After having the top farm system in baseball for back-to-back seasons, the Padres’ time as the number one ranked organization is gone. It makes sense, as they graduated four of the top 100 prospects in the game last year in Fernando Tatis Jr., Francisco Mejia, Luis Urias, and Chris Paddack. The team also graduated or traded Cal Quantrill, Logan Allen, Josh Naylor, Xavier Edwards, and Austin Allen, who all appeared on this list last year. Further thinning the system, they lost two more key prospect arms when Anderson Espinoza and Pedro Avila underwent Tommy John surgery. Despite all that, the depth of the organization is so extreme that they still possess one of the top farm systems in baseball.
As someone who has seen and met most of the players, it was difficult to see Edwards get traded. Initially, I thought it would be a huge loss for the organization. It still could be, but there are seven other middle infield prospects on this list and having both Tatis and Manny Machado on the big league roster limits the number of middle infielders the Padres need. That is the benefit depth provides an organization.
For my rankings, I like to use Future Value. The younger the player is, the more his FV can change. It also shows where the flexibility in rankings is. I have 13 Padres prospects with a 45 FV, and I could see the case for changing the order on any of them depending on the ceiling/floor that a particular evaluator likes. For a refresher here is what each FV means, here is how Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs think about it.
|65+||Top few prospects, perennial All-Star||5.0+|
|60||All-Star caliber player. #2 starter||3.4-4.9|
|55||Above-average regular/mid-rotation starter||2.6-3.4|
|50||Average everyday player/#4 starter/closer||1.6-2.4|
|45||Platoon player/#5 starter||0.8-1.5|
|40||Bench player/mid relief||0.1-0.7|
To illustrate the chart, Tatis put up a 3.6 WAR last year, despite the injury, Hunter Renfroe posted 1.9 WAR and Lucchesi reached 2.1.
1) LHP MacKenzie Gore FV: 65
Gore is the top pitching prospect in baseball, and arguably the top prospect period. After dealing with blister issues during most of the 2018 campaign, he took a big step forward in 2019. At a time when many fans are complaining that the team needs a legitimate top-of-the-rotation starter, Gore is waiting in the wings. The North Carolina native features four above-average pitches that he can throw for a strike in any count. While his fastball generally sits 92-95, he gets plenty of swings and misses due to its movement, and similar arm angles to his breaking pitches. Add in the fact that Gore has a bulldog mentality, and there’s no reason he can’t become the next Jake Peavy.
2020: Gore should start the year in Double-A Amarillo before joining San Diego in May/June. If he dominates in Spring Training, he could be at Petco on Opening Day.
2. RHP Luis Patiño FV: 60
Patiño was the highlight of the 2019 All-Star break for Padres fans. Then still a teenager, Patiño ended the game with a 98 mph fastball to strike out Jo Adell, one of the sport’s top prospects. Throughout his outing, broadcasters and fans alike marveled at his arsenal, particularly his fastball that touched triple digits in the short outing. He followed one 99 mph high fastball with a slider at 87 that the hitter had no chance.
The only reason Patiño isn’t at the Gore level of prospects is that he doesn’t have the same complete arsenal. His fastball and slider are both ace quality and the main reasons he struck out 123 batters in 94.2 innings. What lands him ahead of the position players is the evolution of his curveball. When I saw it in Spring Training it was a mess; a show-me pitch to disrupt hitters’ timing. When I saw him again at the end of the year in Amarillo, the curve looked major league quality. His ability to throw it for strikes will be the key for him becoming a number two starter behind Gore.
2020: Look for Patiño to begin the year with Gore in Amarillo. With a good half-season, he could end up in San Diego for a potential playoff push.
3. CF Taylor Trammell FV: 55
The Padres gave up fan-favorite Franmil Reyes and prospects Logan Allen and Victor Nova to acquire him from the Cincinnati Reds. He has the speed, defense, and ability to hit from the left side that San Diego craved. If he can hit his ceiling, Trammell is a future All-Star and game-changer in the lineup. The problem is, after a great first few years in A-Ball, he struggled to make hard contact in Double-A in 2019. Trammell actually hit worse in the hitter-friendly Amarillo ballpark but did have the game-winning grand slam to earn Amarillo their first Texas League title with the Padres.
