|1||Fernando Tatis Jr.||SS|
Photo credit: Lance Brozdowski
1) Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
.286/.355/.507, 16 HR, .221 ISO, 133 wRC+, 8.4% BB, 27.7% K, 16 SB
Highest Level: AA
The evolution of Tatis Jr. has given the Padres a premiere, elite talent atop their farm system. Acquired by the Padres before ever playing a game in the White Sox system, the tall-and-lanky shortstop broke out in 2017 with Fort Wayne. He tallied 21 homers and 29 bags with a .390 OBP in the pitching-friendly Midwest League. Watching tape from late 2016, the structure of his swing was set, but he found himself out on his front foot early in spots, limiting the actualization of his plus-plus bat speed. Fast-froward to 2018 and Tatis Jr. employs a thigh-high leg kick allowing for greater separation between his upper and lower body, particularly where his hands and hips are in his swing when his front foot first makes contact with the ground. His swing is fluid, seamless and explosive. He sometimes reverts back to a smaller stride on occasion, allowing for a greater chance of contact, but the premise of his profile is a blended hit and power bat with substantial upside. I see him as a 55 hit, 65 power bat at peak—something like a .270, 27-homer bat. He entrenched himself as a line-drive hitter in Double-A last season with San Antonio, but the plane of his swing can change into a lifted approach on occasion with pitches low in the zone. The result in these instances—superior plate coverage with the ability to drive the ball—is what prospectors dream of. I think there is a small argument against expecting more power based on him sticking with his plus line-drive approach, but it merely changes the power outcome without dragging down the overall offensive output.
He has the potential to become an above-average defender at shortstop with a plus arm, but as he ages, intuition suggests his range might suffer, moving him to third base. His offensive profile and arm are solid enough to result in an above-average asset at third base if moving off short occurs. The peak of his upside and value will come if he stays at short and convinces evaluators his size will not impede his defensive ability. For now, he is also an above average baserunner. There is potential for consistent 5 WAR seasons at a premium position, with a chance for more in dependent on how his development progresses.
The Padres plethora of middle infield assets makes for an interesting puzzle for Preller & Co. to complete as Tatis Jr.’s debut is likely to come full time in 2020, potentially by late 2019 if he leaves nothing to guess work in El Paso. Tatis is a consensus top-five prospects, top three on most lists and even earning a vote over Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for some. I consider him a 70-grade future value player. In recent news, Tatis turned 20 years old on January 2 and made up for lost time in the minors by putting up respectable numbers in the Dominican Winter League (3 HR, .866 OPS, 20 K, 10 BB).
2) MacKenzie Gore, LHP
60.2 IP, 4.45 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 10.98 K/9, 2.67 BB/9, .256 BAA
Highest Level: A-
If you can believe it, Gore might be underrated. The majority of the love found for Gore on other outlets has come from factors like pitch mix and his wacky—albeit hyper-athletic—mechanics. Both of which are good enough to warrant an aggressive rank alone. There is not much of a statistical set to back up the love. He only threw 60 2/3 innings in 2018, with two separate stints on the disabled list chopping up his season into small one- or two-moth bands. Out of high school in the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft, he managed only seven starts, most of which were largely uninspiring. The consensus presently suggests Gore is clearly one of the top three to five pitching prospects in baseball, but the results backing this up are few and far between. If they come and are better than expected, the question becomes how high to boost Gore on top 100 lists.
His pitch mix is dynamic. In a start I saw of his on Independence day, his repertoire consisted of a fastball (91-94mph) and curveball (79-81 mph), both of which flashed plus. He mixed in one slider during the outing, a pitch with similar plane to his curveball, but sharper break and 5 mph of added velocity. He threw this curveball breaking ball to both handedness of hitter with ease, locating his fastball with precision. The difficulty in scouting Gore is determining where to balance the specific pitch grades and how dominant his future plus command makes each pitch look. All this praise comes without mentioning his changeup, a pitch some consider the true future plus offering of his repertoire. The pitch hasn’t been used likely due in part to the lack of need at such a low level of the minor leagues. Gore is able to post above average swinging strike rates and a solid 3.25 FIP with no huge issue versus either side of the plate and not utilize one of his premiere pitches.
His delivery is the second element of his persona catching analysts’ eyes. Gore has extreme extension off the mound, driving towards home plate after a massive leg kick and hand raise above his head. He repeats well given his extreme athleticism, and he maintains the ability to locate to glove and arm side with ease despite the loud motion. He has two variations of his stretch delivery. One mimics his long wind-up delivery, while the latter is an abbreviated version of the same motion. He does not lag behind developmentally with either motion in particular, but finding the balance between the two is something that will be a focal point as he presumably starts his 2019 with High-A Lake Elsinore.
Injuries have been the main issue with Gore to this point. He had perpetual blister problems on his left middle finger, which reopened after his initial shutdown. When he returned, he found himself back on the DL with a fingernail issue that effectively ended his season in August. There was no link ever established, at least in my searching and research, between the blister and fingernail problem. Keep in mind, he is only 19 years old and still has a chance to debut before he reaches the age of 24. There is clear concern around the issues that occurred in 2018, but I don’t reduce his stock because of it like others do.
I view Gore as a true four-pitch left-handed starter with number-two starter upside. There is the chance for four above average pitches with plus command, something essentially no other prospect starter can say—plus command being the most elusive trait. Gore is a 65 future value pitcher for me.
3) Luis Urias, 2B/SS
.296/.398/.447, 8 HR, .151 ISO, 127 wRC+, 12.6% BB, 20.5% K, 2 SB- AAA
.208/.264/.354, 2 HR, .146 ISO, 68 wRC+, 5.7% BB, 18.9% K, 1 SB- MLB
Highest Level: MLB
Urias played only 12 games in 2018 after his call up due to injury. As revealed at the Winter Meetings, and possibly known beforehand, plans existed to play Urias at shortstop after a stint at second base. This was presumably to bridge the gap to Tatis during the 2019 season if the Padres chose not to retain Freddy Galvis. The sample didn’t suggest much beyond what we already knew: Urias is a good defender with an evolving, strikeout-limited approach. He put his weight into two pitches for homers, suggest the 45/50 game power potential is realistic. The first was to the opposite field on an inside-out swing that displayed his hand strength. The other is in video form below, consisting of a 93-mph fastball at the letters that he tanked to deep left field in Great American.
His swing is standard for a player of his body type—5-foot-9, 185 pounds. He sets up wide with high hands, keeping weight on his back foot as he loads his hands high and uses a big leg kick to engage his lower body and time pitches. It resembles players like Jose Altuve or a quieter Nick Madrigal, but Urias is more of a free swinger, which is why there is some reservation for average power at a later stage of his career.
The versatility he provides to play shortstop in 2019 and likely later into his career at an average clip is another layer of his value. His above average speed and baserunning ability help his cause as well. The ceiling isn’t insanely high unless there is a grade of power sitting somewhere in the tank currently hidden, which would produce a season or two—purely from a power perspective—like Jose Altuve.
Urias grades as a 60 future value prospect for me, with a solid shot at perennially producing plus baserunning and fielding ability along with a .280/290 average and 12-15 home runs in a few years. His floor should make it easy to ride with any growing pains offensively early on.
