San Diego Padres Top 20 Prospects for 2018
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. All of these grades are subject to change as the winter progresses. The final grades will be finished sometime in February when all 30 teams are complete.
This list was updated March 14, 2018
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. 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) Fernando Tatis, Jr, SS, Grade A: Age 19, signed by Chicago White Sox out of Dominican Republic in 2015, traded to Padres for James Shields before his first professional at-bat; superb 2017 season, hitting .278/.379/.498 with 22 homers, 32 steals, 77 walks, and 141 strikeouts in 486 at-bats between Low-A and Double-A along with ability to manage shortstop; may lose range as he matures but power/speed combination will play anywhere and he has the arm for third base; makeup also considered a plus; you can make a good case to put him number one and I may ultimately go there in February. (UPDATE: He’s number one now with a plain Grade A) ETA late 2019.
2) Mackenzie Gore, LHP, Grade A-/A: Age 18, first round pick in 2017 from high school in North Carolina; posted 1.27 ERA in 21 innings in rookie ball with 34/7 K/BB; extremely advanced for his age, with sharp command of 92-95 MPH fastball, plus curveball, plus change-up, plus slider, plus makeup; scouting reports are glowing and the numbers match the reports so far; possible top-of-the-rotation starter, main concern at this point is showing what kind of workload he can handle. ETA 2020.
3) Michel Baez, RHP, Grade A-/B+: Age 21, signed out of Cuba in December 2016; excellent debut with 2.45 ERA in 59 innings in Low-A, 82/8 K/BB, 41 hits; all ratios off the charts; 94-98 MPH fastball with plus slider, plus change-up, and stunningly good control for a 6-foot-8 inch pitcher; as with Gore the main need at this point is to show how he handles a full workload but he has the stuff and command of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. ETA late 2019.
4) Luis Urias, 2B-SS, Grade B+: Age 20, signed out of Mexico in 2013; hit .296/.398/.380 with 20 doubles, three homers, 68 walks, 65 strikeouts in 442 at-bats in Double-A; excellent strike zone judgment with contact ability and gap power, not likely to be a home run hitter but has respectable punch, enough to keep pitchers honest; not a butcher at shortstop but range and hands work better at second base; could be something like Freddy Sanchez with more walks and fewer injuries. ETA late 2018.
5) Adrian Morejon, LHP, Grade B+: Age 18, Cuban signed in 2016, posted 3.86 ERA in 63 innings between Northwest and Midwest Leagues, 58/16 K/BB, 65 hits, very credible for his age of course; fastball 90-95 with peaks at 96; very advanced secondary pitches for his age, particularly the change-up; curveball can be inconsistent but still better than most 18 year olds; usually throws strikes; as with Gore and Baez we need to see how he handles a workload and his physical ceiling isn’t quite at their level; ETA 2020.
6) Cal Quantrill, RHP, Grade B/B+: Age 22, first round pick in 2016 from Stanford University; posted 3.80 ERA with 110/40 K/BB in 116 innings between High-A and Double-A, 130 hits; statistical performance was okay but not excellent; scouting reports are more optimistic, with heater at 93-97, excellent change-up, and inconsistent but promising breaking stuff; results don’t quite match the stuff at this point but he missed a year and a half with Tommy John so there was some rust to work off. ETA 2019.
7) Logan Allen, LHP, Grade B: Age 20, drafted by Red Sox in eighth round in 2015, traded to Padres in Craig Kimbrel deal; posted 2.95 ERA in 125 innings between Low-A and High-A with 142/44 K/BB, 109 hits, just three homers allowed; fastball 90-94, plays up due to strong change-up and average but workable breaking ball; the flip side of Quantrill, as Allen’s scouting reports (while good) aren’t as good as the performance, which was excellent, possible number three starter. ETA 2019.
8) Joey Lucchesi, LHP, Grade B: Age 24, fourth round pick in 2016 from Southeast Missouri State University; posted 2.20 ERA with 148/33 K/BB in 139 innings between High-A and Double-A, just 102 hits; 90-94 fastball, sometimes a notch higher, with above-average curveball and change-up; throws strikes despite unconventional delivery, deceptive and confident; possible number three starter. ETA late 2018.
