The State of the System: They tore it down and built it back up and we are back where we started with a very good and very deep system.
The Top Ten
- OF Manuel Margot
- RHP Anderson Espinoza
- RHP Cal Quantrill
- OF Hunter Renfroe
- LHP Adrian Morejon
- 3B Fernando Tatis Jr.
- RHP Jacob Nix
- LHP Logan Allen
- OF Jorge Ona
- 2B Luis Urias
The Big Question: Is This 2012 All Over Again?
In 2012, the San Diego Padres had one of the top farm systems in all of baseball. BP’s former prospect ace Kevin Goldstein gave the Friars top billing in his annual farm system review, as did ESPN’s Keith Law. While the Padres lacked a headlining prospect, San Diego had built an unusually deep system. Goldstein gave nine Padres prospects four-star ratings, and argued that the top seven names in the system were essentially interchangeable.
Fast forward five years, and the situation on the ground is fairly similar. While the Padres don’t have the league’s top system—spoiler, they’re comfortable in the top ten in our organziational rankings—they again boast a deep stable of potentially productive players. The 2012 edition had tons of interesting names, and while this year’s may be top-heavy by comparison, in each case San Diego’s depth compares well with everyone else’s.
Now, let’s return to the big question above.
By any reasonable measure, the Padres got very little out of that renowned 2012 crop. The best player on the list, Anthony Rizzo, never played for the Padres again. Jedd Gyorko popped 30 homers last year, but like Rizzo, he did so while plying his trade in the Midwest. Rymer Liriano never developed as a hitter, which is a problem when you’re the world’s most indifferent corner outfielder. Pitchers Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland, and Robbie Erlin couldn’t stay healthy. Joe Ross was traded to the Nationals, and the less said about that deal the better. Cory Spangenberg might be the best player left over, and he’s a low-ceiling second basemen coming off of a major quad injury. None of the three-star prospects Goldstein covered developed into big league contributors.
There’s no way to sugarcoat the previous paragraph: that’s a bad outcome, and it goes a long way towards explaining why the first half of the decade was so forgettable for San Diego. The good players on that list no longer play for the Padres, and the trades that pushed them away were a net negative for the club. The pitchers all got hurt. The toolsy guys didn’t hit. The dream of a young, cost-controlled core in San Diego never materialized. Together, the group has produced nearly 30 WARP, but only 2.7 came for the Padres.
As fans of a bad and often rudderless team, Padres partisans might be tempted to lump the present group of youngsters with the disappointments from the past. But in this case, the past has little bearing on the future.
For one thing, there’s not much evidence of a scouting or developmental pipeline malfunction. Rizzo, Ross, and Trea Turner may have blossomed elsewhere, but the Padres do not have an institutional blindspot the way that, say, the Mariners had with position players for a decade, or the Orioles do with young pitchers. Moreover, A.J. Preller’s ill-advised spending spree in 2015 doesn’t prove that the Padres can’t obtain young talent; his trades for Manuel Margot and Anderson Espinoza, along with the club’s gutsy decision to take Cal Quantrill in the draft last summer, suggests otherwise. Preller was also aggressive in Latin America, spending $25 million on 13 players last summer, including $4 million on blue-chip Dominican shortstop Luis Almanzar.
More specifically, the top of the Padres list features a bunch of fairly safe player-types. Rarely should you assume that a good minor leaguer will become a good major leaguer, but a number of the Padres top prospects are relatively decent bets to contribute. Margot is 22, posted good numbers in Triple-A, and has already debuted. His speed and defensive abilities in center field suit his home park perfectly, and he’s one of the best center field prospects in baseball. Quantrill’s top-of-the-shelf stuff survived Tommy John surgery; while the right-hander may start in Low-A, he should move quickly. Hunter Renfroe has his warts, but like Margot, he’s already reached the majors as well. There is no such thing as a safe teenage pitching prospect—but if there was, he would look something like Espinoza, who combines advanced pitchability with three offerings that flash plus or better.
