2019 ORGANIZATIONAL REVIEW: San Diego Padres

OVERVIEW

GM A.J. Preller and his inner-circle developed reputations as excellent evaluators before taking over the Padres, and true to form, they’ve built the best farm system in baseball since coming on the job. Strong international classes, prudent draft picks, and prospects acquired through trade ((#1) Fernando Tatis Jr., (#4) Francisco Mejia, (#5) Chris Paddack, (#7) Josh Naylor) have lined this list with future big leaguers. There’s a little bit of everything here, as the Padres boast an impressive mix of potential stars, high-floor role players, and talent in all parts of the system. San Diego has the prospect depth to develop a homegrown core while still having pieces to trade for established Major Leaguers. No one gets a World Series ring for having a good farm system, but this really could be one for the books.

 

SYSTEM STRENGTHS

–STAR POWER

San Diego placed 11 players in the “Cream of the Crop” range, more than any other organization. This means that double-digit players on this list grade highly enough to rank on our Top 125 this off-season. For context, that’s saying the Padres have just south of 10-percent of baseball’s top prospects in their farm system. (#1) Fernando Tatis Jr. is a unanimous top-five prospect in baseball; (#2) MacKenzie Gore, (#3) Luis Urias, (#4) Francisco Mejia, and (#5) Chris Paddack could all wind up in the top-50. Six others could fit into the 51-125 range, and a glut of low-level prospects–lead by (#13) Anderson Espinoza, (#14) Esteury Ruiz, and (#15) Tirso Ornelas–could place in future iterations of the Top 125 with strong 2019 campaigns.

–BALANCE

This system checks about every box you can think of. There’s a nice blend of hitters and pitchers, with prospects distributed in such a way that many different players could replace (#1) Fernando Tatis, (#3) Luis Urias, (#4) Francisco Mejia, (#6) Cal Quantrill, and (#12) Jacob Nix as they graduate to the big league roster. Higher-floor prospects like Quantrill, (#10) Logan AllenRobert Stock (On the Horizon), and Buddy Reed (On the Horizon) appear all over the list, and there are plenty of risk/reward upside types scatted throughout as well.

–DEPTH

There is at least one player with an ETA of 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 ranked within the Padres top-15, and that doesn’t include the 25+ prospects not ranked. This system is deep enough to remain at (or near) the top of the minors in talent through future graduations and/or trades. We rank 15 players for every organization regardless of depth, so in systems like these, prospects #16-25 could place on plenty of other top-15s if they were with a different club. Factoring out their respective risk grades, an incredible 27 players on this list graded as FV 50 or higher.

 

SYSTEM WEAKNESSES

–LOGJAM

Rare is the system that doesn’t have a weakness, but this might be one. Though we’re fumbling for something to put here, the questions facing the Padres tie back to how they plan to integrate such a great quantity of young players onto their roster. Will there be enough room for all these prospects? Will some prominent pieces need to be moved in order to create space? Will future 40-Man Roster logjams make this system a Rule 5 destination for other clubs to pick off over the next few off-seasons? It’s worth watching how San Diego maneuvers through these decisions in years to come.

 

TOP 15 PREF LIST

Rank Name Position Ceiling Risk ETA
1  Fernando Tatis Jr.  SS 70 Moderate 2019
2  MacKenzie Gore LHP  70 Extreme 2021
3 Luis Urias SS/2B 55 Moderate 2018
4 Francisco Mejia C 55 High 2018
5 Chris Paddack  RHP 55 High 2020
6  Cal Quantrill  RHP 55 High 2019
7  Josh Naylor 1B 55 High 2020
8  Luis Patino  RHP 60 Extreme 2021
9 Adrian Morejon LHP 60 Extreme 2021
10 Logan Allen LHP 55 High 2019
11 Michael Baez RHP 55 High 2020
12  Jacob Nix RHP 50 Moderate 2019
13 Anderson Espinoza RHP 55 Extreme 2021
14  Esteury Ruiz 2B 55 Extreme 2022
15 Tirso Ornelas OF 55 Extreme 2022

 

CREAM OF THE CROP

(#1) Fernando Tatis Jr., SS

Ceiling: 70     Risk: Moderate    ETA: 2019    Role Description: All-Star
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 185 lbs.          B/T: R/R         Highest Level: AA            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 2m
Video

