While the off-season is still in its infant stage, Preller has made three trades that have directly impacted the farm system. Perhaps Preller was offered deals he couldn’t refuse, but five of the players acquired this off-season have made my Top 30 prospects. While many pundits believe the Padres have one of the worst farm systems in the game, there is some interesting talent in the pipelines.
While compiling this list, I used a few different methods. First, I studied the reports I have read, asked around various individuals who cover the leagues, and I have seen all of these guys live or online, thanks to MILB.tv (a great tool if you are a nerd like me).
Generally, I look at tools and potential to make up the list, but a few guys produced numbers that merit consideration, and they made the cut. Here are the top-30 Padres prospects, according to me:
1.Manuel Margot, CF:
2015 Stats: High-A/Double-A: .276/.324/.419, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 39 SB
Margot was the centerpiece of the Craig Kimbrel deal with Boston, and he instantly becomes the Padres’ best prospect.
Margot projects to be an everyday centerfielder – and some scouts think that he is already an MLB-caliber centerfielder. I like Margot because he is athletic, rarely strikes out and is developing power. Margot only struck out 51 times in 439 at-bats in 2015, which includes a miraculous run in which Margot went 62 at-bats without striking out to start the season. He reminds of Lorenzo Cain, and eventually could develop into a .300-type hitter with average power and Gold Glove capability in center field. Margot’s ceiling puts him in the number one spot for me.
2. Javier Guerra, SS
2015 Stats: Low-A: .279/.329/.449 23 2B, 15 HR, 68 RBI
Yet another piece from the Kimbrel trade, Guerra instantly becomes the de facto “shortstop of the future” within the San Diego organization.
Guerra should crack many top-100 prospect lists going into 2016, and he has an opportunity to special. Guerra grades out as an above-average defensive shortstop with an elite arm. The big question with Guerra is if he will enough to be more than an average shortstop. Guerra hit well with Low-A Greenville last season, hitting an impressive .279/.329/.449, with 15 home runs. Guerra figures to start next season with Lake Elsinore, which could hinder his power numbers. Still, Guerra’s presence in the system makes the loss of Trea Turner sting much less.
3. Hunter Renfroe, OF
2015 Stats: Double-A/Triple-A: .272/.321/.462 27 2B, 20 HR, 78 RBI
The former #1 prospect drops a few spots after the additions of Guerra and Margot, but his stock is still healthy. Renfroe struggled badly in the first few months in San Antonio and subsequently struggled, hitting .242/.305/.385 in the season’s first half. After an adjustment to his swing, Renfroe hit 11 home runs in June in July, before a promotion to El Paso. Renfroe took advantage of the friendly hitting conditions in West Texas and slammed six homers in 21 Triple-A games.
Renfroe will be 24 when the 2016 season begins, and figures to start the year back in El Paso. Renfroe is the best power prospect in the system, and his athletic frame should play nicely in San Diego in the near future.
4. Travis Jankowski, OF
2015 Stats: Double-A/Triple-A: .335/.413/.425 17 2B, HR, 32 SB
With San Diego: .211/.245/.344 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 2 SB
Jankowski took the biggest leap of any Padres prospect this season, mainly because he stayed healthy all season. Jankowski showed a keen eye at the plate, as evidenced by a healthy 11% walk rate.
Jankowski will never be a power hitter, but he did manage 25 extra base hits between Double-A and Triple-A. Jankowski is a tremendous defender and can wreak havoc on the basepaths with plus-plus speed. Jankowski could open the season as the starting center fielder in San Diego, or at the worst forming a platoon with Melvin Upton Jr. Jankowski’s defensive ability and speed should earn him a bench job in the big leagues. If Jankowski can continue to hit for average, he could be a real spark plug.
5. Colin Rea, SP
2015 Stats: Double-A/Triple-A: 5-4, 1.95 ERA, 101.2 IP, 80 K, .210 BAA, 1.00 WHIP
With San Diego: 2-2, 4.26 ERA, 31.2 IP, 26 K, .246 BAA, 1.26 WHIP
Rea was our MadFriars’ pitcher of the year, and it wasn’t a hard choice at all. Rea dominated the competition, and his excursion through the Texas League was nothing short of remarkable. Rea had a 1.04 ERA in 12 Texas League starts, walking just 11 batters in 75 innings. Rea struggled a little in El Paso but impressed in six starts in San Diego.
Rea sits in the low 90’s with his fastball, and throws a cutter as well. His curve is improving, and could become an above-average pitch. Rea could be a #3 starter, and will have every opportunity to win a job in San Diego’s rotation in 2016.
