Yes, prospectapalooza is definitely a real word. Okay, maybe only in my mind, but prospects are taking over the Major Leagues by force this season. Just look at the home run derby. The two finalists, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and derby champion Pete Alonso were both in the minor leagues at this time last year. Now look at them. Hitting moonshot after moonshot in the home run derby. Fernando Tatis Jr wasn’t in the derby but has been arguably one of the best hitters in the National League, let alone on the Padres.
When it comes to the minor league prospect world we all love to live in, there’s always plenty to discuss when it comes to the stacked San Diego farm system. This week is no different with the Padres giving their top two prospects, according to yours truly, bumps to their next respective level. Let’s start there, shall we?
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Fantasy Baseball Prospects Report: Padres Prospectapalooza
MacKenzie Gore, LHP
In case you hadn’t heard, I just released my 2019 mid-season top-250 overall prospect rankings for dynasty leagues. Some guy named MacKenzie Gore from the San Diego Padres ranked 6th overall as the top pitcher in the rankings. You’ve probably heard of this Gore fellow. All he’s done this season in high Single-A is post a 1.02 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 12.5 K/9 across 15 starts. Nothing much at all. The Padres decided that the California League has endured enough punishment and promoted their prized arm to the Double-A Texas League yesterday afternoon. That groan you hear is Texas League hitters when they heard about Gore’s promotion. I even heard it all the way here in Maine some 2,000 miles away.
If you googled the term “future ace”, a picture of Gore intimidatingly staring at you would pop up on your screen. You’d likely jump a little bit, perhaps needing a new pair of underwear, then begin to feel bad for the opposing batters that have to face this monster every 5th game. Dynamic arsenal? Check. Advanced feel for pitching? Check. Command? Check. Need I go on?
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) March 20, 2019
Gore attacks hitters with four beautiful offerings, all of which are already plus or are damn close to it. He’ll sit in the low to mid-90’s with arm side run on his fastball that he can basically put wherever he wants. Up, down, inside, outside, it doesn’t matter. Offsetting the heater is a plus curve in the mid to upper-70s with good depth and 1-7 break, a low to mid-80’s slider with two-plane tilt, and a low to mid-80’s changeup with both fade and tumble. It’s simply unfair for opposing hitters. it really is.
With this type of arsenal, command, and feel for pitching, Gore has all the makings of a Major League ace that contends for Cy Young awards annually. There’s no pitcher I’d want more in dynasty right now. Get ready Texas League hitters, Gore is coming for you.
Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS
Hey, what about me Eric? Don’t worry Xavier, I got plenty of love to go around. Not to be outdone by the MacKenzie Gore promotion, Xavier Edwards received a bump from the Padres up to the high-A California League that Gore just got done wreaking havoc in. Wreaking havoc is exactly what Edwards has been up to this season as well, albeit, in a much different fashion.
Speed is the name of the game with Edwards. The 2018 #38 overall pick can absolutely fly. When he’s in mid sprint, if you listen hard enough, you can hear R Kelly in the background singing, “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky.” Hey Steve Miller, you need to make a remix of Fly Like AN Eagle called “Fly Like a Padre.” Just saying. Edwards wasted no time putting his blazing speed on full display, swiping 22 bags in 45 combined game between the Arizona League (RK) and Northwest League (A-). How many times did he get caught, you ask? Once. Just once. Granted, he’s been caught on nine of his 29 attempts this season, but reading pitchers movements is something he can work on as he climbs up the ladder towards San Diego. There’s legit 40-steal upside in these legs. Maybe more.
Asked #Padres Class A coaching staff about the success of no. 11 prospect Xavier Edwards.
Simply put, “He just seems to do everything right.”
Oh, yeah. He can motor too. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/XvpjnhCIOA
— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) May 30, 2019
I’ve clocked Edwards above in the 3.85-3.90 second range to first base which would put him with the elite Major League speedsters. Not only is he a man on fire on the bases, but Edwards has also shown he’s a pretty damn good hitter as well. There’s little to no power upside here, but Edwards displays plus contact skills, a sound plate approach, and goes the opposite way with regularity, with 48.2% of his batted balls going to right field this season. That’s actually down from 2018 too. Edwards can work walks when needed and rarely strikes out.
With that approach, his bat to ball skills, and elite speed, Edwards has the potential to develop into a dynamic leadoff hitter for the Padres down the road capable of hitting .300/.380 with 40-plus stolen bases annually. He already has snuck into my top-50 at #36 overall and this is just the beginning. While his ultimate fantasy ceiling is slightly suppressed due to his lack of power, Edwards AVG/SB upside is phenomenal and makes him one of the most exciting prospects in the minors right now.
C.J. Abrams, SS
Well, drafting Edwards in the first round worked out so well for the Padres, they decided to take another shortstop with a similar offensive skill set this season with their first pick. This year was even higher with the Padres selecting Abrams with the 6th overall pick, 32 spots higher than Edwards in 2018. You know what’s scary too? Abrams might even be faster with more SB upside than Edwards. With elite speed and the potential for a plus hit tool and double-digit power, Abrams is likely to fly up prospect lists and could very well end up as one of the top players from this year’s FYPD crop. He’s off to a phenomenal start to his professional career, slashing .419/.443/.622/1.065 through his first 16 games with five doubles, two triples, two homers, and 10 stolen bases.
