San Diego Padres Top-25 Prospects
Over the last couple of months, I’ve been digging through each MLB team’s farm system to provide the top dynasty fantasy baseball prospects that should be on your radar. Today, we’ll break down the top-25 San Diego Padres prospects. Get ready, because this one is a beast.
Let's say the #Padres don't add any FA pitching. This could be their all-homegrown rotation in a few years.
Also: Lucchesi, Espinoza, Weathers, Quantrill.
— Eric Cross (@EricCross04) January 27, 2019
- Espinoza was at one point considered a top-25 overall prospect in baseball. Now he’s outside the top-10 in his own system.
- Quantrill was considered a top-50 overall prospect on some lists (not mine) and slots in near the bottom of this top-25.
- Most pitchers taken in the first round of the most recent MLB draft would be sure-fire locks to be in the top-10 of their own system the following spring. Due to the depth here, Weathers missed the top-10.
That’s just a few examples. This system already was an untamable beast and now the Padres added a handful of guys to this list from the 2018 draft, including a shortstop into the top-5. And just when you thought this system couldn’t get much better, Luis Patino continues his break out and Chris Paddack returns from injury to resume his utter domination over minor league hitters.
Overall System Grade: A+ (They also stayed after and earned extra credit from the teacher. Damn bunch of over-achievers)
Minor League Affiliates
Triple-A: El Paso – Pacific Coast League
Double-A: Amarillo – Texas League
Single-A (Advanced): Lake Elsinore – California League
Single-A (Full): Fort Wayne – Midwest League
Short-season Single-A: Tri-City – Northwest League
Rookie: One team in the Dominican Summer League, two teams in the Arizona League
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
Also, make sure to check out the Fantrax Dynasty Podcast on the Fantrax Podcast Network with Nathan Dokken, Van Lee, and Ron Rigney.
New Top-25 San Diego Padres Prospects
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Bats: R, DOB: 1/2/99, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA): .286/.355/.507/.862, 22 2B, 16 HR, 16 SB, 8.4 BB%, 27.7 K%, 353 AB
The name White Sox fans never like to see, Fernando Tatis Jr. has entrenched himself as a top-3 overall prospect in baseball and the lead dog in this stacked San Diego system. Plus tools as far as the eye can see and he just spent the entire 2018 season as a 19–year-old in Double-A, finishing on a 25/25 pace. This after finishing 2016 with 22 homers and 32 steals, mostly in the Single-A Midwest League.
Like I said, the tools are damn impressive as is the frame. Tatis stands at 6’3 with a strong frame, especially in his upper half. A strong 6’3 shortstop might make some think he’s going to move off of short and over to third base, but that’s not even in the back of my mind right now. Tatis is exceptionally athletic with really good range at shortstop and a strong throwing arm. Yes, he could seamlessly transition over to third if needed, but Tatis has all the tools to stay at shortstop for a while and be one of the top offensive contributors at the position.
Fernando Tatis Jr. crushed the walk-off homer AND the bat-flip ?
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) January 11, 2019
At the plate, the upside is off the charts. Hit tool, plus. Raw power, plus to plus-plus. Speed? Yep, plus too. Tatis remains balanced pre-pitch with just a small bat wiggle. He comes set with moderate leg load and hand coil before exploding through the strike zone with phenomenal bat speed and a direct swing path that generates plenty of hard contact and natural loft. Though his strikeout rate went up this season, Tatis has shown incredible plate coverage and the ability to use the entire field. There will likely always be a little swing and miss to his game, but nothing nearly concerning or anything that will cap his batting average.
This is a middle of the order masher in the making that is also a plus runner with the ability to chip in 20-plus steals early on in his career. Tatis might stand to lose a step and settle into the teens for steals, but that will likely come with a .300 batting average or so and 30-plus home runs. Get ready to see his name in the early rounds of fantasy drafts within the next few seasons. And if it wasn’t for some guy named Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Tatis would be the top prospect in all of baseball along with Eloy Jimenez. This is the type of prospect that all baseball fans should get incredibly excited about. Everything about this kid screams future superstar.
2. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, DOB: 2/24/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): 60.2 IP, 4.45 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 11.0 K/9, .260 AVG
I’ve gone back and forth on Gore and Paddack a thousand times lately. And honestly, you can’t go wrong either way, but as of now, I’m giving the nod to Mr. Gore after giving the slight nod to Paddack in Joe Pisapia’s Fantasy Baseball Black Book. Taken #3 overall in 2017 as a prep arm out of North Carolina, Gore’s combination of stuff, command, and pitchability are ridiculous.