4) Chris Paddack, RHP
90 IP, 2.10 ERA, 2.01 FIP, 12.00 K/9, 0.80 BB/9, .203 BAA
Highest Level: AA
Paddack made the biggest leap into relevance in 2018 compared to nearly any other pitching prospect. He was traded for Fernando Rodney in 2016, flashing his dominant, plus-plus changeup before needing Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2018 and posted a 1.79 FIP over 52 1/3 innings with Lake Elsinore before hopping to San Antonio and producing nearly identical peripheral results. His post-surgery progress vaulted him to a projected 2019 debut with the chance to immediately post an above-average ERA and a K/9 above 9 upon his debut despite a small downtick in swing-and-miss stuff in Double-A. There may be a chance he hit a high right after Tommy John and the future may not be as dominant, but that’s an unlikely, setback-laden outcome that I have no right to project.
His primary offspeed pitch is a buggs-bunny changuep that is truly plus-plus, completely buckling nearly all left-handed hitters who see it and naturally giving him inverted splits. He throws the pitch to right-handed hitters with success as well, but will mix in a curveball to vary his offerings. The pitch projects to be average long term, while his fastball has plus life and run, generating a substantial amount of swing and miss when elevated. It lands as a future above average offering. The bow tying this all together is Paddack’s plus command, a trait he shares with Gore.
On top of the command are quiet mechanics. He often uses a slight hesitation during his windup, sitting on his back leg with a high, active glove arm that allows him to rotate exceptionally well. Because he is more of a rotator than a driver off his back foot, his finish can appear slightly upright, but how he sits on his back leg fools the eye and allows his trunk to fly towards the plate and over his hips with an active front leg. His arm speed is exceptionally quick, creating the plus-plus action on his changeup from a high three-quarters arm slot.
Once upon a time, Paddack was below the majority of the Padres international starting pitchers—Baez, Morejon, etc. Now he is squarely above with a high enough floor to garner support as a top-three asset on this list to the right analyst. Paddack grades out as a 60 grade future value starter with a small band of outcomes, most of which project him to be a solid number-three starter with seasons of number-two ceiling.
5) Luis Patiño, RHP
83 IP, 2.16 ERA, 2.33 FIP, 10.58 K/9, 2.59 BB/9, .216 BAA
Highest Level: A-
Patiño vault into prospect relevance stems from development unlike Paddack’s injury-based ascension. The result is two new second and third pitching prospects from 2017 iterations of the Padres prospect list. He survives on a plus fastball sitting 94-95, topping out at 97 and higher as reported by others. Mixed in with his heat is a plus slider in the 85-mph range, a low 80s curveball and a 85- to 86-mph changeup. The latter two are future average pitches at the moment with the chance to push higher up if you’re optimistic with his arm speed and changeup feel at such a young age.
The issue in 2018 for him was the lack of a consistent changeup, resulting in staunch splits between right- and left-handed hitters. Couple this with a slight lack of slider effectiveness against lefties and the splits will likely continue if he moves to Lake Elsinore come 2019. A refined changeup during offseason would do him wonders, but if that wasn’t his offseason goal, I expect these splits to continue and cause more of a problem than they did in the Midwest League. On top of that, I spoke with the bilingual righty and confirmed the Padres asked him to develop and throw a slider more upon his signing. After this occurred, he admitted he lost the feel for spin on his curveball and worked a lot this season to refine the pitch back to its prior state. As his slider is currently his best secondary pitch, the Padres were correct in asking him to alter his repertoire and the malleable Patiño obliged.
His mechanics are athletic and resemble MacKenzie Gore’s, a pitcher he worked with for the majority of 2018 along with Fort Wayne pitching coach Burt Hooton. From the windup, he uses a high, above-the-belt leg kick, keeping his hands above his head before driving towards the plate. This evolved from early 2018 video on the righty, which shows a much more sedated leg kick. From the stretch, he largely deviates from his loud windup mechanics. This is one of the main differences with Gore and Patiño. Gore has a variation from the stretch that allows him to mimic his windup delivery, while Patiño reverts back to simple mechanics with a slightly dampened leg kick. I’ve long theorized that Patiño will go back to the simpler windup mechanics he utilized in early 2018 to allow for consistency in leg height and repeatability as he reaches higher levels. But given his success late in the season, this change should only come with struggle and none seems to be in sight for the 19-year-old.
I grade Patiño as a 60 future value prospect with number three potential and a good amount of risk, given his age, velocity and smaller size. This rank suggest even with those risks, the overall product is just too enticing to pass up at such a young age.
6) Francisco Mejia, C/3B
.293/.338/.471, 14 HR, .178 ISO, 119 wRC+, 5.3% BB, 17.7% K- AAA
.179/.258/.375, 2 HR, .196 ISO, 73 wRC+, 8.1% BB, 30.6% K- MLB
Highest Level: MLB
Mejia’s most intriguing storyline is tied to his position. The Indians played him almost exclusively at catcher in 2017 at Double-A, then opted to diversify his defensive profile in 2018 with looks in the outfield and third base. This provided the few true question marks around Mejia’s ultimate, everyday position. After being traded to the Padres from the Indians, Mejia played over 200 innings at catcher in Triple-A for Preller before continuing the trend when he earned a promotion to the majors. His frame is small, which almost guarantees he won’t be a full-time catcher in any capacity, but his framing and defensive skills graded out average to slightly below per Baseball Prospectus. This makes for an intriguing option behind the plate to back up Austin Hedges, given Mejia’s superior offensive profile compared to most catchers and his 80-grade arm. Hedges starts his four years of arbitration in 2020, making him a Padre for a substantial amount of time. With Wil Myers moving back to the outfield, a spot opens up for Mejia at third base. But rumors continue to swirl connecting the Padres to Miguel Andujar and Manny Machado. Mejia may struggle to earn full-time playing time at a consistent position through 2020, but versatility is likely part of the reason the Padres were so intrigued. If Mejia can hit, he will find a role.
Mejia’s swing possesses a lot of movement, but given his average game power projection, it’s not surprising it takes time to get all of his momentum into the ball. He’s a switch-hitter—better from the right side—who utilizes a belt-high leg kick to build momentum and time pitches. His bat wraps horizontally as his weight guides forward in his swing. The result is very segmented, but workable to bring out more power if he’s able to lift the ball more than his ground-ball rate suggests he will in his recent samples. Steamer isn’t particularly fond of his statistics for 2019, but the future two or three years down the road can still be a 60-hit, 55-game power bat with an uncommon utility role. I grade Mejia out as a 55 future value player with some variability if his bat materializes at the major league level soon enough to give him a consistent batch of 500 plate appearances.
7) Adrian Morejon, LHP
62.2 IP, 3.30 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 10.05 K/9, 3.45 BB/9, .230 BAA
Highest Level: A+
Although the lore of changeup feel draws parallels between Morejon and arms like Baez and Paddack, he’s a different pitcher in a variety of areas. He’s only 6-foot tall, with a decent amount of weight for a 19 year old, but his delivery is smooth and methodical. He works slowly from the windup with a belt-high leg kick as he turns his torso substantially around towards the second base bag. From there it’s a nice blend of rotation with a little bit of drive off the rubber with his back leg. Pitches come in from a standard three-quarters arm slot with good tunneling between each of his offerings. His finish tends to fall off towards the third base side of the rubber, a potential indication that his momentum might be slightly diverted from an optimal motion towards the plate. He held only a 9 percent walk rate in 2018 across 62 2/3 innings, but I would be interested to see if the Padres try to develop his delivery to be more streamlined towards home, similar to how the Cardinals adjusted Carlos Martinez throughout his career to finish in a more optimal spot for fielding and momentum purposes.