In a move that could haunt the White Sox organization for years to come, Tatis was traded alongside another prospect for James Shields in 2016. In Chicago’s defense, Tatis had just signed the summer prior as a 16-year-old and had yet to play in a professional game at the time of the deal. In the time since Tatis joined the Padres organization, he has gone on to become a star and one of baseball’s top overall prospects. A classic five-tool shortstop, the 6-foot-3 and 185-pound Tatis elicits Manny Machado and Carlos Correa comps for his size, offensive upside, and ability to remain at a center-diamond position. Tatis has excellent batspeed with unique ability to produce in-game power for a teenager, all without sacrificing contact or posting high strikeout rates. He handled an assignment to Double-A with aplomb, putting himself in historic company last year with a .286/.355/.507 line in the upper-minors at age-19. Despite a larger frame for a middle infielder, Tatis moves well for his size and has a good chance to remain at shortstop. His plus arm shoots lasers across the infield and will easily be enough for 3B if he does outgrow the position. This is what superstars look like as prospects, and we expect Tatis to be the anchor of San Diego’s future core. 

 

(#2) MacKenzie Gore, LHP

Ceiling: 70     Risk:  Extreme   ETA: 2020    Role Description: Ace Starter (#1 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 190 lbs.          B/T: L/L         Highest Level: A            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 1m
Video | Report

The third overall pick in 2017, expectations were high for Gore entering his first full pro season given the hype surrounding him as an amateur. He largely met all expectations, making 16 starts in the Midwest League with a respectable ERA and excellent peripherals (28-percent strikeouts, 7-percent walks). Gore’s combination of stuff, control, and mound smarts make him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects. His four-seam fastball touches 97 mph, backed up by an effective low-90s sinker he mixes to induce weak contact. A high-70s curveball is his signature off-speed pitch, a wicked breaking ball with sharp action and plus depth. If you include both fastballs, Gore is the rare teenager actually able to work with 4-5 pitches. Both a slider and changeup grade as at least future average pitches, the changeup showing enough promise to potentially finish another above-average offering. He’s in rare air for a pitching prospect—especially one yet to advance past Low-A. We think he has what it takes to move quickly through the system. 

 

(#3) Luis Urias, 2B/SS

Ceiling: 55     Risk: Moderate    ETA: 2018    Role Description: Above-Average Player
Ht/Wt: 5’9” / 185 lbs.          B/T: R/R         Highest Level: MLB            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 9m
Video | Spotlight

Urias has one of the best hit tools amongst prospects, grading out as double-plus to go with average raw power that could play up due to the quality and frequency of his contact. A smooth defender at the keystone, there is also enough athleticism, range and arm strength for the young middle infielder to play at any position on the dirt, giving him plenty of potential future homes and the Padres plenty of flexibility in constructing their infield moving forward. After a brief cup of coffee in 2018, Urias should enter the spring with an opportunity to compete for a big league gig out of the gate and should be a fixture in the Padres infield for years to come.

 

(#4) Francisco Mejia, C

Ceiling: 55     Risk: High    ETA: 2018    Role Description: Above-Average Player
Ht/Wt: 5’10” / 175 lbs.          B/T: S/R         Highest Level: MLB            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 5m
Video

Mejia has been a mainstay on prospect lists for years, though he’s all but guaranteed to exhaust his prospect eligibility 2019. After enjoying a solid but not spectacular first half in 2018 Mejia caught fire after being traded to the Padres at the All Star break for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, slashing .328/.364/.582 with 7 home runs in 31 games with Triple-A El Paso. He earned a September call-up with the big club and enters spring training with an opportunity to make the 25-man. Mejia has bounced around a little bit defensively over the past 18 months and the Padres have a capable backstop in Austin Hedges at the Major League level, but Mejia is still expected to log significant time behind the plate with San Diego helping Hedges to shoulder the burden of a long 162 game season. Mejia’s ability to handle third base and an outfield corner will give the Padres some other options to get and keep his bat in the order, as well. Offensively, Mejia profiles as a future .285 or better stick with enough juice in the stick to hit 15-20 home runs a year, making him a potential impact bat behind the plate.

 

(#5) Chris Paddack, RHP

Ceiling: 55     Risk: High    ETA: 2020    Role Description: Above-Average Starter (#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 195 lbs.          B/T: R/R         Highest Level: AA            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 2m
Video | Report

When healthy, Paddack has done nothing but post dominant numbers as a pro. Last year was no different, and the Padres added him to their 40-Man Roster at the end of the season. He pounds the zone with a low-to-mid-90s fastball backed up by a plus changeup. Paddack’s breaking ball was an area of weakness early in his career, but he’s improved his mid-70s curve and it now grades as an average pitch. The ceiling is a mid-rotation starter.