When watching Gore pitch, the first thing you’ll likely notice is the high leg kick in his delivery. Now, it’s not on Dontrelle Willis levels, but still much higher than most you’ll see. He uses a high 3/4 arm slot with solid extension in his delivery following the leg kick and repeats his delivery well. But enough about the delivery. Let’s get to his deep and dynamic arsenal, shall we?
Most pitchers would kill to have two plus pitches. Well, Gore has the potential for four plus pitches when it’s all said and done. He’ll sit in the low to mid-90’s consistently with his fastball and can add a tick or two when needed. The offspeed pitches consist of a curve, slider, and changeup, with the curve being the best of the bunch, thrown in the high 70’s with strong downward 1-7 break. Gore’s changeup also grades as plus in the 82-85 mph range with decent fade to it. The slider is less advanced than the other three, but shows sharp bite.
With an arsenal like that, and above-average to plus command of all his pitches, Gore has future staff ace written all over him and is one of the top arms to own in dynasty leagues right now.
3. Chris Paddack, RHP, DOB: 1/8/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 90.0 IP, 2.10 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 0.8 BB/9, 12.0 K/9, .204 AVG
After missing the entire 2017 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Paddack returned to the mound in 2018 and absolutely dominated the California and Texas Leagues over 17 combined starts. This shouldn’t come as much of a shock as Paddack dominated in the same fashion back in 2015-2016 before going under the knife. In 177.2 career innings, Paddack has a video game like stat line of a 1.82 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 1.0 BB/9, and 11.7 K/9. Think Miami wants him back?
One of the many things I love about Paddack is his clean and easy delivery with very little effort involved out of a 3/4 arm slot. His arm speed is phenomenal and allows him to fire his heater in the 92-94 range consistently with arm side run and can get up around 96 at times.
Paddack will mix in two off-speed pitches, highlighted by a plus-plus changeup in the low-80’s that bewilders batters on both sides of the plate, especially lefties. He’ll throw the change in the low-80’s, about 10-12 mph slower than his fastball. That velocity difference, along with the sink and fade he gets on the pick, make Paddack’s changeup one of the toughest to hit in the minors. A true 70-grade offering. Paddack also mixes in a curveball as a serviceable third pitch with solid break to it. It’s not nearly as lethal as the fastball or changeup, but it’s still a solid third offering with average to above-average potential.
The icing on the cake here is the pinpoint control Paddack possesses and the exceptional command over his entire arsenal. He’s a No. 2 type starter with the chance for plenty of 200 IP/200 K seasons, assuming he’s done with arm issues.
4. Xavier Edwards, SS, Bats: S, DOB: 8/9/99, ETA 2021/2022
2018 Stats (RK/A-): .346/.453/.409/.862, 8 2B, 0 HR, 22 SB, 15.9 BB%, 12.8 K%, 159 AB
You know Edwards has to be incredibly talented to vault this high in a deep system after being drafted just this past June. Defensively he’s displayed solid range and makes the necessary plays, but his arm strength is better suited for second base, which is where he might end up given the shortstop depth in this system. Edwards is a talented prospect, but he’s not leapfrogging Tatis any time soon. Regardless of whether he ends up at short or second, Edwards offensive capabilities and speed give him the chance to be a star.
— Vinnie Cervino (@vcervinoPG) March 8, 2018
To start, Edwards has a simple setup at the plate without a ton of pre-pitch movement. He uses a moderate leg kick to time pitches and medium rear leg load. His quick wrists generate a ton of bat speed from both sides and the swing back is clean and direct through the zone. While there’s not a ton of power upside here, I can see Edwards eventually developing double-digit pop if he can add a little loft to his linear swing.
With his incredible plate coverage and plus contact skills, Edwards has top of the order written all over him. Which is the perfect spot to show off his elite wheels. Edwards is quick out of the batter’s box and one of the fastest runners in the minors with legit 40-plus steal upside. A .300/10/40+ upside hitter? Yes please. Grabbing some Edwards dynasty stock now is highly advised. The price only stands to go way up from here.
