MacKenzie Gore was one of the top picks in the 2017 draft.
For the most part, the Padres had that last year. Three legitimate top 100 prospects (Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, and Anderson Espinoza), followed by a larger than average group in the next tier, and an even bigger group in the third level as all the international J-2 prospects that had yet to play.
That changed this year as the heralded J-2 signings began to appear (six made my list), while a slew of other prospects stepped up their game. The Padres also added arguably the best player in the 2017 draft (MacKenzie Gore), had a remarkable breakout from two young international players (Michel Baez and Fernando Tatis, Jr. ), and as a whole saw very few “top” prospects have a down year to the point they lose their luster.
Even with the attrition of losing all three of their top 100 prospects from last year (Renfroe and Margot graduated, Espinoza had Tommy John) the overall depth of the system drastically improved. So much so, that the “third level” of prospects, which for most teams start somewhere between numbers ten and fifteen began for me at 28. Even then, my 28th and 29th ranked prospects received a “50” grade from MLB Pipeline.
Finally, prospect rankings are great, but in the end, most of us want to see them produce in San Diego. So it is worth a look as to why scouts say the Padres window will not open until 2019 or 2020. Below is the list of where each top prospect played a majority of their games, not where they ended the season.
Top prospects by 2016 team (based on games played)?Triple-A El Paso 1 (Cordero)?Double-A San Antonio 2?High-A Lake Elsinore 7?Low-A Fort Wayne 10?Short-Season Tri-City 3?Rookie (2) AZL 5
By far, the majority of the players are at the High-A level and lower. While quite a few of them ended up at Double-A (Eric Lauer, Cal Quantrill, Tatis, Jacob Nix and a few others), it means they are probably another year from making it to San Diego, and the bulk of the prospects are other two-plus years away.
With that in mind, enjoy the list and feel free to comment.
1) LHP/SP Mackenzie Gore
?It was hard to rank Gore over Tatis as both stand to be two of the better prospects in the game, but Gore has the same raw intangibles that haven’t been seen since Clayton Kershaw rolled through the AZL.
Scouts rave about him, and for good reason. An 18-year-old lefty that is throwing mid-to-upper 90s with excellent control and movement with his fastball and good enough secondary pitches that he should have no problem progressing quickly through the minors. Yes, the AZL is far away from the majors, but considering it is normally a hitter-friendly league, Gore gave up only one earned run over his first six games and that was to his own Padres’ affiliate (16.1 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 26 K in the other games).
Like most teenage players, Gore still has a lot to learn, but he may have the highest ceiling of any Padre pitching prospect since Jake Peavy. Peavy might not be Kershaw, but I think any Padre fan would take a Cy Young award, and leading the organization in career strikeouts. ?
2018 Outlook: Gore might be advanced for his age, but with the glut of great pitching ahead of him, the Padres have no reason to rush him. He will spend most of the year in Fort Wayne, but don’t expect to see him until May to keep him out of the cold weather and to keep his innings in check.
2) SS/3B Fernando Tatis Jr
At the beginning of the year, there were arguments over whether Tatis should have been placed in Fort Wayne. Was it too challenging for someone who just celebrated his 18th birthday? After struggling in April he quickly put those questions to rest hitting .295/.364/.505 in May. He was named the MWL Player of the Week on May 21st, and soon after named an MWL All-Star at the midpoint of the season.
In the second half of the season, Tatis became almost unstoppable hitting .311/.458/.650 with 12 home runs in 51 games. Tatis mania spread across Fort Wayne and reached a breaking point on August 11 when Tatis became the youngest player ever in the Midwest League to hit 20 home runs and have 20 steals (he finished with 21 home runs and 29 stolen bases in 44 attempts).
Tatis is extremely young but showed the talent and the ceiling that are every General Managers’ dreams. The Padres’ seem content with keeping him at shortstop as long as they possibly can, and if he can stay there his value and prospect status will be among the best in baseball. He still gets the comp to Manny Machado which given the power and age of Machado seems like a good one, although Machado never stole more than 13 bases in the minors.
