Fernando Tatis, Jr. is one of the top prospects in baseball.

The sky is the limit for Fernando Tatis.(Photo: San Antonio Missions)

The signing of Manny Machado for $300 million just as spring training started easily represents the most significant player acquisition in San Diego Padres history. While Machado obviously upgrades the team’s lineup immediately, some national pundits like ESPN’s Buster Olney questioned if the “timing was right” since many of the club’s top pitching prospects are still a “few years away.”

Well, Buster is wrong.

While the Padres are not likely to contend for a World Series in 2019, four of the top five prospects from what most observers believe is the best farm system in baseball should be on the big league club by June.

The Padres’ top prospect – one of the best in baseball – Fernando Tatis Jr. should be ensconced at shortstop by June at the latest. He will join Machado and second baseman Luis Urías, one of the organization’s top hitters ever since he signed in 2015.

Pitchers Chris Paddack and Logan Allen seem likely to begin the year in Triple-A El Paso but could have short stays like Eric Lauer last season. It is not inconceivable that by June, the big league rotation could feature some combination of Joey Lucchesi, Lauer, Jake Nix, Paddack and Allen, and top pitching prospects MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patiño could be pushing to join Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez at San Diego’s new Double-A affiliate in Amarillo.

How important is it to have a strong farm system? According to ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides, since 2005, 13 of the 14 teams with the number one consensus farm system have made the playoffs within two years. The only exception, the 2011 Kansas City Royals, ended up with back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015.

In short, the days of a major-league roster put together with duct-tape as a placeholder until the prospects were ready for San Diego appear to be ending.

Our Top 20 is nearly evenly-divided between players acquired through the draft (7), trades (6) and internationally (7). Luis Urías is the last player not brought into the organization by current Padres General Manager A.J. Preller.

2019 Top 20 at a Glance: 11 Pitchers and 9 Position Players

New for 2019: C Francisco Mejía, RHP Luis Patiño, SS Xavier Edwards, LHP Ryan Weathers, C Austin Allen, CF Jeisson Rosario and INF Tucuipita Marcano.

Out from 2018: 2B/3B Esteury Ruiz, SS Gabriel Arias, LF Jorge Oña and OF Edward Olivares.

Graduated from 2018: LHPs Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer, OFs Franchy Cordero and Franmil Reyes.

Synopsis: The Padres are about to embark on the next stage of their developmental process, turning highly-regarded prospects into quality major league players. Most of the top players fans have been hearing about for years will make their debut in San Diego sometime this summer, but there is still a lot of depth in the next waves of players.

Best Places to See the Prospects

There is more than a decent chance that the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas will feature Tatis with Paddack and Logan Allen on the mound in the first month of the season. After that, keep an eye on a pair of left-handed sluggers in Josh Naylor and Austin Allen.

New Club: The Padres’ Double-A affiliate has moved from San Antonio to Amarillo, Texas, which will have affiliated baseball for the first time in 37 years. The last time the Padres had a team there, one of the stars was Tony Gwynn, who went on to have a pretty good career.

Up the Road: The Storm should start the year with two of the more exciting and athletic pitchers in the organization with Gore and Patiño. Also keep an eye on a pair of young outfielders, Jeisson Rosario, and Tijuana native Tirso Ornelas.

Fort Wayne: The TinCaps always have young interesting players but the two who particularly stand out are infielders Xavier Edwards and Tucupita Marcano; both can hit and really pick it and are still teenagers. Keep an eye on a pitching staff that should feature top pick Ryan Weathers and local talent Nick Thwaits.

The Padres will once again feature two AZL teams, and the short-season Tri-City club could be a powerhouse as many of the teenagers from last season could return.

All ages are listed for Opening Day 2019.

1) Fernando Tatis, Jr

San Diego Padres top prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr.

Once again, it’s about Fernando. (Photo Credit: Grant Wickes)

Position: Shortstop  Height/Weight: 6-4/215  Age:    20
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Trade with Chicago White Sox for RHP James Shields in June 2016.

Team              AVG   OBP    SLG        PA       K/BB   Hits    XBH/HR
Missions          .286     .355     .507     386      109/34 101      42/16

2018 Highlights: After hitting .177 in April – which nearly sent Padres Twitter into a group heart attack – Tatis rebounded by hitting .336/.414/.639 in May and didn’t look back. Despite going down with a thumb injury to his left hand in mid-July, his ability to dominate the Texas League both offensively and defensively at 19 solidified his reputation as maybe the best Padres prospect in the history of the organization; certainly, the best that we have covered.

