MadFriars: Baseball America's Top 10

Baseball America's Matt Eddy has been ranking the top Padres' prospects since 2007 when he took over for Kevin Goldstein, who is now the Director of Pro Scouting for the Houston Astros. During his tenure he has gradually seen the organization climb up the overall rankings as San Diego began to invest more money in the draft and player development.

Eddy, who is Baseball America's Associate Editor for their website and the minor leagues was kind enough to speak about his thoughts on this year's list. Because you look at so many different organizations, how do the Padres compare to everyone else?

Matt Eddy: Their top three guys, {Austin] Hedges, {Matt} Wisler and {Max} Fried are all going to be included in our Top 50 prospects. The rest of them, particularly in the Top 10, could all be very good if they hit their ceilings - but that is a big "if".

Overall I would rank the system as fair to maybe slightly above the middle of the pack. They are not in bad shape at all.

In this week's Baseball America the magazine states that Hedges is one of the two best catchers in the minor leagues along with the Rangers Jorge Alfaro. Hedges has a career OPS of .758 what makes everyone so confident that he is going to hit?

Matt Eddy: That is what all of our research, talking to scouts, the Padres and other organizations tell us. Remember when we write "hit" we are mainly talking in terms of a catcher; a batting average of .260 to .270 range with 15 to 20 home runs a year, which is very good.

Another reason to be optimistic about him is that he is so far ahead of the game defensively from a fundamental point that he has more time to work on his hitting than other catchers, especially ones around his age that he has more time and energy to work on his hitting. He is on track to be in the major leagues by the time he is 22, which is very good.

You and I have both written that we believe Jedd Gyorko's eventual position will be third, not second base. If the Padres' plan is to eventually move Gyorko to third do you believe the organization this season wants to see more of what they may or may not have in Jace Peterson and Cory Spangenberg before committing long term to Chase Headley?

Matt Eddy: I'm not sure because the organization hasn't been that aggressive in pushing both of them up the ladder, especially Peterson. Also, since both of them were selected in 2011 they also don't have to put them on the forty man roster next year, but I also see Gyorko's eventual position as being third too.

Your list seems a little more weighted on the projection side as opposed to production. Why do you see Casey Kelly's upside as being bigger than Burch Smith?

Matt Eddy: I think the consistency of his secondary stuff is better. I know Burch has a better fastball and actually performed a little bit better than Casey in AA but in the long run I think Kelly's athleticsm will help him be more consistent with his curve and change-up if he can reach his potential.

Why was Keyvius Sampson so good in San Antonio and why did he struggle so much in Tucson?

Matt Eddy: In San Antonio he had more of an aggressive mentality of challenging hitters with his fastball/slider combination instead of trying to trick batters with his fastball/change-up. When he got back to Tucson I thought he may have tried to be a little to precise with his fastball and ended up getting behind in too many counts.

Both Hunter Renfroe and Rymer Liriano are somewhat similar players; athletic outfielders with big arms and power. Which of them do you see as more likely to reach their potential?

Matt Eddy: Based on the rankings I am going to go with Renfroe. This season is really going to be Liriano's first extended test at AA and coming off of Tommy John surgery there will be some work for him.

Renfroe was good this year, but not outstanding and in many ways he is just as raw. He really didn't get on everyone's radar until the summer after his sophomore year at Mississippi State.

I would go for Renfroe but it also wouldn't surprise me to see Liriano either.

One player that is not on your Top 10 list but is getting a lot of attention is shortstop Franchy Cordero who had a big year in the Arizona League. What did you think of him?

Matt Eddy: He is definitely a breakout prospect for next year and if he gets off to a quick start in Fort Wayne there are going to be quite a few people talking about him. He is a quick-twitch athlete and very unique. You don't see many Dominican players that only hit from the left side. In fact, I looked it up and there has never been a left-handed hitting Dominican shortstop on the major league level.

He was just off of the Top 10.

The trade of Jaff Decker and Miles Mikolas brought back Alex Dickerson from the Pirates. One, he has some pretty good numbers in AA any reason why the Pirates would move him and two, where do you see him fitting into the rankings?

Matt Eddy: I was a little surprised because all the indicators were that the Pirates thought he was a prospect. He put up some good numbers and was in the Arizona Fall League. I was more surprised that the Padres moved Jaff Decker, whom for the most part they had always been pretty high on.

As for our rankings Dickerson will be in the back third mainly because I think his only position is first base. I don't think his ceiling is that high because offensively he is about contact but without projecting for that much power for the position he plays. Also, he doesn't walk that much.

Do you think he would be able to play left field?

Matt Eddy: In some places yes, but not in PETCO. The outfield is just too big for a player with below average speed and quickness.

Who is the sleeper in the system?

Matt Eddy: I mentioned Cordero, but I'm not sure how under the radar he is. {Andrew} Walker Locket, whom the Padres took in the fourth round of the 2012 draft was hurt last year but has some very good stuff and size to go along with it.

Gabriel Quintana, who played third base last year in Fort Wayne, is someone that a lot of scouts like; particularly his power potential. The walks to strikeout ratios aren't great, but he's also pretty young. Also keep an eye on Leonel Campos, a relief pitcher in AA San Antonio who had 43 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him San Diego's bullpen by the second half.

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