bit hollow.
Rondon has the hands and actions to serve as a capable shortstop and solid defender at second base, though the glove doesn’t project to impact levels, falling just shy as a true carrying tool. If everything clicks he could carve out a role as a second-division regular; the more likely outcome is an up/down guy capable of filling in at multiple positions when the need arises.
Brad Wieck, LHP, Double-A San Antonio | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’9”/255 B/T: L/L Age (as of December 1, 2016): 25y, 1m
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Quick Hit: Wieck had no issue racking up strikeouts (averaging a 13.6 strikeouts-per-nine innings) in 60-plus innings split between High A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio this past summer — his first transitioning to full time relief work. The former seventh-rounder creates tough angles out of a three-quarters slot that comes with some deceptive crossfire, creating an uncomfortable bat – especially for same-side hitters.
His heater can reach 94-to-95 mph with life, but plays to just a tick-above-average due to loose command in the zone. He’ll show an above-average changeup with the potential to grow into a true plus offering with a little more refinement, and the pitch has a chance to play up even more if he can tighten up the fastball some and place it with more purpose.
Nick Torres, OF, Triple-A El Paso | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/220 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 23y, 5m
Quick Hit: Torres will show you some solid bat-to-ball skills and gap pop, but the approach leads to a good amount of early-count contact and he doesn’t fit naturally as a top-of-the-order bat capable of drawing walks and getting on base consistently. When he does square up a pitch it’s loud, carrying well to the gaps. There’s good whip in the barrel and he has continued to grow his core strength at the pro ranks, though it hasn’t translated to more over-the-fence power as of yet.
Defensively, Torres is limited to left field due to below-average foot speed and arm strength. While he shows some aptitude with the stick, the full offensive package feels light for a regular left field gig. There’s an outside shot he hits just enough to survive as a second-division regular.
Carlos Asuaje, SS, Triple-A El Paso | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 5’9”/160 B/T: L/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 25y, 1m
Quick Hit: Another piece of the package shipped to San Diego by Boston last spring, Asuaje is another Padres prospect with his wagon hitched firmly to the hit tool. It’s not an impact bat, but Asuaje shows good feel for the barrel and a knack for squaring up the ball and there’s just enough strength here to shoot the gaps with a bit of regularity. He’s an average to tick-above-average runner who is better underway than he is up the line.
While there is a chance Asuaje makes enough hard contact to hold his own at the major league level, the rest of the profile plays fringy and likely eats too deep into his aggregate value to justify an everyday role. His glove is adequate at second, and there is a chance he eventually grows into a solid-average defender there, but at present he is closer to a tick-below-average due to limited range and some errors of indifference in his actions. He’s an okay stop-gap at the keystone, but the hit tool would have to play all the way up to plus in order for him to profile as a serviceable everyday option. That seems unlikely given there isn’t enough pop to prevent major leagues from repeatedly challenging him in the zone.
Kyle McGrath, LHP, Double-A San Antonio | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/185 B/T: L/L Age (as of December 1, 2016): 24y, 4m
Player Stats | 2080 Video
Quick Hit: McGrath is a deception lefty with a fringe-average fastball that plays well above it’s velo grade due to his ability to change looks on the pitch through different arm slots and angles. Over 67-plus innings in 2016, split between High A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio (and one appearance with Triple-A El Paso) McGrath averaged 10.4 strikeouts-per-nine innings while maintaining a WHIP of 0.754 and holding opposing hitters to a .174 BAA. Put simply, he missed bats and barrels alike while keeping runners of the bases.
It’s now back-to-back seasons across three levels in which McGrath has thrived despite a repertoire that lacks sizzle. He’s had success at Double-A, and the ability to leverage a multi-look fastball with an adequate changeup and slider that each match the release and plane of the fastball. There’s an avenue for McGrath to succeed at the highest level with his collection of offerings: borderline indistinguishable out-of-hand, breaking in three different directions, and coming at the hitter across an aggregate 8-to-10 mph velocity band. He’s unlikely to be a high-leverage arm, but a solid 7th-inning profile is looking more and more like a possibility, with similarities in operation to Paco Rodriguez (LHP, Braves).
Walker Lockett, RHP, Triple-A El Paso | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/225 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 22y, 7m
Player Stats | 2080 Report
Quick Hit: Lockett flew through the system in 2016, logging 25 starts across four levels, totaling 164 innings and finishing with three starts with Triple-A El Paso. Lockett boasts a loose arm and a simple, compact delivery that he repeats well. The fastball sits in the low 90s, touching 94 mph, with good tailing life and quality heft. He’ll show a below-average slider and a below-average changeup, each of which lack crispness and serve primarily to try and keep bats from sitting on the fastball.