Negatives: Tatis is an aggressive hitter and can chase the outside slider, but his ability to recognize pitches has significantly improved in the past year. There was some concern that he might outgrow the position, but as Padres’ Senior Director of Player Development Sam Geaney noted he’s one of the rare athletes that has gotten both bigger and faster.

Projection: Tatis ranks among the best few prospects in the game. Most of you reading this have been dreaming of a power-hitting shortstop who can hit in the middle of the order with 30 bombs to go along with a plus glove.

You may be underestimating him.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Even after a strong winter in the Dominican, it makes sense for both baseball and financial reasons for Tatis to open the 2019 season in Triple-A El Paso. After his second straight slow start in a season limited to 88 games last year, giving Tatis more exposure against upper-minors pitching in April makes sense. If he gets off to a strong start he should be in San Diego by May.

2) MacKenzie Gore

San Diego Padres top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore.

MacKenzie Gore. (Photo: Jeff Nycz)

Position: LHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6-3/195  Age: 20
Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: First Round 2017 draft

Team            W-L    IP        ERA   GS       K/BB Hits     Runs/Earned Runs
TinCaps        2-5       60.2     4.45     16        74/18   61        35/30

2018 Highlights: Coming out of spring training, after flashing four plus pitches, there was talk among the Padres’ brass that Gore could be in Double-A San Antonio by mid-season. Unfortunately, recurring blisters limited both the number of innings he threw in the Midwest League and the effectiveness of his slider and curve. Despite the injuries and rust, Gore’s advanced approach and make-up still allowed him to put up stellar secondary numbers just by commanding his plus fastball and changeup.

Negatives: Because of his blisters, Gore relied on his fastball a little too much and struggled with a 6.23 ERA (three starts) in the first half but bounced back strong in the second (11 starts) with 56 strikeouts in 47.2 innings against only 15 walks and a 3.97 ERA.

It should be much better this season.

Projection: With a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, a plus changeup, slider, and a very good curve, Gore still has top-of-the-rotation projection.

MadFriars’ Assessment: He should begin the year in High-A Lake Elsinore and if he is healthy, there is a very good chance he will be in Amarillo before the all-star break.

3) Luis Urías

San Diego Padres prospect Luis Urias.

Luis Urias has been one of the top bats in the Padres system for three years. (Photo: Grant Wickes)

Position: Second Base/Shortstop  Height/Weight: 5-9/165  Age: 21
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: 2014 International Free Agent Signee – Mexico

Team              AVG   OBP    SLG         PA       K/BB Hits     XBH HR
Chihuahuas    .296     .398     .447     517      109/67 133      45/8
Padres            .208     .264     .354     51        10/3     10        3/2

2018 Highlights: For the first time in his career Urías struggled at the plate in minors. Before having a monster August when he posted a slash line of .420/.480/.659, he was hitting .265 as he struggled with the timing of his leg kick and hitting the inside pitch. Urías made the adjustments at the plate and was solid throughout the season defensively at second base, in limited time at shortstop (20 games) and third base (11 games).

Negatives: He can sometimes go for a little too much at the plate and needs to continue to make adjustments on the inner half.

Projection: Luis Urías is not is a future superstar. He’s not going to be a stellar defensive second baseman, though he’ll be plenty good. He probably will never swipe 10 bases in a season, though he won’t clog the base paths. He’s not going to have enough power to put up eye-popping offensive production. But the man will hit, and he’ll do it with a line-drive approach to spray hits to all fields.

MadFriars’ Assessment: He could start the season at shortstop until Tatis is ready, but once his double-play partner arrives, he’s going to be at second base for a long time.

4) Chris Paddack

Chris Paddack was dominant in 2018. Photo Credit: Grant Wickes

Position: RHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6-5/210  Age: 23
Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Trade with Florida Marlins for Fernando Rodney in June 2016

Team              W-L        IP       ERA   GS  K/BB Hits   Runs/Earned Runs
Storm               4-1       52.1     2.24    10  83/4     43        13/13
Missions          3-2       37.2     1.91     7    37/4     23        8/8

2018 Highlights: In 89.1 innings between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio, Paddack struck out 120 and walked eight for a combined ERA of 2.10. His changeup justifiably receives the lion’s share of attention, but somewhat lost in the analysis is his four-seam fastball that sits consistently in the mid-90s with precise command.

