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Q&A with Baseball Prospectus's Chris Crawford on the 2016 Top San Diego Padres prospects

Like previous chats with Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America and Jim Callis of MLB.com, we talk Padres prospects with Chris Crawford, Senior Prospect Writer for Baseball Prospectus. Chris used to contribute to the MLB Draft Blog at ESPN and is a Coronado resident.

MadFriars: How do you go about compiling the list?  Is it based on seeing the players play, interviewing team officials and scouts or a combination of both?

Chris Crawford: It's a combination of both, for sure. We all go and see as many players as possible during the year, of course, and then when compiling the list, I try and talk to as many sources as possible. Some of them in org, some outside of the org. I think that's the safest and most efficient way to compile the list.

MF: How do you weigh what a prospect has actually done compared to their potential?  For example in your Top 10 you have Colin Rea and Austin Smith, two pitchers at very different stages of their careers.  How were you able to differentiate/rank between the two?

Crawford: It can be really difficult. I'm a prospect guy, so of course I prefer upside. That being said, there's something to be said about a player that has very little volatility, and that's what Rea offers. It really comes down to a personal preference and how much you value safety. I value safety quite a bit, especially in pitchers.

MF: Last year we ranked Michael Gettys fairly high, but noted he had trouble making consistent contact which played out this year in Low-A Fort Wayne.  Your two top prospects, Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra have a world of talent but both had on-base percentages under .350.  Do you foresee both players improving their on-base skills since that is a major part of their values?

Crawford: I think Margot is a guy that's going to get on base at a solid clip. Guerra, I'm not so sure about, because the patience at the plate comes and goes. Margot has a chance to be a table setter, so it wouldn't shock me at all if that's one of the things the Padres really work hard to make a huge part of his game. Guerra is more of that 6-7-8 hitter to me (though he could hit at the top of the lineup if everything goes right), so, you can live with the lower on-base percentages.

MF: With Guerra slated to be the everyday shortstop in High-A Lake Elsinore,  where do you see Ruddy Giron playing next year?

Crawford: Great question, I think you probably see him start the year at Lake Elsinore as well, but, maybe they get aggressive and send him to Double-A. That's not what I'd do, but if you want both guys playing everyday at shortstop, it might be necessary.

MF: Austin Allen struggled defensively last year behind the plate.  Do you believe he will be able to stay there and if so, why?

Crawford: I think he can, but you're not looking at the next Austin Hedges by any means. The ultimate landing spot is probably first base, but I can't blame the Padres for seeing what they have/hoping the player-development team turns him into a competent backstop, because if he does stick there? He's a potential above-average regular. At first, it's more of a 45 profile.

MF: As noted earlier, all of us are big fans of Michael Gettys.  From people that you have spoken with, do you believe he will be able to control his strikeouts more next season and start to unlock some of his potential?

Crawford: I can't blame anyone for loving Gettys, he's a lot of fun to watch and the tools are just so enticing. I just think that swing needs so much work, and the approach so poor that I can't see the hit tool even getting to fringe-average at this point. I hope I'm wrong, because if it can, Gettys is an everyday center fielder.

MF: Who is your sleeper in the system?

Crawford: I know he was old for the level -- and that's an understatement -- but I really like Dinelson Lamet. There's two swing and miss pitches, he does a pretty solid job of pounding the strike zone, and the change made some progress. Ultimately it probably ends up in the bullpen? But it could be a high-leverage reliever.

MF (From David Jay): To me, it seems like there's a disconnect between the evaluation/rankings of Rondon and Jankowski. Both are limited offensively, but while you put Rondon's floor at utility infielder, we see that as more likely his ceiling. Meanwhile, Jankowski has 60 or better tools in speed and defense, putting his floor pretty safely at defense-only center fielder. Sell me on Rondon as a big league regular and/or Jankowski as a washout whose defense isn't enough?

Crawford: In my humble estimation, I think you're underrating Rondon's ceiling. This is a guy who showed an above-average hit tool up until his promotion to Double-A, and lets also keep in mind the Angels coddled the heck out of this kid for an awful long time, and I think that hurt his development quite a bit. Jankowski to me just doesn't have that kind of upside, and I also prefer the shortstop, younger profile. In that case, I go with the upside every single time.

MF (From David Jay): Clearly, Tayron's upside is, as you noted, as big as any reliever in the minors. But his profile also has a huge bust rate. If push came to shove and you had to take one Padre prospect to stick in a big league bullpen for five years, would you take Guerrero, Ryan Butler, Jimmy Brasoban, or someone else from the field?

Crawford: I do agree that there's a huge bust rate, and I like Butler and Brasoban, but I still like Guerrero because of those two out pitches. Butler may be the safer pick, but give me the upside again.







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