2018 Outlook: Tatis ended the year in San Antonio so it would not at all be surprising to see him begin the year there. (Machado also started his age 19 season in Double-A before being promoted to the majors in August). Offensively Tatis should be fine and continue to be one of the top offensive prospects in the game.
The question will be how he handles shortstop, and if the Padres decide to keep gold glove caliber shortstop Javier Guerra in Double-A, where will each of them end up? Either way, the rational person in me thinks there is no way Tatis makes the jump to San Diego at age 19, but if he is hitting in Double-A and the Padres only have a placeholder, it would be hard to bet against him making his debut in 2018.
3) RHP/SP Cal Quantrill
First, Quantrill did not take a step back in 2017 but rather did not take the step forward most anticipated he would. The Padres gambled taking him with the eighth pick in the 2016 draft hoping he would be able to come back from Tommy John surgery.
While he has come back to pitch, and pitch fairly effectively, we haven’t seen that dynamite 1-1 stuff that many pundits were talking about pre-injury. Quantrill has shown flashes of two plus pitches in his fastball and changeup. His fastball has good velocity and movement, while his changeup is deceptive. The problem is the consistency of his slider, which has shown flashes of greatness but has been the pitch that hasn’t quite come back yet.
He started to throw a curve this year which is also a work in progress. If he can regain his control and effectiveness with his slider, which flashes as a plus pitch, he has lights out top of the rotation starter material. If not we tend to see a two-pitch pitcher either end up as a number starter or in the pen.
2018 Outlook: Expect Quantrill to begin the year repeating San Antonio. No reason to push him to Triple-A, and if he does regain his pre-injury stuff don’t be surprised to see him in San Diego by the end of the year.
Adrian Morejon was one of the Padres J2 signees.
4) LHP/SP Adrian Morejon
The positives: Morejon showed three above-average pitches, great control, walking one over his first 25 professional innings, has an advanced feel for pitching and absolutely dominated at the prospect showcase.
The negatives: Morejon has troubles replicating his delivery, which causes him to lose control and location. Right-handed hitters hit .322 off of him with an 11:14 BB: K ratio in Fort Wayne.
Overall: Morejon arguably has the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect not named Gore but has a long way to go. Many of us were disappointed because of the hype, but at the same time, it was his first year pitching professionally. My ranking was based on his ceiling and a belief that he can reach it.
2018 Outlook: The Padres could push him to Lake Elsinore as they have a glut of prospects aiming for Fort Wayne and the warm weather could be beneficial for Morejon. My guess is they work hard to get his mechanics under control, he starts in Fort Wayne, and if he remains healthy he is in Lake Elsinore by mid-season.
5) RHP/SP Michel Baez
Baez was the catalyst behind Fort Wayne’s second-half run. He dominated the Midwest League flashing an upper 90s fastball and surprisingly good secondary pitches including a wipeout slider.
Because of his size, many think his control will/would be bad, but he averaged roughly a walk a start. So why “only” number five for a pitcher who dominated the MWL like few others have? Aside from Quantrill, who pitched two levels above him, Baez is three year years older than both Gore, Morejon and Tatis.
Baez faces three harsh criticisms that will determine whether he is a front-line starter (top 50 prospects) or back-end bullpen piece (scroll down a lot to find Munoz). The location question has been answered thus far. The second question was his effectiveness with pitching up in the zone. Baez gets most of his strikeouts from high fastballs (between his 6-foot-8 size and upper 90s fastball it is extremely hard to hit), but when they do it tends to leave the park.
Does it need to change? Lastly, many scouts pointed out that while he was 96-98 early in the games that number went down to 93-94 later in the game and all games later in the season. Was his arm tired?
2018 Outlook: Baez should be the ace of the Storm staff. While I don’t doubt he will lead the league in strikeouts, the bigger question will be how his home run numbers stack up, and if he can maintain velocity. If he can expect him to be a top 50 MLB prospect next ranking.
6) 2B/SS Luis Urias
Luis Urias is a Top 100 prospect and arguably one of the top pure hitters in the minors. He will be the Padres starting second baseman at some point in the next 12 months. What he showed this winter in the AFL, had scouts taking note as he hit .315/.443/.481 with 14 walks compared to five strikeouts in 68 PA; with his strikeout to walk ratio the best in the AFL.