9) Eric Lauer, LHP, Grade B: Age 22, first round pick in 2016 from Kent State University; posted 3.30 ERA in 123 innings between High-A and Double-A, 132/36 K/BB, 117 hits; fastball 89-94 with movement, mixes in slider, curveball, change-up; while stuff isn’t spectacular hitters have a hard time picking him up and he’s always been effective due to strong command and mature mound presence; like Allen and Lucchesi, a possible mid-rotation arm. ETA late 2018.
10) Anderson Espinosa, RHP, Grade B/B-: Age 19, acquired from Red Sox for Drew Pomeranz in 2016; missed all of 2017 with elbow issues that eventually required surgery, will miss most or all of 2018 as well; when healthy, shows fastball up to 98 along with above-average changeup and curveball; higher ceiling than anyone except Gore and Baez but we have to wait and see how his stuff and command rebound from surgery. ETA 2021. (UPDATE: slight downtick in grade to match placement on Top 175 list, no change on ranking here)
11) Franchy Cordero, OF, Grade B-: Age 23, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2011; hit .326/.369/.603 with 17 homers, 15 steals, 23 walks, 118 strikeouts in 390 at-bats in Triple-A, then .228/.276/.424 in 92 major league at-bats, with unsightly 44 strikeouts; exciting power/speed potential but scouting reports are exactly what you’d expect based on the numbers: he’s dangerous but containable at this point due to poor strike zone judgment and hyper-aggressive approach; even small improvements with zone discipline would make him a multi-category player so keep an eye on him. ETA 2018.
12) Jeisson Rosario, OF, Grade B-: Age 18, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2016 for $1,850,000; impressive debut with .299/.404/.369 line in rookie ball, 33 walks, 36 strikeouts in 187 at-bats; unusually good strike zone judgment for a hitter his age; although he hit just one homer he has at least average power potential from the left side and more homers should come in time; above-average speed and arm strength, though outfield defense and baserunning are raw at this point; long way off but promising. ETA 2022.
13) Gabriel Arias, SS, Grade B-: Age 17, signed out of Venezuela for $1,900,000 in 2016; hit .265/.312/.326 with 12 walks, 67 strikeouts in 215 at-bats between rookie ball and Midwest League; expected to hit for average with gap power, hasn’t quite happened yet but he’s been pushed very quickly; defense is ahead of hitting at this point, with above-average range, hands, and arm strength; bat needs time and it will be interesting to see how rapidly the Padres are willing to push him up the ladder. ETA 2021.
14) Josh Naylor, 1B, Grade B-: Age 20, first round pick by the Miami Marlins in 2015 out of Canada, traded to Padres in Andrew Cashner deal; 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.
15) Jacob Nix, RHP, Grade B-: Age 22, third round pick in 2015 from IMG Academy; posted 4.67 ERA in 94 innings between High-A and Double-A, 73/19 K/BB, 110 hits; an odd duck at this point, fastball can get up to 96, flashes a plus curveball and decent change-up and throws strikes; his control (avoiding walks) is better than his command (hitting your locations within the strike zone) and he sometimes seems to lack deception; game logs show mixture of dominant outings with terrible ones and not much in between; still a possible workhorse starter although he might be more dominant on a per-inning basis if used in bullpen. ETA 2019.
16) Michael Gettys, OF, Grade C+/B-: Age 22, second round pick in 2014 from high school in Georgia, hit .254/.329/.431 in High-A with 17 homers, 22 steals, 46 walks, 191 strikeouts in 457 at-bats; sort of the Jason Nix of hitters with results not consistently matching perceived talent, shows excellent tools including power, speed, and throwing arm but results spotty, looks like a world-beater at his best but streaky and prone to slumps, contact problems; destroys left-handed pitching. ETA late 2019.