Negatives: To get where he wants to be, Paddack is going to need a better curve. But, as Sam Geaney noted in an interview with us, after coming back from Tommy John surgery, they weren’t going to have him crank out 50 curveballs in side sessions.

Projection: We think a little more of him than most national publications. His curve can look good, it just needs to be more consistent. He could be a top of the rotation starter.

MadFriars’ Assessment: There has been talk about Paddack breaking camp with the big team, but a year after Tommy John surgery and with only seven starts above A-ball, where he was limited to 85 pitches a game, at least some time in Triple-A doesn’t seem a bad idea.

Although the definition of “some time” is fluid.

5)  Francisco Mejía

Padres catching prospect Francisco Mejia with El Paso Chihuahuas.

Francisco Mejia was the top prospect trade acquisition at the deadline. (Photo: Ivan Pierre Aguirre)

Position: Catcher  Height/Weight: 5-9/175  Age: 23 Bats/Throws: S/R
Acquired: Trade with Cleveland Indians for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber in July 2018

Team                          AVG   OBP    SLG     PA       K/BB  Hits   XBH/HR
Clippers [CLE AAA]   .279     .328     .426     323      58/18   85        30/7
Chihuahuas               .328     .364     .582     127      25/7     40        16/7
Padres                       .185     .241     .389     57        19/3     10        5/3

2018 Highlights: Despite getting criticism from many San Diego pundits, Padres’ General Manager A.J. Preller held onto lefty reliever Brad Hand into the 2018 season. In doing so, he was able to get the maximum return for him in Mejía, who was one of the top catching prospects in baseball coming into 2018.

At El Paso, the Padres were able to see significant improvement from Mejía behind the plate and the switch-hitter’s bat was all that was advertised. Although he can get his bat on about any pitch, as Dustin Palmateer noted in his fantastic newsletter big league pitchers were able to exploit his free-swinging ways in his limited time in the Majors.

Negatives: Mejía’s ready for MLB, in that he has little left to prove offensively in the upper minors. But the range of likely outcomes is much, much broader for him than most top MLB-ready position prospects. He has all the tools to be a quality catcher, but thus far in his career, he’s struggled to perform behind the plate. He has lightning-quick wrists that allow the switch-hitter to hit just about anything from both sides of the plate, but his lack of patience has kept his good raw power from playing effectively in games.

Projection: Mejía could very well be the Padres’ catcher of the future, but he could just as easily be trade fodder or another corner outfielder with holes in his offensive game. You can be on the high end with ESPN’s Keith Law, who can see him as a potential all-star, or join others who question if he can become an everyday catcher.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Probably more than any other player, spring training will be big for Mejía. If he can build upon the progress he made at El Paso defensively, he will challenge Austin Hedges for playing time.

6)  Adrian Morejon

Adrian Morejon, San Diego Padres pitching prospect

Adrian Morejon delivers for the Lake Elsinore Storm. (Photo: Cherished Memories)

Position: LHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6/195  Age: 20  Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: 2016 International Free Agent Signee – Cuba

Team              W-L    IP        ERA   GS       K/BB Hits Runs/Earned Runs
Storm               4-4    2.2     3.30     13        70/24   54        27/23

2018 Highlights: Morejon’s signing bonus as a 17-year-old from Cuba accounted for over a quarter of San Diego’s 2016 J2 international binge. Last season he arrived at spring training in better shape, with more velocity and more consistency with his secondary pitches, but minor injuries to his hip and triceps soreness limited him to 62.2 innings in Lake Elsinore. When he was on the mound, he added a knuckle-curve to the mix to go along with a fastball that can sit in the mid-90s and a very good curve.

Negatives: While the parade of pesky injuries remains a concern, there just aren’t many lefties in the game who can do what he can. And even if something major sidelines him for a full year along the way, he’d be big-league ready at 23.

Projection: It sounds like a broken record, but Morejon has the “stuff” to be a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he’s going to have to show that he can take the ball consistently.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Morejon should open the year in Double-A and if he’s healthy everyone will be hearing a lot about him.