Morejon’s fastball sits 94-96 with projectable command and good life. One of his best pitches is an 82-84 mph changeup that will likely be plus at peak and consistently flashed as such in Lake Elsinore this season. The 10- to 12-mph separation of the pitch compared to his fastball is hefty and suggests more swing and miss than ground balls. To compliment this whiff-based offering, he often opts for a heavier, sinking fastball in the low 90s. Lastly, the lefty utilizes a sharp, 78- to 80-mph curveball with 11-7 movement to either handedness of hitter. I’ve seen some debate as to whether this breaker is actually his best pitch at present, but I think debating the ultimate effectiveness of either pitch is great sign for a lefty that turns 20 in February. From the first time I saw Morejon in person (video below) to the more recent video I’ve seen online, he has an innate ability to locate glove side to right-handed hitters. It’s not consistent enough to warrant average present command, but is encouraging enough at such a young age that above average could be his future.
Morejon is a 55 future value starting pitcher to me. I think his feel at such a young age—like so many other Padres pitchers—is enough to warrant dreaming on future refinement and subsequent success. I don’t think there’s a chance his changeup is better than Paddack’s, but I do see a world where it could exceed Baez’s, but that is in a scenario where Baez regresses with his back issues and becomes a breaking-ball dominant arm. Morejon ends the tier of the “special six” prospect arms in the Padres system, almost all of which are consensus top 10 on lists and top 100 pitchers.
8) Michel Baez, RHP
83 IP, 3.69 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 9.69 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, .238 BAA
Highest Level: AA
For most systems, pitching prospects past the systems’ top five survive with fastball-slider combos and prospectors wonder whether an arm will develop feel for a changeup or second breaking ball. The Padres have six pitchers inside their top ten with changeup feel and multiple average to above offerings. Baez is the fourth of such prospects, with the other two pitchers following him closely behind the fifth and sixth. He works with a fastball that sits around 95-96 mph when elevated and a running, two-seam version of the pitch that sits around 92 mph. He sat higher in the 90s in 2017, but struggled with some back issues in early 2018 presumably dropping his velocity. The stuff is good enough to survive without sitting 99 mph. He has a sweeping curveball in the 79-82 range and a wipeout changeup around 85-86 mph. His fastball will likely top out around plus, while his curveball should peak around above average. His changeup, however, has some considering it a true plus pitch with a chance for more. I remain firmly in the plus range with the pitch, preferring Paddack’s changeup from a usage and command standpoint. Baez’s splits at higher levels—High A, Double-A—in 2018 also suggest his changeup still has some development to do, but his feel is there, even if his curveball is the higher usage offering from tape I’ve seen.
In terms of mechanics Baez is largely rotational, with little dependence on his lower half for any drive off the mound. He has some decent extension in his front leg, but he does stay somewhat upright compared to other high-velocity pitchers. His long arm action when combined with his rotational delivery are fantastic uses of his levers. It’s slightly reminiscent of a pitcher like Madison Bumgarner from a load standpoint, or more appropriately because of his frame, Tyler Glasnow. But both of those arms extend better than Baez, which makes me hope there is some loosening up of his lower body for arm health and further projection. Despite what can be seen as knocks, his ability to locate and project for average to above command is what propels him into the upper echelon of starting pitching prospects on this list and within top 100s.
I consider Baez a 55 future value prospect with a healthy dose of risk and upside. He might just be weird enough and have enough changeup feel to push toward a number-two starter, or enough concern around his back issues to make him a dynamic reliever. The balance is a number three starter and I’m comfortable projecting him above average in that regard for the time being. I don’t think he needs to bounce back to higher velocities to survive as a starter, but prolonged health will be necessary next season to maintain this rank.
9) Anderson Espinoza, RHP
DNP- Tommy John Rehab
Highest Level: DNP- Tommy John Rehab
Espinoza is a substantially more enigmatic pitcher than any of the other arms on this list. There is a severe lack of live looks since his days with Boston in 2016. My guess—and I hesitate here—is that he started throwing off a mound in late 2018 after being limited to 90 and 120 feet for the majority of early 2018 (source). The issue for lists like this is the lack of public information surrounding what was done with him at the end of 2018. It’s not surprise he is in need of a healthy 2019, just like top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore. Thankfully they’re both so young the pressure for health isn’t as present as in a player like Alex Reyes.
Before Tommy John surgery, Espionza had a plus-plus fastball with life and mid 90s velocity. He mixed it in with a changeup and curveball, which depending on the scout, flip back and forth for best secondary offering. For the most part, both landed as future plus offerings. His delivery possessed a little bit more effort than Morejon or Baez, but was more dynamic and athletic than either.
I rank Espinoza ninth with caution because of his injury and how little we’ve seen of him since 2016. He is by far the toughest pitcher to rank on this list. If he comes back out in 2019 and doesn’t look like the piece Preller eagerly acquired for Drew Pomeranz, his stock will fall dramatically. But if he comes out equal to the level of talent he should pre surgery, his stock for me will likely tick above both Morejon, Baez, and potentially Patiño to fourth overall. The swing-and-miss upside is substantial with Espinoza and his combination of two plus offerings with a plus-plus fastball and command is still arguably the most promising package on this list. Add to this a delivery that I like as much as Luis Patiño’s and I’m happy to buy in. No pitcher will have such a quick value adjustment after his 2019 innings accumulate than Espinoza.
I think there is an outside chance Espinoza debuts late in 2020 if his first season back on a mound is similar to Chris Paddack circa 2018. The more likely outcome is 2021. For now, without knowledge of those first innings in 2019, Espinoza is a 55 future value starting pitcher with substantial risk. Twitter speculation is that Espinoza could start in Amarillo (Padres new Double-A). It’s most likely to me he makes a start or two in Lake Elsinore before jumping up to Amarillo.
10) Tirso Ornelas, OF
.252/.341/.392, 8 HR, .139 ISO, 109 wRC+, 11.3% BB, 19.2% K, 5 SB
Highest Level: A
Yes, another youthful Padres prospect under the age of 20. It’s almost as if they grow on trees, like a really expensive tree Preller essentially paid just under $80 million for. Given the depth of legitimate starting pitching prospects from one to nine on this list, it’s hard to make a statement with a player at 10 overall, but I tried to do that with Ornelas. The more likely outcome is that Ornelas is a 55 hit, 55 power everyday outfielder. The outcome I’m squinting for with this rank is bumping his power to 60 and dreaming that there might be a fringe chance at a 60 hit tool (or at least enough of an approach for an above-average OBP). This would put him at .270, 24-homer seasons to the tune of a 2.5-3 WAR player. Keep in mind Ornelas is only 18 years old. There is a substantial amount of development that still needs to occur, but his frame suggests more power is going to come and his approach at the plate early in 2018 convinces observers that power won’t come with the abandon of approach.