6.Ruddy Giron, SS
2015 Stats: Low-A: .285/.335/.407, 12 2B, 9 HR, 49 RBI, 15 SB
Giron had the game of the year in the Padres’ system last season, when he went 6-for-6, with a homer in his debut with Fort Wayne. From there, Giron established himself as one of the most exciting players in the Padres’ organization.
Giron, just 18, hit .383/.442/.602, with six home runs in his first 34 games – and then faded with a .233/.277/.304 slash-line in his final 62 games with the TinCaps. Still, Giron’s talent and potential put him near the top of the prospect list.
Giron is a work in progress defensively, and might end up sliding over to second base. He has a smooth, line-drive stroke that should lead to 15 homer potential. Giron will probably start in Fort Wayne next season, but he should make to Lake Elsinore by season’s end.
7. Rymer Liriano, OF
2015 Stats: Triple-A:.292/.383/.460 31 2B, 14 HR, 18 SB, 64 RBI
Liriano has been in the organization since 2009, and despite a solid year in Triple-A, Liriano never saw San Diego in 2015. Liriano improved his eye at the plate and had a career-high walk rate.
Liriano flashed some pop and finished with 14 home runs. Liriano has proven everything he can in the minors, and the Padres will need to make a decision, as the talented outfielder will be out of options in 2016. Liriano should make the team out of spring training, but it is still possible the Padres could move him in a deal. Liriano probably won’t clear waivers, and will be a player to watch next spring.
8.Jacob Nix, RHP
2015 Stats: Rookie-AZL: 0-2, 5.49 ERA, 19.2 IP, 19 K, .284 BAA, 1.53 WHIP
Nix, 19, has been through the ringer in his young life. After agreeing to a $1.5 million deal with Houston In 2014, the Astros had to pull the offer when top pick Brady Aiken failed to sign. Houston’s loss is San Diego’s gain – the Padres nabbed Nix for $900,000 in the third round in last June’s draft.
Nix made his professional debut in the Arizona League and pitched to a 5.49 ERA in 19.2 innings. Complex stats should be taken with a grain of salt, but Nix should pitch in Fort Wayne next summer.
He features a low 90’s fastball, but he should gain more velocity as he matures. Nix needs to improve his secondary stuff, but he has the talent to become a top prospect in the system.
9. Michael Gettys, OF
2015 Stats: Low-A: .231/.271/.346, 27 2B, 6 3B, 6 HR, 20 SB, 162 K
Gettys stats last season leave a lot to be desired, but there is still plenty of ability in the young outfielder. Gettys, 20, hit just .231/.271/.346 in his first full professional season, but he did have 39 extra-base hits, including six home runs. Gettys struck out way too much last season – 162 times, with just 28 walks.
Gettys has the ability to be elite defensively, armed with plus speed and elite arm. While he struggled last season, the ability and potential are still ripe with the former second rounder. Perhaps playing in the warmth of the California League will help the outfielder continue to improve.
10. Austin Smith, RHP
2015 stats: Rookie League -AZL: 0-3, 7.94 ERA, 17 IP, 375 BAA, 2.12 WHIP
Smith will go down as the first draft pick of the A.J. Preller although he wasn’t taken until the 2nd round (51st overall). Smith, who was drafted out of high school in Florida, struggled in his professional debut. Smith was limited to two innings per start and pitched to 7.94 ERA in the Arizona League. Complex statistics are generally met with a grain of salt, so a rough beginning won’t diminish Smith’s status as a top prospect.
Smith can top out in the mid 90’s with his heater, and should only get stronger. He throws a change and a curve too, but scouts say they need more polish. Smith should start with Tri-City in the summer, although he could crack the Fort Wayne rotation with a good spring.
11. Jose Rondon, SS
2015 stats: High-A/Double-A: .267/.320/.359, 85 G, 14 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 18 SB
Rondon’s stock has dropped a little in the last calendar year, and the addition of Javier Guerra means that Rondon could be lapped on the organizational depth chart. Surprisingly, Rondon started last season by repeating High-A and hit .300/.360/.414, before earning a promotion to San Antonio. Rondon struggled in San Antonio and finished the year on the disabled list with an elbow injury.
Rondon is a very solid player, but he isn’t flashy, nor does he have one tool that stands out. Rondon doesn’t walk much, and doesn’t possess any power, but he has consistently hit for a high average. Rondon looks natural at short, and makes all of the plays, but he isn’t going to be a Gold Glove-caliber player. If Rondon can develop a little more power and walk more, he’d be higher on this list. Rondon will start in San Antonio and now owns a 40-man spot.