For his career, he has a .310 average and more walks than strikeouts. When prospect pundits start guaranteeing that he will win a batting title in the majors its hard not to get excited. Urias has a great eye at the plate, quick swing, and great control of his swing, hitting it to all fields with ease.
He is only this low because of the great prospects ahead of him, and his inability to stick at short. He can play shortstop, just not on a regular basis and with the talent coming up shouldn’t have too in the future. The lack of power is also an issue but is mitigated by a career .396 on-base percentage.
2018 Outlook: Urias really doesn’t have anything left to prove with the Missions. The Padres could leave him in San Antonio to get reps with Tatis as the future double-play combo, but at the same time, fans will be ecstatic to see the numbers he could put up in El Paso.
7) RHP/SP Anderson Espinoza
Espinoza tried to rehab throughout the spring before finally going under the knife in July, which means he will probably miss all of 2018. This ranking is purely based on his ceiling, which is higher than anyone below him.
When healthy, Espinoza has an upper 90s fastball, a plus curve, and a great deceptive changeup. His fastball was given a 70 grade. Espinoza will fall more next year if he doesn’t pitch, but I could see him on a similar path as former Padre pick Max Fried who is now in the Braves’ organization.
2018 Outlook: Rehab and hopefully he will pitch in fall ball.
8) LHP/SP Eric Lauer Lake Elsinore Storm?
Lauer struck out 132 batters in 122.2 innings between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio, while boasting a great 3.30 ERA. He has four quality pitches that he can throw, when he’s on, at any time in the count for strikes to go along with some deception in his delivery. He may have the highest floor of anyone on this list.
His ranking stems from the fact that while he has four quality pitches, and although his fastball has good movement and command, it sits in the low 90s so it would not be considered “plus”. His changeup, curve, and slider all have the potential to be plus but need more consistency. He has a high floor, but profiles to more of a number four starter.
2018 Outlook: If during the first half of the year Lauer develops more consistency with his secondary pitches and finds the correct pitching sequence, he could be in San Diego before the end of the year.
9) LHP/SP Joey Lucchesi Lake Elsinore Storm?
Lucchesi was the MadFriars’ Pitcher of the Year and for good reason. He led the organization in strikeouts with 148, had a 2.20 ERA over 139 innings, dominated two different leagues, and frankly made it look easy.
One of the biggest keys to his success is a deceptive delivery that hitters can’t seem to see the ball or time it correctly. He prides himself on giving hitters uncomfortable at-bats, as he will throw any pitch, to both sides of the plate and is not afraid to throw up and in. He has two plus pitches, a two-seam fastball that he can throw to either side of the plate and a quality changeup, that plays up thanks to his delivery and size. His curveball can be very good, both a slow 12-6 curve and a smaller tighter one.
Like Lauer, he doesn’t have the pure stuff of some of the pitchers listed above but also has a better chance of being in San Diego in the near future.
2018 Outlook: Lucchesi will have a shot in Spring Training to compete for a job in the rotation with the big league club. While he probably won’t get it but still should be the first of the 2016 draft picks in the majors.
10) RF Jorge Ona
I probably have Ona ranked higher than anyone else, but I like his upside more than most. He played organized baseball for the first time in the U.S. when he took the field in the cold of Fort Wayne in April.
Ona was one of the older players on the club at only 20 years old and was the most consistent player for the full year, not just a half. He hit over .300 in his first two months and was named to the Midwest League All-Star team. Ona’s carrying tool will be his bat, and we should see more of his power this year in the Cal League. He is probably limited to left field but does have the arm to play right.
2018 Outlook: Ona should start the year in Lake Elsinore and will vastly enjoy April in the desert more than northeastern Indiana. Offensively, he will be the key cog in what could be a very good Storm offense with Hudson Potts, Marcus Greene, Jr. and Brad Zunica.
11) 1B/DH Josh Naylor
The biggest criticism you hear about Naylor was about his weight, and while his size is a valid criticism, he has surprising speed and can move as well as someone half his size. With the Storm, he stole seven bases in eight attempts. In this winter’s Arizona Fall League he was named the top first baseman after hitting .304/.337/.494 and showed an improved contact rate than he did in Double-A.