Luis Urias, 2B
In a perfect world, we’d be talking about Luis Urias being promoted up to the Padres here as well. He’s certainly deserving of a recall to San Diego with how he’s been hitting in the Pacific Coast League this season. In 284 at-bats, Urias is slashing .320/.405/.595/1.001 with 19 doubles, 17 home runs, and seven stolen bases. You can spout off about PCL inflation all you want, but Urias is one of the best pure hitting prospects in the game right now and should be back up with the Padres in the very near future.
Tucupita Marcano, 2B
The Padres have so many talented middle infield prospects, they don’t know what to do with them all. Luckily, a bunch of them are still in the lower minors so they have time to figure it out. Tucupita Marcano is a prospect that flies relatively under the radar in a loaded system like this, but is definitely a prospect worth monitoring in any dynasty league that rosters 200+ prospects. Like with Edwards, Marcano has very minimal power upside, but he’s displayed above-average to plus contact skills with an advanced plate approach. There’s 25-plus SB wheels here too but he will need to work on being more efficient as a base stealer. The Padres promoted Marcano to the Single-A Midwest League this season where he’s currently hitting .285 through 67 games.
Andres Munoz, RHP
In the prospect world, relief pitchers get very little love. But when a reliever has the upside to develop into a top-flight closing option, that deserves some love and recognition. That’s exactly what we have here with Andres Munoz. With an electric fastball and devloping slider that flashing plus, Munoz has been mowing down minor league hitters with regularity this season, posting a 14.5 K/9 through his first 34 appearances. Now in Triple-A, Munoz should get a chance to showcase his stuff with the Padres later this summer and makes for a worthy stash in dynasty leagues due to his top-10 RP upside.
Other Prospect Notes
Luis Robert (OF – CHW): Oh look, Luis Robert is one step closer to Chicago. You all know about how good Luis Robert is. I don’t need to tell you again. But now that he’s up to Triple-A, it’s time to start stashing him in all re-draft leagues that don’t have limited benches. Just imagine adding a bat like Robert to your squad for the stretch run. Enticing, isn’t it?
Tyler Freeman (SS – CLE): While he might not have the flashy, household prospect name, Tyler Freeman is steadily climbing up my overall top-250 every time I update it. The Indians shortstop prospect combines a plus hit tool, solid plate approach, and above-average speed while projecting to hit for enough power to get into the 10-15 home run area. Freeman looks like a future top of the order hitter to me and makes for a great dynasty trade target while his value is still reasonable.
Mauricio Dubon (SS – MIL): With Orlando Arcia hitting the IL, Mauricio Dubon has been called up from Triple-A to help fill in at shortstop. Dubon was enjoying a career year at Triple-A, joining the launch angle revolution with a career-high 14 home runs while slashing .307/.343/.491/.835. While Dubon is a solid prospect for dynasty leagues, he can be left on the wire for now in re-draft leagues as his time up with Milwaukee likely isn’t going to be long.
Wander Javier (SS – MIN): After a long layoff, it’s not surprising to see Wander Javier struggling this much. Through his first 33 games, Javier is hitting a lowly .151 with four extra-base hits and a 33.1% strikeout rate. This is shaking the rust of 101. There’s plenty of upside here, so if you can swoop in with a buy-low offer in dynasty leagues, it could pay big dividends down the road.
Jared Oliva (OF – PIT): After a slow start to the season, Pirates outfield prospect Jared Oliva has really hit his stride of late for Double-A Altoona. Over the last month, Oliva is slashing .368/.461/.506/.967 with nine doubles, one homer, and 16 steals without getting caught once. With an above-average hit tool, plus speed, and double-digit power, Oliva makes for an intriguing target in dynasty leagues that roster 250-plus prospects. He didn’t quite make my mid-season top-250 but he was damn close.
Deivi Garcia (RHP – NYY): I was at Deivi Garcia’s last Double-A start last week, and while he didn’t look overly great, Garcia showed enough at the level to earn a promotion to Triple-A following the Futures game. Garcia’s command and control haven’t been as sharp as usual this season, but he’s still been striking out batters at a ridiculous clip (14.9 K/9) and has limited opposing hitters to a .198 average. I’d still put his chances at a 2019 debut at less than 50%, especially if the Yankees add another starter before the trade deadline, but Garcia is on his way and should be a rotation mainstay by mid-2020.
Corbin Martin (RHP – HOU): Fine, don’t listen to me, Corbin Martin. Last week, I said “Let’s keep our fingers crossed that surgery isn’t in the cards.” This sentence didn’t age well as Martin ignored me and underwent Tommy John surgery just a couple of days later. Granted, it was obviously needed, but still hate to see it. This will put him out for the rest of 2019 and most of 2020 as well. The upside here is still quite high with SP2/3 upside, so sneaking in a buy-low offer right now in dynasty leagues wouldn’t hurt.