Lockett throws strikes and draws soft contact thanks to the tough angle he creates on his heavy fastball and could carve-out a role as a spot starter or back-end type so long as he can keep the ball on the ground. Without a true swing-and-miss offering he’s going to let a lot of balls be put in play, but there’s a window for him to provide some value in San Diego as early as 2017.
Adrian Morejon, LHP, International Signee | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 65/50
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/165 B/T: L/L Age (as of December 1, 2016): 17y, 9m
Quick Hit: One of the several high profile international additions to the Padres system this past J2 signing period, Morejon landed himself an $11 million signing bonus of the strength of three potential above-average to plus offerings, loose and easy mechanics, and an advanced approach on the bump. The Cuban lefty wields a plus fastball out of a loose and quick arm, showing above-average arm speed and an ability to work in, out, up, and down with the pitch. His breaking ball comes with slider action in the upper 70s, creeping into the lower 80s, a pitch that’s been classified by some as a power curve that gets its shape due to the low arm slot. His changeup is a third offering that will flash above-average to plus potential, and he shows surprising feel for the offering considering his age and experience.
Overall, Morejon’s mechanics work for him, with the southpaw showing limited effort throughout and generally staying consistent in his arm action despite some length and the backside. He doesn’t have a typical workhorse frame, but the body is well constructed with good strength in the lower half and solid athleticism and flexibility. It’s unclear where Morejon will begin his Stateside work, but it’s possible the Padres view him as advanced enough to tackle the Midwest League next summer. He’ll play all of 2018 at the age of 18, giving San Diego some cushion to break him into life in the States at a pace that best suits him. This combination of stuff and feel isn’t commonplace for a teenage arm, and while there is obvious risk associated with a three- or four-year developmental arc there’s good cause to be optimistic that Morejon can reach his lofty upside.
Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS/3B, Rookie Tri-City | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 60/45
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/185 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 17y, 11m
Quick Hit: Tatis made his way to the Padres system via trade, shipping out west from Chicago in the James Shields (RHP, White Sox) deal last June, with Tatis quickly establishing himself as a player of interest in a deep Padres farm system. The young infielder is already showing some power potential, with a leveraged swing, some natural lift and good bat speed. There’s a lot of pre-swing action, but it doesn’t prevent Tatis from hitting his checkpoints and generally launching from a consistent spot on his cuts. He should make his full season debut in 2017 with Class A Fort Wayne and will be one of the more interesting bats to follow in a Midwest League that often plays rough for bats – particularly early in the year.
His ultimate defensive home remains a question. The hands play at shortstop for now, but his frame points to additional mass in the trunk, which could ultimately push him over to third base. He has easy plus arm strength that will play at either spot on the left side, and the offensive potential should fit at either locale, as well. Tatis has an all-star potential upside, capable of growing into an above-average bat with plus power production, and his consistent approach at such a young age bodes well for the development of a solid on-base component to his offensive contributions.
Jacob Nix, RHP, Class A Fort Wayne | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 60/50
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/225 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 20y, 11m
Player Stats | 2080 Video
Quick Hit: Entering 2016, Nix was best known as the fifth-round selection who lost out on signing with Houston as fallout in the Brady Aiken (RHP, Indians) brouhaha back in 2014. Today, he sits comfortable on the happy side of a strong full-season debut with Class A Fort Wayne in which he showed potential mid-rotation stuff and above-average command, all while demonstrating an impressive presence on the mound. Nix’s fastball works easily in the low-to-middle 90s, showing solid life down in the zone and straightening out a bit at higher velocities. His curveball is an above-average offering at present that will flash double-plus potential on occasion, and it has a chance to be a powerful weapon as both a swing-and-miss pitch and as a drop-in offering.
The changeup is still firm and flat, but he has made progress incorporating it into his mix with more regularity and confidence, and he has made enough progress thus far to believe he will eventually get the off-speed offering up to a solid-average pitch. Nix looks the part of an innings-eater that could settle in as a good number four starter on his present trajectory with the upside of a number three if he can take a step forward with his changeup. He’ll also need to tighten up his in-zone command, which leaves him too hittable at times considering the quality of the stuff.
Luis Almanzar, SS, International Signee | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 60/45
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/180 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 17y, 1m
Quick Hit: Another high-end international addition to the system, Almanzar received a $4 million signing bonus this past summer off the promise of his balanced profile and offensive upside. He possesses a wide and projectable frame in the hips and trunk, leaving room to add strength through his core that could translate well in his swing. There’s already solid bat speed in place with a chance to grow into above-average power when all is said and done.