 

(#6) Cal Quantrill, RHP

Ceiling: 55     Risk: High    ETA: 2019    Role Description: Above-Average Starter (#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 208 lbs.          B/T: R/R         Highest Level: AAA            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 24y, 1m
Video | Report

Quantrill is the rare pitching prospect that offers both upside and some degree of safety due to his present level of polish. He projects to develop above-average control and command of a mid-90s fastball. Quantrill’s go-to secondary is an above-average changeup with quality sell and fade. He struggled with spin earlier in his pro career but has developed a mid-80s slider to the point it could also finish as a future 55-grade pitch. He throws four pitches in total, as a true curveball serves as a wrinkle pitch to give another look. Quantrill reached Triple-A by year’s end and could debut at some point next season. The floor is a back-rotation starter, with the upside of a #3/#4 type.

 

(#7) Josh Naylor, 1B

Ceiling: 55     Risk: High    ETA: 2020    Role Description: Above-Average Player
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 225 lbs.          B/T: L/R         Highest Level: AA            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 9m
Video | Spotlight

Naylor will have to absolutely mash in order to have value as a 1B-only prospect, but the power and approach are here to do just that. He started tapping into his double-plus raw last season, tallying a career-high 17 homers as one of the youngest regulars in the Double-A Texas League. His strikeout and walk totals both trended in the right direction, and Naylor could be the rare hitter who produces power while whiffing less than 20-percent of the time. The ceiling is an above-average regular at 1B with enough offensive value to carry the profile.

 

(#8) Luis Patino, RHP

Ceiling: 60   Risk: Extreme  ETA: 2021  Role Description: Frontline Starter (#2/#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 192 lbs.          B/T: R/R         Highest Level: A            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 5m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Spotlight | Report

Patino had an excellent Class A debut in the Midwest League after being promoted from Extended Spring Training last May. He’s an impressive mix of stuff and feel, able to limit walks well for a young power pitcher. Patino’s fastball touches the high-90s and sits comfortably in the 95-to-96 mph range. His hard slider is a devastating pitch at its best, a no-doubt plus that’s a real separator and weapon. He works with four pitches, backing up those two offerings with a curveball (77-to-80 mph) and changeup (87-to-91 mph). The curve is ahead of the change, though there’s reason to believe he’s athletic and projectable enough to improve his third speed. There’s always risk inherent with teenage pitching prospects, but Patino’s ceiling is as high as any Padres prospect not named MacKenzie Gore. He’s a potential #2/#3 starter who could move even higher up prospect lists with a strong 2019 season.

 

(#9) Adrian Morejon, LHP

Ceiling: 60   Risk: Extreme  ETA: 2021  Role Description: Frontline Starter (#2/#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 175 lbs.          B/T: L/L       Highest Level: A+            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 1m
Video | Spotlight

Morejon hit the DL twice last year with small injuries (a hip flexor and triceps issue, respectively) but was excellent in his 13 California League starts. He held opposing batters to a .233 average-against and struck out 70 in 62.2 innings as a 19-year-old in Advanced A, pitching to a pristine 3.30 ERA in a notoriously hitter-friendly league. He’s another one of San Diego’s numerous high-upside teenage pitching prospects, a potential #2/#3 starter with a mix of plus stuff and advanced feel. Morejon’s lively fastball sits in the 92-to-94 mph range and touches 96 mph, backed up by an above-average high-70s curve and developing changeup. He’s a borderline Top 125 prospect already and will be a lock for our midseason list next year with a strong start to 2019. 

 

(#10) Logan Allen, LHP

Ceiling: 55     Risk: High    ETA: 2019    Role Description: Above-Average Starter (#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 200 lbs.      B/T: R/L        Highest Level: AAA            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 10m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Spotlight | Report

Allen was named the Texas League Pitcher of the Year in 2018, posting a 2.75 ERA over 120 innings at Double-A San Antonio. He finished the season with Triple-A and is close to contributing at the big league level. No one pitch misses bats, but Allen pounds the zone with four solid offerings from a durable frame. He’s a good mix of ceiling and floor, coming with the upside of a mid-rotation starter while still a good bet to be at least a #4/#5 type.