Due to his size and raw strength, Naylor has the power to hit the ball 430 feet on a more regular basis in batting practice, but thus far that hasn’t shown itself in games. If he can adjust his swing to harness that weight/power his ceiling could be to become a Ryan Howard-type player.
2018 Outlook: Naylor should keep his Double-A first base job, and while he will still be one of the younger players in the league, but will need to show more power moving forward.
12) RHP/SP Enyel De Los Santos
Enyel De Los Santos is one of the great mysteries of the Padres’ system. Depending on who you ask, he could easily be top ten in the system or not be ranked at all. The difference all depends on whether you believe he will make the majors as a starter.
One thing is for certain, his fastball is dominating and a great swing-and-miss pitch. It sits 94-98, with good movement, and he showed the ability to spot it on both sides. The question will be his secondary pitches. His changeup is ahead of his curve right now, but he is going to need both to be an effective starter.
If not, his fastball, and half of a curve and a change could take him to the big leagues.
2018 Outlook: De Los Santos will be in El Paso after logging the most innings with the Missions this year. It will be a big test, but if he performs he will be another of the many pitchers in the system that could make their big league debuts.
[Editor’s Note: Ben’s Top 30 Ranking were submitted the day before De Los Santos was traded].
13) RHP/SP Jacob Nix
Similar to De Los Santos, Nix is another pitcher that scouts either love or love a lot less. When you see him on a day when everything works, every one of his pitches grade as above average. His fastball and spike-curve combo alone grade out as some of the best in the system.
However, when everything isn’t working, Nix tends to get hit and hit hard, as evidenced by his 5.33 ERA in Double-A). Right now the talent is there, but the results are not. He has a floor of a dominant reliever, thanks to his fastball/curve, if he can stay healthy and put up better results, Nix could end up very high on everyone’s list.
2018 Outlook: Nix should begin the year in San Antonio, despite making a late-season playoff start for El Paso. He is fairly far behind on the pecking order, but with the caveat if “everything clicks” is someone that can also move quickly.
14) 3B Hudson Potts
?Potts was one of the youngest players selected in the 2016 draft and was seen by many as an overdraft. As such, most evaluators still may have Potts lower than his performance the past two seasons have shown.
In the first half of the season, Potts struggled with a .226/.259/.360 slash line, but was one of the more dominant players in the second half of the Midwest League, particularly in August when he hit .346/.397/.664. He hit 18 of his 20 home runs after June 1 and had the best fielding percentage of any third baseman in the league. If he continues his progress, he could be the Padres’ first power-hitting third baseman since Phil Nevin.
Despite a good second half, he still needs to fix some holes in his swing but could be in line for a big year in Lake Elsinore.
2018 Outlook: Even with a lack of the third baseman in the system, Potts, at 19, won’t be rushed and should spend the entire year mashing in the Cal League.
Allen struck out 85 in 68.1 innings.
15) LHP/SP Logan Allen
The former eighth-round pick by the Red Sox has looked every bit as good as the Padres were hoping when they acquired him as part of the Craig Kimbrel deal. After spending most of the second half in 2016 on the disabled list, Allen was completely healthy in 2017.
The lefty hander set career highs in wins (seven), innings (125), and strikeouts (142). He has four pitches which are viewed by scouts as average or better, which makes his floor higher than most other prospects. While Allen doesn’t have the truly great pitch that others above him have, his ability to throw any pitch at any time in the count, to any part of the plate, making an extremely uncomfortable at-bat.
2018 Outlook: Allen should start the year in San Antonio after being the ace of the Storm during the last part of 2017. Allen is still only 20, and with so many other pitchers ahead of him on the prospect order, they will not feel the need to rush him.
16) LHP/SP Chris Paddack
Paddack was a top five prospect in the Marlins system when he was traded for Fernando Rodney last year. He made three amazing starts in Fort Wayne before going down with Tommy John (14 IP, 11 H, ER, 3 BB, 23 K).