At present, his actions play at shortstop, though there is a chance the body eventually shifts him to the hot corner where the corresponding added strength should help the power profile play up as needed. In addition to your typical proximity risk with a high-end J2 signing, there is some contact utility risk in the swing with the barrel getting in and out of the zone quickly. Time will tell whether his feel and hand/eye coordination will combine to limit the potential impact the mechanical quirk, and evaluators should start to get a good sense rather quickly as he tackles more consistent competition in the States. It’s an all-star upside of a solid defender at shortstop that can do some damage at the plate.
Chris Paddack, RHP, Class A Fort Wayne | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 60/50
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/195 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 20y, 11m
Quick Hit: Paddack’s breakout season was already underway when the Marlins flipped him to San Diego last summer for Fernando Rodney (RHP), as the former eighth-rounder tossed 42 1/3 dominant innings for Class A Greensboro, allowing just 20 hits and five walks while striking out a whopping 71 batters. He replicated that performance with Class A Fort Wayne post-trade with three starts totaling 28 1/3 innings in which he allowed just 11 base runners (via nine hits and two walks) while striking out 48. His season was put on hold due to elbow soreness and then ended for good in August when he underwent Tommy John surgery.
Paddack’s systematic carving through Class A ball coincided with a big uptick in stuff, including a velo bump that began in late 2015, with the heater climbing from the upper 80s that year, and then becoming a consistent low-90s weapon capable of touching 95 mph in 2016. His bread and butter is a plus to double-plus changeup with nasty dive that keeps hitters off-balance, consistently generating swings and misses or forcing hitters to drive the ball into the ground. He’ll also mix in a workable curveball that lacks consistent bite and action (floating between a true 12-to-6 and 11-to-5 breaker) but shows enough promise to project to average at maturity.
Paddack works off an up-tempo set of mechanics that he repeats well, and that provide a firm foundation for a plus command profile. The upside here is a good number three starter if he comes back at full strength in 2018, and proves durable enough to handle a starter’s load. The fastball and changeup could make him a top-flight closer, as well, again assuming he returns to form after the TJ surgery.
Eric Lauer, LHP, Class A Fort Wayne | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/45
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/205 B/T: R/L Age (as of December 1, 2016): 21y, 6m
Quick Hit: The former Kent State ace and 2015 Cape Cod strikeout leader doesn’t offer power in his arsenal, but it’s a balanced four-pitch mix that grades out as average or better across the board and plays up thanks to above-average command and good feel. The well-built lefty generally sits in the low 90s with his fastball, bumping 94 mph, and pairs it with an above-average slider that works 10-to-12 mph off of the heater. Lauer will also cut the fastball, adding to the deceptive play between his top two offerings.
He round out his stable of offerings with a solid changeup he can turn over with fade and an average mid-70s curveball that works to change the eye level of hitters and offers a change-of-pace off of his firmer stuff. A former standout receiver in high school, Lauer has athletic, low-effort actions and repeats his mechanics well. He shows consistent timing and release on his offerings, and works well downhill, filling up the lower-U of the strike zone. Lauer profiles as a good, durable number four starter who should move quickly through the low-minors given his advanced feel and secondaries, and could settle into a rotation spot in San Diego as early as 2018.
Gabriel Arias, SS, International Signee | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/40
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/185 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 16y, 9m
Quick Hit: Another high-profile signing from the 2016 J2 class, Arias provides a versatile profile that could go in many directions as he begins his formal pro development. Though just 16 years old, he is well put together with an athletic frame that should help to hang additional strength without restricting action as he matures physically. Though he’s not fleet of foot, he does show natural fluidity in his actions and it sometimes takes physical teens some time to get full control over their body. His hands work well and he shows natural feel for footwork on the dirt. The arm is an asset, and should allow him to make throws across in the infield and outfield alike, with an easy action that will likely add even more strength and carry at maturity.
At the plate, the swing is simple with a slight wrap but clean path to the ball. He shows some bat speed and an ability to produce loud contact with regularity. It will be some time before there is a clear picture as to his approach and a better idea as to a confident hit tool projection, but the physical tools and general actions are there to produce a bat that can hit for average and even a bit of power. His body will ultimately determine if he sticks at shortstop, but that’s certainly where he’ll begin his journey.