Prospect Spotlight: Marco Luciano, SS, San Francisco Giants
Alright, let’s take a break from all this Padres talk and head around 500 miles up the California coast to San Francisco. With how dominant Marco Luciano has been to start his 2019 campaign, questions about just how high his upside is have been flying around like Xavier Edwards on the base path. Before even taking a single professional swing, Luciano already ranked inside my top-100 and cracked my top-25 in my mid-season update. By my next big update in February 2020, there’s a good chance Luciano cracks my top-10 if he continues to develop according to plan. Here’s why.
With a swing like this, it's easy to see why Marco Luciano already has seven home runs in the Arizona League. pic.twitter.com/d9kuciuDnS
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) July 7, 2019
Luciano is an offensive monster in the making. He’s already flashing those tantalizing tools at the plate in rookie ball, cranking seven home runs with a beautiful .368/.456/.779/1.235 slash line. Luciano has exceptionally quick wrists that generate a ton of bat speed through the zone. Couple that with his easy plus raw power and the result is hard contact more often than not. And although power is Luciano’s most prominent tool, he’s shown great barrel control and a feel for hitting well beyond his years. If he continues this current developmental path, he should have no problems hitting for both a high average and plenty of power at the higher levels. He’s also at least an average runner, and even if he loses a step once he fills out, there’s still 10-15 SB upside to go along with the big AVG/HR potential.
He might only be 17 years old, but Luciano is already showing tools at the plate that could make him an offensive force in the Major Leagues down the road. Is he the next Wander Franco? No, I wouldn’t go quite that far, but like I said, there’s a good chance he’s a top-10 dynasty prospect next spring.
Sleeper Prospect Spotlight: Franklin Labour, OF, San Francisco Giants
The name Franklin Labour has been seen frequently in my daily MiLB stat updates over the last few weeks. So I figured I’d use this spot to talk about him and his future upside for a quick minute. Obviously, I believe there to be solid upside here or I wouldn’t be discussing him as a sleeper prospect. The San Francisco Giants signed Labour out of the Dominican Republic back in 2015 and let him marinate in Rookie ball for a few seasons before bringing him up to the short-season Single-A Northwest League this season. Sometimes prospects need to marinate a little longer, just like a good piece of steak does. Note to self, stop writing articles when hungry.
New level, no problem so far for Labour. In his first 24 games, Labour has already cranked 11 home runs to go along with a .337/.427/.768/1.196 slash line. Throw in four doubles and two triples, and over half of his 32 hits this season have gone for extra-bases. That power is what intrigues me about Labour first and foremost. He’s displayed plus raw power to all fields with a quick swing from the right side that generates plenty of hard contact and natural loft.
All this power hasn’t come at the expense of his batting average either. Labour has displayed above-average contact skills and has improved his approach, cutting down his strikeouts this season and using the entire field to his advantage. While Labour didn’t make my mid-season top-250 rankings, he wasn’t too far off either and is a sneaky good target in dynasty leagues that roster 300 or more prospects. If he continues to develop at the plate, hitting for both power and average, there’s a very good chance Labour is in my top-250 next spring.
Prospect Stash Rankings
No, these aren’t rankings of what prospect have the best mustaches. These are the prospects currently in the minors that can make the biggest 2019 impact. This is a combination of ETA and potential 2019 impact.
- Luis Urias, 2B, SD | Last: 1
- Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU | Last: 2
- Carter Kieboom, SS/2B, WAS | Last: 3
- Jake Fraley, OF, SEA | Last: 4
- Bo Bichette, 2B/SS, TOR | Last: 6
- Gavin Lux, 2B/SS, LAD | Last: 7
- Luis Robert, OF, CHW | Last: NR
- Isan Diaz, 2B, MIA | Last: 8
- Monte Harrison, OF, MIA | Last: 9
- Ryan Mountcastle, 1B/3B, BAL | Last: 10
HM: Jorge Mateo, SS, OAK | Willi Castro, SS, DET | Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT | Daz Cameron, OF, DET | Brent Rooker, OF, MIN | Jo Adell, OF, LAA |
- Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT | Last: 1
- Anthony Kay, LHP, NYM | Last: 2
- A.J. Puk, LHP, OAK | Last: 3
- Matt Manning, RHP, DET | Last: 4
- Lewis Thorpe, LHP, MIN | Last: MLB
- Rico Garcia, RHP, COL | Last: 5
- Keegan Akin, LHP, BAL | Last: 6
- Deivi Garcia, RHP, NYY | Last: NR
- Dustin May, RHP, LAD | Last: 9
- Jesus Luzardo, LHP, OAK | Last: 7
HM: Casey Mize, RHP, DET | Forrest Whitley, RHP, HOU | Ian Anderson, RHP, ATL | Kolby Allard, LHP, ATL
Photo/Video Credit: Lance Brozdowski, Emily Walden, Josh Norris.
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) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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