7)  Luis Patiño

Padres prospect Luis Patino pitches for Fort Wayne TinCaps

Luis Patino delivers for Fort Wayne. (Photo: Jeff Nycz)

Position: RHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6/190  Age: 19  Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: 2016 International Free Agent Signee – Colombia

Team              W-L    IP   ERA   GS       K/BB   Hits   Runs/Earned Runs
TinCaps           6-3    83   2.16     17        98/24   65        25/20  

2018 Highlights: The Padres signed Patiño, then an undersized middle-infielder from Colombia, for a $120,000 bonus in 2016 and since then he has performed. He was one of the better pitchers in the AZL in 2017 and showed that it wasn’t a fluke in the Midwest League last season.

San Diego was careful with his innings, but he still posted a 98:24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 83 innings while flashing a fastball that sits consistently in the high 90s. Patiño is just fun to watch. He flashes pitches with a differential up to 30 MPH, plays with his tempo and leg kick, and genuinely seems to enjoy himself in the game.

Negatives: He is not the biggest guy and there is some concern about when he goes from pitching every six to seven days, to longer stints every five. While he certainly seems to have both the demeanor and physicality for that shift, a starting pitcher Patiño’s height is likely going to have to prove it at each level.

Projection: For a guy his size, his velocity is the first thing that stands out, but he has also added a very good changeup to go along with a developing slider. If his other two pitches come along, as he shows he can handle the workload of a starter, he’s a mid-rotation pitcher.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Patiño will begin the year in Lake Elsinore and team with Gore and lefthander Osvaldo Hernandez to form one of the more athletic rotations in baseball.

8) Logan Allen

Padres prospect Logan Allen pitches for San Antonio Missions

At 21, Logan Allen was one of the best pitchers in the Texas League. (Photo: Grant Wickes)

Position: LHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6-3/200  Age: 21  Bats/Throws: R/L
Acquired: Trade with Boston Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel in November 2015

Team              W-L    IP        ERA   GS       K/BB              Hits Runs/Earned Runs
Missions          10-6     121      2.75     19    25/38             89        41/37
Chihuahuas     4-0       27.2     1.63     5      26/13               21        7/5                  

2018 Highlights: At 21, Logan Allen was maybe the best pitcher in the Texas League with a 2.75 ERA in 121 innings yet he’s just the third-best left-handed pitching prospect in the organization. He has an exceptional command of a fastball that sits in the low 90s, with a plus slider and changeup. Allen added a curve which improved as the 2018 season went on. Interesting side note, the only thing Allen does left-handed is pitch.

Negatives: Throughout his Padres career, Allen has sometimes struggled with command, but last year he kept his walks in check until his late-season cameo in Triple-A. That finer accuracy allowed him to go more than six innings in eight of his 20 outings, ensuring that the lefty saw opposing hitters a third time more than just about any prospect in the system.

Projection: If Allen’s four-pitch mix and improved command carry over into this year, he has more upside than fellow lefties Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Allen was very good in his brief cameo in El Paso and he could be the first one up in 2019. He has an outside shot to break with the big club, but they will probably send him back to the Sun City to preserve his innings.

9)  Michel Baez

Michel Baez, San Diego Padres pitching prospect

Michel Baez in action with the Missions. (Photo: Tim Campbell/Tulsa Drillers)

Position: RHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6-8/225  Age: 22  Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: 2016 International Free Agent Signee – Cuba

Team              W-L         IP        ERA   GS       K/BB Hits     Runs/Earned Runs
Storm               4-7       86.2     2.91     17        92/33   73        32/28
Missions          0-3       18        7.36     4          21/12   22        20/15

2018 Highlights: Hampered by a bad back, Baez’s season start was delayed, and once it began, the big Cuban had difficulty locating his fastball with the Storm. It eventually came around and he was promoted in August to the Missions, where he again struggled with fastball command.

Negatives: While he kept his arm mechanics relatively consistent, defying the typical challenges for a guy his size, his overall delivery was just less dynamic last year. He frequently looked stiff or rigid on the mound, and his velocity sagged. Perhaps most concerning is that he had those issues while under the watchful eye of physiology guru Seiichiro Nakagaki, who left the organization to return to Japan after the season.

Projection: Baez has as much upside as almost anyone in the organization. The question is whether we will see the 2017 or 2018 version.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Baez will begin the year in Amarillo, with countryman Adrian Morejon. Both have significant upside but need to demonstrate it over a greater period than they did last season.

