The Padres have seemingly moved away from the “great tank” of 2017 as the Eric Hosmer resulted in an organizational shift to accumulate talent for a run in the near future. As 2018 moves forward, the organization should push several prospects towards the big leagues, with an eye on contending as early as 2019.
San Diego’s farm system has drawn rave reviews from most publications that cover prospects, with perhaps no greater endorsement coming from MLBPipeline.com Mike Rosenbaum, who covers the Padres (among many other teams) for MLB Pipeline named the Padres as the best system in all of baseball.
Rosenbaum was nice enough to answer a few questions for us, as the 2018 minor league season approaches.
MadFriars: The Padres’ system was ranked number one in MLB Pipeline’s preseason ranking for 2018. What is more impressive: The talent at the top or the overall depth?
Mike Rosenbaum: It’s a combination of the talent at the top and the overall depth throughout the system. The Padres have six prospects in the top-50 and they are loaded with up-the-middle players and high probability big leaguers throughout the system. There were a lot of omissions from the list, too. Guys like [RHP] Reggie Lawson and [infielder] Jordy Barley also drew high consideration.
As you compiled the names and notes on the Top-30 list, how many names were under consideration before your list was finalized?
Rosenbaum: There were about 45 names in contention and there were some difficult omissions from the list.
Fernando Tatis Jr. and MacKenzie Gore seem to be the top-tier of prospects in the system. Is it surprising to you that Tatis was able to hold his own in big league camp?
Rosenbaum: Yeah that seems pretty accurate that those two are clearly at the top. Tatis projects to be an MVP candidate and an All-Star type of player. Gore has the ceiling of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher and is still very young. It isn’t a knock on other guys; it just seems like those two players have distanced themselves.
Reports out of spring training have raved about how great MacKenzie Gore has looked. Where do you see him opening up the season and how fast can he move through the system?
Rosenbaum: [Gore] was outstanding in his pro debut. He has an athletic delivery and repeats it well. He just needs to go out and perform. [In terms of] reaching the big leagues, it depends where he starts [the season]. If he is on an accelerated path, maybe he reaches Double-A this season. That would set him up to reach the big leagues at 20.
The view from many people I have talked to is that the three pitchers in San Antonio [Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi, and Cal Quantrill] are viewed as mid-rotation starters, while the next wave of guys like Gore and Michel Baez are considered more of true top-of-the-rotation talent. Would you agree with that assessment?
Rosenbaum: Baez has a higher ceiling than the guys you mentioned. The Padres were in on him early, as he was a bit of an unknown when they signed him. He has a lot of untapped potential and a very high ceiling.
Quantrill is more polished and could take a leap forward if he can get more spin on his breaking ball. Lauer and Lucchesi are right where they need to be, with Joey being a little further along. Lucchesi profiles as a starter all the way.
Franchy Cordero has quickly become a fan favorite, with many fans clamoring for him to win a big league job. What kind of ceiling does he have?
Rosenbaum: He is going to be what he is. He strikes out a lot but when he makes contact, he makes things happen. He has great speed, which makes him an asset. At his worst, he is a 4th outfielder. But his speed and power could make him a regular.
Tirso Ornelas has drawn a lot of interest from fans since he is from Tijuana and produced in his pro debut. He checked in on your list at #15. What have you seen from him over the last year?
Rosenbaum: He has performed very well so far. He has a feel to hit and is disciplined at the plate and has impressive tools. [Ornelas] also moves better than you’d think. With his size (he is listed at six-foot-four and 180 lbs.) he moves better than you’d think. With his size and feel, it is only a matter of time before he shoots up the list with his developing power. He is one of the top guys to watch in the system.
The Padres traded a very popular player in Yangervis Solarte and got back outfielder Edward Olivares back in the deal. What can you tell us about him?
Rosenbaum: I also cover the Toronto organization for MLB Pipeline, so I have been following Olivares for about a year-and-a-half. He has an unorthodox swing but can get to the baseball. He has power and could be a potential five-tool player. He is a little behind on the age curve [he just turned 22] but has impressive tools that need a little more refinement.
One name on the back end of your list was RHP David Bednar, who checked in at #28. He was a late-round pick in 2016. What made him stand out against some bigger names below him?
Rosenbaum: I got a good look at him in the Arizona Fall League. He is a reliever all the way and was hitting 96 mph with his fastball. He plays well stuff-wise and can help a big league player in the near future. He has an element of deception and hides the ball well.
RHP Mason Thompson had a frustrating year, missing some time with various injuries in 2017. What made him worth a spot in the top-15.
Rosenbaum: He needs innings. His upside puts him in the top-15 but a lot depends on his health. He is still young but his injuries could prevent him from reaching his ceiling.
Michael Gettys has always been a personal favorite of mine. Would you say 2018 is a make-or-break year for him?
Rosenbaum: He absolutely took a step back last year. He looks unbelievable one day and will frustrate you the next. He has right-handed power and has had success against lefties. Gettys still has a floor as a fourth or fifth outfielder but there is real concern about the bat.