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San Diego Padres Top 20 2014 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review

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Jesse Hahn
Jesse Hahn
Denis Poroy

We continue our farm system review project today with the San Diego Padres. The next team we will examine will be the Los Angeles Angels. Remember, this is the PRE-SEASON LIST. This is not a new list. These are pre-season grades and rankings. This is a review of 2014, not a preview of 2015.

This list was originally published March 31st, 2014

1) Austin Hedges, C, Grade B+: Hit.225/.268/.321 in 457 PA For Double-A San Antonio, wRC+67. Threw out 38% of runners. Reports on his defense remain strong but his hitting is terrible, completely overmatched by Double-A pitching. Young enough to improve but his grade will have to be lowered until he hits more effectively.

2) Matt Wisler, RHP, Grade B+: 2.10 ERA with 35/6 K/BB in 30 innings in Double-A, 5.01 ERA with 101/36 K/BB in 117 innings for Triple-A El Paso, 131 hits. Still throws strikes with ease, had some troubles in PCL environment although reports remain positive.

3) Max Fried, LHP, Grade B+: Threw just 11 innings due to a sore elbow, underwent Tommy John surgery in August.

4) Rymer Liriano, Grade B-: Hit .264/.335/.442 with 14 homers, 17 steals in 415 PA in Double-A, then .452/.521/.661 in 71 PA in Triple-A. Just .203/.273/.266 in 88 PA in the major leagues. Tools are obvious, needs time to figure out major league pitching.

5) Hunter Renfroe, OF, Grade B-: Performed well in California League, .295/.370/.565 in 316 PA. Moved up to Double-A and was much less effective at .232/.307/.353 in 251 PA. Still excites scouts with power but needs more reps against advanced pitching.

6) Jace Peterson, SS, Grade B-: Good season in Triple-A, .306/.406/.464 with 12 steals, wRC+131 in 299 PA. Saw major league action, .113/.161/.113 in 58 PA. Not much left to prove in the minors but needs a clear opportunity.

7) Burch Smith, RHP, Grade B-: Threw just five innings this year due to forearm injury.

8) Keyvius Sampson, RHP, Grade B-: Undone by command troubles in Triple-A, 6.68 ERA with 94/68 K/BB in 92 innings for El Paso, 91 hits. Ineffective as both a starter and reliever. Very disappointing.

9) Jesse Hahn, RHP, Grade B-: Very good showing in the majors, 3.07 ERA, 3.39 FIP in 73 innings after moving to San Diego, 70/32 K/BB. I don’t see any reason for that to change as long as he remains healthy.

10) Franchy Cordero, SS, Grade B-:
Ineffective in Low-A (.188/.237/.235 in 94 PA) but stronger in short-season ball, .279/.329/.458, wRC+117 in 259 PA in the Northwest League. Young at age 20, but not that young, will try again in full-season ball next year.

11) Casey Kelly, RHP, Grade B-: Still working his way back from elbow trouble, threw 20 innings.

12) Tommy Medica, 1B-OF, Grade B-: 234 PA in the majors, hitting .226/.278/.401, wRC+93, eight homers. I thought he was capable of much better but I may have lost that bet.

13) Alex Dickerson, OF-1B, Grade B-: Lost most of the season due to heel surgery, but came back in August and hit well for San Antonio, .321/.367/.496 in 147 PA. Older guy at 24 but could get a shot next year.

14) Dustin Peterson, 3B, Grade B-: Hit .233/.274/.361 with 10 homers, wRC+80 in 563 PA in Low-A. Bat much less refined than high school scouting reports said, with serious strike zone issues. Turned 20 yesterday.

15) Zach Eflin, RHP, Grade B-: Pretty good season for High-A Lake Elsinore, 3.80 ERA with 93/31 K/BB in 128 innings, 138 hits. Not outstanding, but solid enough for a 20 year old in the Cal League.

16) Joe Ross, RHP, Grade C+: Borderline B-. Also held his own in the Cal League, age 21, 3.98 ERA with 87/28 K/BB in 102 innings, then moved up to Double-A and posted 19/1 K/BB in 20 innings. Finished year on disabled list with "fatigue."

17) Reymond Fuentes, OF, Grade C+: Hit .324/.386/.453 in 42 games for San Antonio, .261/.337/.376 in 46 games for El Paso, stole 25 bases combined. Still looks like a fourth outfielder to me.

18) Donn Roach, RHP, Grade C+: Opened season in major league pen and had some moments, 4.75 ERA in 30 innings, 17/15 K/BB, 3.53 GO/AO. Went back to Triple-A to work as a starter and posted 5.24 ERA, 44/40 K/BB in 77 innings, 2.22 GO/AO. I think he will fit best in relief at this point. Extreme ground ball tendency makes him rather unique.

19) Leonel Campos, RHP, Grade C+: Older guy at age 27 but a good arm, 5.60 ERA with 95/38 K/BB in 72 innings for San Antonio, has fanned six in three big league innings. Bullpen candidate going forward.

20) Franmil Reyes, OF, Grade C+: Hit .248/.301/.368 with 11 homers, 38 walks, 118 strikeouts in 508 at-bats in Low-A. Just 19, good tools but needs work with the strike zone.

It has been a difficult year for the Padres at the major league level and there have been some glitches on the farm as well, with Max Fried’s elbow, Casey Kelly’s slow recovery from his own Tommy John, Burch Smith’s forearm troubles, and Keyvius Sampson’s loss of command putting a damper on the pitching depth that looked so good pre-season. On the other hand, Jesse Hahn was strong in his major league trial, and the Padres got an unexpectedly fine contribution from Cuban defector Odrisamer Despaigne, who signed a month after I posted the original list.


Odrisamer Despaigne, photo by Andy Hayt, Getty Images

The Padres did add depth to the system over the spring and summer. 2014 first round pick Trea Turner was outstanding in his pro debut, hitting .369/.447/.529 in 46 games in Low-A. He should move rapidly with a shortstop bat like that. Second round pick Michael Gettys hit .310/.353/.437 in rookie ball. The Huston Street trade with the Angels brought in a pair of promising infielders, shortstop Jose Rondon (.315/.363/.404 with 13 steals in High-A) and second baseman Taylor Lindsey (.238/.306/.372 in the PCL. Lindsey’s stock is down somewhat as scouts expected he was capable of better but he has a draft pedigree as a former first-rounder and will get more chances.

23-year-old reliever Tayron Guerrero has improved command of his 100 MPH fastball and ran up a 1.45 ERA with a 56/20 K/BB in 50 innings in A-ball, earning a nod to the Futures Game.

The system needs more impact bats and the rash of pitching injuries shows how quickly mound depth can evaporate. Overall it currently looks like an average system.