San Diego Padres Top 20 Prospects for 2016
The list and grades are a blending of present performance and long-term potential. Comments are welcome, but in the end all analysis and responsibility is mine. Full reports on all of players can be found in the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book. We are now taking pre-orders for the book, so order early and order often!
All of these grades are preliminary and subject to change.
QUICK PRIMER ON GRADE MEANINGS
Grade A prospects are the elite. In theory, they have a good chance of becoming stars or superstars. Theoretically, most Grade A prospects develop into stars or at least major league regulars, if injuries or other problems don’t intervene. Note that is a major "if" in some cases.
Grade B prospects have a good chance to enjoy successful careers. Some will develop into stars, some will not. Most end up spending several years in the majors, at the very least in a marginal role.
Grade C prospects are the most common type. These are guys who have something positive going for them, but who may have a question mark or three, or who are just too far away from the majors to get an accurate feel for. A few Grade C guys, especially at the lower levels, do develop into stars. Many end up as role players or bench guys. Some don’t make it at all.
Finally, keep in mind that all grades are shorthand. You have to read the full comment in the book for the full analysis about a player, the letter grade only tells you so much. A Grade C prospect in rookie ball could end up being very impressive, while a Grade C prospect in Triple-A is likely just a future role player.
1) Manuel Margot, OF, Grade B: Age 21, acquired from Red Sox in Craig Kimbrel deal, hit .276/.324/.419 with six homes, 32 walks, 51 strikeouts, 39 steals between High-A and Double-A; impressive defense, uses 65-70 grade speed very well; makes contact and controls strike zone well; main question is power development. There’s some pop there but don’t expect big home run production. He’s a very good prospect but I see more solid player than future star.
2) Javier Guerra, SS, Grade B: Age 20, acquired from Red Sox in Craig Kimbrel deal, hit .279/.329/.449 with 15 homers, 30 walks, 112 strikeouts in 434 at-bats in Low-A; entered 2015 with good field/weak bat reputation but came up with a big power surge; glove sharp at shortstop, some say spectacular; I think the power burst is real but aggressive approach and questionable strike zone judgment are issues. You can make a case for the number one spot.
3) Ruddy Giron, SS, Grade B: Age 19, hit .285/.335/.407 in Low-A with nine homers, 15 steals, 29 walks, 68 strikeouts in 386 at-bats; in 2014 he hit .168 in rookie ball so 2015 represents enormous improvement; revamped swing and showed greatly improved command of strike zone; not as good with the glove as Guerra but would fit well at second base.
4) Hunter Renfroe, OF, Grade B/B-: Age 24, hit .272/.321/.462 with 20 homers, 37 walks, 132 strikeouts in 511 at-bats between Double-A/Triple-A; big power, easily a 20+ homer bat if he makes enough contact. That’s a question and ability to handle breaking stuff remains uncertain; don’t expect him to hit .300; strong throwing arm and should be a quality defender in right field.
Analyst Note: This is actually a tough call here, spots one through four. Margot, Renfroe, Giron, and Guerra all have the potential to be very productive regulars but they all have a flaw or uncertainty of some kind as well that, for me anyway, holds them back from a B+. Various versions of this list have had each of them in the number one spot. I might change my mind again tomorrow.
5) Colin Rea, RHP, Grade B-: Age 25, 12th round pick in 2011 from Indiana State, posted 1.95 ERA with 80/23 K/BB in 102 innings in Double-A/Triple-A; 79 hits; made six big league starts and held his own, 4.26 ERA with 26/11 K/BB in 32 innings; big guy at 6-5, 225 but easy heat in low-90s; took step forward after developing splitter to go with cutter and curveball; should be solid workhorse starter.
6) Logan Allen, LHP, Grade B-: Age 18, another component of Kimbrel trade, posted 1.11 ERA with 26/1 K/BB over 24 innings in rookie ball and New York-Penn League; eighth round pick in 2015 draft turned out to be much better than expected; low-90s fastball; features curve, slider, change-up, all better than advertised on draft day; command was exceptional in debut. We need more innings at higher levels but overall he does not seem like a fluke to me. Number three starter projection.
7) Jacob Nix, RHP, Grade B-: Age 20, third round pick in 2015; posted 5.49 ERA with 19/7 K/BB in 20 innings in rookie ball; plus fastball in 90-95 range with very good life; flashes strong curve and change-up but secondaries are inconsistent, as is his command; needs innings to iron out mechanics; mid-rotation type if the off-speed stuff develops properly.
8) Michael Gettys, OF, Grade B-/C+: Age 20; best physical tools in the system; would rate number one on power/speed/throwing arm combination alone. Unfortunately you need more than that. He hit just .231/.271/.346 in Low-A and it was not a fluke; pitch recognition is atrocious and he was overmatched by mediocre Midwest League off-speed stuff. No one will give up on the tools quickly. His arm is at least a 70 and maybe he could pitch if the bat doesn’t work out.