Jeisson Rosario, OF, International Signee | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/40
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/175 B/T: L/L Age (as of December 1, 2016): 17y, 11m
Quick Hit: Rosario has a broad set of tools with a chance to project to at least average across the board. At the plate he shows quick hands and compact cuts, with a path that should help promote consistent contact. There’s enough bat speed generated to drive the ball, and some natural loft to help carry the gaps. The material is here for fringe-average power and an average or better hit tool, though the number of doubles and triples he racks up could be limited if his average foot speed decreases as he gets bigger.
While the foundation of the offensive profile is solid, Rosario may stand out more for his present capabilities in the outfield. He shows a natural feel for reads off the bat, with his economic routes helping him to get to more balls than you’d expect out of a player with average foot speed. This gives him a chance to stick in field so long as he doesn’t slow down too much as he progresses up the ladder. Were he to shift off the 8-spot he’ll fit well in right with plus arm strength and an arm action that produces easy carry.
Michell Miliano, RHP, International Signee | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/40
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/185 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 16y, 11m
Quick Hit: Miliano signed with San Diego as part of their monster 2016 J2 class, earning a $450,000 bonus off the strength of his projectable build and solid present stuff. He works from the upper 80s into the low 90s with a very quick and easy arm, offering tons of projection moving forward. He has some feel spin, wielding an 11-to-5 curveball that fits well with his 3/4’s release and already has solid shape to it. The changeup is still in its nascent stages, but if you bet on the loose arm and decent athleticism in the actions there’s reason to view it as a potential average offering in time.
With a broad frame and medium-high waist, there is a lot of room to project both the body and the stuff, and there are similarities in body type and mechanics to Mariners closer Edwin Diaz, who showed similar stuff as an amateur before seeing a big jump over the course of his first two pro seasons. Like Diaz, Miliano works with a simple phone booth set of mechanics, loose actions and a bit of crossfire, though his true 3/4’s slot is a full notch higher than the low 3/4’s slot Diaz utilized (which also accounts for the former’s preference for a curve and Diaz’s development of his now impact slider). It’s mostly projection at this point, but this is the type of profile that can get very interesting very quickly as the body matures and the player is able to get more physical. He should get some work on the complex in 2017 with an eye towards a full-season debut as early as 2018.
Michael Gettys, OF, High A Lake Elsinore | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/40
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/203 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 21y, 1m
Player Stats | 2080 Video
Quick Hit: After a slow start to his pro career in 2015, Gettys bounced back well this year putting up a .305/.363/.442 slash line over 561 plate appearances split almost perfectly between Class A Fort Wayne and High A Lake Elsinore. The Peach State prep product has a stocky, physical build that hasn’t slowed him down much – he’s a plus to double-plus runner down the line and a plus defender in center covering great ground – though his arm action seems to be a little more restricted than it was a couple of years ago, and the arm often plays closer to a tick above-average than the plus-plus looks he’d give in high school.
At the plate, Gettys has made strides in his approach, working to better identify pitch types and adjust his approach based on game situations, but the barrel still flies in and out of the zone quickly, which limits opportunities for the barrel to find the ball. The hit and power could play below average at maturity, as advanced arms prove more capable of exploiting coverage holes. Still, the foot speed and his potential to provide impact defense in center field leave him a clear path to a big league role as a fourth outfield type, even if he runs into some offensive struggles at Double-A and above.
Logan Allen, LHP, Class A Fort Wayne | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/40
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/200 B/T: R/L Age (as of December 1, 2016): 19y, 6m
Player Stats | 2080 Report
Quick Hit: Another component of the haul received from Boston in the Craig Kimbrel deal, Logan Allen put together a solid full season debut with Class A Fort Wayne, working with a heavy low-90s fastball that touched 94-to-95 mph on occasion. His mechanics work well for him, producing an easy arm action and a good baseline for tightening up the execution on his stuff as he continues to refine and log innings.
A mid-70s curveball and low-80s changeup each project as average offerings down the line, though there’s some room for them each to play up a half-grade above that due to his feel. With a thick and sturdy body type, Allen looks the part of a future work horse who slots in to the back half of a rotation, and his easy arm and mechanics are of the type that can occasionally surprise evaluators by jumping the stuff a notch as the body matures and tightens. Slotted to progress to High A, his innings were limited some by elbow discomfort in 2016, so there’s a chance he goes back to the Midwest League briefly before heading out west.