5. Francisco Mejia, C/OF, Bats: S, DOB: 10/27/95, ETA 2019 (Debuted in 2017)
2018 Stats (AAA): .293/.338/.471/.809, 30 2B, 14 HR, 0 SB, 5.3 BB%, 17.7 K%, 427 AB
2018 Stats (MLB): .179/.258/.375/.633, 2 2B, 3 HR, 0 SB, 8.1 BB%, 30.6 K%, 56 AB
Where Mejia ranks on a prospect list is very dependent on where that particular writer/ranker thinks Mejia’s long-term defensive home is. For me, I’m 50/50 at most that he stays behind the plate long-term. His arm is strong and would play well at third or in a corner outfield spot, but Mejia’s receiving and overall defense behind the plate needs work. You also have to factor in that the Padres have one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, Austin Hedges, under contract for the next four seasons. While Mejia will still get some time behind the plate in 2019 as Hedges backup, I’m starting to thing that his eventual defensive home is not going to be behind the plate.
Wherever he ends up, Mejia’s bat will provide plenty of value. As a switch-hitter, Mejia has a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate with clean and easy swings. He’s a little more advanced from the right side with a touch more pop, but very solid from the left side as well. Mejia remains balanced before the pitch, though there’s some movement, and is able to get the barrel to the ball consistently, generating hard contact to all fields. Bat speed is a plus and Mejia’s swing mechanics are fairly clean as well.
There’s some above-average raw power here, but Mejia doesn’t get a ton of loft out of his swing, leading me to think he’s more a 20-homer guy long-term than 25-30. Don’t expect much, if any, speed from him, but Mejia has the chance to hit for both average and modest power, making him an above-average offensive performer regardless of where his defensive home ends up. We’d all like it to be catcher, but we’ll see.
6. Luis Urias, 2B/SS, Bats: R, DOB: 6/3/97, ETA 2019 (Debuted in 2018)
2018 Stats (AAA): .296/.398/.380/.778, 30 2B, 8 HR, 2 SB, 12.6 BB%, 20.5 K%,
2018 Stats (MLB): .208/.264/.354/.618, 1 2B, 2 HR, 1 SB, 5.7 BB%, 18.9 K%, 48 AB
Again, I’m one of the low men on the Luis Urias totem pole. Always have been and likely always will be. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like him as a prospect, because I do. You can’t not like a guy with a plus-plus hit tool and exceptional plate coverage. Those contact skills and plate coverage have led to a career .306 average, .397 OBP, 10.7 BB%, and 11.8 K%. In fact, until his stint in the PCL last season, Urias had more walks in his minor career than strikeouts.
Urias starts with his feet a little closer together, front foot slightly open towards third base, with his hands head high. He uses a waist-high leg kick to time pitches with a fluid hand coil into a clean swing with plenty of bat speed. The swing is more geared for line drives, but there’s some additional power projection in his bat with the upside for 15-20 homers if he can just add a little loft.
He’s started to do just that over the last year or so. Before 2018, Urias was usually in the 20-25% range for fly balls, but finished 2018 with a career-high 29.4% fly ball rate in Triple-A. Some will blame the PCL for that, but a ballpark cannot determine launch angle. It can certainly help with fly ball distance, turning some doubles into homers, but the added fly ball percentage can be attributed to Urias himself.
With Urias’ bat speed, plate coverage, and all-field approach (see above), hitting around or above .300 on a regular basis should become the norm for him to go along with homer totals in the teens. He’s not overly quick, so expecting more than 10-12 homers is a stretch, but the hit tool gives him a very high floor as an above-average Major League regular. Urias will get some run at shortstop to start 2019, but with Tatis breathing down his next, it’s likely that Urias’ slides back over to second base moving forward. There’s a very high floor here, but the limited power and speed is what causes me to rank him a little lower than most.
7. Luis Patino, RHP, DOB: 10/26/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): 83.1 IP, 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 10.6 K/9, .220 AVG
Looking for a pitching prospect that is skyrocketing up prospect rankings? Well, let me introduce you to this 19-year-old Colombian doing just that. After a strong debut in the Arizona League and Dominican Summer League in 2017 (Rookie Level), the Padres aggressively bumped Patino to full-season Single-A Fort Wayne in the Midwest League. And as you can see above, not only did Patino hold his own, he thrived. Correction, he dominated competition mostly a couple years older than him.
On the mound, Patino isn’t an imposing force my any means at just 6′ and 190 pounds, but his overall arsenal, poise, and pitchabilty are top-notch. Patino worked on his mechanics and delivery last season and now uses a higher leg kick similar to MacKenzie Gore, though, he tones it down a tad when working out of the stretch. Out of a 3/4 arm slot, Patino will sit in the mid-90’s consistently with plenty of life on his heater. He’ll mix in three secondary offerings, with his mid-80’s slider being the best of the bunch with sharp two-plane tilt. Both the curve and changeup are less advanced, but he’s shown a good feel for both and each have flashed above-average potential at times.