9) Travis Jankowski, OF, Grade C+: Age 24, former Stony Brook University star hit .335/.413/.425 in Double-A/Triple-A with 49 walks, 50 strikeouts, 32 steals in 379 at-bats; hit .211/.245/.344 in 90 major league at-bats; prototype fourth outfielder with speed, defense, line drive hitting; I used to believe he could develop more pop but I think I was wrong about that; should still have value as fine role player.
10) Enyel De Los Santos, RHP, Grade C+: Age 20, signed by Mariners in 2014 out of Dominican Republic; posted 3.47 ERA with 71/18 K/BB in 62 innings in rookie ball and Northwest League; 1.92 GO/AO; plus fastball as high as 96 with sinking action; solid-average curveball and change-up; command good in debut; acquired in Joaquin Benoit trade. I think this was an absolute steal for the Padres. Deserves way more attention than he gets.
11) Dinelson Lamet, RHP, Grade C+: Age 23, posted 2.99 ERA with 120/44 K/BB in 105 innings, 82 hits in Low-A; signed in 2014 as an older free agent from Dominican Republic but looks legit with 92-95 MPH fastball and plus slider; command needs some work as does his change-up but given rapid progress I would not underestimate him.
12) Jose Rondon, SS, Grade C+: Age 22; hit .300/.360/.414 with 17 steals, 21 walks, 38 strikeouts in 237 at-bats in High-A but just .190/.219/.230 with four walks, 15 strikeouts in 100 at-bats in Double-A; he ranks higher on other Padres lists but poor reports on his bat from Texas League concern me; better pitching exposed extreme lack of power; solid with the glove but may be more of a utility type than a regular without more strength at the plate.
13) Austin Smith, RHP, Grade C+: Age 19, posted 7.94 ERA with 11/9 K/BB in 17 innings in rookie ball; second round pick in 2015; excellent pitcher’s build at athletic 6-4, 220; easy heat at 93-95 but curveball, change-up, and command all need work. Mid-rotation arm if everything comes together.
14) Jabari Blash, OF, Grade C+: Age 26, older prospect acquired in Rule 5 draft; hit .271/.370/.576 with 32 homers, 59 walks, 123 strikeouts in Double-A/Triple-A in Mariners system; 60-grade power is real, also has strong throwing arm; has strikeout concerns but will draw some walks too; don’t expect high averages.
15) Alex Dickerson, OF, Grade C+: Age 25, hit .307/.374/.503 with 36 doubles, 12 homers, 45 walks, 96 strikeouts in 459 at-bats in Triple-A; can hit .300 in his sleep with polished line drive bat but mediocre home run power combined with lack of speed and left field defensive profile make it hard to slot him on roster; back in the 50s and 60s he would have a long career as a pinch-hitter and platoon bat but it is harder to find those jobs nowadays given giant pitching staffs and short benches.
16) Tayron Guerrero, RHP, Grade C+: Age 25, 6-8, 210 pound monster with fastball up to 98-100; good slider too; posted 3.05 ERA with 61/31 K/BB in 56 innings in Double-A/Triple-A; saved 14; command and control remain erratic but if they improve even a little he could be a nasty closer.
17) Luis Perdomo, RHP, Grade C+: Age 22, Rule 5 pick from Cardinals system, posted 3.98 ERA with 118/37 K/BB in 127 innings in Low-A/High-A; low/mid-90s fastball with solid-average slider and change-up; could be workhorse starter or perhaps a dominant middle reliever.
18) Jose Torres, LHP, Grade C+: Age 22, acquired from Athletics in Yonder Alonso trade; posted 2.56 ERA with 84/24 K/BB in 77 innings in Low-A/High-A; plus fastball with movement at 92-95; above-average slider; seems ideally-suited for bullpen role and could be more than just a LOOGY.
19) Jimmy Brasoban, RHP, Grade C+: Age 21, posted 2.26 ERA with 80/25 K/BB in 72 innings in Low-A, 10 saves; signed out of Dominican in 2011; poor record as a starter but much better after converting to bullpen; can hit 98; plus slider; change-up held him back as a starter but in relief that is less of an issue; closer potential if command holds.
20) Carlos Asuaje, INF, Grade C: Age 24; another part of Kimbrel trade with Boston; hit .251/.334/.374 with 56 walks, 88 strikeouts in 495 at-bats in Double-A; controls zone well and I think there is more pop in the bat than he showed last year; can play multiple positions.
OTHERS OF NOTE: Austin Allen, C; Bubby Baumann, LHP; Ryan Butler, RHP; Jose Castillo, LHP; Jean Cosme, RHP; Justin Hancock, RHP; Josh Martin, RHP; Phil Maton, RHP; Cory Mazzoni, RHP; Fernando Perez, 2B: Franmil Reyes; OF; Blake Smith, RHP; Juan Carlos Urena, OF; Luis Urias, 2B; Cesar Vargas, RHP
Aggressive trades and prudent use of Rule 5 draft have injected talent into this system and given it a new look.
This completes the Top 20 lists. I’ll post some book comments in the thread below.