Does any of this resolve the big question above? Of course not; only the ballplayers can sort that out definitively. But with the Padres rebuilding, and another wave of young talent lurking in the system just underneath our purview, the farm system is ascendent and healthy. Over the next five years, the Padres may or may not extract 30 WARP from the talent on our top ten list; much of that will depend on whether there’s a hidden superstar in the group. It does seem safe to predict, however, that they’ll produce quite a bit more than the 2.7 wins that the last bumper crop delivered to San Diego. —Brendan Gawlowski
1. Manuel Margot, OF
Height/Weight: 5’11” 170 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Signed July 2011 by Boston out of the Dominican Republic for $800,000; acquired by San Diego in Craig Kimbrel trade
Previous Ranking(s): #1 (Org), #14 (Top 101), #16 (Midseason Top 50)
2016 Stats: .243/.243/.405, 0 HR, 2 SB in 10 games at the major league level, .304/.351/.426, 6 HR, 30 SB in 124 games at Triple-A El Paso
The Good: Margot is the best bet in the minors to be a plus defensive center fielder. He’s a plus-plus runner with good outfield instincts. The speed will play on the bases as well. He’s a potential plus hitter and produces above-average bat speed out of a compact, line-drive swing. He covers the plate well and should have no issue with major league velocity.
The Bad: Margot is going to have below-average power in the majors. He can be an aggressive hitter and at times showed some vulnerability to spin in Triple-A. There could be a bit of an adjustment for him against major-league pitching even if his glove is good enough quickly enough to keep him in the lineup. His arm is only average.
The Irrelevant: Margot was the youngest player in the Pacific Coast League on Opening Day. That is actually sort of relevant. Less relevant is he was born the same week as The Scout was released.
OFP 60—First-division center fielder that hits enough to be a sparkplug at the top of a lineup
Likely 55—Above-average center fielder that hits at the bottom of the lineup.
The Risks: My colleague Jarrett Seidler is fond of saying that the hardest thing to evaluate is how well a player will hit major-league pitching. He’s hit every other level of pitching so far, but as good as the potential glove/speed combo is, if he’s not an above-average hitter, the profile just isn’t that special.
Major league ETA: Debuted in 2016
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: Margot has proximity, MiLB track record and a carrying tool (SB) on his side. He’s not the sexiest fantasy prospect in the world because he’s unlikely to hit for much power and the average is likely to fluctuate some, but he’s as sure a bet as any prospect to be a meaningful contributor, and to meaningfully contribute soon. Expect a tolerable average with 25 steals right away, and know that the average could tick up enough in his prime for Margot to serve as an OF3.
2. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
Height/Weight: 6’0” 160 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: Signed July 2014 out of Venezuela for $1.8 million by the Red Sox; acquired by San Diego in the Drew Pomeranz deal
Previous Ranking(s): #2 (Org), #73 (Top 101), #24 (Midseason Top 50)
2016 Stats: 4.38 ERA, 4.44 DRA, 76 IP, 77 H 27 BB, 72 K at Low-A Greenville, 4.73 ERA, 4.46 DRA, 32.1 IP, 38 H, 8 BB, 28 K at Low-A Fort Wayne
The Good: Espinoza has a potential plus-plus fastball. He can ramp it up into the upper 90s, and is sits comfortably around 95 with explosive arm-side life. He can work both sides of the plate with it already. The mid-70s curve flashes plus with tight, 11-5 break and improving ability to use it as more than just a chase pitch. The change will also flash plus or even better with extreme velo separation (low-80s) and hard sink and fade. Espinoza has advanced pitchability for his teenaged years and is a complete player on the mound who already has a handle on fielding his position and holding runners.
The Bad: Sometimes his fastball velocity is “only” plus. The command can waver at times due to some inconsistent mechanics. That’s the kind of stuff you grow out of, but Espinoza probably won’t be growing taller, and he lacks a starter’s frame or much in the way of physical projection. Both secondaries flash, but need grade jumps to play to the OFP. The change is particularly inconsistent, but we say that about every 18-year-old on these lists (because it is inevitably true).