We’ll see if the high leg kick is something he can consistently repeat long-term, but as of now, Patino’s mechanics are solid and he repeats his delivery fairly well. He’s more control over command right now, but has made strides with his command over the last 12-18 months. If he can continue to refine his command and maybe develop his change/curve a little more, Patino has #2 starter upside with high strikeout potential. You’re likely not going to see him outside the top-5 Padres prospects for much longer.
8. Adrian Morejon, LHP, DOB: 2/27/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (RK/A+): 65.1 IP, 3.44 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 10.2 K/9, .241 AVG
The Padres made it rain during the 2016 international signing period, with Adrian Morejon being their biggest splash. The Cuban southpaw was widely regarded as a top-5 prospect from that class and the top overall pitcher. Fast forward two-plus years later and Morejon has done nothing to disprove that notion. After splitting the 2017 season between the Northwest League (A-) and Midwest League (A), Morejon got the bump to the high-A California League and more than held his own over 13 starts with a 3.30 ERA. Next up in 2019 is a likely bump to the Double-A Texas League for the soon-to-be 20-year-old.
You have to love this arsenal. Morejon will throw two different fastballs, a mid-90’s 4-seamer with arm side run and a low-90’s 2-seamer with solid sinking action. Both pitches are highly effective offerings for Morejon, inducing plenty of weak contact and swings and misses. Offsetting that duo is a pair of nearly as effective secondary offerings in his low-80’s changeup and high 70’s curve. Morejon has shown a good feel for both his offspeed pitches and both project as above-average to plus offerings down the road, especially the changeup.
Like most pitchers at the top of these rankings, Morejon has displayed solid command over his entire arsenal and pounds the strike zone. If he continues on this developmental path, there’s #2 starter upside here with a fairly high floor as well.
9. Michel Baez, RHP, DOB: 1/21/96, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): 105.0 IP, 3.69 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 9.7 K/9, .242 AVG
With all the pitching talent in this system, a name like Michel Baez often flies a little under the radar. It’s crazy to say as he’s on many top-100 lists, but it’s true. One of the differences between Baez and the names above him is command. While it’s not a detriment, Baez’s command can be inconsistent at times and cause his pitches to be too hittable.
The arsenal itself is impressive. Baez will throw his fastball in the mid-90’s with running life and can add a little velocity when needed. He also will turn the heater over into a two-seamer with good sink to it. Out of his three offspeed offerings, the slider and changeup are the most advanced, both flashing plus with solid movement. The curve isn’t as advanced, but projects to be at least an average offering for Baez.
Repeating his delivery and fine-tuning his mechanics are going to be huge for Baez moving forward, especially given his big 6’8 frame. The stuff is indicative of a #3 starter with high strikeout potential, but if his command continues to waiver, Baez could conceivably move into a high-leverage bullpen role, but that isn’t a concern quite yet. Either way, there’s a lot to be excited about here. Just remember, it’s Michel, not Michael…
10. Logan Allen, LHP, DOB: 5/23/97, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 148.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 9.1 K/9, .205 AVG
I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for Logan Allen. The former Red Sox farmhand came over to the Padres in the December 2015 Craig Kimbrel trade and has done nothing but pitch effectively ever since. At the time, Allen wasn’t a highly ranked prospect and Margot was considered the headlining return piece in the deal. Now, Allen’s performance has vaulted him into the top-100 overall prospects.
While I think highly of him as a prospect, Allen doesn’t have the same upside as names above him. But what he does have is the upside of a mid-rotation #3/#4 type of starter with a solid floor to go along with it. Allen works out of a 3/4 arm slot with fairly clean mechanics and a delivery that he repeats well. Like many in this system, Allen has a plus changeup that he uses effectively against both righties and lefties. The fading action and velocity different from his low-90’s fastball make it an effective offering for him. Allen has also shown a feel for his curve and slider, with both grading as average to above-average.
With this solid arsenal and poise on the mound, Allen looks to be a rotation mainstay for a long time, with that time beginning at some point in 2019. Don’t underestimate him.
11. Esteury Ruiz, 2B, Bats: R, DOB: 2/15/99, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A): .253/.324/.403/.727, 20 2B, 12 HR, 49 SB, 7.7 BB%, 28.6 K%, 439 AB
The more I watch Esteury Ruiz, the more I’m impressed. Offensively that is. Ruiz is an average to below-average second baseman and who knows if he even stays at the position long-term with the likes of Tatis, Edwards, and Urias ahead of him. No matter where he ends up defensively though, Ruiz’s bat and speed will give him plenty of value.