Trammell delivered the swing of our season. His go-ahead GRAND SLAM in the 9th.
TEXAS LEAGUE CHAMPS! pic.twitter.com/OAlGYeeTcL
— 💍Amarillo Sod Poodles💍 (@sodpoodles) September 15, 2019
The Padres are banking on Trammell, who just turned 22, being young for the level and having tools they can unlock. If he can replicate his .288/.370/.400 days with 25+ stolen bases of his first years as a professional, the Padres would win the trade. If not, he could become the next Buddy Reed.
2020: The Padres might put him in the hitters’ haven that is El Paso, but he should begin the season in Amarillo. Barring a trade, the Padres now have a glut of outfielders, so there is no rush to bring up Trammell.
4. SS CJ Abrams FV: 55
As an advocate of “you can’t teach speed” school of thought, I was a big fan of Xavier Edwards. But, I also understood the concern he may not hit for power. You would see the outfielders creep in a few extra steps. Many of us would watch him race down the line and think “if only he could hit for power he would be amazing.” Enter CJ Abrams. In 34 games after the Padres drafted him sixth overall, Abrams had 24 extra-base hits. Abrams also has a bigger frame and is a step faster than Edwards. The 19-year-old Abrams doesn’t project for as much size and strength as Tatis, but he is at the same level athletically and will be one of the best reasons to tune into John Nolan and Mike Maahs on the TinCaps’ broadcast.
2020: Abrams should begin in Fort Wayne, and could certainly follow Edwards’ path and end up in Lake Elsinore by July.
5. C Luis Campusano FV: 55
The depth of the Padres’ system, particularly at catcher, is most clear here. Campusano won a share of the Cal League MVP as a 20-year-old catcher and hit .325/.396/.509 in 110 games. He won the batting title, had nearly as many walks (52) as he did strikeouts (57), and posted an OPS over .850 every full month of the season. For most of the campaign, Campusano looked like the next Joe Mauer. While the likelihood of that is slim, Campusano could challenge Joey Bart as the top catching prospect in baseball this time next year. He is an above-average contact hitter, who has added muscle over the last year and starting to hit with more power. Combine that with a strong arm and defensive skills, and you are looking at someone who should hit .260/.330/.450 in the majors, which puts a catcher in the all-star conversation.
2020: Campusano should spend the year in Double-A batting in the middle of the Amarillo lineup.
6. LHP Adrian Morejon FV: 55
Morejon is the first player on the list that took a step back in 2019. Morejon has all the skills to be an above-average big league starter. His fastball, curveball, and change can be unhittable at times, and his knuckle-change gives him a dynamic four pitches that all profile as above average. Even his straight change has improved drastically since signing and now looks MLB quality.
The big thing holding Morejon back is the inability to stay healthy. After more shoulder issues early in the year, the organization limited him to three-inning stints, then deployed him even more sparingly in his big league debut. If he’s healthy, he is as good as anyone on this list, but the question is if he can be healthy.
2020: While Morejon has a chance to crack the Padres’ staff out of Spring Training, it would be in the bullpen. The organization probably still wants to coax him into starting and he will likely be in either El Paso or Amarillo to show that he can handle the innings workload.
7. SS Gabriel Arias FV: 50
At this time last year, Gabriel Arias made a few top ten lists purely based on his defense and the potential that there could be some offense. From an arm, footwork, and pure defensive standpoint, Arias is one of the best shortstops in all of baseball. The question was, could he hit. After hitting .240/.302/.352 in Fort Wayne as an 18-year-old, Arias improved considerably hitting .302/.339/.470 in Lake Elsinore; most of it based on a big second-half that came after he made some mechanical and approach changes.
The fact that he hit over .300 while hitting 17 home runs as a teenager in High-A should turn plenty of heads. He does get a bit power happy, and his swing will get long at times leading to more strikeouts, but that is something you commonly see with young players. If Arias can put up close to similar numbers in 2020 in Double-A, he will be an easy top 100 prospect and lead to a lot of major questions on where he does and doesn’t fit in San Diego.