Enyel De Los Santos, RHP, High A Lake Elsinore | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/40
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/170 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 20y, 11m
Quick Hit: Yet another talent brought in via trade – this time from Seattle in the Joaquin Benoit deal last offseason – De Los Santos possesses impressive upside and has made steady progress over his 183-plus pro innings. He works with a loose arm that produces mid-90s velocity and can reach back for a few extra ticks from time to time. His secondaries lag some, with the changeup flashing some quality fade and his curve showing solid but inconsistent shape and bite.
His control is loose in the zone, which when combined with under-developed secondaries can make him surprisingly hittable, and there are also fly ball tendencies which could portend struggles against more advanced bats. He’ll play all of 2017 at the age of 21, so the Padres can afford to take their time working with the righty to help tighten his execution. Currently working in a starter’s role, there’s a natural bullpen fit if De Los Santos struggles to fully develop his secondaries.
Josh Naylor, 1B, High A Lake Elsinore | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/40
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/225 B/T: L/L Age (as of December 1, 2016): 19y, 5m
Player Stats | 2080 Spotlight | 2080 Video
Quick Hit: Naylor made his way to High A Lake Elsinore by way of the South Atlantic League, switching coasts and levels after being traded to San Diego right before the 2016 trade deadline. The former first-rounder shows good raw power pre-game, but can struggle at times to find that same pop when the lights come on due to an aggressive approach that often has him working from behind. There’s more athleticism in the swing than the body would suggest, with the biggest hurdle to an above-average hit tool being the rudimentary approach.
He’s a below-average defender at first base and a below-average runner, though he has an aggressive streak that allows him to catch the defense off-guard and occasionally swipe an extra bag. It’s a small margin for error given the importance of his bat reaching the heights of its potential. The Padres will likely send him back to Lake Elsinore with an expectation he will work on tightening up his play and sharpening his focus.
Austin Allen, C, Class A Fort Wayne | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/40
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/195 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 22y, 2m
Player Stats | 2080 Spotlight | 2080 Video
Quick Hit: A fourth-round selection in the 2015 MLB Draft, Allen put together a solid offensive showing in his first full year of pro ball, flashing a little pop from the left side, and making regular hard contact en route to a .320/.364/.425 slash line with Class A Fort Wayne. His actions behind the dish are still clunky, particularly for a college product, and the receiving and catch-and-throw game are both underdeveloped at present.
Given his size and present skillset, the smart money might be a bet against him sticking behind the dish, which wouldn’t be destructive to his value but would put a lot of pressure on the bat at first base – his only other suitable home. There’s enough feel for contact and potential for power to make that transition a worthwhile consideration in the near future if quick progress is not made on the defensive side. He’ll tackle High A to start 2017 and projects as a bat-first back-up catcher or a borderline regular at first base.
Reggie Lawson, RHP, Rookie AZL Padres | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/40
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/205 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 19y, 4m
Quick Hit: Lawson was a showcase standout who, despite faltering some in his senior spring landed a $1.9 million signing bonus after being selected by the Padres in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Lawson will touch the middle 90s with his fastball, though his velocity bad is broad and volatile, with the California native sometimes working in the low 90s and sometimes dropping into the middle to upper 80s.
The body projects to that of a durable workhorse, and he’s a solid enough athlete that you can project him to smooth out inconsistencies in his mechanics, which should help his easy arm produce more consistent results. His curve is a slow, loopy offering that will need tightening as he works his way through the system, and the changeup is still early on in its development. Right now Lawson is a nice collection of physical tools for the Padres’ dev. staff to work with.
Mason Thompson, RHP, Rookie AZL Padres | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/40
Ht/Wt: 6’7”/186 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 18y, 9m
Quick Hit: The Padres leveraged extra picks and strategic under-slot signings to help free up an extra $1 million above slot to give to Mason, buying him out of his commitment to the University of Texas. The big righty was still working back from Tommy John surgery during the spring leading up to the 2016 MLB Draft, so evaluators were limited to bullpen sessions where he showed well enough to entice the Padres to pull the trigger on him at the top of the third round.
Athletic for a big man, Thompson repeats his mechanics reasonably well, throwing his low-90s fastballs on a tough downhill plane and generally working well around the plate. His curve and change-up are both raw and will be a developmental focus right away, as the projectable Thompson ramps up his work at the pro levels. He’s a candidate to spend some time on the complex before being trotted out to tackle Rookie ball in the Pioneer League, and 2018 seems like a reasonable target for a full season debut.
Hudson Potts, SS, Rookie AZL Padres | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/40
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/205 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 18y, 1m
Quick Hit: Potts was taken off the board with the 24th-overall pick during this past June’s MLB Draft and signed to an under-slot deal to help free up money elsewhere in the draft class. The native Texan impressed enough in his complex debut to get a taste of Rookie ball in Tri-City to close out his first pro summer, sporting a contact-friendly swing conducive for spraying balls to all fields. It’s an aggressive approach, but it comes with good barrel awareness and high contact rates, and there’s room for him to grow into some pull-side power at maturity.