10)  Josh Naylor

San Diego Padres prospect Josh Naylor

Josh Naylor. (Photo: Grant Wickes)

Position: First Base  Height/Weight: 5-11/245  Age: 21 Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: Trade with Florida Marlins for Andrew Cashner in July 2016

Team              AVG   OBP    SLG    PA       K/BB      Hits     XBH/HR
Missions          .297     .383     .447     565      69/72   149      40/17

2018 Highlights: After signing Eric Hosmer last off-season, the Padres embarked on an experiment to see if Naylor could handle playing left field. While he made significant progress defensively during the year, it’s still an open question whether he will be able to make it work there defensively.

The part of Naylor’s performance that was not in question was at the plate with the Missions, where he posted a slash line of .297/.383/.447 and played in 128 of the team’s 138 games. At 21, he was one of the youngest players in Double-A and showed an exceptional eye with a 69:64 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Negatives: For two years, the club asked him to take seriously losing weight over the offseason. For two years, it didn’t really happen. If a year of getting to balls in the outfield two steps late inspired him this winter to really get to the weight he should be, 2019 could be a monster year for him.

Projection: According to early reports Naylor has lost a significant amount of weight and – excuse us for the cliché – came into camp in “the best shape of his life.” If he can be an average outfielder, he could become a realistic option in left field at the big league level.

MadFriars’ Assessment: With much better conditioning, a year of playing the outfield under his belt and the friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League; Naylor could put up some PlayStation numbers in El Paso.

11)  Hudson Potts

Position: Third Base Height/Weight: 6-3/200  Age: 20  Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: First round 2016 draft.

Team              AVG   OBP    SLG    PA       K/BB Hits     XBH HR
Storm              .281     .350     .498     433      112/38 114      53/17
Missions         .154     .258     .231     88        33/10   12        2/2

2018 Highlights: Many saw Potts as an overdraft in 2016 so the team would have more bonus money to spend later in the draft. While that scenario was partially true, Potts also has emerged as a legitimate prospect as he punished the California League with 53 extra-base hits in 106 games to go along with a .350 on-base percentage as a 19-year-old. Potts also improved his footwork in the field, making a convincing case he’ll be able to stay at third at the highest level of the game.

Negatives: Potts looked completely overwhelmed in his brief taste of Double-A pitching, striking out in more than a third of his plate appearances and managing just two extra-base hits in 22 games and didn’t look much better in his Arizona Fall League stint. At times, the inside fastball can give him some problems.

Projection: Potts has come a long way in his two years in the Padres organization, particularly in his plate discipline and arm strength. The Padres gave him some limited reps at first base last season and there has been some discussion about him maybe seeing time in left field. While it’s a pretty good bet the guy the Padres just signed will be at third for a while, there’s no need to move the teenager off his position.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Potts may have been pushed a little too quickly last year and with Manny Machado at third on the big league level, San Diego can afford to take its time with him.

Look for him to be a big part of the Sod Poodles offense in 2019.

12Anderson Espinoza

Position: RHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6-0/190  Age: 21  Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Trade with Boston Red Sox for Drew Pomeranz in July 2016

Team W-L    IP        ERA   GS K/BB        Hits Earned Run
Did Not Play.

2018 Highlights: Before Luis Patiño was Luis Patiño, Anderson Espinoza was. By 14 months after he signed with Boston, the hard-throwing righty had already steamrolled the DSL, come stateside, and jumped out of the complex leagues. A year after that, he’d been traded straight up for a big-league All-Star. And then, of course, his progress stopped cold.

It’s been more than two years since the Venezuelan righty threw an official pitch and information about his progress has been uncommonly hard to come by. But before the surgery, Espinoza – who will still turn just 21 during his first spring training on the 40-man roster – was throwing in the upper-90s, had a power slider, and was finding the feel for a changeup. If he’s back to full health, he’ll be back among the best right-handed starters in the minors.

Negatives: Two years is a long time not to pitch. He’s now the definition of a high-risk, high-reward prospect.

Projection: Before the injury, Espinoza had the best stuff in the system and if he is healthy, he still might. A 98-mph fastball, a curve and a changeup that can all be above-average.

MadFriars’ Assessment: If he’s clear to go, we expect Espinoza to head out to Lake Elsinore to open the year, and carry a conservative workload that looks like Paddack’s 85-pitch limits last year. While his return to competitive action will likely be a bit bumpier than his fellow Tommy John Surgery alum, he’s positioned to put himself back on the national radar, even if he’ll likely be on his final option year before he gets a taste of the big leagues.