 

(#11) Michel Baez, RHP

Ceiling: 55     Risk: High    ETA: 2020  Role Description: Above-Average Starter (#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’8” / 220 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: AA            Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 2m
Video | Spotlight | Report

Baez has an imposing frame and the heater to match, standing 6-foot-8 with a fastball that touches triple digits. He easily sits in the mid-90s late into starts with steep angle and life to all parts of the zone. His mid-80s slider flashes plus potential but is inconsistent at times, though there’s reason to think it will finish a legitimate out pitch. Baez’ changeup is crude and runs into his fastball. Refining a third pitch will be important against more advanced upper-minors hitters, as will improving his control and command. Baez struggled in a brief Double-A cameo but showed flashes of his ceiling, a power mid-rotation arm that has the potential for a dominant peak. Even if his pitchability never allows him to be impactful as a starter, Baez’ plus stuff gives the chance to find success in the bullpen as a high-leverage reliever. 

 

ON THE HORIZON

(#12) Jacob Nix, RHP

Ceiling: 50  Risk: Moderate  ETA: 2019  Role Description: League Average Starter (#4/#5 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 220 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: MLB           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 2m
Video

Nix was rushed to the big leagues last year and struggled. He likely would have benefited from a bit more seasoning, but he’s a high-floor prospect and ready to contribute in 2019. He pounds the zone with a 92-to-94 mph fastball, mixing a shapely high-70s curve and changeup evenly. Nix works with four pitches overall, wrinkling an occasional slider for another look. A potential back-rotation starter, Nix would probably get more attention outside San Diego’s loaded farm system. We see him as a fairly safe prospect with the extra value of being ready right now. 

 

Owen Miller, SS/INF

Ceiling: 50     Risk: High        ETA: 2020     Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 190 lbs.      B/T: R/R      Highest Level: AA           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 4m
Spotlight

San Diego’s third-rounder in 2018, Miller had an excellent pro debut after signing for a below-slot $500K bonus. He slashed .336/.386/.460 across two levels combined, finishing the season with the team’s Double-A affiliate in the Texas League playoffs. Miller has an efficient stroke with plus batspeed and barrel control, grading as a potentially above-average hitter who won’t whiff much. His level swing-path and contact-focused approach don’t lend themselves to much power, something that will come into play more prominently if he moves off SS. Miller is more reliable with the glove than he is flashy or overly athletic, and it’s not a sure thing he stays at the 6 through the minors. We love his feel to hit and think he’s the top positional sleeper in one of baseball’s deepest systems. The ceiling is an average regular, and even if no one tool impacts enough to play everyday for a contender, Miller’s well-rounded game gives some floor as a useful role player.

 

Hudson Potts, 3B

Ceiling: 50     Risk: High        ETA: 2020     Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 225 lbs.      B/T: R/R      Highest Level: AA           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 5m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Report

Potts was originally drafted as a SS but has thickened considerably since then. He’s now a 3B and is on the fringes of sticking at the hot corner long-term, though his instincts from manning the 6 as an amateur translate to other infield spots. Potts has grown into more power the last two years and showed an improving approach in 2018. His ceiling is an average regular on either infield corner, though there isn’t much margin for error as a R/R player with that profile. Especially if he moves to 1B long-term, there’s a chance Potts winds up a tweener and will be limited to part-time role. 

 

Robert Stock, RHP

Ceiling: 45     Risk: Low        ETA: 2018     Role Description: Setup Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 214 lbs.      B/T: R/R      Highest Level: MLB           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 29y, 4m

Stock is a fascinating story, having finally reached the big leagues after a storied amateur career as a catching prospect. That cannon arm has translated to the mound, where he converted after struggling as a hitter in A-Ball. Stock’s fastball touches triple-digits and sits in the high-90s with heavy armside run, racking up lots of ground balls. The primary off-speed is a solid-average slider in the mid-80s. He has taken to relief and will enter camp with a good chance to crack the Padres’ bullpen in 2019.

 

Edward Olivares, OF

Ceiling: 50     Risk: High    ETA: 2020  Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 195 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: A+           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 0m
Video | Spotlight

Olivares is a plus athlete with above-average feel for the barrel. He split time between CF and RF this year due to the presence of Buddy Reed in Lake Elsinore but projects up the middle long-term. CF will be where he has the best chance to play every day given a lack of power, though his hit tool and speed profile well there. The best-case ceiling is a low-end regular; Olivares’ well-rounded game gives him a high floor as a useful role player even if he falls short of that.