The infield actions are inconsistent at present, and he moves well enough that the Padres might consider shifting him to a corner-outfield spot at some point down the road. There’s a lot to like here, including potential for an average hit tool with solid pull-side pop and enough athleticism that he has a nice outfield fallback if the body and actions prove problematic on the dirt at some point. He could be challenged with a Midwest League assignment in 2017 to get him into quality game action as soon as possible, understanding there is always the Pioneer League safety net later in the summer if full-season ball proves too demanding this early in the developmental process.
Buddy Reed, OF, Rookie AZL Padres | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/210 B/T: S/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 21y, 7m
Player Stats | 2080 Video
Quick Hit: Reed entered his junior spring at Florida as a potential early first-round selection, but an inconsistent year that highlighted some of the shortcomings in his offensive game dropped the athletic center fielder to the second round where the Padres selected him with the 48th-overall pick. Reed will flash a little pop during BP, with the power coming more naturally from the right side. In-game, he struggles to drive the ball and a tentative approach can force him behind in the count with regularity, where he often expands the zone.
There is upside with Reed due to his athleticism and physicality, and he could end up a plus defender in center field with enough speed to provide value on the grass and on the base paths, alike. The Padres will work with the USA Baseball alum to try and simplify things at the plate, perhaps by tightening and cleaning up his path to the ball to allow for easier contact. He’ll likely report to Class A Fort Wayne to start 2017 and is probably three full seasons from being big league ready, despite his lofty draft status and college pedigree. The most likely role seems to be a solid fourth outfielder, though there is room for him to both over- and under-shoot that due to the volatility in the bat.
Jorge Ona, OF, International Signee | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 55/40
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/220 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 19y, 11m
Quick Hit: Ona received $7 a million signing bonus from the Padres this past summer, with the Padres hoping to develop the powerful outfielder into a an everyday contributor, and potentially one who slots comfortably into the middle of a major league lineup. Ona has easy raw power, which he generates equally through natural strength and solid bat speed. He has little trouble getting the ball into the air and there’s natural carry to his drives.
Defensively, Ona is a below-average runner who would seem to fit best in a corner, though he continues to work out across all three outfield positions. His arm is a tick-above average at present, but could go either way developmentally depending on how much flexibility and range he retains through full physical maturity. Ona’s ultimate value will be determined by his bat, which will get a more thorough examination in 2017 when he debuts. The perfect world outcome is an everyday right fielder with solid hit tool and plus power, but there’s a lot of potential risk wrapped-up in the body as well as amplified proximity risk given the relatively late start to earnest pro development (he’ll play all of 2017 at age 20).
Jose Ruiz, RHP, High A Lake Elsinore | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/40
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/190 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 22y, 1m
Quick Hit: A former catcher, Ruiz transitioned to the mound in 2016 and progressed enough to get a quick ten appearance test run in the Northwest League, as well as a single appearance in both the AZL Complex League and with Class A Fort Wayne. He’s an arm strength bet that has adapted quickly to find a set of mechanics that work for him, showing promising control of a mid-90s fastball that reached 98 mph and helped him to average 10.2 strikeouts-per-nine innings in his limited game action. The Padres thought enough of his progress to add him to the 40-man roster this offseason and expect to take the gloves off and let him loose in 2017.
Ruddy Giron, SS, High A Lake Elsinore | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/175 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 19y, 11m
Player Stats | 2080 Video
Quick Hit: Giron sports a thick build with actions that don’t fit shortstop, long term. The 2013 international bonus baby still retains some upside with the stick thanks to some bat speed, but the expected power hasn’t shown up in-game to date, casting some doubt as to where he’ll ultimately find a fit with the big club. He’ll show you bat speed, but the swing path takes the barrel out of the zone quickly, and limits the number of balls he’s able to square up.
He has the arm for third, where his clunky lower-half actions would be less apparent, so a shift to the hot corner seems likely in the next year or so. Without the defensive value that comes with a middle-infield glove, there’s a fair chance he ends up a tweener without the stick for third or the glove for an up-the-middle spot.
Lake Bachar, RHP, Class A Fort Wayne | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/210 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 21y, 6m
Quick Hit: Bachar was one of the most impressive arms on display in the Northwoods Summer League in 2015, showing good arm strength and two distinct breaking balls that could play to average or a tick better. The stuff backed up some in the spring and questions about health surfaced, allowing the Wisconsin-Stevens Point righty to slide down to the Padres in the fifth round.