12.Alex Dickerson, 1B/OF
2015 Stats: Triple-A: .307/.374/.503 36 2B, 9 3B, 12 HR, 82 RS, 71 RBI
With San Diego: 2-8, 3K
Dickerson was acquired from Pittsburgh for former top prospect Jaff Decker. Dickerson, 25, had a very nice season in El Paso, flashing power and displaying versatility. Dickerson hit .307/.374/.503, 36 doubles, 9 triples, and 12 home runs. Dickerson has a good eye at the plate, sprays the ball all over the field and has decent power. The knock on Dickerson is that he might not have enough home run power to be an everyday corner outfielder. Still, Dickerson is left-handed, and at worst could be a platoon player or a weapon off the bench. Dickerson should be in the mix for a bench job next spring.
13. Ryan Butler, RHP
2015 Stats: High-A/Double-A: 3-5, 3.90 ERA, 64.2 IP, 40 K, .275 BAA, 1.42 WHIP
Of all the arms in the Padres’ system, Butler may have the greatest upside of all of them. He can hit 100 MPH with his fastball as a reliever, but works in the mid 90’s as a starter. He dominated in the Cal League last season, and ultimately earned a promotion to San Antonio. Once there, Butler had some arm troubles and wasn’t the same down the stretch.
Butler also pitched in the Arizona Fall League, but struggled with his command, and had an 11:10 BB/K ratio in 14.2 innings. Butler will also need to improve his secondary pitches if he is to remain a starter. If the Padres leave him in the bullpen, he could make it all the way to San Diego. For now, he seems likely to open up in San Antonio’s rotation.
14. Nick Torres, OF
2015 Stats: Low-A/High-A: .305/.352/.439 44 2B, 5 HR, 70 RBI
Torres, a 4th rounder in 2014, enjoyed his first full professional season and made it all the way to Lake Elsinore. Torres, 22, was second in all of Minor League Baseball with 44 doubles, and hit .305/.352/.439, with five homers. Torres made solid contact all season and displayed good gap power.
I think his ceiling is that of what Billy Butler was supposed to be – a .290 hitter with 15-20 HR’s and 40 doubles each season. If Torres can sock a few numbers, he could easily crack the Top Ten at this time next year. Torres will likely start in San Antonio, which won’t be conducive for home run power, but Torres will still be a name to watch.
15. Tayron Guerrero, RP
2015 Stats: Double-A/Triple-A: 1-5, 3.05 ERA, 56 IP, 31 BB, 61 K, .199 BAA, 1.29 WHIP
Guerrero, a 6’7 flamethrower out of Colombia, could be the closer of the future. Guerrero routinely hits 98 MPH and has touched 100 MPH with his fastball. Guerrero does struggle with location and walked roughly five batters per nine innings last season between San Antonio and El Paso.
Guerrero is far from polished, and needs more consistency with his mechanics. If Guerrero cuts down the walks, he could be a dominant reliever in the big leagues. Guerrero has a 40-man roster spot, and should be in the mix for a bullpen job in San Diego next spring.
16. Dinelson Lamet, RHP
2015 Stats: Low-A: 5-8, 2.99 ERA, 105.1 IP, 44 BB, 120 K, .214 BAA, 1.20 WHIP
Dinelson Lamet is something of an enigma in the system. Lamet wasn’t signed until 22 – almost unprecedented for a talent from the Dominican Republic. Lamet was initially used a piggy-back starter but eventually developed into the ace of Fort Wayne’s staff. Lamet pitched to a 2.99 ERA in 105 innings, and struck out over 10 batters per nine innings.
He is a fastball-slider pitcher, and can touch the mid 90’s with his fastball. Lamet is still a raw product, but his upside and talent makes him one of the most intriguing prospects in the whole system. Lamet should start the season with Lake Elsinore, but the organization could challenge him and ship him to San Antonio.
17. Enyel De Los Santos, RHP
2015 Stats: Rookie League-AZL/Short-season: 6-0, 3.47 ERA, 62.1 IP, 71 K, .262 BAA, 1.27 WHIP
Hey, another new guy! De Los Santos was acquired from Seattle, in exchange for reliever Joaquin Benoit. He is another powerful young arm to add to the system. De Los Santos, still just 19, pitched in the Northwest League this season, and had some success. While his ERA was over four, he averaged more than a strikeout per inning.
