The San Diego Padres organization is back on the rise. It is a farm system that has several Top 100 candidates, but also goes very deep with names still blossoming.
When there are names like Anderson Espinoza, Mackenzie Gore, Cal Quantrill and Luis Urias stealing the spotlight, some of those lesser names may get lost in the shuffle. Let’s take a look at three prospects on the rise (UPDATED 1/13/17 -- Enyel de los Santos was the top player on the list, but has since been traded to the Phillies and now appears on theirs. Josh Naylor has taken his spot).
Josh Naylor, 1B
It’s hard to believe Naylor is still just 20 years old. Drafted in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Marlins, Naylor hit the ground running. Literally, the bulky first baseman has 21 stolen bases in his career, which is rather impressive.
Naylor was traded to the Padres as part of the Andrew Cashner deal. He has a solid hit tool, but doesn’t display the power of a major league first baseman. Still only 20, it’s not out of the question that he sees an uptick in power, but at 6-foot, 225, there isn’t much projectability left in his growth.
John Sickels has Naylor No. 14 in his Padres preseason Top 20. That seems like a fair assessment, as Naylor should be a Top 10 system guy, but has relatively underachieved thus far in his career. Here’s what he had to say:
hit .280/.346/.415 with 10 homers, 43 walks, 84 strikeouts in 439 at-bats between High-A and Double-A; very strong physically and plus raw power from the left side, however it doesn’t show up on games as much as it should; makes contact and works counts well but swing seems to cut off lift and results in more line drives than long bombs; below average defender at first base so he really needs to hit; still young enough to solve his issues. ETA 2020.
Austin Allen, C
Allen is a curious case. The 23-year-old backstop was drafted out of DII Florida Tech known for his bat. That bat produced this season, as he blasted 31 doubles and 22 home runs.
The question mark arises when that power surge came as an older prospect in the offensive-minded California League. Still, Allen’s bat is undeniable.
Allen has a quick and powerful left-handed swing, and most of his power this season went to the pull side. That being said, he doesn’t seem to be 100-percent pull, as he sprinkled a third of his doubles in the opposite field gaps. The majority of his outs came via strikeout or ground ball, so perhaps there is even more power to be found. Still, he struck out 21 percent of the time, which isn’t all that discouraging for a slugger, especially when he can counter with an 8.5 percent walk percentage.
He is big for a backstop, which leads to difficulties behind the plate. Most will tell you that his future isn’t behind the plate. Most of those same people will tell you his hit tool is too good to ignore. Should Allen continue to hit early next season, expect to see him get on a much faster track.
Jorge Ona, OF
Ona’s game translated pretty well in his stateside debut. The powerful and muscular 20-year-old Cuban showed that a lot of the tools the Padres had hoped may just be for real.
The outfielder slashed .277/.351/.405 with 18 doubles and 11 home runs. While his ISO (.128) could use improvement, especially with reports of a projectable frame, his wRC+ was on par at 115. He was pretty much all pull, and though his strikeout numbers (115 in 465 plate appearances) seem to suggest he’s aggressive in his approach, he still knows how to draw a walk (40 times).
Ona seems destined for a corner outfield position based on what most have seen. Was his debut perfect? Not necessarily. Was it exciting considering he debuted at full-season ball? You bet. Ona may not be on the fast track tomorrow, but he could develop into a nice everyday player sooner than you think.