Even with the injury, he was still a Top 10 prospect for most pundits. When healthy, Paddack has a solid low 90s fastball and a curve that has come a long way to become a tick above MLB average, but what makes him truly special is his changeup. At the time of the injury, Paddack’s change ranked as the best in the system and arguably the top three or four in all of the minor leagues.
2018 Outlook: Paddack began a throwing program during the offseason and should be at full strength for Spring Training. The Padres might hold him back in extended to monitor his improvement and velocity before sending him out to either Fort Wayne or Lake Elsinore in May.
17) CF/LF Franchy Cordero
I have been a Franchy fan ever since the Padres pretended he was a shortstop back in the Dominican Summer League in 2012 before eventually moving to the outfield in 2015.
Cordero made a name for himself in San Diego after hitting nearly 300 with speed and power after the first two weeks of a midseason call-up. However, the strikeouts began to pile up and he ended his first MLB campaign hitting .228/.276/.424 in 98 plate appearances. At best, Cordero is a player that brings both speed and power to a lineup but he needs to cut down on his long swing and have a better idea of his strike zone. Whether he can make consistent contact/walk enough will determine whether he becomes an MLB regular.
2018 Outlook: Cordero had a very good year in El Paso last year, but his strikeout rate in both the minors and majors indicates he is likely to begin the year back with the Chihuahuas. If he puts up numbers at midseason, look for the big club to clear some room for him.
18) SS Gabriel Arias
It seemed like an aggressive ranking before Baseball America, and probably a few others will put him even higher. Arias was Tatis’ replacement after his call-up and held his own at shortstop, despite being barely old enough to see a rated R movie (born in 2000).
Defensively, the Padres really liked what they saw, and promoted him for that ability. What will ultimately determine his ceiling will be his offensive output. In the playoffs, Arias his .276 showing poise at the plate.
2018 Outlook: Arias has seemed to leapfrog the trio of great middle infielders and should begin the season in Fort Wayne, but with the push below from Justin Lopez, Gabrial Arias and Luis Alamanzar could also start in Lake Elsinore.
19) C Austin Allen
Austin Allen is one of the better offensive catchers in the minors and if there weren’t continuing questions about his defense would be ranked higher.
He had 54 extra-base hits including 22 home runs, a new record for a catcher in Lake Elsinore. He doesn’t strike out a lot for a power hitter, and when he is on a hot streak he is almost unstoppable (.374/.398/.691 in July). However, the number of scouts who think he can stay behind the plate continues to shrink. He has improved considerably at blocking and framing pitches but will need to improve at controlling the running game as he allowed 79.3% of runners to steal in 2016 and 79.4% in 2017.
2018 Outlook: The Padres will try to keep Allen as a catcher, but with most of their best prospects being pitchers in San Antonio he may find more starts at first base and DH. If his catching continues to improve and his bat continues at its current pace he could rise up the prospect ladder.
20) RHP/SP Pedro Avila
The Padres acquired Avila as part of the Derek Norris trade with the Nationals, whom they later cut. Avila struggled in Lake Elsinore before being sent down to Fort Wayne, where he turned his season around. As dominant as Michel Baez was in Fort Wayne, Avila was just as good with 117 strikeouts in 85 innings, including a 17-strikeout performance in August.
Avilla has very good command of a fastball that sits in the low 90’s and can touch the mid-90s occasionally. What made him very successful at the Low-A level was his ability to throw his off-speed stuff for strikes. In Lake Elsinore, he tried to be to paint the corners too much, while at the lower levels he began to trust his stuff and challenge hitters.
How well his stuff will play in a more hitter-friendly league is an open question, but right now it looks pretty good.
2018 Outlook: Despite only being 20, Avila will need to be protected after the 2018 season. As such anything other than a great season in Lake Elsinore might result in him no longer being in the system.
21) RHP/SP Reggie Lawson
Lawson struggled in his first full season with the Padres but showed flashes of his potential with seven absolutely dominant starts. For the most part, he struggled with location and hitablilty through his second and third times through the order. Still, Lawson finished with an impressive 89 strikeouts in 73 innings and a .236 BAA, but also issued 35 walks.
He showed improved velocity sitting 93-94 topping out at 96, with an impressive curve that is 15 mph slower with a great bite, when he can throw it for a strike.