 

Pedro Avlia, RHP

Ceiling: 50 Risk: High ETA: 2020 Role Description: League Average Starter (#4/#5 SP)
Ht/Wt: 5’11” / 190 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: A+           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 2m

Avila was the prospect San Diego returned from the Nationals for Derek Norris in December of 2016. He finished 2017 in the California League and spent all of last year repeating the level, pitching to a respectable 4.27 ERA in a hitter-friendly environment with strong peripherals. Avila’s fastball sits in the low-90s and reaches 94-to-95 mph at best. Both his breaking ball and changeup project as at least average secondary pitches to back up the fastball. Avila was added to the 40-Man Roster in November, clearing a pathway to the big league roster over the next two seasons.

 

Buddy Reed, OF

Ceiling: 45     Risk: Moderate        ETA: 2020     Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 210 lbs.      B/T: S/L      Highest Level: AA           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 11m
Video #1 | Video #2

Reed is a plus athlete who impacts the game defensively and can play all three outfield spots. The switch-hitter shows promising flashes at the plate but struggles to find consistency. Reed slashed a career-best .324/.371/.549 last year in the California League, getting a Futures Game nod before struggling the second half of the season in Double-A. The best-case ceiling is a low-end regular in CF, though we’re inclined to take the realistic profile here and peg Reed as a future fourth outfielder.

 

Austin Allen, C/1B

Ceiling: 45     Risk: Moderate        ETA: 2020     Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 210 lbs.      B/T: S/L      Highest Level: AA           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 25y, 2m
Video | Spotlight

Allen cracked the 20 home run threshold for the second straight year in 2018, establishing himself as one of the top sluggers in San Diego’s loaded farm system. He went to Fall League mostly to work on his defense at catcher, which still is fringy and likely requires a move to 1B long-term. Allen’s plus raw power comes into games, though he’ll need to improve against lefties to face them regularly in the bigs if he’s on a corner. The realistic profile is a righty masher and platoon option.

 

Jesse Scholtens, RHP

Ceiling: 40     Risk: High        ETA: 2020     Role Description: Long Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 230 lbs.      B/T: R/R      Highest Level: AAA           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 24y, 11m

Scholtens has moved quickly through the system, reaching Triple-A last season just two years after being drafted by the Padres as a ninth-round senior sign. He lacks a carry pitch to profile as a true big league rotation piece but still fits as a long reliever at the highest level. The burly righty soaks up innings with a durable 6-foot-4 frame, pounding the zone with a deep mix of 45-to-50-grade offerings. Scholtens could crack the big leagues sometime in the next two years.

 

Esteban Quiroz, 2B

Ceiling: 40     Risk: High        ETA: 2019     Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 5’7” / 175 lbs.      B/T: R/R      Highest Level: AA           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 27y, 1m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Spotlight

Quiroz is an interesting story, having played his entire professional career in Mexico before signing with the Red Sox in 2017. He missed time with injury and went to Fall League to make up reps, coming to the Padres in a trade with Boston for Colten Brewer in November. Quiroz is an offensive-minded infielder who lacks a true position, grading below average even as a 2B-only. He packs a punch for a 5-foot-7 player, getting to sneaky power from strength in his stocky and compact frame. Quiroz will be 27 in 2019 and doesn’t offer much upside, though he’s close to ready and could see San Diego by late next season. He’s hurt by a lack of defensive versatility or speed, profiling as a bench bat that fits well in the NL as a late-innings pinch hitter.

 

Nick Margevicius, LHP

Ceiling: 40     Risk: High        ETA: 2020     Role Description: Long Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’5” / 220 lbs.      B/T: L/L      Highest Level: A+           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 22y, 9m
Video | Spotlight

Margevicius tore through two A-Ball levels last year on the strength of his polish. The finesse lefty posted dominant numbers despite stuff that’s fringy across the board. His 88-to-91 mph fastball gets above-average run and he commands it well, mixing an occasional cutter as another wrinkle. His loopy curve and low-80s changeup are usable secondaries that land for strikes, though none of Margevicius’ pitches project to miss bats. The calling cards are advanced control and command, the reason he has had such success to date as a pro in the lower-minors. Margevicius likely will be tested more against better competition, though this type of pitcher can move through a system quickly. He could wind up a reliable longman or mopup type at the big league level.