The Irrelevant: Not to toot our own horn, but Craig and I successfully predicted the Espinoza-for-Pomeranz trade back in July.
OFP 60—No. 3 starter
Likely 55—Mid-rotation starter or late-inning reliever
The Risks: Espinoza’s numbers as an 18-year-old in A-ball don’t concern us much, but I do feel the need to throw a little cold water on the profile. He’s a long way from the majors, and there’s always going to be reliever whispers dogging a six-foot righty, especially one that has, well, a teenaged frame. He might grow out of that and become an impact starter, but we are a long ways away from that, and a lot can go wrong in the interim.
Major league ETA: 2019
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: Don’t get caught up in Espinoza’s 2016 stats; we’re still dealing with a potential front-line starter here. You’re familiar with my thoughts on valuing upside over probability when it comes to dynasty starters by now, and Espinoza is teeming with the former. He’s still a top-50 fantasy prospect in my book, because if it does work, we’re looking at a high-strikeout SP1 who pitches in Petco Park. That, to use an industry term, would be extremely good.
3. Cal Quantrill, RHP
Height/Weight: 6’2” 165 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted eighth overall in the 2016 MLB draft, Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA); signed for $3,963,045
Previous Ranking(s): N/A
2016 Stats: 17.36 ERA, 9.72 DRA, 4.2 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 2 K at Low-A Fort Wayne, 1.93 ERA, 1.43 DRA, 18.2 IP, 15 H, 2 BB, 28 K at short-season Tri-City, 5.27 ERA, 2.55 DRA, 13.2 IP, 12 H, 2 BB, 16 K at complex-level AZL
The Good: Quantrill had first-overall-pick type stuff in college, and it looks like it survived his 2015 Tommy John surgery intact. He has three potential above-average pitches in his fastball, curve, and change. His fastball velocity was back to 93-95 by the end of the season, and the pitch has some arm-side run with potentially above-average command. The changeup is his best secondary. It also has plus potential—and already flashes there—and he can throw it for strikes in addition to getting lefties to chase it. The curve is the better of his two breaking balls, an above-average offering he can also spot or bury.
The Bad: Quantrill’s 2016 pro debut was essentially a rehab assignment. He didn’t throw for Stanford in the Spring as he worked his way back from the surgery. So we’re not entirely sure what “Cal Quantrill, pitching prospect,” looks like yet. He struggled with his command some this summer. That’s not uncommon when you are still less than 24 months out from surgery, but there are also some issues in the delivery that may continue to impede his command. We have no idea if he can handle a starter’s workload in the minors—his longest outing of the year was 4 â…” innings.
The Irrelevant: Cal’s father, Paul, actually started 64 games in the majors, going 16-30 with a 5.03 ERA in those outings.
OFP 60—No. 3 starter
Likely 50—No. 4 starter
The Risks: There’s a lot of known unknowns here. Quantrill is coming off major arm surgery and has only thrown 50 innings since 2014. We like the profile a lot, and the professional debut was encouraging, but a full 2016 season in the minors will tell us a lot more about where he stands. Until then, he’s a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery.
Major league ETA: 2019
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: I believe I just made my thoughts on potential front-end starters in this organization known. Quantrill isn’t quite with Espinoza, but you have to love the reports he’s getting right now. I don’t think Quantrill will end up as a top-50 guy, but he’ll certainly be in the top-100, and probably in the top-75. SP1/2s don’t grow on trees.