2018 Outlook: Lawson only threw 73 innings last year so he should be in line for a full season shot. He will probably begin the year back in Fort Wayne.
22) 2B Esteury Ruiz
The 18-year-old Ruiz was acquired from the Kansas City Royals at the deadline as part of the Trevor Cahil trade. At the time he was hitting .419/.440/.779 in the AZL, and while he was not able to completely replicate the success with the Padres he was still able to catch the eye of a lot of scouts.
They praised every aspect of his hitting ability, including his hand-eye coordination, raw power, and fluid swing. He is handicapped by being an infielder without the arm to play on the left side and hasn’t impressed many initially with his range at second base either.
2018 Outlook: Ruiz should begin the year in Fort Wayne, and hopefully show what he is able to do on a full season level. A few scouts are already thinking he could have a Tatis like breakout campaign if his bat performs to its potential.
Marcus Greene, Jr. produced when healthy.
23) C Marcus Greene Jr
?I might have Greene higher than anyone else, but his offensive ability at a position like a catcher makes him a top prospect. He had been hampered by injuries since coming over in the Will Venable trade three years ago. In 2017, he was finally healthy and produced at a .270/.366/.460 in his first full season since being drafted.
Unlike most other power hitters Greene is also a contact hitter and only struck out 59 times with 40 walks in over 320 plate appearances – a rate that no other player on this list save Luis Urias can match.
On a team that struggled to score runs, Greene was the TinCaps’ best player with runners in scoring position hitting .338/.439/.708 (well ahead of Tatis’ .252/.381/.458 line). Lastly, while Greene is nowhere close to the defensive guru that AJ Kennedy was, he has a better chance to stick at catcher than Austin Allen who is higher o the list.
2018 Outlook: After putting up a better OPS than Austin Allen in Fort Wayne (.826 verse .790), Greene will continue to follow right behind him as the starting catcher in Lake Elsinore. If he can stay healthy, he will put up the numbers to prove this ranking might be too low.
24) RHP/SP Mason Thompson
?Thompson didn’t pitch much in the AZL in 2016 and had similar issues staying healthy in 2017. Like Quantrill, he had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and still is not quite yet one hundred percent on a consistent basis.
When he is healthy he looks every bit like a top prospect. His pitches all show great movement and have the ability to make hitters look foolish even on a higher level (Thompson dominated Cuba in 2013 to win the U-15 World Championship). His ceiling is that of a mid-level rotation starter, and while every year injured makes it harder and harder to reach it. The talent is there and he gets at least one more mulligan.
2018 Outlook: Thompson said he was healthy during fall instructs, but did not pitch in the Futures Game at Petco. If, and that’s a big if, he is healthy the Padres will try to get him about 70-90 innings in Fort Wayne later in the year when the weather warms up and to control his innings.
25) CF Jeison Rosario
Rosario is another J-2 signing that makes the list out of the AZL after hitting .299/.404/.369 in his first ever professional season. Scouts were raving over his athleticism, defense, and eye at the plate (33 walks and 36 strikeouts in 52 games). He also added about 15 pounds of muscle from 2016 to this past year. He still has more room to grow and if that continues could hit for considerable power.
2018 Outlook: His offense combined with his defensive capabilities in center draw a Cameron Maybin comp. Maybin hit .304/.387/.457 as a 19-year-old in the MWL (2006) before being named #31 on Baseball America’s Top 100. Rosario will look to replicate his numbers and has the ability to do it.
26) RHP/RP Hansel Rodriguez
Entering the season, Hansel Rodriguez was a quandary. He had a big-time fastball (touching 98 mph, sitting 94-97) with great movement, a pitch that profiled as well above average. Unfortunately, that is all he had.
His slider and change showed signs of life but were inconsistent. Either the pitches would get too loopy or he would lose the ability to throw them for strikes. That meant by the second or third time through the rotation, hitters knew what wasn’t working and could sit on the fastball.
The Padres moved him to the pen, and all of a sudden the one pitch with the occasional change or slider became nearly unhittable. In the second half of last season, Rodriguez had a 1.56 ERA, 56 K in 40.1 innings, a .188 BAA and a 0.89 WHIP. He did not allow a run from July 6 until August 26. During that time he had 37 strikeouts against only three walks.