17) Austin Allen, C, Grade C+/B-: Age 23 (24 next week), fourth round pick in 2015 from Florida Tech, hit .283/.353/.497 with 22 homers, 44 walks, 109 strikeouts in 463 at-bats in High-A; threw out 21% of runners in ’17 and 20% in ’16; real power from the left side and a fair feel for the strike zone, might not hit for high averages at the top levels but power should carry forward; problem here is defense, as he’s not a bad receiver per se but has consistent problems throwing out runners; bat would be less attractive if he has to switch positions. ETA 2019.
18) Hudson Potts, INF, Grade C+/B-: Age 19, first round pick in 2016 draft from high school in Texas, hit .253/.293/.438 with 20 homers, 23 walks, 140 strikeouts in 491 at-bats in Low-A; former shortstop moved over to third base and should stick there; power profiles well at the position; Midwest League observers enjoyed his bat speed and power potential but questioned his feel for hitting, though he was very young for the level (he played the season at age 18) and we have to cut him some slack for that. ETA 2022.
19) Esteury Ruiz, 2B, Grade C+/B-: Age 18, signed by Kansas City Royals out of Dominican Republic in 2015, traded to Padres last July; hit .350/.395/.602 in rookie ball with 13 walks, 54 strikeouts, 26 stolen bases in 206 at-bats; plus running speed shows well on bases while plus bat speed destroyed rookie ball pitching; 6-0, 150 but strong for his size; needs a lot of polish at second base but has the athleticism to stick there; ETA 2021.
20) Mason House, OF, Grade C+: Age 19, third round pick in 2017 from high school in Texas, hit .293/.354/.463 with 13 walks, 68 strikeouts in 164 at-bats in rookie ball; 60-grade power and speed, hitting approach is rather raw and contact is an issue but ceiling as a hitter is quite high; high risk, high reward bat; ETA 2022.
OTHER GRADE C+: Luis Almanzar, INF; Pedro Avila, RHP; Jordy Barley, SS; David Bednar, RHP; Ronald Bolanos, RHP; Colten Brewer, RHP; Luis Campusano, C; Jose Castillo, LHP; Blake Hunt, C; Brett Kennedy, RHP; Reggie Lawson, RHP; Justin Lopez, INF; Nick Margevicius, LHP; Kyle McGrath, LHP; Edward Olivares, OF; Jorge Ona, OF; Tirso Ornelas, OF; Chris Paddack, RHP; Luis Patino, RHP; Franmil Reyes, OF; Hansel Rodriguez, RHP; Jose Rondon, SS; Eguy Rosario, INF; Mason Thompson, RHP
OTHERS OF NOTE: Lake Bachar, RHP; Cole Bellinger, RHP; Rod Boykin, OF; Jared Carkuff, RHP; Adam Cimber, RHP; Juan Fernandez, C; Jose Galindo, RHP; Ruddy Giron, INF; Marcus Greene, C; Javier Guerra, SS; Jordan M. Guerrero, RHP; Henry Henry, RHP; Osvaldo Hernandez, LHP; Chris Huffman, RHP; Reinaldo Ilarraza, 2B; Sam Keating, RHP; Jose Lezama, C; Walker Lockett, RHP; Adrian Martinez, RHP; Trevor Megill, RHP; Michell Miliano, RHP; Vijay Miller, RHP; Andres Munoz, RHP; Robbie Podorsky, OF; Buddy Reed, OF; Angel Santos, OF; Jesse Scholtens, RHP; Jack Suwinski, OF; Wilmer Torres, RHP; Dauris Valdez, RHP; Christian Villanueva, INF; T.J. Weir, RHP; Brad Wieck, LHP; Trey Wingenter, RHP Brad Zunica, 1B
This is an incredibly deep system and several of the “other Grade C+” guys would rank among a Top 20 list in many systems, even Top 10 in some.
I go back and forth between Gore and Tatis at one-two and may flip them in February when all the lists are complete. That’s a good item for discussion, so discuss it.
I will be around to answer questions in the comments section as usual.