2020: Arias will join Campusano in Double-A and his highlight reel defensive plays will make Amarillo fans love him.
8. LHP Joey Cantillo FV: 50
No player climbed as much for me as Cantillo. The teenage lefty led the organization in strikeouts (144) in 111.2 innings in 2019 going 10-4 with a 2.26 ERA. Cantillo has tremendous deception in his delivery helping his 88-92 mph fastball play up and generating a ton of swing and misses. Right now Cantillo’s best pitch is his changeup, but if his velocity continues to progress he could exceed his major league profile as a back-of-the-rotation starter as his 6-foot-4 frame continues to fill out.
2020: If you live in the San Diego area, you can catch Cantillo up the I-15 as he is set to anchor the Storm pitching staff to open 2020.
9. RHP Michel Baez FV: 50
San Diego fans saw a glimpse of what Baez could be in Petco as the 6-foot-8 Cuban native threw his mid- to high-90s fastball for a 3.03 ERA over his first 29.2 big league innings. When his mechanics are in order, Baez flashes an above-average fastball with command and a pair of serviceable secondary pitches. The question is if he is a starter or a reliever. Baez’s large frame makes it easy for his mechanics to get out of sync which causes him to lose location.
2020: The Padres have said they see both Baez and Morejon as starters, but I would not be at all surprised to see Baez working out of the pen in San Diego.
10. LHP Ryan Weathers FV: 50
Early season Ryan Weathers was one of the more dominant pitchers in the minors. He finished April with a 1.82 ERA, 24.2 IP, 31 K, 3 BB, and a 0.97 WHIP. Unfortunately, he left his last start on April 28 after only two innings, and when he returned at the end of May he was not the same pitcher. His fastball that was sitting 94-96 mph early was lucky to top 90 through June, and the movement on his pitches was not the same. The question becomes, which Ryan Weathers will we see going forward? The commanding top 100 prospect who blew away the competition in April, or the one who had a 4.54 ERA after coming back?
2020: The Padres will get Weathers to a warmer climate in the Cal League. A good rebound season and Weathers can find himself back in the overall top 100.
11. OF Tirso Ornelas FV: 50
Ornelas and Hudson Potts that had the most disappointing seasons of anyone on last year’s top 30. Tirso’s struggles in Lake Elsinore at 19 led the Padres to send him back to the AZL to find his swing. The changes he made there seemed to take hold because in his last month in the Cal League he was a different player. Over 16 games in August, Ornelas hit .308/.357/.431 with five walks, five extra-base hits and only seven strikeouts. By contrast, in 71 games before the demotion, Ornelas had only 12 extra-base hits and struck out 82 times.
Ornelas has the hitting tool, power, and arm to be a regular corner outfielder at the big league level if things click. The key for him will be building on the mechanical changes he made at the end of last season.
2020: Ornelas should begin the year again in the Cal League, where he will still be one of the younger players in the league.
12. RHP Reggie Lawson FV: 50
For the past three years running, we have seen Reggie Lawson dominate in the Don Welke Classic and in Spring Training. However, for the second time in three seasons, Lawson missed significant time with injuries. Reggie has a tremendous ceiling with a biting mid-90s fastball and a curve that has consistently make hitters look foolish. Lawson’s changeup has also improved tremendously since being drafted and gives him a three-pitch arsenal that should allow him to start at the highest level.
2020: Everything will be based on health. If Lawson can stay healthy, we could see him in San Diego by the end of the year. He should start the year back in a loaded Amarillo rotation.
13. 2B Tucupita Marcano FV: 45+
I have been a big Tucu fan since he burst on the scene hitting .366/.450/.438 across the two short-season clubs in 2018. This season’s line was not as dominant on the surface, but there was a lot to be excited about. Marcano struck out just 45 times in over 500 plate appearances, the lowest rate in the Midwest League. He is able to hit to all fields regularly and could grow into enough power to keep outfielders honest. Marcano does not have plus speed, but can steal a base.
The biggest question is where he will play. The Padres have routinely listed him as a shortstop but played him primarily at second with the TinCaps. He could play short but will make for an above-average second baseman.