Ruiz starts with a slightly hunched over stance with his hands neck high and out from his body a little. His hands coil back before exploding through the zone with plenty of bat speed and some natural loft to his swing. The strikeout rate rose from 24.0% to 28.6%, but I don’t expect it to hinder Ruiz’s offensive game. There will likely always be a little swing and miss to his game, but the contact skills and overall approach are solid.
— Lance Brozdowski (@LanceBroz) September 3, 2018
Ruiz has the skills to hit for average and 15-20 homer pop at the highest level, which paired with his plus speed, makes him a very enticing prospect. Just look at the video above from lance Brozdowski. Quick first step and plus-plus speed down to second. Even a perfect throw wasn’t going to catch him there. There’s legit 30-plus steal upside in Ruiz’s legs.
12. Hudson Potts, 3B, Bats: R, DOB: 10/28/98, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .260/.335/.455/.790, 35 2B, 19 HR, 4 SB, 8.7 BB%, 26.8 K%, 484 AB
Damn, I feel like I haven’t talked about a hitter in quite some time. Potts was the Padres 1st round pick back in 2016 out of the Texas prep ranks. After only a lone dinger in his 2016 professional debut, Potts has displayed his plus raw power consistently over the last two seasons, averaging 36 doubles and 24 home runs per 600 at-bats. That plus raw power is Potts calling card and what gives him plenty of intrigue in dynasty formats.
Potts stands in at 6’3 and 230 with a strong frame, especially in his lower half. His swing is built for hard contact in the air with a slight uppercut swing path and solid bat speed once he gets going. He uses a lower hand position to start and coils up slightly before starting his swing, giving it a little extra length. It’s not a huge mechanical flaw but does give me some questions on whether he can hit any higher than the .260 average he showed this season.
There’s the upside for a .250-.260 hitting third baseman with 25-30 homers, and also the downside of a bench power bat. I tend to believe he hits enough to become a regular at the hot corner. There are not any split concerns here as he hits both RHP and LHP fairly equally and Potts nearly doubled his walk rate from 2017. Still, there’s some risk here, but the upside definitely makes him an intriguing dynasty league target.
13. Anderson Espinoza, RHP, DOB: 3/9/98, ETA 2021
2018 Stats: Did Not Pitch
Remember him? Like I mentioned in the opening, Espinoza was once a top-25 overall prospect on many industry lists back in his Red Sox days. And frankly, I’m amazed that he still can’t legally drink alcohol yet. Feels like he’s been around forever, because he kind of has. The Red Sox signed him way back in the 2014 J2 period and started him out in 2015 in the Dominican Summer League for four starts, followed by the Gulf Coast League for 10 starts, and finally the South Atlantic League (A) for his final start of the season.
With the exception of the lone Sally start, Espinoza dominated to the tune of a 0.82 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9 in 55 rookie league innings. The 2016 season, while not as dominant, was more positive progression for Espinoza as an 18-year-old in the Sally before heading to San Diego in the Drew Pomeranz trade. Espinoza made seven starts and one relief appearance in the Midwest League (A) before vanishing into the wind, never to be heard from again. He began the 2017 season on the DL with elbow issues that eventually required Tommy John surgery that summer and has kept him out ever since. However, it’s finally looking like we’re going to see Espinoza off a mound in game action again this season. Fingers crossed!
It’s almost impossible to predict how he is going to return major elbow surgery and this much time off, but his arsenal before going under the knife was very impressive. Espinoza routinely sat in the 92-94 range with his fastball and could add a tick or two when needed. He’d offset that with a curveball and changeup, both of which projected as plus pitches at the time. If the stuff and command return, there’s still hope he turns into a #2 or #3 starter. But with his slight frame and elbow woes, the risk here is extremely high. He’s about as high risk/high reward as you can get in this system.
14. Tirso Ornelas, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 3/11/00, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (A): .252/.341/.392/.733, 13 2B, 8 HR, 5 SB, 11.3 BB%, 19.2 K%, 309 AB
Part of the Padres 2016 international splurge, Ornelas signed for $1.8 million out of Mexico and has impressed over the last two seasons, including as an 18-year-old in full-season Single-A last season. Like with Potts above, plus raw power is the carrying tool here, but there’s more to like than just the power.
