We continue our pre-season prospect list reviews this morning with the San Diego Padres system. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON list. This is not a new list. These are pre-season rankings and grades.
1) Austin Hedges, C, Grade B+: Just promoted to Double-A; hit .270/.343/.425 with four homers, 22 walks, 46 whiffs in 234 at-bats for High-A Lake Elsinore, throwing out 37% of runners. Scouting reports are very enthusiastic, particularly about his defense. Hitting numbers are not that good for the California League, but observers believe he's made genuine progress with his offense. Still just 20.
2) Jedd Gyorko, 3B-2B, Grade B+: This is what I wrote pre-season: Ready for the majors now, so a fantasy owner in many cases should rank him ahead of Hedges. His bat is legit, maybe not a 30-homer guy but double-digits certainly with a good batting average and OBP. Blocked at third base. Although scouting reports about his glove at second are unenthusiastic, his defensive statistics at second are actually very strong, albeit in a small sample. Make of that what you will.
He's hitting .252/.304/.397, OPS+ 101. I think he will exceed that in coming seasons. His glove has been just fine at second base; he's made only one error and the advanced metrics rate his glove highly. In this case, the minor league numbers were right about his glove.
3) Rymer Liriano, OF, Grade B+: Borderline B. Out all year with elbow injury, Tommy John surgery.
4) Casey Kelly, RHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. Out all year with elbow injury, Tommy John surgery.
5) Robbie Erlin, LHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. Disappointing; 5.17 ERA with 70/28 K/BB in 78 innings for Triple-A Tucson, 95 hits. 7.15 ERA with 16/8 K/BB in 23 major league innings. Gopher balls the big problem here. Had some dominant Triple-A starts but the bad ones (example: June 16, 11 runs in two innings) have killed his ERA. Stock down, but still just 22, will get more chances.
6) Max Fried, LHP, Grade B: Borderline B+. 3.69 ERA with 85/44 K/BB in 90 innings, 83 hits for Low-A Fort Wayne. Scouting reports from Midwest League are enthusiastic. I'd like a lower walk rate but all the ingredients are here.
7) Matt Wisler, RHP, Grade B: Very good season; 3.03 ERA with 94/28 K/BB in 107 innings combined between High-A and Double-A, 68 hits, pitching very well in the Texas League at age 20. Stock moving steadily upward.
8) Keyvius Sampson, RHP, Grade B-: Got killed in four Triple-A starts to open the year, was sent back to Double-A and has thrived for San Antonio, 2.43 ERA with 104/32 K/BB in 96 innings, 70 hits. Reports indicate progress with his breaking ball and he already had a good fastball and changeup.
9) Donn Roach, RHP, Grade B-: Ground ball artist with up-and-down season in Double-A, 3.76 ERA, 67/38 K/BB in 115 innings, 116 hits, 2.82 GO/AO. Strikeouts down this year against better competition. I still think that if you put this guy in front of a good infield defense that he will be useful.
10) Joe Ross, RHP, Grade B-: 3.54 ERA with 68/29 K/BB in 97 innings, 100 hits for Low-A Fort Wayne. Early-season reports were very positive, but he's sagged since mid-June with deteriorating ratios. Just 20.
11) Cory Spangenberg, 2B, Grade B-: Combined .284/.347/.399 with 30 steals, 36 walks, 87 strikeouts in 398 at-bats between High-A and Double-A. It is pretty clear that he's not going to be a batting champion. Now 22.
12) Walker Weickel, RHP, Grade B-: 5.53 ERA with 60/32 K/BB in 85 innings for Fort Wayne,97 hits. Like Ross, he's young and talented, but hasn't had an easy time of it in the Midwest League and has been beaten up badly in his three of his last four starts.
13) Zach Eflin, RHP, Grade B-: Has pitched better than Weickel and Ross at Fort Wayne, 3.02 ERA with 73/26 K/BB in 95 innings. I think he's moved ahead of them at this point.
14) Brad Boxberger, RHP, Grade C+: Solid season for Triple-A Tucson, 3.47 ERA with 72/18 K/BB in 49 innings, 44 hits. Has fanned 11 in nine major league innings. Age 25 now, has nothing left to prove in Triple-A, strikeout rate continues to point to bullpen upside.
15) James Darnell, 3B-OF, Grade C+: Has missed most of season with a serious shoulder injury, his third. Now 26, will get buried quickly if he doesn't find a way to stay healthy.
16) Jace Peterson, SS, Grade C+: Good year for Lake Elsinore, .295/.362/.437 with 14 doubles, 11 triples, six homers, 42 walks, 34 steals, just 52 whiffs in 380 at-bats. Has also improved defensively. Cal League plays to his strengths and we need to see him in Double-A, but i like him.
17) Burch Smith, RHP, Grade C+: Excellent in the minors, 2.14 ERA with 68/17 K/BB in 63 innings, 48 hits combined between Double-A and Triple-A. Got clobbered when rushed to majors, 21 hits and 16 runs in 13 innings, but should get more chances.
18) John Barbato, RHP, Grade C+: 5.19 ERA with 14 saves for Lake Elsinore, 68/24 K/BB in 59 innings, 59 hits. ERA is a little misleading but he needs to sharpen up his command. Has a chance to help in the bullpen eventually.
19) Matt Andriese, RHP, Grade C+: 2.93 ERA with 88/23 K/BB in 117 innings, 115 hits between Double-A and Triple-A. Like Roach, a ground ball guy though not as extreme. Fourth/fifth starter potential.
20) Matt Stites, RHP, Grade C+: Strong season in Double-A, 2.08 ERA with 51/8 K/BB in 52 innings, 14 saves. Traded to Diamondbacks this week in Ian Kennedy deal. Strong arm, throws strikes, should help in pen.
OTHER GRADE C+ GUYS: Yeison Asencio, OF: Jonathan Galvez, 2B; Frank Garces, LHP; Travis Jankowski, OF; Tommy Medica, 1B-C; Kevin Quackenbush, RHP; Adys Portillo, RHP; Edinson Rincon, "3B"; Joe Wieland, RHP. All of these guys have a plausible case to rank in the 15-20 range.
OTHERS: Jeremy Baltz, OF; Wilfredo Boscan, RHP; Jaff Decker, OF; Reymond Fuentes, OF; Cody Hebner, RHP; Roman Madrid, RHP; James Needy, RHP; Dane Phillips, C; Donavan Tate, OF; Jeudy Valdez, SS; Everett Williams, OF.
I loved the depth in this system pre-season and I still think it is impressive. At the big league level, I think WAR undersells Gyorko at just 1.0 and I think he'll just get better with experience. Robbie Erlin and Burch Smith showed the perils of young pitching in brief looks, but both merit additional chances in my view.
As always, some prospects get hurt or otherwise fall by the wayside, but so much depth meant that others could rise to replace them. Reymond Fuentes has revived his status as a prospect by hitting .308 with 28 steals in Double-A. San Antonio teammate Tommy Medica, a first baseman, is old for a prospect at 25 but has hit enough to get noticed (.309/.317/.618). Wisler and Sampson have been excellent, Roach and Andriese did enough to stay in the picture, and reliever Kevin Quackenbush has been stellar (1.71 ERA, 14 saves, 71/23 K/BB in 53 innings).
Austin Hedges has firmly established himself as one of the top catching prospects around. Travis Jankowski has stolen 62 bases in High-A. The all-prospect starting rotation at Fort Wayne is still quite intriguing despite some uneven performances. The 2013 draft brings in power-masher Hunter Renfroe and promising high school bats Dustin Peterson and Jordan Paroubeck.
Overall, I still like the system.
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