Padres Prospects Ready for Now

Manny Machado and his youthful brigade of prospects are ready for the 2019 season. The 2017 season was the first year since myworld has been tracking (2008) prospects that the Padres were rated in the top ten. Last year they went from tenth to fourth. Players who appeared in Top 100 lists last year were Fernando Tatis Jr., MacKenzie Gore, Luis Urias, Cal Quantril, Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon and Anderson Espinoza. Myworld will come out with the 2019 rankings for the teams in a couple weeks once we finish the top 100 listings.

The Padres chose not to send Fernando Tatis Jr. down for a month to keep him an extra year. With the spring he had they felt he could help the team now at short. His defense could lack some consistency but his bat will generate lots of offense. The Padres will be as strong as the Dodgers left side of Justin Turner and Corey Seager. Tatis has the bat to drive in 100 runs, the power to hit 20 plus and the speed to steal 20 plus bases. The big issue is how he adjusts to major league pitching. If they find a weak spot they will exploit it.

Francisco Mejia is another player to have made the Padres roster. He will share the playing time with Austin Hedges, but if his bat shows up Mejia will see more action. Francisco has the stronger arm, one of the strongest in baseball, but the other tools are still not as sharp as Hedges, who is considered one of the better defensive catchers in baseball. What Mejia has that Hedges lacks is the bat that can hit for average and power. Like Tatis, he needs to adjust to major league pitching. One of the areas he needs to work on is not swinging at pitcher’s pitches.

Chris Paddock has made the rotation. The 2015 eighth round pick knows how to carve the plate with a fastball in the low 90s that he can dial up to the mid-90s. He also has an excellent changeup. Finding a breaking pitch has been a challenge and could result in struggle if his control and location falter. The Padres will also have to watch his innings. He missed the 2017 season because of Tommy John surgery and only pitched 90 innings last year. Don’t be surprised if the Padres shut him down for a month mid-season.

Luis Urias was supposed to play shortstop this year while Tatis spent a month in the minors. Luis failed to hit in spring training and was sent down to find his bat. Signed out of Mexico in 2013, the bat will pepper the gaps with line drives putting his batting average near .300. Power is lacking and his speed is fringe average, so if he is not spraying the ball for hits his contributions are limited. Last year, in a 48 at bat major league debut he hit just .208. Luis was going to move to second once Tatis got promoted. Now he will play second in AAA, show his bat is ready and play second once promoted to the Padres.

While Paddock made the major league roster, their potential future ace in the rotation is MacKenzie Gore. The lefthander has a plethora of pitches that he can control for strikes, with a fastball sitting in the mid-90s. Last year the 2017 first round pick had blister issues which limited him to just 16 starts. These blisters also made it difficult for him to control his breaking pitches, resulting in an ERA climbing to 4.45, compared to his first year when he had it down to 1.27 in rookie ball. The 2019 season should see him start in High A.

Two Cubans are close to making the rotation. Adrian Morejon is a lefthander who was the MVP of the 15 and under baseball World Cup and then defected when he was 16. The Padres gave him an $11 million bonus. His fastball can rise as high as 98 but sits just south of 95 with solid secondary pitches. He generates lots of swings and misses, averaging more than a whiff per inning, but when his location is not on he can be hit hard (.253 career opposition average). Next year he should see time in AA, just a whisper away from the major leagues.

Less developed is Michel Baez. At 6′8″ with a fastball that can touch the high 90s, his size and velocity can make him an intimidating presence on the mound. That size can also be a challenge for him to find the plate. He also has had his last two seasons delayed because of back issues. If he can stay healthy and find more consistency with his breaking pitches Baez could become a force. This year he should start the season in AA, where he struggled last year in four starts (7.36 ERA) walking 12 hitters in 18 innings.

Anderson Espinoza is the forgotten man. At one point he was compared to Pedro Martinez because of his small stature (6′0″) and his blazing fastball in the mid to high 90s. Tommy John surgery has prevented him from pitching the last two years. After missing two years one has to question whether his stuff will be the same.

Luis Patino is another 6′0″ pitcher hailing from Colombia. Despite his small frame his fastball can ride the plate in the mid 90s and reach as high as 99. His slider was rated as the best in the organization by Baseball America and he filters in a curveball and changeup to keep hitters honest. Durability because of his small frame could be an issue. Last year he was shutdown after 17 starts and 83 innings. He also needs to find a pitch to retire lefthanded hitters, who battered him for a .345 average last year. Next year he should start the season in High A.

Fernando Tatis is not the only son of an ex-major leaguer. Cal Quantril had a father (Paul) who pitched in the major leagues mainly out of the bullpen. Cal hopes to make it as a starter. The Canadian does not have an explosive fastball, sitting mainly in the low 90s, but his slider and change combination can create soft contact. Last year he got six starts in AAA but he was battered around for a .300 average. This year he should start the season in AAA. He is an injury away from being called up.

The Padres are deep at catcher. Austin Allen has shown excellent pop the last two years, hitting 22 homeruns at High A and AA. His defense is fringe behind the plate because of his lack of mobility so a move to first could be an option. Luis Campusano was a second round pick in 2017. He has a strong arm and better defensive tools than Allen. His power is not as great so he needs to make it behind the plate. Next year he will be in High A.

Josh Naylor was a catcher in his youth. His defense behind the plate was limited so a move to first was needed. He has a younger brother who was drafted last year by the Indians as a catcher. The Padres got him from the Marlins, who had drafted him in the first round in 2015. The Canadian has light tower power with his lefthanded bat. Only 5′11″ he weighs 250 so there are conditioning concerns. The Padres have tried him in left field but his lack of speed makes that position a liability for him. If Josh mashes in AAA the Padres could find room for him in the lineup, especially if the DH comes to the National League in a couple years.

Hudson Potts was a first round pick in 2016. He may need to find another position since Manny may have third base covered for a number of years. The bat and power are there for him to be a benefit to a lineup. The speed may be lacking to play the outfield. The Padres drafted him as a shortstop so a move to second base is a possibility. Last year he slugged 19 homeruns. The 2019 season should see him start his season in AA.

Buddy Reed is an outfielder loaded with tools. He has the speed for centerfield and the arm to fit in right. The bat has some pop to make him a potential 30/30 player. The issue is his ability to make contact. Last year he struck out 147 times in just 122 games. While he hit .324 at High A a promotion to AA saw him struggle with a .179 average. AA is where he should begin the 2019 season.

The light may be off for Javy Guerra. He was highly touted a couple years ago. The tools are there to make him a solid shortstop defensively, but the bat has been lacking the last couple years. With Tatis now at shortstop his hope is to fill in as a utility player or get traded to another team that is looking for defense at shortstop.

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