2020: Padre fans should get a chance to see Marcano in Lake Elsinore. Even after trading Edwards, the Padres have a glut of middle infield prospects, so Marcano should get an entire year in the Cal League.
14. INF Owen Miller FV: 45+
Speaking of the glut of middle infield prospects, Owen Miller had to leapfrog the talent in Single-A and jump all the way to Amarillo in his first full professional season. He rose to the challenge. Miller’s above-average tool is his ability to make consistent contact and he is athletic enough to play multiple infield positions, including a capable. shortstop.
Miller doesn’t have the ceiling of the other players above him, but he has shown that he can produce when given an opportunity. This coming season will go a long way to answering if he could potentially become an everyday option as a starter or if he fits best in a utility role.
2020: Miller in El Paso could be dangerous. Both Amarillo and El Paso are among the better places to hit in the minor leagues and Miller could once again put up numbers that will get him noticed.
15. CF Jeisson Rosario FV: 45
Rosario is an above-average defender, has some speed to go along with a very good idea of the strike zone. He spent the entire 2019 season as a teenager in the Cal League but didn’t have quite the same success as Arias or Campusano. He managed a .395 on-base percentage despite only posting a batting average of .244. In the second half, he walked more times (54) than he struck out (52). The biggest issue with Rosario is his lack of power. Rosario had just 21 extra-base hits last year and ended with a .314 slugging. The Padres believe that Rosario will add muscle as he gets older and hit for more power. If he can make hard contact, he has all the makings of a regular big league regular.
2020: It’s an open question of whether Rosario will be promoted to Double-A, although a repeat of Lake Elsinore might be better for his development.
16. OF Jorge Oña FV: 45
After two seasons of lackluster performances, and a series of injuries, Oña looked like a different player in Spring Training 2019. For the first time since getting the second-largest bonus in franchise history, he actually looked the part of a top prospect. His swing was shorter, and yet had more elevation, and was producing more line drives. He then went to Double-A hit .348/.417/.539 through 25 games. A shoulder injury interuped the breakout and caused him to miss the remainder of the season. Although it was very much an abbreviated season, it was still enough that the Padres felt the need to protect him by adding him to the 40 man roster.
If Oña stays healthy and continues to show the offensive production we glimpsed in April, he has an opportunity to become a major league outfielder despite his considerable defensive shortcomings.
2020: Don’t be surprised to see Oña open back in Double-A, but the organization could also promote the 23-year old to El Paso depending on personnel.
17. RHP Javy Guerra FV: 45+
I’ve always been the high man on Guerra when he was a position player, mainly because he reminded me of Ozzie Smith defensively. He was that good. He was as good as they come moving left or right at short and had an absolute cannon of an arm. With that in mind, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see that cannon translate to an upper 90s fastball. A fastball that he showed off in the majors in his first season as a pitcher.
If you look at any projections on Guerra, they show him as a subpar reliever. ZIPS has him with a 4.86 projected ERA, and other projections are not even that kind. However, projections don’t take into account the fact that Guerra has been a pitcher for less than a year. In less than a year, Guerra went from a shortstop who couldn’t hit to a reliever in the majors. What stands out about Guerra is the ease with which he reaches the mid-90s. If his slider develops, he will be someone to watch.
2020: Guerra is out of options and should be set to come out of the pen in San Diego. The fastball is real.
18. CF Edward Olivares FV: 45
While toolsy outfielders like Trammell, Reed, and even Michael Gettys offer more to dream on, Edward Olivares is the one who actually has delivered. The 23-year-old hit 18 home runs, stole 35 bases, hit .283 and struck out fewer than 100 times in Double-A last year. Combine that with above-average defense at the corners and the ability to play center field, and you have the makings of a future big leaguer. Olivares does a lot of things very well but doesn’t have one truly standout tool. Despite that, he has the talent, athleticism, and ability to become an everyday MLB player.
2020: If Trammel joins Olivares in El Paso, they have a great opportunity to become a dominant one-two punch. Heading into his second season on the 40-man roster, he could be in line for his MLB debut later in the year.