13) Xavier Edwards

Position: Shortstop  Height/Weight: 5-10/165  Age: 19 Bats/Throws: S/R
Acquired: First Round 2018 draft

Team              AVG   OBP    SLG    PA       K/BB Hits     XBH HR
AZL Padres     .384     .471     .466     86        10/13   28        5/0
Dust Devils      .314     .438     .360     104      15/19   27        4/0

2018 Highlights: Xavier Edwards was the Padres’ second pick and the 38th overall selection in the 2018 draft. If teams had to do it over again, he would go much higher. In 190 plate appearances between the AZL and short-season Tri-City Dust Devils, he hit .346/453/.409 and that was with a strained right wrist that limited the switch-hitter to only hitting from the left side. Edwards is an ideal leadoff hitter with his ability to get on base and was caught only once in 23 stolen base attempts.

Negatives: There are questions whether Edwards has the arm to stay at shortstop and how much projection is left in his body.

Projection: Edwards is a long way from the Majors, but he has the tools to be the quintessential leadoff man with a solid glove who will play in the middle of the field.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Edwards is a plus athlete who moves very well at shortstop which compensates for an average to a slightly below-average arm. The organization plans to keep him there for the time being and he will be one of the younger players in the Midwest League this season.

14)  Cal Quantrill

Position: RHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6-3/190  Age: 24  Bats/Throws: L/R
Acquired: First Round 2016 draft

Team              W-L   IP         ERA    GS       K/BB     Hits     Runs/Earned Runs
Missions          6-5   117        5.15     22       101/38   135      78/67
Chihuahuas     3-1    31        3.48       6         22/5      39        17/12

2018 Highlights: For most of the year in San Antonio, Quantrill was behind Paddack, Logan Allen and Jake Nix in the Missions’ rotation. The velocity on his fastball was good, consistently in the low to mid-90s and he has always had a plus changeup. His primary problem was commanding his four-seam fastball and finding an effective breaking pitch which led to a 5.15 ERA.

While Quantrill’s 2018 ERA in San Antonio spiked from his late-season run there in 2017, his underlying numbers – strikeouts, walks, homers allowed – all ticked up a bit. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they still were below league average.

Negatives: Thus far, the sum of his parts has been less than his individual components. His fastball and command have both trended down during his time in the system, and Quantrill at times looked lost and defeated on Texas League mounds last summer. That said, he’s shown at various times an above-average fastball, a very good changeup, and reliable breaking balls. He’s just never done many of those things at the same time professionally.

Projection: Struggling with fastball command as a starter is a big problem. If that doesn’t pick up significantly, it’s hard to see the Padres putting him above others in the system for one of the big league club’s rotation spots.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Quantrill finished 2018 in El Paso, where his ERA was nearly two runs better than his mark in the Texas League, even though his FIP actually went the other direction. That’s also where he’ll open 2019. It wouldn’t be a shock if things come together for him there and he’s in the big league rotation by mid-year, but the chances of him outshining the other college pitchers the Padres selected in 2016 are fading.

15)  Ryan Weathers

Position: LHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6-1/200  Age: 19  Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: First Round 2018 draft

Team              W-L    IP        ERA   GS       K/BB Hits    Runs/Earned Runs
AZL Padres     0-2       9        3.86     4          9/3       8          8/4
TinCaps           0-1       9        3.00     3          9/1       11        8/3

2018 Highlights: Weathers was the Padres’ top pick in last year’s draft and the reason so many liked the Tennessee left-hander was the belief that the son of former big leaguer David Weathers already had all the goods; plus, fastball and a quality curve and changeup. Between the AZL and the Midwest League, Weathers struck out 18 batters in 18 innings against only four walks; although statistics for high school players just out of the draft are much less important than what they showed – and with him, all the pitches were there.

Negatives: There are some questions about Weathers’s body and his velocity, but it’s hard to make any definitive comments on someone right out of the draft.

Projection: Keith Law noted that when you take a high school pitcher this early, he shouldn’t be the type who takes five years to make the majors. Like Gore, Weathers should move quickly. Those that are high on Weathers see his floor as a mid-rotation starter.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Weathers doesn’t have the same upside as the lefties at the top of this list, but he could easily follow the trajectory Allen has been on and be in the mix for a long run as a mid-rotation arm in his early 20s. He’ll likely be in Fort Wayne on Opening Day and could be in High-A in the second half of 2019.