From the left side, Ornelas has a balanced pre-pitch setup and uses moderate rear leg load. The hands start shoulder high and coil back and up before driving through the zone with solid bat speed. The swing path is mostly linear at the moment, but if Ornelas can add some loft, there’s 25-plus homer upside in this bat. With his feel for hitting and advanced approach, there’s the chance for an above-average hit tool when he’s done developing too. Ornelas is one of the hitters I’m going to be monitoring closely in this system as he advances to high-A and likely Double-A this season.
“He’s HOW old?!”
Set to turn 19 in March, the 6’3, 200 pound OF was “kinda pudgy” when first discovered, according to a scout.
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) December 18, 2018
15. Josh Naylor, OF/1B, Bats: L, DOB: 6/22/97, ETA 2019/2020
2018 Stats (AA): .297/.383/.447/.830, 22 2B, 17 HR, 5 SB, 11.1 BB%, 12.0 K%, 501 AB
I want to rank Naylor higher, I really do. But I just can’t bring myself to move him ahead of the talent above him. You have to love Naylor the hitter, but the rest of the package is what gives me pause in ranking him higher. Due to his lack of speed and sub-par defensive skills, Naylor really needs to produce with the bat to become a big league regular.
Luckily for him, the bat seems up to the task so far. Naylor starts with his hands lower and in front of his chest, but the swing mechanics are relatively clean and he’s able to generate plus bat speed from the left side with some loft to his swing. His plus raw power hasn’t been too consistent in games quite yet, but there’s legit 30-homer upside in there.
With his contact skills, plate coverage, and raw power, Naylor possesses the upside to hit for both average and power moving forward. Just don’t expect much speed from the husky slugger and who knows if he can break into this Padres lineup. A change of scenery would do Naylor a world of good.
16. Ryan Weathers, LHP, DOB: 12/17/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (RK/A): 18.1 IP, 3.44 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 8.8 K/9, .247 AVG
Like I mentioned in the open, it’s not often you have a #7 overall pick from the most recent draft slotted this low in a top-25. But here we are. For the second straight season, the Padres used a top-10 pick on a prep southpaw. And while the upside with here isn’t as high as it is with Gore, Weathers possesses a solid combination of ceiling and floor.
Weathers is more advanced than your typical prep arm. He’s quite athletic and uses a clean and repeatable delivery out of a 3/4 arm slot. His fastball routinely will be in the low 90’s with arm side run and he’s shown a good feel for both a curveball and changeup. All three pitches project as above-average to plus offerings and Weathers shows good command for a prep arm. While the ceiling isn’t higher than a #3 starter, Weathers’ arsenal, command, and pitchability give him a good chance to reach that level.
17. Buddy Reed, OF, Bats: S, DOB: 4/27/95, ETA 2020
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .271/.319/.435/.754, 28 2B, 13 HR, 51 SB, 6.7 BB%, 27.3 K%, 494 AB
A 2nd round pick back in 2016, Reed busted out in a big way last season, posting many career-highs, headlined by his 51 steals. While the numbers were impressive, we need to remember that most of that damage was done as a 23-year-old in the California League (A+). Once Reed got the call to Double-A, he struggled, hitting .179 with a 32.3% strikeout rate in 43 games.
While there are questions surrounding Reed at the plate, one thing that isn’t questioned is his plus-plus speed. You don’t just roll out of bed and steal 51 bases, even if you were old for the level. Reed is truly an elite runner with arguably the most speed upside in the system along with a couple others. But can he hit enough and get on-base enough to be able to utilize that speed? That’s the burning question I have with Reed.
Buddy Reed BP pic.twitter.com/EWnAcJ8LuY
— Jason Pennini (@JasonPennini) November 3, 2018
Over the last year or so, Reed has shortened his swing and taken a more direct path to the ball. That certainly helps, but if he wants to hit for a high average moving forward, the pitch selection could use some refinement, and overall, the contact skills are average at best. Reed’s speed and defensive capabilities will give him a shot, but I’m not so sure he hits above the bottom-third of the lineup. Still, he’s one to monitor in dynasty leagues.
18. Jeisson Rosario, OF, Bats: L, DOB: 10/22/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (A): .271/.368/.353/.721, 17 2B, 3 HR, 18 SB, 12.7 BB%, 20.7 K%, 436 AB
Another 2016 J2 signing, Rosario is a solid all-around upside with the chance to impact the game on both sides of the ball. He has plus speed with has been apparent both on the bases and in center field where he has a strong enough arm to make it work. While Rosario is quick, he’s still incredibly raw as a base stealer, as evident by his 59.1% success rate stealing bases. That won’t get you the green light often in the Majors.