Ornelas starts his hands low, with some natural ebb and flow before he draws his hands back laterally and slightly up, resulting in a higher hand load. The intent of him starting his hands low is enough to result in a well distributed batted-ball profile, with no real outliers or issues. Even though the plane of his bat suggests line drives, where he starts his wrist and the leverage he gets with his 6-foot-3 frame works very well for his age. He also uses the opposite field well, hitting over 35 percent of balls the other way in his 86-game Fort Wayne sample. As he ages, I think there will be a trend towards more fly balls and the strength in his wrists and hands will be enough to push balls out to center field and left-center. This could come in the form of a slight alteration in where he is loading his hands, potentially dropping them lower. I think, however, it’s more likely to come from a leg kick to keep more of his energy built into his back hip. His hips presently are engaged well, better than it looks to the naked eye at first given the bat speed naturally present off his separation, but if he is able to stay back more with a leg kick and keep his hands low, the jump to plus power production is going to be seamless.
This rank is a substantial endorsement of Ornelas’ bat carrying most of his value given his defense will be average at best along with his speed and arm, likely pushing him to left field. Ornelas is a 50 future value outfielder for me with a substantial amount of risk given his age. He played 86 games before going down with a wrist injury that effectively ended his season (source). The Padres have been understandably cautious with a lot of their injured players.
11) Hudson Potts, 3B
.260/.335/.455, 19 HR, .194 ISO, 112 wRC+, 8.7% BB, 26.8% K, 4 SB
Highest Level: AA
Potts made a late-season jump to Double-A after playing 106 games with Lake Elsinore in 2018. He then played 21 games in the Arizona Fall League where he posted a .697 OPS. That totals an aggressive 600 plate appearances and 149 games played for a 20-year-old with under 800 plate appearances between 2016 and 2017. This sets up Potts nicely for a strong run with Amarillo next season and a late-season call-up to El Paso before the seasons finishes.
His frame is big at 6-foot-3, which could be considered a reason for his swing and miss tendencies. The main reason for the above average strikeout rates come from his stance. He sets up relatively wide with low hands in front of his chest. His bat drifts back and up into his load, but there’s an extra motion where he flattens his bat slightly around his shoulder, adding a subtle amount of length that probably causes him some issues from a contact perspective. His lower half is engaged, but his swing is largely upper body, as his stride is more of a pick up, put down motion with his front foot. His bat speed is good enough to make up for a decent amount of the mechanical funkiness, but it’s not insane to expect a fix or two smoothing his mechanics out to save his strikeout rate as he ascends through the minor leagues.
I have Potts currently as a 50 future value third baseman with above average defensive ability at third base and the potential to hit 20-25 home runs at the major league level. I think he has a relatively safe profile with a slight chance some more swing and miss comes out at higher levels, but the overall package will find an everyday role.
12) Logan Allen, LHP
148.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 9.14 K/9, 3.09 BB/9, .204 BAA
Highest Level: AAA
Long gone are the days of Padres pitching prospects who can’t legally drink in the United States. Allen is listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, a solid pitchers body that should be able to hold to larger workloads and push deep into outings. His fastball, and particularly his command of it, is one of the key elements in this rank. It only sits 93-94 at its height, but the pitch projects to be above average. His best breaking ball is an above average slider that is harder in velocity around 86-88 mph. He mixes a slow curveball in as a velocity differential off his two most-used pitches, both of which are only separated by about 6 mph on average. He flashes a changeup as well that many consider above average to plus and can eventually develop into his best offering to right-handed hitters at peak.
His delivery is sound, working with a rotational structure from the start of his motion. He does engage his back leg just prior to front foot plant, resulting in more drive that expected from the start and it works well. He’s able to be relatively dynamic and extend his front leg well enough to generate the velocity he is able to get, but there probably isn’t much more in the tank without sacrificing a grade of command. For an eighth-round pick, the Padres have developed Allen well into a viable back-end starter. Given the sheer quantity of arms in this system, it would not be surprising to see a player like Allen shipped elsewhere for a decent return given the floor in his profile. He’s not as exciting, but sometimes effective doesn’t have to stand out.
Allen is a 50 future value starting pitcher with four pitches at least sitting average the ability to grow into average command. It’s a starters package and one that is overlooked given the sheer upside most of the starting pitchers have in this system. Allen does not have that upside, but his profile is still encouraging and worth monitoring given the proximity to his debut.
13) Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS
.346/.453/.409, 19 HR, .063 ISO, 150 wRC+, 15.9% BB, 12.8% K, 22 SB
Highest Level: A-
Edwards has been one of the strongest risers from the 2018 draft class, posting gaudy speed-based numbers at lower levels of the minor leagues. He’s considered at a true 80-grade runner who works with a future 60 hit tool and average to slightly above fielding depending on the position. He’s mainly played shortstop in his 45-game 2018, but given the presumed development tracks of Tatis Jr. and Arias, there’s a chance he moves to second base as his defense will likely not surpass either.
His swing is simple, starting with his bat on his shoulder and knees slightly bent. He utilizes a small thigh-high leg kick that he starts early and couples it with a small hand pump that brings his barrel nearly perpendicular to the ground before dropping slightly into his load. His swing has very little loft at the moment, posting well above average ground-ball rates at the two levels he saw at-bats. The issue with expecting change is worrying about whether he has enough raw power to make use of lifting the ball. And if he does opt for fly balls, in any capacity, is it deviating too much from the natural slap hitter he is and underutilizing his best tool: speed? For the most part, I think Edwards should remain a heavy ground-ball bat and cause havoc on the base paths. His approach displayed in the minor leagues so far removes the worry he ends up a Terrance Gore duplicate that needs to be pinch run to utilize his speed.
I think Edwards is presently a 50 future value player with a hit tool good enough to make the most of his 80-grade speed. I expect him to start in Fort Wayne next season and am particularly interested in seeing the lefty in action. Fort Wanye last season under Manager Anthony Contreras had a tendency to run often, taking advantage of developing and new pitchers to the level. If Esteury Ruiz can steal 49 in the Midwest League, Edwards is capable of much more—a scary thought.
14) Josh Naylor, 1B/OF
.297/.383/.447, 17 HR, .150 ISO, 128 wRC+, 11.1% BB, 12% K, 5 SB
Highest Level: AA
Naylor is big-bodied hitter with a 70 raw power and a future 60 hit tool. The issue is the lack of actualization of that power in-game, which brings him down to something like a 50 game power bat. He is large, does not run well and does not field well. For all of his career, he played first base. Last season, Preller & Co. decided to silence all the critics (or antagonize them?) by putting the 250-pound man in left field, where he made 11 errors in 89 games. When you have first base locked down with Eric Hosmer through 2025, it causes some creativity at the minor league level to find positions for players if an organization actually thinks Naylor can hit at the major league level, which he likely can and will.
His swing is smooth and compact. He resembles Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers from the left side. I know how crazy that sounds given their difference in physicality, but simple flat bat movement pre-pitch and his small leg kick while he drops his hands into his load is very similar. Naylor tinkered with his hand placement in the Arizona Fall League back in 2017, but reverted back to his natural stance, which hasn’t really changed since his first days as a Padre in 2016.
Because of how good his bat is, I envision Naylor as a 50 future value first baseman/left fielder. It’s hard to see him with an everyday role in San Diego given their depth at a lot of positions. It’s also hard to see him on another team given every team’s one player who will likely become a Josh Naylor-type asset and move to first base. This leaves Preller with a good, offensive-minded player hurt by how good his organization is. For purposes of pure grading and valuation, I believe we have to remove the circumstantial elements out of his control and grade the player as is.