16Jacob Nix

Position: RHP/SP  Height/Weight: 6-4/235  Age: 23  Bats/Throws: R/R
Acquired: Third Round 2015 draft

Team              W-L    IP        ERA   GS       K/BB Hits     Runs/Earned Runs
Missions          2-3       52.2     2.05     9          41/9     39        13/12
Chihuahuas     1-0       6          0.00     1          3/0       5          0/0
Padres             2-5       42.1     7.02     9          21/13   52        33/33

2018 Highlights: After dealing with a painful groin injury that had the potential to sideline his entire 2018 season, Nix made his debut in late May and made it all the way to San Diego by the end of the year. While he’s had the highest average velocity for any starter the previous two years, he is much more of a pitcher than a thrower with a plus changeup and a spike curve.

Negatives: The organization would like to see some minor refinements mainly getting him to miss more bats – but if he is healthy he still has one of the best repertoires in the organization.

Projection: The key with Nix is his velocity. When it’s in the mid-90s, his secondary pitches look much better and he profiles as a middle of the rotation starter.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Nix’s offseason surgery went well, and if he’s healthy, and his velocity returns, he should open the year in the big league rotation. With the depth of pitching coming up, he’s going to have to perform from the start.

17)  Tirso Ornelas

Position: Corner Outfield  Height/Weight: 6-4/210  Age: 19  Bats/Throws: L/R
Acquired: 2016 International Free Agent Signee – Mexico

Team              AVG   OBP    SLG    PA       K/BB Hits     XBH/HR
TinCaps         .252     .341     .392     349      68/40   78        24/8

2018 Highlights: Ornelas has made tremendous strides since San Diego acquired him – yes, you guessed it – in the 2016 international signing period. The Tijuana native is a powerfully-built left-handed hitter and is one of the few legitimate corner outfield prospects in the Padres’ system.

He made great advances in his physical conditioning going into both the 2017 and 2018 campaigns and now seems likely to stay in the outfield for the long haul and even be a useful contributor there. But his bat will be the defining trait of his game – and it will be good.

Negatives: He just needs to stay on the field and continue his rapid development in the game, particularly in which pitches he can drive.

Projection: If Tirso can show the power everyone thinks he is capable of, well I don’t know what is the projection of a big corner outfielder, with great strike zone judgment, power and ability to play quality defense?

MadFriars’ Assessment: He should begin the year in Lake Elsinore, where the short right field wall will play to his strengths. As with his best friend and teammate, Jeisson Rosario he has a very advanced approach at the plate which will serve him well as he gets to his power in games better.

18)  Austin Allen

Position: Catcher  Height/Weight: 6-4/220  Age: 25  Bats/Throws: L/R
Acquired: Fourth round 2015 draft

Team              AVG   OBP    SLG    PA       K/BB Hits     XBH/HR
Missions          .290     .351     .506     488      97/42   131      53/31

2018 Highlights: The left-handed hitting Allen finished the season among Texas League leaders in extra-base hits and slugging percentage and had his best overall season since becoming a professional.

Since being drafted in 2015 he has transformed his body from a muscular 245-pounds to a leaner 220 and his ability to block pitches and throw out runners has increased every season. In 2018, Allen threw out 37% of baserunners attempting to steal and had only three passed balls in nearly 800 innings behind the plate.

Negatives: Some still aren’t sold that Allen is an everyday catcher, but the past three years he has done quite a bit to silence his critics. While his overall offensive numbers are good, he struggled with runners in scoring position hitting .177/.289/.345 in 129 plate appearances.

Projection: Allen has done enough to be on track for a job in the big leagues, we just are not sure where. He played 19 games last season at first base and with his improvement behind the plate and powerful left-handed bat he could be a desirable commodity at the trade deadline.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Allen will begin the year in El Paso, where his playing time at catcher will depend on whether Francisco Mejía is in the big leagues. Although the one constant during the A.J. Preller regime in San Diego is that things change.

19)  Jeisson Rosario

Position: Centerfield Height/Weight: 6-1/185  Age: 19  Bats/Throws: L/L
Acquired: 2016 International Free Agent Signee – Dominican Republic

Team              AVG   OBP    SLG    PA       K/BB Hits     XBH/HR
TinCaps           .271     .368     .353     502      108/66 118      25/3

2018 Highlights: Rosario may be the best defensive outfielder in the system and seemingly glides to nearly everything hit in the general vicinity of center field. He’s going to need to show a little more power – and his power did pick up some in the second half with 18 extra-base hits after only seven in the first.