At the plate, Rosario has shown a good feel for hitting from the left side. He employs a quick stroke, thanks to quick wrists and a direct swing bath. There’s very minimal load in his approach and a mostly linear swing path, so projecting double-digit pop is currently a stretch. But the contact skills and plate coverage are solid and Rosario uses the whole field well. I’d slap a 55 grade on his hit tool and wouldn’t be surprised if that turned into a 60-grade in time.
While it’s anyone’s guess how the Padres outfield shakes out, Rosario has the all-around skill set to break through and become an above-average regular on both sides of the ball.
19. Edward Olivares, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 3/6/96, ETA 2020/2021
2018 Stats (A+): .277/.321/.429/.750, 25 2B, 12 HR, 21 SB, 5.0 BB%, 17.7 K%, 531 AB
Okay, now we’re in a run of outfield prospects. The Blue Jays signed Olivares out of Venezuela in 2014 and brought him along slowly, giving him three years in rookie ball. Not that his inconsistent play or health did him any favors. Now pushing 23, Olivares has put together back to back solid seasons at the plate and should finally get the bump to Double-A to start the season.
While the 15-20 homer pop and 20-25 steal upside is nice, I question whether the hit tool allows Olivares to reach that ceiling. First off, there’s a lot of pre-pitch movement and he never really comes set before starting his swing. The swing itself is fairly clean, but Olivares aggressive nature limits his power potential. It’s gotten him by over the last couple seasons, but I suspect that aggressiveness will get exposed in the upper minors. As of now, I’m projecting Olivares as a fringe regular that hits in the bottom third of the order.
20. Eguy Rosario, 2B, Bats: R, DOB: 8/25/99, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (A+/AA): .237/.30/.359/.667, 28 2B, 9 HR, 10 SB, 7.7 BB%, 23.9 K%, 468 AB
Over his three years in the minors, Eguy Rosario has shown the ability to hit for average, double-digit pop, and has displayed above-average speed. Just not all at the same time. Despite his small 5’9 frame, Rosario can put a charge into the ball with quick wrists and plus bat speed, though, there’s not much loft to his swing currently. He also has a tendency to get out on his front foot early which limits his power and has led to higher ground ball and pull rates.
The contact skills are above-average, so with some minor mechanical adjustments to his approach, I could see Rosario hitting for a high average with double-digit pop. Add in above-average speed and there’s some solid upside to work with here. Rosario reached Double-A as an 18-year-old last season and should return to the level to start 2019.
21. Cal Quantrill, RHP, DOB: 2/10/95, ETA 2019
2018 Stats (AA/AAA): 148.0 IP, 4.80 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 7.5 K/9, .290 AVG
This ranking might seem quite low. It is, but I’ve never been a fan of Quantrill and have been the low man on him in the industry for a while. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he has a Major League future, but the upside is limited to a back-end rotation arm. Some will say that Quantrill’s fastball is a plus offering. I firmly disagree. While the velocity is nice in the low to mid-90’s, Quantrill fastball has a tendency to straighten out and become overly hittable at times. He’s also yet to develop a consistent breaking ball, with both his curve and slider projecting as average pitches at best. There is one plus pitch in Quantrill’s arsenal, a mid-80’s fading changeup, but the overall arsenal firmly hints at a back-end starter and nothing more.
22. Tucupita Marcano, 2B, Bats: L, DOB: 9/16/99, ETA 2021/2022
2018 Stats (RK/A-): .366/.450/.438/.888, 5 2B, 1 HR, 15 SB, 12.7 BB%, 6.8 K%, 194 AB
Hey look, another 2016 J2 signing. Marcano signed out of Venezuela and has impressed during his first two professional seasons, walking nearly twice as many times as he’s struck out and hitting a robust .366 last season split between the Arizona League (RK) and Midwest League (A-). Marcano uses a quick and easy swing with plus bat speed and a direct path through the zone. The swing is very linear, which paired with his ground ball tendencies, vastly limits his current power projection. With some added loft to his swing, Marcano has enough raw power to project double-digit pop to go along with a strong batting average. There are also some solid wheels here with 20-25 steal upside. He’s still years away, but the upside Marcano possesses makes him an interesting prospect to monitor in dynasty leagues.