15) Esteury Ruiz, 2B
.253/.324/.403, 12 HR, .150 ISO, 108 wRC+, 7.7% BB, 28.6% K, 49 SB
Highest Level: A-
Ruiz is a prospect I initially wasn’t in on in my first looks of 2018. I honed in on the lack of a defensive position and didn’t think the bat could impress me enough to warrant average everyday regular consideration despite his shortcomings. I realized after my initial looks I was partially wrong. It’s correct Ruiz doesn’t have a defensive position. He’s a below average second basemen who doesn’t project to improve and I’ve heard some thoughts he moves to left field eventually because him arm isn’t good enough for right field. But Ruiz’s bat is good enough to warrant major league consideration, even heading into his age-20 season.
He is an extremely wiry despite being only 6-foot. His set up is wide, with both knees slightly inverted into a crouch as he lowers his center of gravity. He starts his hands at his head and quietly starts his hands back as he uses a double toe tap for timing purposes and achieves fantastic separation for what may appear as a disengaged lower half. His entire swing is quick, from his hands to his bat speed. The product of his swings are largely fly balls. I would consider him a player with an exceptionally natural attack angle on path with baseballs coming in. I expect him to add more strength as he ages, resulting in harder hit balls and more power. Given his attack angle’s tendency for fly balls, there shouldn’t be any problem in these turning into home runs. His average might suffer because of it—fly balls will dampen his BABIP—but the power is here.
There are continual comparisons to Alfonso Soriano because of this set up and the aesthetics of his swing. I spoke with him through a translator about this very point and despite some belief that his favorite player was in fact Soriano as a child, I received an answer of the matter being coincidental. I would say the jury is still out on whether he emulated his swing after Soriano, given Soriano’s peak was when Ruiz was only 3-8 years old. It could be a fun narrative fans have run with. And for what it’s worth, Ruiz didn’t seem to mind.
Oddly enough, I don’t think he has 40-steal speed. I don’t think anybody who has seen him live thinks that. It’s decent straight-line speed, above average, but it will peak around 20-25 at the major league level. Fort Wayne was a quick team and Ruiz had the green light and is exceptionally smart on the base paths and adept at reading pitchers. This isn’t Xavier Edwards.
Ruiz is a 50 future value second baseman, outfielder with 50 future hit and 60 power. I believe some have him as a 55/55 player, but I think the approach develops into power over average given his fly balls. His bat and efficient base running will take him far, even if his defense perpetually remains a question mark.
16) Cal Quantrill, RHP
148 IP, 4.80 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 7.48 K/9, 2.61 BB/9, .285 BAA
Highest Level: AAA
Quantrill possesses a prototypical tall pitcher’s body at 6-foot-3 and uses his high three-quarters release point to create an effective downhill plane with his fastball. The pitch sits around 93-94 mph, with the ability to top out higher when elevated and aired out. His changeup sits 83-85 mph and projects to be one of his primary offerings. The velocity separation off his fastball suggests a nice balance between ground ball generation and swing and miss based on count and approach he takes with the pitch in-game. His slider is his main breaking ball, sitting in the same velocity band as his changeup and providing decent two-plane movement, despite its ultimate average ceiling. Lastly, a slow curveball is mixed in with sparse usage. The overall stuff isn’t great and that’s been the main issue for Quantrill at higher levels. He hasn’t cracked a 20 percent strikeout rate since Lake Elsinore in 2017 and doesn’t generate enough ground balls to earn a more floor-based assessment and garner optimism. There is some sneaky volatility in his ultimate outcome given what his pitch mix suggests and the lack of strikeouts.
Quantrill is a 50 future value starting pitcher and very similar in grade to Allen above him. He has the potential for two above average pitches and average command at peak, but hasn’t gotten the best results in his Double-A and Triple-A innings despite pitching to contact. This suggests there may be a lack of stuff for him and ultimately limits his ability to push towards the bullpen or exist as higher than a number-three starter. If he doesn’t show some strikeout promise at Triple-A in 2019, there is a chance he falls back to a 45 future value asset and becomes less intriguing compared to the depth of their other arms.
17) Ryan Weathers, RHP
18.1 IP, 3.44 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 8.84 K/9, 1.96 BB/9, .244 BAA
Highest Level: A
I think the jury is still out on whether Weathers will be considered a good pick at seventh overall in 2018’s First-Year Player Draft. I saw one of his two abbreviated outings of 2018 with Fort Wayne, my look being a high-intensity playoff implications game in West Michigan. The start itself was too simple—three innings, predetermined game plan on his pitch mix—to come away with strong thoughts one way or another on him.
His fastballs sat 89-92 with sink and good command. I think the pitch is probably average to slightly above in terms of future potential. His curveball sat 76-79 mph with good break albeit a discernible hump that would get picked up by higher level hitters. The pitch flashed above average. He also threw one changeup at 82 mph that was off the plate. I’d defer to others who saw both outings of his, or the pitch in high school, for a grade on it. The takeaway was his tendency to pound the zone and locate well to both sides of the plate.
Weathers is listed at the same weight as Gabriel Arias, which seems suspect as I would peg Weathers for heavier, but it’s not weight that I expect to stay on. His stride off the mound is noticeably short given he is an extremely rotational pitcher who doesn’t use much of his back leg to kick off the mound. (This is likely one of the reasons he isn’t a high-velocity arm.) He leads with his hips well enough to still get some extension off the rubber, suggesting athleticism despite easily knocking him as not having a pitcher’s body. A rotational arm like this naturally separates well and Weathers does that. His front leg also extends well, vaulting his trunk forward enough to only really cause gripes in his delivery because of the rotational aesthetic. It’s not as bad as it appears on first glance, it really isn’t.
I currently have Weathers as a 45 future value starting pitcher lacking a true plus pitch, but enough command to make either offering fringe plus. I would like to reserve the right to alter this future potential grade higher come 2019 and my ability to see how he handles hitters for a third time and is more creative with his mix. For the most part this rank is based off a small look and thus retains less confidence than others near it. I prefer to defer to team reasoning on why he warranted a top-10 selection and expect it to appear with more outings. My initial impression is the relation of his value tied to spin rate and how effective he will be able to be without high velocity. With how the game has changed, however, it’s hard for me to expect much without at least seeing 93-94 consistently.
18) Gabriel Arias, SS
.240/.302/.352, 6 HR, .112 ISO, 86 wRC+, 8.1% BB, 29.6% K, 3 SB
Highest Level: A
Arias’ defense is beyond exceptional. He’s currently listed at 6-foot-1, 201 pounds—I would take the under on the weight—but his frame, range and arm are all built to stick at shortstop. I’ve seen him get to balls he should not have put a glove on and display a plus arm with off-balance throws from all around the left side. Is there a scenario where he puts on weight and slows down given he’s heading into his age-20 season? Sure, but for now everything checks out as a future everyday shortstop from a defensive lens. I see him as a present 50 fielder with the potential to get to 60/65 with more reps and maturity.