4. Hunter Renfroe, RF
Height/Weight: 6’1” 215 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted 13th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft, Mississippi State (Starkville, Mississippi); signed for $2.678 million
Previous Ranking(s): #3 (Org), #90 (Top 101)
2016 Stats: .371/.389/.800, 4 HR, 0 SB in 11 games at the major league level, .306/.336/.557, 30 HR, 5 SB in 133 games at Triple-A El Paso
The Good: Renfroe is your prototypical right field profile for both good and for…well, we will get to the other part down below. There is potential plus game power in the bat from a long, leveraged swing. He’s athletic for his size, and more than enough so to handle the corner outfield spot with a bit of aplomb. The arm is an easy plus.
The Bad: That long, leveraged swing doesn’t always hit what it is aiming for. He’s got a hitch and a big leg kick, and his swing can get grooved at times, so expect big strikeout numbers. The hit tool my only play to below-average. Usually with this profile you expect three true outcomes, but Renfroe has never really walked much as a professional, despite more than enough power to make minor-league arms nibble a bit. His approach is suspect, and he works himself into bad counts. As for what happens then, well, see above.
The Irrelevant: Renfroe led the Chihuahuas in home runs, but if you combine PCL and MLB bombs, Renfroe’s 34 is one behind Ryan Schimpf. This has been a Schimpf Alert.
OFP 55—Above-average corner masher
Likely 50—Second division starter that swats a few
The Risks: The dingers versus whiffs balance can be a precarious one. Betting on the dingers is always more fun, but the downside risk on Renfroe is substantial as a corner outfielder who isn't going to offer a ton more at the plate than those home runs.
Major league ETA: Debuted in 2016
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: The swing-and-miss risk will always be there, but Renfroe improved his approach (or at least his strikeout rate) in Triple-A last season, granting us some hope that Renfroe won’t function as a windmill at the next level. If the hit tool does play fantasy owners are in luck, because there’s very real power here. If it all clicks, Renfroe could produce like 2016 Yasmany Tomas, flirting with 30 homers and posting a respectable average despite an uninspiring OBP. If he can’t make contact like we hope in the majors, well, you know how that story ends.
The Good: His delivery is methodical, repeatable, and relatively effortless. He has a strong lower half and an all-around solid build. During instructs his fastball sat 94 across a three-inning start, and he throws a heavy, low-spin changeup with split-like movement, diving down and away to right-handed hitters.
The Bad: He’s yet to make an official start as a pro, and he dealt with some arm soreness near the end of instructs. He lacks the height of a prototypical starter, though he makes up for it with the aforementioned sturdy frame.
The Irrelevant: Morejon was MVP of the 15-and-under World Cup in 2014.
OFP 55—Mid-rotation starter with upside
Likely 45—Back-end innings eater/middle reliever
The Risks: He’s an undersized, teenage pitcher with zero professional innings under his belt.
Major league ETA: 2020 —Matt Pullman
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: Morejon ranked in at no. 17 on Bret Sayre’s list of the Top 50 dynasty signees for 2016. Floor, polish and probability are the calling cards here, which are slightly more exciting for a pitcher who’ll call Petco home than they would be for most other arms. They’re still not terribly exciting, though, and while he’s mature for a teenager, he’s still a teenager. He’ll probably end up ranked, like, 82nd on the top-100 in 2019 and I’ll be complaining about how boring his profile is.
6. Fernando Tatis, Jr., 3B
Height/Weight: 6’3” 185 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: Signed July 2015 by the White Sox out of the Dominican Republic for $825,000; acquired by San Diego in the James Shields deal.
Previous Ranking(s): N/A
2016 Stats: .273/.306/.455, 0 HR, 1 SB in 12 games at short-season Tri-City, .273/.312/.426, 4 HR, 14 SB in 43 games at rookie ball at complex-level AZL.
The Good: Tatis has big-league bloodlines and a big-league body. He features a tall, mature frame which could still be growing, along with broad shoulders which allow for plenty of muscle development. That build lends itself to easy power projection, and when combined with an intriguing hit tool for his age, provides plenty of upside potential. He has the upside of a solid-average hit tool given his knack for barreling the ball. He shows smooth actions at shortstop, which make it easy to see him handling a shift to second or third base if he grows out of the position.