He generally sits in the low 90’s with his fastball, but could gain more velocity as he matures. De Los Santos is a long way from big league ready, but his potential makes him intriguing. De Los Santos should open up 2016 in the Fort Wayne rotation.
18. Logan Allen, LHP
2015 Stats: Rookie League/Short-season: 0-0, 1.11 ERA, 24.1 IP, BB, 26 K, .200 BAA, 0.78 WHIP
Allen, considered by many to be the “sleeper” of the Craig Kimbrel, brings another young arm with a tremendous amount of upside. Allen is just 18-year-old and was drafted in the seventh round by Boston in June’s draft. He signed an over-slot deal and had a successful professional debut this past summer.
Allen pitched to a 1.11 ERA in eight starts at the rookie and short-season levels in 2015. Allen sits between 90-94 MPH with his heater, and he is developing a curve and change. Allen should start the 2016 season in the Fort Wayne TinCaps rotation.
19. Carlos Asuaje, 2B
2015 Stats: Double-A: .251/.334/.374 23 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 61 RBI
Asuaje, also acquired in the Kimbrel deal is an intriguing prospect who offers a good eye at the plate and defensive versatility. In 2014, Asuaje had a monster year at the plate between Low-A and High-A, as evidenced by a robust slash line of .310/.393/.533, with over 100 RBI.
2015 wasn’t as kind to Asuaje, but he is still has a good eye at the plate, he makes contact, and Asuaje has some pop from a middle infielder. He reminds me a little bit of current Padres prospect Fernando Perez, and they both could start the season in San Antonio. Asuaje also could end up in El Paso, where his versatility could help him reach Petco Park in 2016.
20. Jose Castillo, LHP
2015 Stats: Short-season/Low-A: 4-2, 3.74 ERA, 79.1 IP, 32 BB, 51 K, .264 BAA, 1.40 WHIP
Castillo came to San Diego in the Wil Myers deal, and displayed the type of potential that led to the Rays paying out a seven-figure bonus to the young southpaw.
Castillo’s best pitch is his fastball, which can hit 94 MPH. Castillo bounced between Fort Wayne and Tri-City last season and struggled with his command. Castillo’s strikeout numbers weren’t eye-popping – just 51 in 79.1 innings between the two levels, but he is still just 19. If Castillo can refine his slider, he could have a breakout season. Castillo should be in the mix for a rotation spot with Fort Wayne.
21. Auston Bousfield, OF
2015 Stats: High-A/Double-A: .268/.355/.328 15 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 23 SB
Bousfield had a fairly successful first full season, reaching San Antonio by the end of the year. The former Mississippi outfielder has great speed and a keen eye at the plate but hasn’t shown much power. Bousfield only slugged .335 in the hitter-friendly Cal League, and he wore down in the season’s second half.
Bousfield does have good speed, and can play all of the outfield positions competently. In order for Bousfield to be an everyday player, he will need to hit for more power.
22. Phil Maton, RHP
2015 Stats: Short-Season A: 23 G, 4-2. 1.38 ERA, 32.2 IP, 5 BB, 58 K, 6 SV, .192 AVG
Maton worked as the closer in the Tri-Cities and was arguably the most dominant reliever in the Northwest League. Maton struck out 58 batters and walked just five in 32.2 innings. Maton averaged 16 strikeouts per nine innings pitched – the highest in the Northwest League since 2006.
Maton wasn’t drafted until the 20th round in last June’s draft, but it appears that the Padres got an absolute steal in the hurler from Louisiana Tech. Maton touches 93 MPH with his fastball and throws a cutter that dances all over the strike zone. Maton may end up in the rotation next year, and he could reach Lake Elsinore next season.
23. Zech Lemond, RHP
2015 Stats: High-A : 32 G (22 starts) 5-10, 5.54 ERA, 130 IP, 44 BB, 101 K, .326 AVG
Lemond, a former third rounder in 2014, struggled in the rotation for Lake Elsinore in 2015. Lemond has a big fastball that can touch 96 MPH although he struggled to locate his off-speed stuff for much of the season. Lemond was way too hittable, as the California League hit .326 off of the former Rice Owl.
Lemond is a talented arm who might be better off in the bullpen. However, if Lemond improves his command, he should have much better results in 2016. He should start the year in San Antonio.
24. Justin Hancock, RHP
2015 Stats: Double-A/Triple-A : 24 G, 8-6, 3.51 ERA, 130.2 IP, 53 BB, 97 K, .283 AVG
Hancock teamed up with top prospect Colin Rea to create a formidable 1-2 punch atop the San Antonio rotation. Hancock had a solid, but unspectacular season for the Missions, and pitched to a 3.59 ERA in the Texas League.