His offense is another story. For all but one month of the season, he posted a 30 percent strikeout rate with little to no power. His swing possesses a lot of movement. He starts with his bat flat on his shoulder with his weight inside his back knee before bringing going into his leg kick and extending into his long stride. Right at his peak load, he heavily wraps his bat with a high back elbow, oddly similar to the peak upper body positioning of a player like Rickie Weeks or Gary Sheffield. The problem with this motion is the length of his swing and how much energy it takes him to simply get his hands into the zone. This creates difficulty slowing his swing or checking on breaking balls away—something he was clobbered by given his below average pitch recognition. On top of that, his attack angle isn’t great, leading to a lot of ground balls and little chance to tap into what I think could be average power if everything clicks. There’s a lot of work to do on this front. His defense will carry him up levels and give him time to figure out his offensive ability.
Arias is a 45 future value shortstop. I’m open to increasing this as he matures and plays at higher levels, but not before I see a tangible approach change from him over a sample of more than one month. I think the likely outcome is something like we’ve seen from Orlando Arcia’s 2017—superb defense with a struggle to piece together a run of offensive success. Keep in mind, Arcia is only 24 and Arias is only 19. There are many deviations of this outcome. Many are very good.
19) Edward Olivares, OF
.277/.321/.429, 12 HR, .153 ISO, 100 wRC+, 5% BB, 17.7% K, 21 SB
Highest Level: A+
Olivares shipped himself to Padres in the Yangervis Solarte deal executed last January. He posted a 130 wRC+ with Lansing during 2017 before jumping to High-A and struggling in a small sample. In 2018 with Lake Elsinore, he posted a line nearly identical to his 2017 performance in Low A. This opens the door for Olivares to push strongly for an extended stint with Amarillo to gauge whether either of his offensive tools can actualize above average future value. At the moment, he’s considered a 50-hit, 50-power bat, with a lot of average to above peripheral tools across the board. He runs well, fields well and has a good enough arm to play an above-average right field if he moves off of center in the future.
His frame is solid at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, leaving some thought of more weight with age, but not enough to drop his range or mobility. He sets up in the box similar to Jeisson Rosario—slightly crouched, with loose hands and movement pre pitch. He possesses a small toe tap as well for timing, but the clear difference is Olivares tendency to put bat on ball early in counts, not working deep and riding a walk rate north of 10 percent like Rosario.
Olivares is a 45 future value outfielder who can play an average center field. He projects to be a strong utility outfielder with the chance for an everyday role if he can tap into more power or refine his approach to boost his OBP. Otherwise, his peripheral tools are good enough to expect contribution from him at the major league level sooner or later.
20) Jeisson Rosario, OF
.271/.368/.353, 3 HR, .083 ISO, 111 wRC+, 12.7% BB, 20.7% K, 18 SB
Highest Level: A-
Many of the Padres prospects turn 20 sometime before March, but Rosario is even younger as he proceeds to play the entirety of 2019 at the age of 19. His skillset is made up of above-average speed, an average center field glove and a great approach at the plate. There is reason to think Rosario moves to right field long term because of his plus arm, but I would expect him to play the majority of his minor league career as a center fielder given the lack of depth at the position as he progresses up through the Padres system.
Rosario walks an exceptional amount—13 percent across 117 games with Fort Wayne—causing some to view him as a leadoff hitter. I consider him a less tooled-up version of Ender Inciarte. I could see him being a 10-homer, 20-stolen base bat with an above-average OBP and skills in center or right field.
He sets up wide in the box, with some minor twitches in his hands pre pitch before he coils into his back hip with a slight drift back into the box. His front foot varies between a simple pick-up, put-down motion and a toe tap, both of which allow him to adjust well to breaking pitches. The motion does sap some of his power due to the portion of weight he shifts onto his front foot not staying back. I would be interested to see how much of his approach is lost if he holds his weight back more, possibly with a higher leg kick that is timed better with his separation.
I currently have Rosario as a 45 future value center or right fielder. His approach is good enough to carry him up through the minor league without issue, even if he lacks some of the pop to make an impact with his bat. His upside is hidden in a potential power uptick that could push him consistently into the 12-15 rather the sub-sub he currently sits in. For a 19-year-old, there is some floor here given his speed, approach and fielding that rarely occurs with youth.
21) Pedro Avila, RHP
130.2 IP, 4.27 ERA, 3.74 FIP, 9.78 K/9, 3.72 BB/9, .267 BAA
Highest Level: A+
Avila is a 22-year-old arm with two advanced secondary pitches. His curveball sits 79-81 mph with good two-plane life and depth, ultimately considered a potential plus offering. He also has feel for a plus changeup that he threw aggressively to left-handed hitters in Lake Elsinore and was able to generate a lot of swing and miss off it. The pitch mimics the life on his low 90s, sinking fastball as well, but the change has a second burst of depth. It tunnels well and throws off most hitters who are seeing a plus changeup for the first time in higher levels of the minors.
The 5-foot-11 righty’s frame is undersized, but his delivery is efficient and dynamic. He sits on his back leg well, using a substantial amount of drive off the rubber to push the majority of his 190-pound frame into the baseball. The angle of his trunk after pitch release is reminiscent of higher velocity pitchers, but because of his frame and lack of quick twitch muscle, all it allows him to do is achieve low 90s velocity. To some extent, this means there is effort in his delivery, but his separation is good and he engages his lower half well. Of all smaller-framed pitchers, this is the delivery that I’d be happy to bank on. What you have here is a pitcher with exceptional feel and two developed secondary offerings. He’s another option I would be surprised to see without a future role at the major league level of some kind, even if it lacks upside and notoriety.
Avila is a 45 future value starting pitcher with two above average to plus secondary pitches and an average fastball. He’s one of the lesser talked about options on this list due to the lack of upside with a fastball in the low 90s.
22) Reggie Lawson, RHP
117 IP, 4.69 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 9.00 K/9, 3.92 BB/9, .277 BAA
Highest Level: A+
Lawson is a 6-foot-4 fastball-curveball pitcher with a higher three-quarters delivery that allows him to work from his fastball to his breaking ball. His combination is most effective when elevating and letting the depth of his mid to high 70s curveball catch hitters. The velocity differential between the two pitches is around 16-18 mph, as his fastball sits in the mid 90s. It creates a lot of room for swing and miss at lower levels if advanced hitters can’t react to either pitch, but his results for the most part in 2018 were volatile, jumping between smooth 6-inning outings and shorter outings without much bat-missing ability.
Lawson is a rotational pitcher, like many others in the Padres system. He does sit on his back leg well, leading with his front hip towards the plate and generating a much more linear path to the plate with extension. Like most rotational arms, his athleticism allows him to separate well and generate good velocity, especially up in the zone. His slight drive off his back foot before front foot strike is good use of his leverage and frame. The overall package is long-limbed, but utilized exceptionally well in creating velocity. It seem reasonable to expect some further pitch development with Lawson. With Patiño, the Padres asked him to start using a slider, which pushed away his feel for a curveball. Given the wide variation in velocities with Lawson’s primary pitches, I would be really interested to see how a 85- to 88-mph slider works in his arsenal. That could lead to enough strikeout upside to reduce any worry that he’ll never get to average command.