23. Gabriel Arias, SS, Bats: R, DOB: 2/27/00, ETA 2022
2018 Stats (A): .240/.302/.352/.654, 27 2B, 6 HR, 3 SB, 8.1 BB%, 29.6 K%, 455 AB
With all due respect to Tatis, Edwards, Urias, and company, Gabriel Arias is the best defensive middle infielder in this system. Does that mean he’s the Padres shortstop of the future? Of course not. That title obviously belongs to Tatis, but Arias’ strong defensive skills and throwing arm provide him with a solid floor of at least a backup infielder at the Major League level.
Whether he turns into a starter is dependent on if he can hit enough. Arias uses a moderate leg kick and takes a big stride toward the pitcher. His swing is relatively fluid with quick hands, but the contact skills are currently below average and he tends to chase too many pitches outside the zone. The linear swing path he uses also limits his power upside. There are some raw tools here that bring promise of future offensive gains, but for right now, I have him as a 60-grade defender with a 40-45 grade hit tool, 40-grade power, and 50-grade speed. Keep an eye on him though.
24. Grant Little, OF, Bats: R, DOB: 7/8/97, ETA, 2021
2018 Stats (A-): .262/.351/.315/.666, 8 2B, 0 HR, 9 SB, 11.4 BB%, 16.0 K%, 149 AB
The 74th overall pick back in June, Little raised his draft stock greatly with a strong final season at Texas Tech and carried over that success into the short-season Northwest League. Little is a contact/speed prospect with enough raw power to reach double-digit homers annually, but not much more than that due to the lack of loft in his swing. His swing is clean from the right side and Little has shown the ability to use the entire field and limit his strikeouts well. If he can continue to get on-base at a reasonable clip, he should be able to chip in 20-25 steals over a full season.
25. Owen Miller, SS, Bats: R, DOB: 11/15/96, ETA 2021
2018 Stats (A-/A): .336/.386/.460/.846, 19 2B, 4 HR, 4 SB, 5.8 BB%, 12.4 K%, 298 AB
How about another 2018 draftee to round out the top-25? After being taken in the 3rd round, Miller torched the Midwest League and Northwest League for 75 combined games, flashing above-average contact skills with a little pop and speed to go along with it. Like I’ve said a million times, there’s a ton of middle-infield depth in this system so I have no freaking idea how Miller fits into the Padres long-term plans, but if a spot does open up for him, Miller has the upside to become a low-end starting shortstop that can hit for average, play sound defense, and chip in double-digit homers and steals.
Others to Monitor
Jacob Nix, RHP – A strong 10 starts in the minors earned Nix a promotion to San Diego where he was absolutely shelled in nine starts. The upside is either a back-end rotation arm or multi-inning middle-reliever. Despite the lower upside, Nix’s strong command give him a good chance to become of those.
Reggie Lawson, RHP – Lawson features two above-average or better pitches in his low-90’s fastball and curveball, but inconsistent command has been his downfall and limits his upside.
Michael Gettys, OF – There’s some above-average raw power here with Gettys, but the contact skills and plate approach need a ton of work.
Austin Allen, C – Has displayed an average hit tool with modest power, but the below-average defensive skills behind the plate limit his upside to a fringe regular that is best suited for a backup role.
Andres Munoz, RHP – With a blazing fastball with the potential for an above-average or better slider, Munoz had the upside of a late-inning bullpen arm. However, the wildly inconsistent command and high-effort delivery give him a low floor as well.
Luis Campusano, C – A good feel for hitting with moderate pop and a strong arm, but I’m not sure he can break through as a catcher any time soon.
Dylan Coleman, RHP – A 3rd round pick out of Missouri State, Coleman possesses two potential plus offerings, but has experienced inconsistent command. Mid-rotation upside if he can refine his command and develop his changeup.
Esteban Quiroz, 2B – Quiroz came over from the Red Sox for reliever Colton Brewer. There a solid skill-set here offensively, but I can’t see how he’s anything more than a backup infielder in this system. He should be up at some point this season.
Pedro Avila, RHP – His secondary pitches flash solid potential, but lower velocity and inconsistent command limit his overall upside.
Jorge Ona, OF – His plus raw power is intriguing, but still developing as an overall hitter.
Jordy Barley, SS – Great defender with plus speed, but I have questions about the hit tool.
Other Team Prospect Reports
All other team top-25 prospect rankings can be found here.
Photo/Video Credit: Jory Dyvig (Main Article Image), Minors Graphs via Prospects Live, Lance Browdowski, Emily Waldon, Jason Pennini, Bleacher Report MLB, Vinnie Cervino.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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