Hancock has a sinking fastball and a good curve, but he averages nearly four walks per nine innings, a rate that needs to improve. Hancock is eligible for the Rule V Draft, so there is a distinct possibility another organization could roll the dice on the righty. Assuming Hancock stays in the organization, he could develop into a back-end starter, and could be a dark horse candidate for the rotation.
25. Kyle Lloyd, RHP
2015 Stats: High-A: 31 G (20 starts) 7-11, 4.72 ERA, 137.1 IP, 41 BB, 139 K, .262 AVG
Kyle Lloyd at 25 is older than most of the guys on this list, but he has pitched well in his time in the Padres’ organization. Lloyd bounced back and forth between the rotation and bullpen, with better results when he started.
Lloyd only throws in the low 90’s, but his split-fingered fastball helps him generate a lot of poor swings. Lloyd struck out more than a batter per inning for the second consecutive season and was arguably the most dependable arm in what was a miserable season in Lake Elsinore. Lloyd might be better as a reliever as teams seemed to square him up in the second turn through the order. Still, Lloyd is a sleeper to keep your eyes on.
26. Brad Zunica, 1B
2015 Stats: Rookie League: 35 G, .271/.329/.496, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 10 BB, 40K
Zunica possesses something the Padres haven’t developed in years – light-tower from the left-side. Zunica somehow lasted until the 15th round in June’s draft, but he had quite the debut in the system.
Zunica hit .271/.329/.496, with seven homers in just 129 at-bats in the Arizona League. Zunica was drafted out of junior college and is still just 19. Zunica is still raw, but his power potential puts him on the list. He should end up in Fort Wayne next season, where he could be a threat to lead the league in home runs.
27. Thomas Dorminy, LHP
2015 Stats: Low-A: 25 G, 11-7, 141 IP, 2.94 ERA, 48 BB, 108 K, .238 AVG
Dorminy doesn’t have a blazing fastball or a nasty breaking ball, but Dorminy was as consistent as any pitcher in the system in 2015. The young southpaw was drafted in the 10th round of 2014 draft out of Faulkner State College (I’ve never heard of it either). Dorminy pitched to a 1.31 in his final 10 starts and was a big part of the second half surge the TinCaps enjoyed.
Dorminy sits in the low 90’s with his fastball and throws a curve and a change. Dorminy could be a back-end starter, and should start next season in Lake Elsinore.
28. Luis Urias, 2B
2015 Stats: Low-A/Short Season-A: .299//388/.335, 18 RBI, 8 SB
Urias was the youngest player in the Midwest League last year, and he combined with fellow teenager Ruddy Giron to inject excitement and optimism in the Padres’ system. Urias hit .290/.370/.326, with just 18 strikeouts in nearly 200 at-bats.
Urias is not a power threat – he has yet to connect on a homer in his nearly 400 professional at-bats, but he is a good fastball hitter and has a tremendous eye at the plate. Urias can handle short, but is better suited to play second base. Urias could advance to Lake Elsinore, but I can see him playing in Fort Wayne to start the 2016 season.
29. Ryan Miller, C
2015 Stats: High-A/Double-A: 73 G, .260/.284/.383, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 20 2B
Miller is an intriguing player who made great strides in 2015. Miller missed the start of the season with a back injury but eventually became the primary catcher for the Storm. Miller has good athleticism for a catcher and is improving offensively. Miller was one of the most consistent hitters for a dreadful Lake Elsinore team, hitting .261/.286/.390, with three home runs and 20 doubles in 69 games for the Padres.
Miller is getting better defensively and possesses the tools to be average at the very least behind the dish. Miller will be the everyday catcher in San Antonio, and could find his way to El Paso by season’s end.
30.Colby Blueberg, RHP
2015 Stats: Low-A/High-A: 42 G, 4-1, 1.64 ERA, 21 SV, 60.1 IP, 16 BB, 64 K
Blueberg served as the main closer for Fort Wayne, and enjoyed an incredible run through the Midwest League. Blueberg had a 1.04 ERA, 21 saves and did not allow a home run in 58.2 innings.
Blueberg throws a fastball that sits in the 90-93 MPH range and has a good slider as well. The versatile reliever pitched multiple innings on several occasions and could be an above-average reliever. The young righty should start the 2016 season in the Lake Elsinore bullpen.