I currently have Lawson as a 45 future value starting pitcher with substantial reliever risk if his high-velocity changeup doesn’t become at least a thought to left-handed hitters. His fastball-curveball combination is good, but it alone is not enough to start at higher levels of the minor leagues. Given his frame and athleticism, it’s not hard to project further on Lawson and hope he turns into a major league average 4th or 5th starter, or a high-leverage bullpen option.
23) Buddy Reed, OF
.271/.319/.435, 3 HR, .164 ISO, 101 wRC+, 6.7% BB, 27.3% K, 51 SB
Highest Level: AA
Reed played in two national games this year with dynamic outfield tools that earned him love from a variety of analysts. He put on a show defensively in the Futures Game back and made it to the Championship Game of the Arizona Fall League. While the stats aren’t eye-popping, he a set of tools that lend nicely to fourth-outfielder profile. It’s not the upside of players above him, but if there is a high chance of a major league profile, especially at a premium position like center field, there is reason to find value and rank accordingly.
For a player of Reed’s size—6-foot-3, over 200 pounds—I expected a swing with more moving parts to justify his strikeout rate north of 30 percent. But after seeing him on tape for the first time, I was surprised with his overall look. His hands are close to his body, with minimal movement and wide base. He toe taps into an extremely wide stride towards the pitcher. I don’t think there is much clean up needed in his hands, which is a positive sign, yet it is perplexing given the amount that he swings and misses. A lot of his loft comes from an athletic lower half and bag leg that drops aggressively when he achieves separation. I would expect his fly ball tendencies to continue unless adjustment occurs. This might drop his batting average potential considerably given how deflating fly balls are to average, but I still think he can become a 45-hit, 50-game power bat if his trajectory goes as expected.
Reed is a 40 future value outfielder with low risk due to his defensive ability and development. I think there is a small chance he stumbles into an everyday role, but it’s more than likely he provides the ability to fill in for extended periods of time. His plus defense will allow teams to tolerate sub-par offensive performance a la teammate Manuel Margot or present-day Alex Gordon.
24) Andres Munoz, RHP
24.2 IP, 0.73 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 10.22 K/9, 4.74 BB/9, .139 BAA
Highest Level: AA
Munoz has a legitimate 70-grade fastball with elite velocity and bite. He only threw 24 2/3 innings in 2018 due to right elbow ailments that held him back until June. He came out and decimated Tri-City before jumping to San Antonio for 19 innings and remained relatively untouchable. Nearly every stint he has had resulted in very little contact. He isn’t always in the zone, as his command is below average at the moment, but there’s enough movement on his pitches to leave hitters spinning after seeing two 100-mph fastballs and a sharp, yet inconsistent, slider with good lateral depth.
His mechanics are active and loud, but they’re extremely athletic and that allows him to touch triple digits with relative ease and consistency. He starts his motion and hand break quick, dropping and driving towards the plate with a slight delay as he builds energy. His back-foot drive is aggressive and generates a lot of his velocity. His 6-foot-2 frame allows for great extension off the mound and his lower body is stronger than some might realize from tape alone. The issue I see in his delivery comes after pitch release, where there isn’t exceptional front leg extension to aide in generating some of the drive to the plate. This creates a heavy fall-off to the first-base side of the rubber due to the rotation of his upper body not staying on a linear path towards the plate. You can see his plant foot pivot out from under him as his energy takes him across the mound before the pitch even lands in the catcher’s glove. I don’t think this is completely damning from a mechanical perspective. He’s athletic enough to make it work, but I think it adds some unnecessary stress to his arm.
Munoz is a 40 future value reliever with substantial upside and even more risk. The elbow ailments are concerning, as they should be for any pitcher this young throwing elite-velocity fastballs. I would watch his mechanics and arm health closely. I would love to see some adjustment to give him a more consistent slider and slightly better command, even if he falls off to sitting 97-98 mph. The ceiling is an elite reliever. The floor is a great case of ‘what if.’
25) Eguy Rosario, 2B
.237/.308/.359, 9 HR, .122 ISO, 82 wRC+, 7.7% BB, 23.9% K, 10 SB
Highest Level: AA
Rosario doesn’t turn 20 until August and has Double-A at-bats under his belt. The results weren’t great, but the potential for an above average hit tool are here, warranting a lot of looks and advancement even if that stats need some time to catch up. Give Rosario a few more years of seasoning in the minors—hope his frame doesn’t fill out and slow him down—and we’re looking at a second baseman with enough of a bat to draw decent stretches of success at the major league level.
The most fascinating aspect of Rosario’s approach is the strength and speed in his hands. He probably has the simplest swing on this list, using a high hand load and pressure on his toe to use no stride or a slight toe tap. I think the high strikeout rate with so simple of a swing is tied to pitch recognition rather than a contact problem. With reps, I could see it going down to average. I think there’s a real chance the Padres pull him up off his foot and into more of a stride. This may help with his high ground-ball rate and his potential to lift the ball, even if it negates any strikeout advancements that come with the reps I speak of. He has the hands to develop good gap power and a floor of 12-plus home runs per season. If there is any improvement over the next few years, I think we could see a stock uptick into the 45 future value range.
Rosario is a 40 future value second baseman a lot of average tools across the board and probably some kind of major league future, even if it’s not of the impact variety. An average glove, average runner and the potential for 55 hit with 45 game power will find its place.
26) Jacob Nix, RHP
58.2 IP, 1.84 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 6.75 K/9, 1.38 BB/9, .211 BAA- AA/AAA
42.1 IP, 7.02 ERA, 5.83 FIP, 4.46 K/9, 2.76 BB/9, .301 BAA- MLB
Highest Level: MLB
It’s always awkward to mix in current-day major league starting pitchers with upside-laden talent that is a ways off from the majors. But on a list like the Padres, the task is inevitable. Nix debuted in 2018 with putrid results, but fear not, improvement is literally guaranteed given how bad he was. Comedic relief aside, Nix possesses four pitches at the major league level with a fastball that tops out at 95 mph. His curveball graded out as his best pitch in his 42 1/3 innings last season, but there’s a chance his changeup gets to a similar level of success, allowing him to produce against left-handed hitters and not collapse into a relief-only option at the age of 23.
His delivery is decently athletic, with a typical drop-and-drive motion that utilizes his lower body strength to generate momentum towards the plate. He separates better than some drop-and-drivers, which allows him to touch 95 without having quirks in his mechanics that cause concern for his arm health long term in my opinion. He finishes with a strong front leg and torso angle that confirms his higher velocity approach. Overall, he has some of the cleaner mechanics, even if they aren’t as quick-twitchy or dynamic as others. Sometimes, a pitcher like this doesn’t need adjustment outside of his own feel and approach to push towards average command and earn consistent reps at the major league level. Nix is poised to do that and the benefits and positioned to benefit.
Nix projects as a 40 future value starting pitcher. His upside is a 4th or 5th starter, with a floor of a multi-inning relief option given his bevy of serviceable pitches. Fangraphs Steamer has him projected for a 4.89 ERA with a measly 11 percent strikeout rate. It will take some time for Nix to earn the respect of projection systems.
27) Luis Campusano, C
.288/.345/.365, 3 HR, .077 ISO, 106 wRC+, 6.7% BB, 15.1% K
Highest Level: A
Campusano is an offensive-minded catcher providing hope at a position where the Padres presently don’t have a standout prospect if you expect Mejia to move off of catcher. This isn’t an issue with Hedges under team control for an extended period of time, but if Campusano can find a way to stick behind the plate, he can easily bump up a grade or two to 45 or 50 and project into a 100-game per season catcher. At the moment, that looks like a sub 50 percent outcome. With work, his defense can get to average, but it’s more likely to settle below. His arm remains the calling card of his catching ability.