 

Dauris Valdez, RHP

Ceiling: 40     Risk: High        ETA: 2020     Role Description: Middle Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’8” / 221 lbs.      B/T: R/R      Highest Level: AA           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 5m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Spotlight | Report

Valdez is a power-armed reliever with plus raw stuff but little ability to use it. His fastball can touch triple-digits with a hard 85-to-88 mph slider that flashes sharp bite. A firm high-80s changeup is a crude mix pitch. Valdez has 30-grade control and won’t amount to much unless that can get better. His ceiling is a middle reliever, as we don’t think he’ll ever limit walks enough to profile in actual high-leverage situations even if he can figure out a way to carve out a big league role.

 

Michael Gettys, OF

Ceiling: 40     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2021  Role Description: Bench
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 203 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: AA          Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 5m

Gettys’ loud raw tools made him the 51st overall pick in 2014, though he has fallen off the prospect radar given an inability to turn those talents into consistent statistical performance. He reached Double-A last season for the first time as a 22-year-old, struggling to a .230/.290/.399 line due to a 33-percent strikeout rate. Gettys won’t hit enough to be a regular, but his plus athleticism and power/speed combo give the upside of a bench outfielder if he can figure something out at the plate.

 

PURE PROJECTION

(#13) Anderson Espinoza, RHP

Ceiling: 55  Risk: Extreme  ETA: 2021  Role Description: Above-Average Starter (#3 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 220 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: MLB           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 23y, 2m
Video | Spotlight

Espinoza took the minors by storm in 2016, showing flashes of brilliance as an 18-year-old in the South Atlantic League. He was the Padres’ entire  return that July in the deal that sent Drew Pomeranz to Boston, an indicate of how valuable a trade chip Espinoza was considered at the time. He has missed the last two years with injury, though was back to throwing off a mound during Instructional League this fall. At full strength, the hard-throwing righty shows a high-90s fastball backed up by two quality off-speed pitches. His curveball can be a plus pitch and he shows advanced feel for a changeup. Espinoiza is a tough prospect to rank and grade given the time missed, and though he’s a plus athlete, there’s reason to wonder if his diminutive 6-foot frame will struggle to stay durable under a starter’s workload. The best-case ceiling is a mid-rotation starter, and Espinoza will re-establish himself as one of the better pitching prospects in baseball if he comes back strong in 2019.

 

(#14) Esteury Ruiz, 2B

Ceiling: 55     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: Above-Average Player
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 170 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: A           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 1m
Video | Report #1 | Report #2

Ruiz’ upside is arguably as high as any position prospect he teamed with at Ft. Wayne last year, though he’s rawer offensively than other top hitters in the lower rungs of San Diego’s system. He draws Alfonso Soriano comps given his greyhound body type, power/speed toolset, and 2B defensive profile. Ruiz create above-average raw power from a whippy stroke and grades as a plus runner, swiping over 40 bases in 2018. He’s  ultra-aggressive at the plate and was prone to slumps during his full-season debut, often swinging himself into pitcher’s counts.  If he can tone down a free-swinging approach, the ceiling is an above-average regular with plus offensive production for an infielder. We love Ruiz’ upside and see him as a two-way player that impacts the game in many ways. 

 

(#15) Tirso Ornelas, OF

Ceiling: 55     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: Above-Average Player
Ht/Wt: 6’3” / 200 lbs.      B/T: L/R     Highest Level: A           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 0m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Report

Ornelas more than held his own as one of the youngest regulars in the Midwest League, walking in 11-percent of his at-bats and slashing .252/.341/.392 at the age of 18. Already a physical 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds with above-average raw, it’s easy to project more home run power in games as Ornelas matures. He’s a corner defender who is likely to wind up in LF if he stays in the outfield at all, potentially moving between LF and 1B long-term. There’s risk given his age and defensive profile, but his offensive upside is enough a FV 55 ceiling no matter the position. 

 

Gabriel Arias, SS

Ceiling: 50     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 201 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: A           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 1m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Spotlight | Report

Arias was one of many high-upside teenagers scattered across the Ft. Wayne lineup last season. He struggled as an 18-year-old in full-season ball but finished saved his best for last, slashing a strong .286/.353/.562 in August. Arias is a plus athlete with advanced physicality, holding a 6-foot-1 and 200-pound frame like a big league infielder right now. That strength gives him more power potential that most shortstop prospects, though with that power comes a propensity for strikeouts.  Arias might outgrow the position and move to 3B, but his long-term value is aided most by staying up the middle. A cannon arm helps him at either spot and he’ll wind up somewhere on the left side of the infield. 