19. CF Hudson Head FV: 45
Head’s third-round record $3 million dollar signing bonus caught most by surprise, but he gave a glimpse of why the Padres invested so heavily in him in his brief debut with Peoria. Head is a plus defender with good speed both in the outfield and on the basepaths. He has quick wrists and a line-drive left-handed swing that generates good power. While he has all the building blocks to emerge as a top prospect, that is a long way away for right now.
2020: Head should begin the year as the starting centerfielder in Fort Wayne. He might get off to a slow start given his youth and the weather in April, but look for him to end up having a strong season.
20. RHP Ronald Bolaños FV: 45
When we saw Bolaños at the start of the 2018 season, he was sitting 89-91 with a curve and change that were all over the place. After two years of development, his fastball now sits 92-94, often reaching 96, while his curve and change have at least become serviceable. The 23-year-old Cuban’s slider has always been a solid pitch but has also improved.
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) November 5, 2019
Bolaños’ ultimately role remains to be determined by the Padres. Even with the improvements he’s made, Bolaños is more of a back end starter, but his fastball/slider combo could make him a very solid bullpen piece. He could also be appealing as a trade target for a team that has more long-term need for starters.
2020: Bolaños has options, and the Padres are implying he is still a starter. He will likely start the year in Triple-A and collect a large number of miles on Southwest.
21. INF Jake Cronenworth FV: 45
Cronenworth, acquired with Tommy Pham from Tampa for Renfroe, primarily played shortstop for the Triple-A Durham Bulls but has the ability to play other infield positions. The left-handed-hitting Cronenwoth, 25, posted a .949 OPS last season, by far his best season offensively as a pro. What makes Cronenworth really interesting is the Rays let him pitch for the first time since he was at the University of Michigan, and he showed some promise with a mid-90s fastball.
2020: With the departure of Ian Kinsler, the Padres could use another infield bench piece, particularly one that can play shortstop defensively, and Cronenworth should battle, or join, Greg Garcia for that role.
22. OF Joshua Mears FV: 45
The team’s second-round pick last June offers plenty of raw power to dream on with his 6-foot-3, 230-frame. The Washington state high schooler already shows tremendous all-fields power, but there’s also room to add muscle and improve his athleticism to unlock even more. The Padres like his makeup both on and off the field and see him as a potential long-term answer to the organization’s need for corner outfield power threats.
2020: Mears could join Head and Abrams as part of another young, talented lineup in Fort Wayne, or the organization might be more cautious and keep him in Extended and send him back to the Pacific Northwest for the start of the Dust Devils season.
23. C Logan Driscoll FV: 45
Driscoll, 22, could have easily been higher on the list and could end up jumping significantly in the next few years. He was a bright spot offensively on the Tri-City team even after missing most of his first month due to injury. Similar to Campusano, Driscoll is an offense-first catcher who can hit for both average and power. If he shows he can handle catching on an everyday basis, look for him to move up the list.
2020: Driscoll will add another big bat to the Fort Wayne lineup and should continue to see time both behind the plate and in the outfield.
24. 3B Hudson Potts FV: 45
After a breakout 2018 season, many started to see Potts as the Padres’ future third baseman. Then the team signed Manny Machado. Whether it was because he was pressing, injured, or simply struggled to catch up to Double-A pitching, Potts was not the same player in 2019. After a brutal opening two months, he missed most of June with an injury. The Texas native did rebound a bit with a .754 OPS in the second half.
As bad as Potts’ 2019 was, he was still just 20 years old all year and has plenty of time to rebound. Potts has improved defensively as a third baseman every year and the organization has always been intrigued by his power.
2020: This season he is still only going be 21, which is young for Double-A where he will probably return.
25. SS Justin Lopez FV: 45
It’s common to hear a player bulked up or filled out his frame, during the offseason. This was extremely true for Justin Lopez. During the 2018 season, the then 18-year-old looked to be 6-foot-2 160 pounds. In 2019, he looked closer to 200 pounds, and all muscle. That muscle showed as led Fort Wayne with 13 home runs and 33 extra-base hits. Lopez did that while playing an above-average defensive shortstop.
While there are questions about whether Lopez will outgrow the position, he has shown the ability to handle the position well despite the added muscle. Ultimately, Lopez’s future will be determined by how much he can hit. With his power, if he can hit even .250 and walk a bit more he can be valuable. But after two straight years in the .220’s in Fort Wayne, that is a big if.