2018 Outlook: Rodriguez has found his home in the pen. Now that they know where to put him, the Padres want to see if he can continue the success over a full season. Look for him to close in Lake Elsinore with a possible midseason promotion as he will be Rule V eligible next year.
27) RHP/RP Andres Munoz
The Padres thought highly enough of Munoz that they put him in the AFL. He rewarded them by having great success as the youngest player in the league, striking out hitters with a nasty 101 mph fastball on an MLBN televised game in the Arizona Fall League.
Some were clamoring for Munoz to be a Top 10 prospect, but they need to calm down. He has great stuff, but also has difficulty finding the strike zone. He averaged 7.32 walks/per 9 innings in 2016 and 6.23 walks/ per 9 innings in 2017. It is an improvement, there is still work to be done.
2018 Outlook: The Padres have no need to rush him and he will most likely play a prominent role in the Fort Wayne bullpen in 2018.
28) SS Luis Almanzar
Coming into the year, Almanzar was the top rated of any of the heralded J2 teenage crop and a $4 million dollar signing bonus said that might not be a bad call. He somewhat lived up to the hype in Instructs as the Padres decided to let him skip the DSL and AZL and go straight to the Northwest League.
That placement might have been a bit overly aggressive as Almanzar struggled both offensively and defensively. After a good first few weeks that saw him hitting .271/.377/.356 he hit just .218/.275/.282 the rest of the way. When he is on, Almanzar hits to all fields, has a short quick swing and a good eye at the plate. He profiles as an above-average offensive hitter with 15-20 home run power as he fills out.
2018 Outlook: There is still a lot to like in Luis Almanzar, but he is still the same age as a high school senior, so there is no rush to get him to Fort Wayne and the Padres could end up sending him back to Tri-Cities to gain more confidence and iron out some kinks.
29) C Luis Campusano
In one of the stranger moves, the Padres took a defensive specialist catcher in the second round. Campusano lived up to the hype on defense, getting rave reviews for his catching ability, and has a cannon for an arm behind the plate. Similar to Hedges, Campusano struggles at times offensively but has considerable pop in his bat that could lead to 15 plus home run power in the future.
?2018 Outlook: Campusano’s premium defensive skills will be on display with the TinCaps as again the staff will be loaded with top prospects. If he can show he can hit even average look for him to shoot up to a Top 15 prospect next year.
30) SS Javier Guerra
There are about 20 prospects that are deserving of one of the last three spots, and honestly, Guerra might not be the best choice based on past performance. However, he was a former Top 100 prospect, is still just 22, he would be a college senior, battled mental issues, and was and has always been a defensive wizard.
Guerra raised his OPS 26 points year to year, and didn’t appear to be overmatched in the AFL with a .261/.306/.391 slash line. Still, Guerra’s defense and power give him a floor as a super utility middle infielder.
2018 Outlook: Guerra is too good defensively to not be playing shortstop. With Tatis likely in Double-A the Padres could start him in El Paso where he can start every game. He is on the 40- man and San Diego will once again give him every opportunity to show that he can hit consistently.
Just Missed: Tirso Ornelas, Luis Patino, Henry Henry, Brett Kennedy, Jose Castillo, Walker Lockett, Franmill Reyes, Chris Huffman, Jordan Guerrero, Jordy Barley, Blake Hunt, and Mason House.
All of those players would make nearly every other team’s Top 30 prospect list, and it was painful leaving some of them out. All of them have MLB ceilings, and could very well be either in San Diego in 2018 (Kennedy, Castillo, Lockett, Huffman) or easily be in the Top 30. As another point this list of 42 names (as 42 is the answer) still leaves off names like Michael Gettys, Buddy Reed, Eguy Rosario, David Bednar, Brad Zunica, Nick Torres, Emmanuel Ramirez, Kyle Lloyd, Reinaldo Illaraza, Dan Dallas, Jose Lezama, Sam Keating, Juan Fernandez, and Jose Rondon.
Trust us when we say the overall talent level is not only very good but extremely deep.