Bachar is a highly physical pitcher who has flashed power stuff in the past and could profile as a solid back-end arm if he proves durable enough. A shift to the pen could see his fastball playing closer to its mid-90s Northwoods form when wielded in one-inning bursts.
Andres Munoz, RHP, Rookie AZL Padres | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/35
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/165 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 17y, 11m
Quick Hit: Another live-armed teen, Munoz logged just under 20 innings in the Arizona Complex League last summer, punching out 26 thanks to a lively mid- to upper-90s fastball. He also walked 16 and allowed 16 hits over the same span, as the control currently plays well below-average.
He’s shown some feel for a changeup, which dovetails with the arm-side action on his two-seam fastball, but he still struggles to execute the slider with any consistency. He’ll play the entire 2017 season at age 18, and seems likely to log another year on the complex before being challenged with an assignment to Tri-City.
Hansel Rodriguez, RHP, Rookie Tri-City | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/35
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/170 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 19y, 9m
Quick Hit: Rodriguez was acquired by San Diego when Melvin Upton was shipped to Toronto this past summer. Rodriguez shows intriguing arm strength, bumping the upper 90s during his 2016 campaign with a loose and live arm. He displays inconsistent tempo on the bump, with his arm periodic working out of sync with the rest of him, and leading to inconsistencies in control and execution.
His slider and changeup are both below-average offerings at present, though he needs just one of them to materialize in order to give him an interesting upside out of the pen. For now, the Padres can afford to take their time working on the nuts-and-bolts of the delivery to try and help Rodriguez to a mechanical foundation that will facilitate growth in the rest of his game. He could see some time in extended spring training in 2017 before making another run at the Northwest League later in the summer.
Franmil Reyes, OF, High A Lake Elsinore | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/240 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 21y, 5m
Quick Hit: Reyes is a big body with big raw power well-suited for a corner-outfield spot, though the swing comes with length on some uphill plane that forces the barrel out of the zone quickly. The leveraged swing can produce impressive shots, but there are big concerns that there won’t be enough contact here for that pop to play at the upper levels. Without much to offer in the field or on the bases, Reyes’s hopes for carving out a big league role rest squarely on his ability to make enough contact for his raw power to play to a useful level. A promotion to Double-A San Antonio in 2017 should be informative.
Austin Smith, RHP, Class A Fort Wayne | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/220 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 20y, 5m
Quick Hit: An imposing figure on the mound, Smith can light-up radar guns with a mid-90s fastball, which he pairs with an inconsistent slider that can flash above average and an occasional “show me” changeup. While his velocity plays, the fastball regularly flattens out and the secondaries are not far enough along in development to keep hitters honest. There’s some upside in the fastball/slider combo, but Smith needs to improve the consistency of his offerings and find a little more control and in-zone command in order for everything to ultimately come together, as he is far too hittable at present.
Joey Lucchesi, LHP, Rookie Tri-City | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 45/40
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/204 B/T: L/L Age (as of December 1, 2016): 23y, 6m
Quick Hit: A fourth-round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft, Lucceshi signed for an under-slot deal as a senior sign, helping to free up money for the Padres to sprinkle around in other rounds. The signing was not just a cost-cutting effort, however, as the Southeast Missouri State product comes with a low-90s fastball that can reach the middle 90s on occasion.
There’s a lot of stop-and-start and herk-and-jerk in the mechanics, creating some deception while working to disrupt hitters’ timing, and he manages to repeat fairly well, showing an ability to throw the fastball with purpose around the zone. The secondaries lag at present, but the profile is interesting enough to keep an eye on as a workable breaking ball could jump him to a potential quality relief arm on short order.
Jordy Barley, SS, International Signee | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/35
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/160 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 16y, 11m
Quick Hit: Barley is a double-plus runner that will show you a loose and whippy swing with solid barrel acceleration, though his in-game cuts lack confidence and fluidity. He shows quick-twitch actions at short and some feel for the footwork, with some projecting he’ll stick there long term and others pointing to center field as a more natural fit. Not overly physical, much of Barley’s progression on the field will stem from how much strength he can add in the coming years. It’s a nice developmental foundation with which to work, but the very definition of high ceiling/low floor given how little of that development has taken place thus far.