The Bad: He has an unrefined approach at the plate, which is understandable given his age. While the upside on his hit tool is above-average, the amount of swing-and-miss built into his swing means he’ll likely fall short of that potential. It’s highly unlikely he remains a shortstop given his size, but he should be able to stick on the dirt. He’s an average runner at present, and given the expected development to his frame, could be a below-average runner before too long.
The Irrelevant: His father, Fernando Tatis, is the only player in MLB history to hit two grand slams in one inning.
OFP 55—Everyday third baseman with upside
OFP 45—Utility infielder
The Risks: As with all 18 year olds, there’s immense risk. He swings and misses too much and hasn’t yet shown a tactical approach at the plate. He could continue to grow, potentially relegating him to the outfield where his profile would be less valuable.
Major league ETA: 2021 —Matt Pullman
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: The bloodlines and the bat may not be quite as interesting here as they are with Vladito, but Tatis turned himself into a prospect worth watching in dynasty leagues. He's forever away and has contact issues, but a potential 25-homer hitter at either short or third (probably the latter) is worth monitoring and possibly even worth jumping the gun on early in a league that rosters 200-plus prospects.
7. Jacob Nix, RHP
Height/Weight: 6’4” 220 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL); signed for $900,000
Previous Ranking(s): #8 (Org)
2016 Stats: 3.93 ERA, 3.50 DRA, 105.1 IP, 115 H, 20 BB, 90 K at Low-A Fort Wayne
The Good: Nix still has the big fastball that got him drafted twice. It sits in the mid-90s, touched 97 and he can take a little off of it to add some armside run. He’s already comfortable manipulating the pitch in that way. His curveball is potentially above-average, and he is comfortable throwing it to both sides. He’ll show feel for a potentially average change as well. His frame is ideal for a starter, and there are no glaring red flags in his delivery.
The Bad: The secondaries still need refinement. The curve can get flatter and sweepy, the change firm at times. Both offerings are inconsistent at present and grade out as below-average. There’s some crossfire in the delivery and occasional effort that impacts the command profile, although he has little issue throwing strikes.
The Irrelevant: Nix spent a “gap year” in Bradenton after the Aiken/Astros fallout. Plenty of time to see all the Village of the Arts—the largest arts district on the Gulf Coast—has to offer.
OFP 55—Mid-rotation starter
Likely 45—Backend starter
The Risks: Nix is still in A-ball and may lack a true swing-and-miss pitch at the highest level. Also, he’s a pitcher.
Major league ETA: 2019
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: You know how this goes at this point, and how I feel about mid-rotation upside guys. Does Petco help a little? Sure, and the arsenal is there for him to valuable in a fantasy league, but that “may lack a true swing-and-miss pitch at the highest level” part above bodes poorly for our purposes. Check back next year.
8. Logan Allen, LHP
Height/Weight: 6’3” 200 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: Drafted in the eighth round by the Red Sox in the 2015 MLB Draft, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL), signed for $725,000; acquired by San Diego in the Craig Kimbrel deal
Previous Ranking(s): N/A
2016 Stats: 3.33 ERA, 4.64 DRA, 54 IP, 48 H, 22 BB, 47 K at Low-A Fort Wayne, 3.00 ERA, 2.52 DRA, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K at complex-level AZL
The Good: He has plus natural stuff, from a fastball with run that touches 95 with regularity, to a low-70s bender which can buckle knees just as often. He has the frame of a big-league workhorse and looks the part of a veteran starter on the mound, working quickly and generally attacking the zone. When he’s on, his stuff works downhill and induces ground balls at a very high rate.
The Bad: He’s thrown just 86 â…” innings since being drafted in 2015, missing a portion of this past season with elbow soreness. His delivery is a bit loud, with some arm stab and significant spine tilt, which can cause him to leave the ball up. His changeup is a generic offering that arrives in the lower 80s with some fade.