At the plate, his set up is normal with his bat on his shoulder. He starts to move into his load with a small hand drop and a toe tap. His hands drop down and back with a slight wrap of his bat as he lunges forward. The swing itself is compact for the amount of power he generates. It has a nice mix of explosion off his back foot with a good transfer of weight. There’s some expectation that he turns into more of a line-drive or gap hitter than a true 20-plus homer threat, which limits his power upside. Presently, his ground-ball rate is a little bit high for his profile. At the Midwest League All-Star game his batting practice displayed plus raw power, but his hit tool will probably max out around 45, limiting the amount of power he’ll get to in game at 55.
Campusano is a 40 future value catcher at the moment with a substantial amount of inherent risk in his profile given his potential to move off catcher. If he does, his stock drops and he probably fizzles out of prospect status quickly.
28) Nick Margevicius, LHP
135 IP, 3.60 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 9.73 K/9, 1.13 BB/9, .274 BAA- AA/AAA
Highest Level: A+
The back half of this Padres system is loaded with back-of-the-rotation depth. It’s not depth to get excited about. It’s depth you hope can create a well of starters at the Triple-A level to hedge against the risk players towards the top of this list don’t pan out. Margevicius is one of those arms—a lefty with a plus curveball and a below-average fastball. He mixes in plus command for an odd package that stands out from a lot of the other lively arms around him. He is probably most closely compared to a young Rich Hill-style pitcher, with a lot of refinement needed to fulfill that comparison.
Margevicius’ delivery isn’t as athletic as the others on this list. He uses an above-the-belt leg kick from the windup and stretch before tilting the angle of his shoulders towards the sky and dropping his weight onto his back leg. It’s a typical drop-and-drive structure, but instead of driving off the rubber, Margevicius rolls his back foot in a rotational manner, which seems largely inefficient in terms of what his movements prior to his momentum peaking forward suggest. The result isn’t dynamic, but he repeats it well enough and utilizes consistent release points to maximize efficiency and earn himself the potential for plus command of the zone. The only issue is his pitches are hittable. He should be throwing around 50 percent curveballs to survive in the upper minors and if his arm can hold up to that stress, he’s a unique back-of-the-rotation arm.
I consider Margevicius a 40 future value starting pitcher with a high floor but little ceiling. I don’t see many scenarios in which he adds velocity to his fastball and the pitch becomes more than woefully average. There is a chance—like Pedro Avila—for another good secondary if you project Margevicius’ changeup to average, but even that is more hopeful than anything. I may sound pessimistic, but that’s what occurs on the back half of all lists. With the Padres, there’s just a lot of depth that creates the chance for major league contribution at some point.
29) Tucupita Marcano, 2B
.366/.450/.438, 1 HR, .072 ISO, 155 wRC+, 12.7% BB, 6.8% K, 15 SB
Highest Level: A-
With the majority of Padres international prospects ascending through the minor leagues, Marcano enters the fold as the youthful upside that poured out of complex ball and into the pipeline. He has a small frame at 6-foot, with a wiry build like Esteury Ruiz, but the profile of player is different. His upside is in the potential for a 60-hit, 60-speed second baseman with an innate bat-to-ball ability reminiscent of players like players like Nick Madrigal (albeit, at a lower level for Marcano). He doesn’t walk much and doesn’t strikeout much at all, coasting with a high, sustainable BABIP due to the sheer amount of balls in play and his ability to run.
His swing is quiet, with very little movement. He starts slightly open with his bat flat on his shoulder before falling into his load and keeping his hands high for most of the motion. He does have a tendency to swing down at the ball. This creates a key issue in his swing, which is confirmed by his ground ball rates at Rookie Ball and Low A—both above 50 percent. There’s reason to believe his attack angle is currently negative and to project him out any further assumes a tangible adjustment of some kind is coming. He can exist as a ground-ball dominant player, but if he doesn’t get into more line drives, it severely limits the potential impact of his hit tool and might push his future game power tool down below 40.
Marcano is a 40 future value second baseman at the moment with extreme risk given the variety of unknowns about his profile and ability to survive at higher levels of the minor leagues. If it all clicks, presumably with Fort Wayne in the coming season, he can easily ascend into 45 or 50 future value territory, but there’s more results needed before the hope is converted.
30) Jordy Barley, 2B/SS
.200/.271/.328, 4 HR, .128 ISO, 71 wRC+, 6.9% BB, 27.1% K, 12 SB
Highest Level: Rookie Ball
By far the most interesting element of Barley’s game is his four homers in 54 games in Rookie Ball with a 46 percent fly-ball rate. For a hitter of his size—6-foot, 175 pounds—what one anticipates is a ground-ball hitter with speed. The former is not true. Barley is quick on the bases and in the field, with an average glove and a good enough arm to fill in at shortstop. Based on the composition of his profile, it would make sense that he adds weight to his frame and potentially gets up to above average power, but for now it’s sitting squarely at average. If everything clicks, there’s a far-off chance he becomes a variation of Esteury Ruiz with less offensive upside and more of a position.
His swing is simple and compact, with a nice approach taken to the ball that allows him to lift most of the pitches he sees. He sets up still with high hands that he merely slides back and tenses up as he toe taps into his load. He separates well and generates good bat speed to do damage when balls not homer bound are pushed into the gaps.
Barley is a 40 future value middle infielder at the moment. Like most other players without a stint in full-season ball, there is substantial risk, but Barley just an intriguing enough amount of pop to generate some back-end top 30 interest.
The Next Five…
Keep in mind, prospects between 23 and this ‘next five’ are a matter of preference. There future values are widely similar at the moment with a chance for alteration come 2019.
Michell Miliano, RHP - Strikeouts have been there in Rookie Ball, but his control has not. Like Cantillo, there is a lot of time to figure things out. His delivery is dynamic with strong front-leg extension typical in high velocity pitchers and a loose arm. Millano is the arm I’m watching closest come 2019 that didn’t make my top 30.
Austin Allen, C - Allen likely doesn’t stick as a catcher. There’s a decent amount of power here combined with an equal amount of swing and miss. His bat might be more advanced than all hitters between 20-30 on this list, but the upside is so low he fits better as a 40 future value player outside of the top 30.
Owen Miller, 3B - The Padres aggressively promoted Miller to the Double-A playoffs after playing the majority of his season in the Midwest League. It was an odd move, but he has an innate ability to make contact, a little bit of gap power, and moderate versatility. He projects as a super utility option with a passable hit tool and fringe power. His aggressive promotions warranted some consideration for the top 30.
Blake Hunt, C - He’s a safer bet to stick behind the plate than Campusano, but there’s less upside. He made a nice adjustment out of college to tap into more power, but it’s probably still 45 hit, 45 power at best with a good arm.
Jorge Ona, OF - Moved off of center field and his stock has dropped. His swing isn’t particularly athletic, there’s unnecessary movement and too many ground balls, but it’s not unfixable. There could be a corner outfielder platoon role hidden within Ona, but it’s going to take some loosening up offensively and defensively to achieve.