 

Ryan Weathers, LHP

Ceiling: 50     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: League Average Starter (#4/#5 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 200 lbs.      B/T: L/L     Highest Level: A           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 3m
Video #1 | Video #2

The son of former major leaguer David Weathers, Ryan brings to the mound advanced feel for a solidly above-average three pitch mix, as well as above-average command of his offerings. The lefty can work comfortably across his full arsenal throughout the zone and in any count, making him a good candidate to moving quickly through the lower-levels where hitters are bound to be overmatched by his execution. His fastball works comfortably in the low 90s, touching 95/96 mph, with plenty of deception due to his ability the shield the ball well from hitters. He mixes in an above-average to plus changeup with good fade and excellent deception off of the fastball out of the hand. His curveball is developing, but already plays consistently as a solid average or better offering with room to grow pitch a full grade as he continues to improve its consistency. Weathers profiles as a good back-end starter who should limit free passes and miss his share of bats and there is room to project even more if you believe his stuff plays well enough to avoid hard contact at the upper levels.

 

Jeisson Rosario, OF

Ceiling: 50     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 191 lbs.      B/T: L/L     Highest Level: A           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 5m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Spotlight | Report

Rosario posted a respectable .271/.368/.353 line last year in the Midwest League as a 18-year-old. He’s a wiry athlete with the frame and speed to stick in CF. A compact left-handed stroke makes lots of contact, and his polished approach is advanced for a teenage hitter. Rosario shows a good sense of the strike zone and is aware of his strengths at the plate. He may never develop into a true home run threat, but his youth and lean build suggest there’s room to add power as he fills out. Rosario projects as a well-rounded regular in CF, with a best-case ceiling more valuable than that if he produces any pop.

 

Xavier Edwards, SS

Ceiling: 50     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 5’10” / 155 lbs.      B/T: S/R     Highest Level: SS-A           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 7m
Video

Double-plus speed may have headlined the pre-draft profile for the former Vandy commit, but Edwards’s hit tool really impressed in his limited pro action last year when he slashed a combined .346/.453/.409 over 45 games split between the complexes and the Northwest League. The switch-hitting shortstop handles the barrel well and should eventually start racking-up extra base hits to the gaps as he adds strength and continues to lean on his game-changing speed. Defensively he has the footwork and hands to handle shortstop long term, though the arm strength is more solid than an asset. He profiles as a future up-the-middle defender with strong bat to ball skills and a chance to grow into top-of-the-order on-base production if he can add enough strength to keep upper level arms from pounding the zone.

 

Luis Campusano, C

Ceiling: 50     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: Everyday Player
Ht/Wt: 6’0” / 213 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: A           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 6m
Video | Spotlight

One of the top catchers in the 2017 Draft class, Campusano held his own last year during his full-season debut in the Midwest League. He didn’t hit for much game power, but given the 55-to-60 grade raw juice he has shown in BP, we’re not concerned about the long-term home run outputs. Campusano projects to stay at catcher, where his strong arm and consistent sub-2.0 pop times are assets. He’ll need to improve aspects of his blocking and lateral agility, though he’ll just be 20-years-old next season and has plenty of time to adjust. There’s always risk with catching prospects, but Campusano’s offensive upside at a premium position gives the ceiling of an everyday backstop. 

 

Reggie Lawson, RHP

Ceiling: 50     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2021  Role Description: League Average Starter (#4/#5 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 205 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: A+           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 7m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Spotlight

The 71st overall pick in 2016, Lawson made a career-high 24 appearances last year and pitched a respectable full season in the California League. All three of his pitches flash bat-missing upside at best, though he’ll have to improve his control and overall consistency. Lawson’s fastball touches 96 mph and sits in the 92-to-94 mph range. He has the athleticism to keep improving his command—already showing the ability to spot low and gloveside—but his in-zone location wavers even over the course of a game. A mid-70s curve flashes sharp bite at best and could finish at least an average pitch. His 87-to-88 mph change is raw but has its moments; developing a more reliable third pitch is one of the factors that will dictate if Lawson stays in the rotation. He could be a backend starter or potential ‘pen arm depending on how the pitchability and arsenal develop. 