The Irrelevant: There is a highly-touted prep lefty from Florida named Logan Allen in this year’s draft class, which makes the second such Logan Allen in three years.
OFP 55—Mid-rotation starter
Likely 45—Back-end starter/middle reliever
The Risks: Health is the foremost risk with all pitchers, but particularly ones who’ve dealt with elbow issues as recently as this past August. If his command and changeup don’t continue to develop, his ceiling is limited to that of a back-end starter.
Major league ETA: 2020 —Matt Pullman
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: Allen is a good guy for the watch list. If he performs well in High-A, he could flirt with a top-100 list given his presumed proximity to the Majors and the organization he calls home. It’s a bit early to get excited now, though.
The Good: The Pads added a second prototypical right fielder to this list in July, albeit a teenaged one much further away from major-league contribution than Renfroe. His swing’s shorter than Renfroe’s, but generates similar raw power. He has an above-average arm. Like we said, prototypical right fielder.
The Bad: We talked about the “known unknowns” as it applied to Cal Quantrill. There’s some unknown unknowns here as well, as Ona won’t have played a competitive baseball game for almost two full years when he steps onto the field in 2017, and that’s assuming he is assigned to a full-season affiliate. There’s likely downsides here beyond just “he may not hit enough for a corner.” We just won’t know what they are for a little while longer.
The Irrelevant: Ona was part of the Padres 60 million dollar—including penalties—IFA class this year. That’s more than enough to buy a season ticket for every single seat at his likely home park, Parkview Field in Fort Wayne. Plenty left over to rent out all the field boxes too.
OFP 55—Above-average everyday right fielder
Likely 45—Second division starter/good outfield bench bat
The Risks: Ona has zero professional track record and projects in a corner spot. He may have similar tools to Renfroe, but this section is the reason he is six spots lower.
Major league ETA: 2020
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: He may play second fiddle on this list to Morejon, who also got the bigger bonus, but from a traditional fantasy sense, Ona is the better profile. The reductive way to think about him in dynasty leagues is about 90 percent of Jorge Soler when he came over. As for the non-reductive way, we’ll just have to see him play in the States for that, but the power upside is enough to get him strong consideration for the Dynasty 101.
10. Luis Urias, 2B
Height/Weight: 5’9” 160 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: Contract was purchased from the Mexico City Red Devils in December 2013.
Previous Ranking(s): N/A
2016 Stats: .444/.667/.778, 1 HR, 1 SB in 3 games at Triple-A El Paso, .330/.397/.440, 5 HR, 7 SB in 120 games at High-A Lake Elsinore
The Good: Some people exist on this Earth to hit baseballs, and Urias is one of those people. His balance and body control is on display with a long, flowing leg kick that launches a very quick stroke, and he controls the barrel with startling precision. As one of the youngest regulars in the Cal League he showed advanced aptitude recognizing pitches and staying back on balls. The approach is geared to the opposite field and up the middle at present. He made strides defensively at second, getting more decisive in his reads of contact and improving his footwork and transfer, and there’s just enough arm strength to warrant the left-side reps the club gave him.
The Bad: There’s limited power projection, as he lacks for strength or present interest to drive the ball to the pull side. The pure bat-to-ball may very well be enough to overcome advanced arms challenging him on the inner third as he progresses, but there’s some potential vulnerability. His body is pretty well maxed out already, and he’s a fringe-average runner with ensuing range limitations that probably keep his profile south of regular left-side utility.
The Irrelevant: Urias was the first teenager to lead the California League in hitting with a minimum of 100 games played since Jose Lopez, who hit .324 in 123 games as an 18-year-old in 2002.
50 OFP—Average second baseman
45 Likely—Second-division starter with utility value
The Risks: A whole lot depends on his hit tool actualizing in full, and as a 19-year-old with all of 15 plate appearances above High-A there are plenty of minor-league hurdles ahead of him. The lack of secondary skills beyond a potentially average glove leaves him a narrower road to run on.