Negatives: He’s going to be hard-pressed to keep his walk rate in the double-digits as he advances unless he finds a way to hit the ball with more authority. Right now, the strength and approach to do so just aren’t there… but they could easily emerge. Rosario’s commitment and engagement on the field was noticeably better last year in front of actual crowds than it had been in his summer in the AZL, and he could well be a player who continues to do better as the stakes and attention increase.

Projection: In the best case scenario, Rosario is an elite defender with an ability to hit at the top of the order.

MadFriars’ Assessment: He’ll start the year in Lake Elsinore with his best friend Tirso Ornelas. If he makes the same type of progress as year, he will be in the Top 10 next season.

20)  Tucupita Marcano

Position: Infield  Height/Weight: 6-1/185  Age: 19  Bats/Throws: L/R
Acquired: 2016 International Free Agent Signee – Venezuela

Team              AVG   OBP    SLG    PA       K/BB Hits     XBH/HR
AZL Padres     .395     .497     .444     150      10/26   49        5/0
Dust Devils      .314     .355     .429     74        6/5       22        4/1

2018 Highlights: Marcano didn’t have the same buzz as many of the other middle infielders who signed in the 2016 international class, but he’s had many fans in the organization since he arrived in the Dominican complex. He showed why in 2018, demonstrating a great approach not just in the complex league, but when he headed up to the Northwest League. He’s got a plus hit tool, generating whippy bat speed that gets the barrel to the ball anywhere in the zone. The upside for Marcano is Urías with speed and more defensive flexibility, though of course, he’s a long way away from the majors.

Negatives: There isn’t a whole lot right now, other than he needs to get bigger and stronger. He’s a better fit at second or third base than at shortstop.

Projection: Marcano can play anywhere on the infield- but he profiles best at second right now.

MadFriars’ Assessment: The 19-year-old should open the season flanking Edwards in the TinCaps infield where he’ll likely see time at second and third while also sliding over to shortstop occasionally.

The MadFriars staff of John Conniff, David Jay, Kevin Charity, Ben Davey, Travis Barnett and Marcus Pond compiled the list.

Posted by MadFriars Staff

13 Comments

  1. […] NextSan Diego Padres Top 20 Prospects for […]

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  2. […] the San Padres prospect fans something to watch for the drive north.  Ornelas, number 17 in the MadFriars Top 20, hit his first home run of the year to right. Like many Storm hitters, Ornelas has jumped off to a […]

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  3. […] Watch:  Adrian Morejon, who we rank a spot higher than MLB in the system, is the youngest player in the Texas League. The lefty showed why he is so widely […]

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  4. […] to a blast by SS Gabriel Arias. The walkoff wasn’t close to the biggest highlight of the game as Padres #2 prospect MacKenzie Gore was on the mound.  Gore struggled to locate his fastball in the first, and it took him 25 pitches […]

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  5. […] provide context on the long-term significance of the production, this list is not an update to our Top 20 prospects list, but rather a point-in-time check-in on […]

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  6. […] provide context on the long-term significance of the production, this list is not an update to our Top 20 Prospects list, but rather a point-in-time check in on […]

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  7. […] provide context on the long-term significance of the production, this list is not an update to our Top 20 prospects list, but rather a point-in-time check-in on […]

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  8. […] ten games, he has a .333 batting average so maybe things are starting to click. … Hudson Potts was the organization’s highest-ranked prospect to start the year in the Panhandle and like Reed, has also struggled with making consistent […]

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  9. […] back from the Boston Red Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade in 2015.  Allen has been a mainstay of our Top 20 rankings for several years and last season was arguably the team’s best starter in Double-A San […]

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  10. […] Player of the Month piece of 2019. As always, remember this isn’t a re-ranking of the top prospects in the organization, but a look at a point in […]

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  11. […] Watch: Tirso Ornelas was a consensus MadFriars top 20 prospect with claims that he had top 100 overall prospect potential. But the 19-year-old from Tijuana […]

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  12. […] the last Player of the Month piece for 2019. As always, remember this isn’t a re-ranking of the top prospects in the organization, but a look at a point in […]

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  13. […] The 20-year-old lefthander, two years removed from his selection as the third overall draft pick, possessed the mix of outstanding physical and athletic ability, velocity, and pitch-making abilities to stand out as a potential star. […]

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