 

Mason Thompson, RHP

Ceiling: 50     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: League Average Starter (#4/#5 SP)
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 205 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: A+           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 21y, 1m
Video #1 | Video #2 | Report

Thompson battled injuries early in his pro career, and even though he missed time in 2018 with a triceps strain, his 93 innings were a positive step for his long-term development. The extra-tall righty has started filling out and now touches 96 mph, sitting in the 92-to-94 mph range with his fastball. He throws a full four-pitch mix, with a curve, slider, and change all flashing average upside backing up a potential 55-grade heater. Thompson has the tools of a workhorse #4/#5 starter if his control and command become more refined, though he’s a classic risk/reward pitching prospect that requires some dreaming. He would rank higher in many farm systems but gets buried on this list given the Padres’ enviable prospect depth. 

 

Eguy Rosario, 2B

Ceiling: 45     Risk: High    ETA: 2021  Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 5’9” / 150 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: A+           Age (as of April 1, 2019): 19y, 7m
Video | Spotlight

Rosario was the youngest regular in the California League for much of last season, turning 19 in August and slashing .239/.307/.363 on the year. He’s a bat-first infielder able to play 2B or 3B, packing sneaky raw power into a boxy frame. It didn’t show up in games last year, but he’s likely to hit more as he adjusts to the level. Rosario can play 2B or 3B, and that defensive versatility–paired with his age and offensive upside–makes him an interesting prospect with some breakout potential in 2019. 

 

Justin Lopez, INF

Ceiling: 45     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: Role Player
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 192 lbs.      B/T: S/R     Highest Level: A          Age (as of April 1, 2019): 18y, 10m
Video #1 | Video #2

Lopez would likely be more known as a prospect if he weren’t in such a crowded farm system. He’s an extra-projectable 6-foot-2 and 190-pound switch-hitter, able to play around the infield with intriguing offensive tools. He struggled as a teenage hitter in the Midwest League last year, though we aren’t looking into the numbers given his age and relative lack of experience. Lopez’ swing is loose and quick, especially from the left-hand side, allowing foreseeable average and power as he fills out. Defensively, he’s able to play SS, 2B, and 3B right now and might wind up somewhere other than short if he outgrows the position. Lopez will be just 19-years-old in May of next season, and while the ceiling is that of an everyday infielder, his versatility and well-rounded game could fit nicely as a utility player if he doesn’t hit enough for a regular’s profile.

 

Andres Munoz, RHP

Ceiling: 45     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2021  Role Description: Setup Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’2” / 165 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: AA          Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 2m

Munoz signed for $700K from Mexico as a 16-year-old, though he has moved quickly through the system as a ‘pen-only prospect. He missed the start of 2018 with an injury but was excellent upon his return, reaching Double-A and pitching high-leverage innings in the Texas League playoffs. He’s built more muscularly than his 165-pound listing suggests, routinely touching triple-digits with his fastball. Munoz leans heavily on his heater and will need to develop more usable secondary stuff. His control is below-average, though with any improvement there he could ride his velocity to the big leagues fairly quickly.

 

Henry Henry, RHP

Ceiling: 45     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2022  Role Description: Setup Relief
Ht/Wt: 6’4” / 178 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: A          Age (as of April 1, 2019): 20y, 3m
Video | Spotlight

Henry Henry is his real name, and he’s a live-armed righty that’s all projection. He started last season in the Midwest League but struggled, heading back to Extended Spring Training before earning a rotation spot at Short-Season Eugene once summer rolled around. He made it back to Ft. Wayne for two starts at the end of 2018. Henry has room to add strength across a well-proportioned 6-foot-4 frame, and he already runs his fastball to the 95-to-96 mph range at best. The go-to secondary is a hard curveball that flashes sharp two-plane shape, and he’ll mix a crude changeup at times. This type of prospect often heads to the ‘pen, but Henry’s size, raw stuff, and projection make him interesting. We’re grading him as a 45/Extreme with some breakout upside entering 2019.

 

Frank Lopez, RHP

Ceiling: 45     Risk: Extreme    ETA: 2023  Role Description: Swingman
Ht/Wt: 6’1” / 170 lbs.      B/T: R/R     Highest Level: R          Age (as of April 1, 2019): 17y, 11m
Video | Spotlight

Lopez will turn 18 this April, and the Venezuelan righty made his stateside debut last year in the AZL at just 17-years-old. He isn’t overly physical, though Lopez is built with a durable frame and repeats a clean delivery. He has advanced feel to sequence three pitches for his age, pairing a low-90s fastball with two usable secondaries. A mid-70s curveball shows tight bite and consistent shape, and his changeup flashes intriguing dive at best. Lopez is at least three years away (if not more) and is far from a sure thing. Even so, his age and pitchability make him an intriguing deep sleeper prospect in the Padres system.