Eguy Rosario, 2B3B, Rookie DSL Padres | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/35
Ht/Wt: 5’9”/155 B/T: R/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 17y, 3m
Quick Hit: Rosario is a bit undersized, but shows good bat speed and an ability to drive the ball at a young age. The swing stays compact to contact with solid extension through the ball, and he demonstrates a high level of comfort in the box with a solid, patient approach. The upside may be limited due to the lack of physicality, but Rosario shows a real feel for the barrel and could surprise with quality gap-to-gap pop as he continues to mature. He’ll tackle the Arizona Complex League in 2017 after a brief seven game showing last summer, and is advanced enough with the stick that he could earn an early invite to Tri-City if he continues to swing it as well as he has thus far.
Tirso Ornelas, OF/1B, International Signee | Ceiling/Realistic Role: 50/35
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/185 B/T: L/R Age (as of December 1, 2016): 16y, 9m
Quick Hit: Signed out of Mexico this past summer, Ornelas profiles as a potential rhythm/power bat capable of growing into good playable power with some swing-and-miss to his game. The profile is skewed almost entirely to the bat, with Ornelas clocking in as a below-average runner with fringy instincts in the outfield. He’ll need some time at the complex to log reps in the box and could stand to add a little loft to his swing to help unlock the in-game power as his body matures.
|1. Anderson Espinosa, RHP, A||6. Javier Guerra, SS, High A||11. Jacob Nix, RHP, A|
|2. Manny Margot, OF, AAA||7. Yimmi Brasoban, RHP, AA||12. Luis Almanzar, SS, Int’l|
|3. Cal Quantrill, RHP, A||8. Adrian Morejon, LHP, Int’l||13. Franchy Cordero, OF, AAA|
|4. Luis Urias, 2B, High A||9. Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS/3B, Rk.||14. Phil Maton, RHP, AAA|
|5. Hunter Renfroe, OF, MLB||10. Dinelson Lamet, RHP, AAA||15. Chris Paddack, RHP, A|
Put it this way — if you are dealing with San Diego and cannot find what you need in their system then you don’t know what you’re looking for. The organization has an embarrassment of riches across each of its minor league levels, and in particular below Double-A where aggressive amateur acquisitions and high-upside trade returns have stuffed the cabinets full of potential impact players.
It would not be a stretch to say that the Padres could likely put together a package to trade for any player in the game, though there is a case to be made that the system lacks a high-floored impact positional talent. Even granting that qualifier, there are so many upside players at the lower levels with the potential to grow into that type of talent that it would be a fair to claim with confidence that the system is going to look even stronger six-to-twelve months from now, providing even more opportunities for San Diego to shop around for major league talent to help shorten the span between the present and the organization’s next playoff push.
If there were an area where the Padres might look to strengthen their depth it would likely be quality starters in the upper minors. San Diego is short on in-house options in that department, and it might make some sense to try and build up the upper-minors depth to help bridge the gap between the current big league staff and the impact arms working their way through the low-minors.
While A.J. Preller is often questioned for his all-out push for a playoff run on day one of his tenure in San Diego, no one can deny that he has accomplished the primary focus of his first few years in a rebuilding organization — redefining how the Padres go about acquiring and developing talent in order to establish a vibrant and continual pipeline of players to the big league club. As it sits today, the San Diego system is among the strongest in the game, and it’s tough to think of any team that has been more aggressive in working to populate its organization with high upside talent from a multitude of origination points including the international stage and the MLB Draft, as well as from other organizations through trade and, most recently, the Rule 5 Draft.
The lower minors have a little bit of everything, with a premium being placed on hit tools, athleticism, live arms, and projection, while the upper minors include some high-upside bullpen arms and a handful of impressive positional talents. It’s tough to look at this assemblage of players and not be confident that there will be at least a half-dozen impact talents ready to contribute in San Diego over the course of the next five years, along with numerous other useful contributors, setting up the Padres well to reemerge as a force in the N.L. West in the not-to-distant future.
Over the course of the next 12-to-18 months, Preller and his team will be continually forced to consider to what extent it is time to flip the switch and leverage the system’s depth to move aggressively in trade and free agency to help expedite the club’s return to competitiveness. Critics of Preller’s previous push towards a playoff run might caution against moving too early, for fear another failed run could set back the organization yet again. Looking at the state of the system today, however, the sheer volume of quality players working within the organization should afford numerous opportunities to get creative in building towards that next playoff run without jeopardizing the long-term health of the organization, no matter how aggressive the front office wants to get. It’s that level of systemic health, and how the front office ultimately utilizes it, that will define the work of Preller and his colleagues when we look back ten years from. It should be nothing if not an interesting ride.
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