Major league ETA: Late 2018/Early 2019 —Wilson Karaman
Ben Carsley’s Fantasy Take: Between the lead time, the organization and the utter lack of secondary tools, it’s hard to get terribly excited about Urias. If he hits .280 with low counting stats, that makes him, what, Joe Panik at the very best? I do love bat-first prospects, but there’s a limit.
Others of note:
Wilson’s Guy (still)
Javier Guerra, SS
There’s really no sugarcoating it: 2016 was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year for Javier Guerra. He’ll show the ingredients for some bat-to-ball ability, with quickness into the zone and sound hand-eye coordination, and there’s some plane to suggest average potential power down the line. But his mechanics proved wildly inconsistent swing to swing, with an aggressive approach leading to timing and sync issues that he didn’t show much progress in addressing. In the field he shows some of the most natural, fluid shortstop actions you’ll see, with top-shelf lateral quickness propelling him to decent range in spite of below-average foot speed. He possesses outstanding body control, and his quick transfer can make his already-plus arm play up further still. But he struggled far too often to execute even routine plays to completion, and perhaps most troublingly demonstrated precious little growth or development in gaining better consistency with his fundamentals. The raw material of a very good shortstop is still here, but the tools are very far from actualization. —Wilson Karaman
The second best Marlins prospect
Josh Naylor, 1B
Naylor isn’t all that different a prospect than he was in July, but a move from Miami’s fallow system to San Diego’s bumper crop of prospects isn’t going to help his Q rating at all. It also doesn't help that he is a short, stocky, teenaged first baseman. That's a tough profile to overcome, even if I can soften the blow by suggesting he is more athletic than I was expecting. Naylor does have the requisite plus raw power you'd expect–-and require–from the profile and showed a semblance of an approach against the older and more advanced full-season arms he faced in his first full pro season. The swing can be a little one-gear, so I wonder if the power ultimately plays in major-league games to the level it does in BP. There’s also the matter of the whole “knife prank” incident. It sure seems like the Marlins were selling low on one of their few prospects just to get him out of town. That could tell you something. Of course they have also traded another of their few prospects for two different backend starters. So Miami does make this harder to parse than it should be.
The risks section personified
Michael Gettys, OF
Gettys is perhaps the highest-variance prospect in this system. His physicality immediately jumps off the field, as he boasts premium athleticism in his movements and an ideal frame to fill out with good muscle. The speed should still push plus even at maturity and it plays to full utility in center, where he shows feel for trajectory and tracking ability from gap to gap. His arm is his best asset, with plus-or-better velocity and carry. There’s juice in his bat, too: The raw power is above-average at present and may settle in at plus range down the line. But while he made swing changes this year that improved his bat-to-ball, the hit tool projection still remains questionable. He takes an aggressive stride, and coupled with some stiffness in his launch and a thinner angle through the zone, he struggles to make adjustments and swings and misses frequently against soft stuff. When he does make contact there’s volume to it, and he’s a guy that can bring some power into games even if the hit tool never quite actualizes. Another step or two forward with the bat could raise him onto a first-division trajectory, but Double-A pitching could just as easily abuse him with advanced sequencing and leave him looking more like a speed-and-defense-and-occasional-pop fourth outfielders. —Wilson Karaman
Franchy Cordero, OF
You can copy and paste much of what I just wrote about Michael Gettys into Franchy’s section here, and you’d wind up little worse for the wear. Cordero is an outstanding quick-twitch athlete with an explosive stride and some baseline instincts to project average utility in center field. His reads on stolen base attempts aren’t great right now, but the crossover is there and he has the physical tools to develop efficiency with experience. There’s also sneaky pop here, with above-average bat speed and a leveraged stroke that can lift and drive pitches when he catches them. But his stroke frequently winds up as an arms swing, and he is inconsistent with his barrel control. Neither the approach nor the pitch recognition helps his cause, and the hit tool might never reach even 40 range. There’s enough here to project a lo-fi fifth outfielder type of profile even if that’s the case, and the athleticism warrants erring on the side of optimism that his slow burn can end at slightly a higher ceiling than that. —Wilson Karaman
Or maybe this guy would have been the second best Marlins prospect
Chris Paddack, RHP
Before the Marlins were trading two of their best prospects for Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea, only to later trade one of them again for Dan Straily after Rea’s elbow injury surfaced, they were trading their one breakout prospect of 2016 for Fernando Rodney. Paddack shined in 2016, showing two potential plus pitches in his fastball and change, before a elbow strain put him on the shelf, eventually requiring Tommy John surgery. He likely won’t step on a mound again until 2018, but he’s young enough that this may just be a bump in the developmental road. He’s a potential mid-rotation arm if he can find more consistency and feel for his curveball, but this is why I make the same joke about every pitcher in “The Risks.” Well, that and I need something to amuse myself as we crank out ~450 of these player blurbs.
Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/90 or later)
- Manuel Margot
- Anderson Espinoza
- Austin Hedges
- Cal Quantrill
- Hunter Renfroe
- â€‹Travis Jankowski
- â€‹Luis Perdomo
- â€‹Adrian Morejon
- â€‹Fernando Tatis, Jr.
- Jacob Nix
Austin Hedges might be the leading candidate for best defensive catcher in the majors by the end of the decade—shoot, he might be the answer by Opening Day. He possesses an exciting, well-rounded set of skills behind the dish, with polished fundamentals, a rocket arm, and plus receiving ability. Even Hedges’ bat—long the glaring hole of his profile—rebounded in 2016, as he posted a .301 TAv in the hitter-friendly PCL. The major-league numbers (and most of the minor-league numbers) aren’t nearly as encouraging, though, and it’ll ultimately be the stick that decides whether he’s something more than Brad Ausmus 2.0. He slots in ahead of Quantrill on the strength of his immediacy, the risks of low-level pitchers with surgery on their C.V., and the low bar to clear as a valuable contributor for plus defensive catchers.
Jankowski probably works best as a fleet-footed center fielder, but a shift to left field seems likely whenever the Padres decide to pull the trigger on a permanent Margot call-up. He’s less enticing in a corner, sure, but there’s a chance the glove makes up for his punch-and-judy offensive approach. Jankowski did show some promising on-base skills in his first extended major-league trial last season, and the base running adds further appeal.
Perdomo, a Rule 5 pick, went from failed mop-up guy to a successful starter in the span of a few months, an unlikely bright spot amid last year’s last-place Friars. The numbers still look ugly on the surface, but a closer look reveals plenty of positives. By our numbers, Perdomo was something like a league-average pitcher in 2016, with a 99 cFIP and a 4.02 DRA in 147 innings. He induced ground balls at a 60 percent clip and struck out 2.3 hitters for every one he walked. All this for someone who hadn’t pitched past High-A prior to last year, and it’s easy to see why there’s tepid optimism brewing here.
Catcher/reliever/outfielder Christian Bethancourt just misses the cut, because we’re not exactly sure what he is. Reports out of winter ball have him sitting in the mid-90s off the mound. If he can somehow work as a late-inning reliever and a backup to Hedges, he’ll be equal parts valuable and fun to watch.
The recently extended Wil Myers graduates from this list off an up-and-down—but, importantly, healthy—campaign where he established himself as a solid gloveman at first and a sneaky good base runner. Cory Spangenberg just narrowly misses the age cutoff for inclusion as well, but he’s coming off a year almost entirely lost to a torn left quad, and he’s likely to find himself in a positional battle at second base with Roy Hobbs wannabe Ryan Schimpf come spring training.
San Diego has amassed an overwhelming collection of young talent. Even though this group of non-prospect 25-and-unders certainly doesn’t rival the league’s best, the addition of near-ready minor leaguers like Margot and Renfroe combined with slow-burn teenagers make the Padres an organization on the fast-track back to relevance. —Dustin Palmateer