2020: A warmer climate should benefit Justin, as he should be the starting shortstop in Lake Elsinore.
26. 2B Ivan Castillo FV: 45
Yes, he is 24 and oldest than every player on this list than Cronenworth, but Castillo was also one of the Sod Poodles’ best players last year. His .313/.347/.461 slash line compared favorably to Miller’s and earned him a post-season Texas League All-Star selection. As a true second baseman who returned as a minor league free agent, his ceiling is probably lower than anyone else on the list, but the former Indians and Blue Jays farmhand’s performance earned him his ranking.
2020: Castillo should get a chance to continue to hit in the PCL and could earn himself an opportunity somewhere in the major leagues.
27. 2B Esteury Ruiz FV: 40+
When the Padres acquired Ruiz and Matt Strahm from Kansas City for a trio of pitchers, San Diego fans were excited. The teenager was hitting .419/.440/.779 in the AZL with tremendous speed. Two seasons later, the speed is still there (34 bases last year), and the strikeouts were down slightly, but the power has disappeared, and his approach and swing mechanics have been exposed. Some scouts still see hitting potential and enticing power, but wonder if it will translate into game-time success. There is also a big question of where he fits defensively because second base does not appear to be the answer.
Though Ruiz will only turn 21 in February, he needs to show significant improvement on both sides of the ball this year.
2020: After missing the final month of the year, a repeat of High-A is likely, but where he plays remains an open question.
28. LHP Osvaldo Hernandez FV: 40+
The 2018 Midwest League ERA leader, Hernandez never got his shot in 2019. He missed spring training with a shoulder muscle strain, then re-injured it just before his scheduled debut. He didn’t debut with the Storm until July and then worked in limited three-inning stints all year. Hernandez did not allow a run in seven of the 12 outings, and outside of two bad outings, looked every bit the same pitcher from 2018.
Hernandez is your prototypical crafty lefty. He throws everything, including the kitchen sink – and sometimes he might even throw that as well. In 2018, and small sample size in 2019, lefties batted just .181 off of him. You don’t often see pitchers who are lucky to touch 90 mph in the big leagues, but if Hernandez can continue to work on his location, he could be the an effective performer in relief. The Padres will give him every chance to start before moving him to the pen, where his value ultimately lies.
2020: With a stacked Amarillo rotation, Hernandez might start in Lake Elsinore again. This time without the three-inning limit.
29. OF Agustin Ruiz FV: 40+
After seeing Agustin in Spring Training, he was my pick for break out prospect of 2019. Like Lopez, Ruiz gained some muscle over the offseason, and it showed at the plate. He was hitting the ball with authority to all fields, and you could hear the bat from two fields away. Already coming off a .290/.384/.466 line in the AZL, he seemed primed for success. Instead, he hit .239/.320/.334 in Fort Wayne, which is decidedly not a break-out.
While the overall numbers were ugly, there is still plenty of hope for the now 20-year-old. Ruiz was one of the streakiest hitters in the minors, producing for long stretches. He hit .354/.424/.430 in April and hit all four of his home runs in a two-week span in June (.294/.361/.482). However, the other months of the year he was ice cold. He had three 10-game stretches hitting less than .150. If Ruiz can be a bit more consistent, the talent and ability is there to be a major league corner outfielder. He has a long way to go.
2020: Ruiz could play all of 2020 in the Cal League, and hopefully a strong Lake Elsinore lineup can keep him more consistent.
30. RHP Anderson Espinoza FV: 50 (if healthy)
After missing all of 2017 and 2018 with Tommy John surgery, 2019 was primed to be the year Espinoza re-emerged. Instead, he reinjured the elbow late in spring training and went under the knife a second time. The best case scenario at this point has him making his first competitive pitch late in 2020. If he can come back at all, he will have a serious ramp-up to get his stuff back and establish the durability to be a starter. Unfortunately, the question becomes, will he ever pitch in a real game again?
2020: If everything goes well, Espinoza could make his return in the complex league. With a few successes, he might make it out to Lake Elsinore before the season ends.