Top 10 Prospects (2019): San Diego Padres: Who Shines Brightest In A Pitching Rich System?

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During their rebuild the San Diego Padres have developed one of the elite farm systems in the game. It now appears like they are about to turn the corner, turning those prospects into MLB talent (either through promoting them are using them as valuable trade chips). That’s not to say that there aren’t questions, even at the top of the rankings. Which players in the system most deserve our attention? Who has the potential to make a significant impact? Let’s take a look:

1) Fernando Tatis Jr. – Shortstop
Grade – A
ETA – 2019

Tatis played the year at Double-A as a 19-year old and posted a highly impressive line as he hit .286 with 16 HR and 16 SB.  The concern is going to be his strikeout rate, at 27.7%.  Behind that was a 16.5% SwStr% and there is going to be concern that the number regresses further as he moves to Triple-A and eventually the Majors…

Of course keep in mind his age and experience level before concluding that he can’t or won’t make the necessary adjustments.  If he can harness his approach, even just a little bit, he’s going to be a perennial 20/20 contributor at the highest level (and a 30/30 season isn’t impossible).

2) MacKenzie Gore – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2021

The third overall selection in 2017, don’t let a 4.45 ERA over 60.2 IP at Single-A concern you.  A 10.98 K/9 and 2.67 BB/9 are both impressive, and a .352 BABIP and 63.6% strand rate show just how poor his luck was.  He won’t turn 20 until February and it’s easy to envision his stuff gaining steam as he matures physically and gains experience.  He was drafted highly for a reason and don’t be surprised if he starts showing everyone why in 2019.

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3) Chris Paddack – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2019

Paddack was on the verge of emerging as a significant prospect before injury struck in ’16, and he ultimately needed Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2017 season.  Sometimes when a pitcher returns to the mound there’s a struggle to regain his control, but not for Paddack.  In 90.0 innings he picked up right where he left off, with an impressive 12.00 K/9 and 0.80 BB/9.  We can’t expect him to maintain that type of ratio as he moves up to the higher levels of the minor leagues…  Or can we?  He did make seven starts at Double-A last season, with a 0.96 BB/9.

Even with a small step backwards, his elite control and ability to get swings and misses will play exceptionally well.  He may not have truly elite stuff, but he knows how to get the most out of what he has.

4) Francisco Mejia – Catcher
Grade – B
ETA – Already Arrived

Mejia has long been highly touted and there is little question regarding his offensive upside, but the swing and miss that’s starting to develop is cause for concern:

  • Triple-A – 11.9% SwStr%
  • Majors – 15.1% SwStr%

While he showed more power potential last season, especially after the trade to San Diego, is it going to be enough to overcome that type of strikeout risk?  Time will tell, but it’s enough to drop his grade down to a B (though he continues to carry B+/A- potential).

5) Adrian Morejon – Left-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B
ETA – 2020

Morejon only threw 65.1 innings last season, mostly at High-A (62.2 IP), but the 19-year old (he’ll turn 20 in February) showed off all of the skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 10.19 K/9 (courtesy of a 13.4% SwStr%)
  • Control – 3.31 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 52.7%

He was limited due to arm issues and there also is going to be concerns regarding his size (he’s listed at 6’0”) and ability to maintain his groundball rate.  In 2017, his first year with the Padres’ organization, he had a 36.6% groundball rate over 63.0 IP.  There is no questioning the pure stuff and he does have the potential to evolve into a force in the rotation, assuming he can overcome the obvious concerns.

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The Rest:

6) Logan Allen – Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
Allen appears primed to reach the Majors in ’19, having thrown 148.2 innings last season (including 5 starts at Triple-A).  Obviously a 4.23 BB/9 and 36.5% groundball rate at the highest level could raise a red flag, but it was such a small sample size no conclusion can safely be drawn.  There is talk that he hasn’t fully developed his breaking ball, and you have to wonder if the lack of a third pitch hurt him against advanced hitters.  It’s going to be something to watch closely, because if it remains a problem a shift to the bullpen is not impossible.

7) Michel Baez – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
The 6’8” Baez is physically imposing, and the stuff is there to ultimately develop into a top of the rotation starter.  With any pitcher of his stature there are concerns about his ability to consistently throw strikes (5.89 BB/9 in 18.1 IP at Double-A) and he also currently lacks the ability to generate groundballs (33.7%).  That’s a potentially scary combination, though if/when he figures it out his grade is going to soar.

8) Luis Urias – Second Baseman (Grade – B-)
He has a strong control of the strike zone, hitting .296 at Triple-A with a 12.6% walk rate over 533 PA.  It currently doesn’t come with much power (8 HR) or speed (2 SB), meaning he is the type of player who likely will be far more valuable to his real team as opposed to your fantasy squad.

9) Ryan Weathers – Left-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
The Padres drafted Weathers seventh overall in the 2018 draft, and while no one is going to get excited about 18.1 innings of work it’s hard not to take notice of a 57.4% groundball rate, 16.2% SwStr% and 1.96 BB/9.  He’s currently listed at 6’1”, so he is on the shorter side, but the stuff is there to develop into a #3 starter if not better.

10) Luis Patino – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – B-)
Patino and Weathers are nearly identical in their profiles, outside of the hand they throw the baseball with and the fact that Patino has a little bit more experience within San Diego’s organization (signed in ’16 he has 139.1 professional innings of experience).  The fact that Weathers is left-handed gives him a slight edge, and Patino didn’t show the same type of groundball stuff (43.5%, though in a much larger sample size).  At 6’0” and without groundballs, there is a risk of home runs becoming an issue before long.

Honorable Mention – Hudson Potts (3B), Cal Quantrill (RHP)

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants



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