Darrell Snow

MadFriars staff Q&A about our San Diego Padres Top 20 Prospects lists

Each year, in preparation for the release of our annual MadFriars Top 20 prospect list, we get together on calls and email and argue our cases for individual players. We thought you all might want to see some of the discussion that led to this year's list, which we'll publish on Thursday, the first day of minor league camp.

You've already seen our individual Top 30 lists (John's, Kevin's, Ben's, and David's), so you've got a pretty good idea of who's going to appear on the overall Top 20. But you've also seen some of the places where we disagree.

We each asked one question to each other writer. Below is an edited version of that discussion.

Questions for John Conniff

David Jay: You came in much higher on Walker Lockett (he was #14 on your personal Top 30 while I was the only other one to rank him, at 28) than any of the rest of us. Obviously he has the draft pedigree and the physicality, but he's going to be 22 and fighting for a spot in Fort Wayne. What do you see as his upside, and what do you expect from him in 2016?
John Conniff:  “He has the draft pedigree and the physicality...” You missed one other point: he also had the numbers in 2015 before he committed a curfew violation and was sent down to the AZL. Despite being sent away in early August, Lockett still threw more innings than any other starter for Tri-Cities and was nearly a full run better with his ERA too.  He posted a 47:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio and held the opposition to a .230 batting average.  Throw in the fact, as you noted, that he is 6’5” and 230 pounds; and yes, I’ll take a flyer.

If he and the Padres are on the same page - and that is a big if - my guess is he might have a good chance to start the season in Lake Elsinore because of the young talent that will be going to Fort Wayne. Ranking him that high is a bit of a roll of the dice, but the upside is too much to ignore.

Kevin Charity: Justin Hancock was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and it would appear he isn’t in the plans, yet you ranked him above Austin Smith, the Padres’ top pick in the ’15 draft. What was your reasoning for that?
John Conniff: Smith could, and should, have more value than Hancock by the end of the year.  However, going into 2016, after Colin Rea and some of the free agent signees, it’s tough to find anyone at the Double-A or Triple-A level who could be in San Diego sometime this season.

Hancock struggled with command issues, especially on his secondary pitches, but still was one of the better pitchers in the Texas League for most of 2015.  I love Smith’s potential, but right now his value is weighted too much in that direction - high school and less than 20 innings in the Arizona League (which is the equivalent of Spring Training games) - for me to place him over Hancock.

Ben Davey: You have Colin Rea ranked considerably higher than any other ranking (including BA, BP, and MLB.com).  He undoubtedly had a breakout minor league season, but seemed to struggle at times in the majors.  What is your justification for ranking him so high compared to Margot, Guerra, and Renfroe?
John Conniff:  I did my list with a heavy emphasis towards this coming season.. To me, Rea is by far the one Padres’ prospect that should help the team the most in 2016. If Rea can emerge in the fourth starter spot and come somewhat close to Ian Kennedy’s production it is a huge win/savings for the the major league roster construction - which is what a minor league system is supposed to do.

Questions for Ben Davey

David Jay: After he was finally moved off shortstop this year, but continued to struggle at the plate in his second pass through Fort Wayne, you're the only one who (just barely) kept Franchy Cordero in your top 30 this year. At this point, what do you think would constitute success for Franchy?
Ben Davey: His ranking had more to do with a lack of depth in the system than it did with his potential at this point.  In the past, he was a consensus top 30 prospect because of his potential and not necessarily for his performance.  At this point, the chances that he reaches his potential become lower and lower, but it is still there.  He still has a higher ceiling than a lot of the prospects I left off, which is why he was ranked where he was.

While his numbers were not great, he is still only 20 and showed drastic improvement in plate discipline.  In order to reach that potential as an outfielder. we really need to see continued improvement at the plate.  In order to be successful we really need to see a return to the 2013 Cordero that hit .333/.381/.511 in the AZL.  He might not hit that high, but a change of scenery (to Elsinore), and finally going into the season as a full-time left fielder (where he doesn’t have to worry about his defense as much), we should see his performance at the plate increase.

John Conniff: You have Carlos Asuaje higher than any of us on your list at eleven.  In your write-up you make reference to that fact that he might be a cheaper version of current Padres’ utilityman Alexi Amarista.  However, he has only played a grand total of six of his 312 career minor league games at shortstop. If he can’t play an average defensive shortstop, can he really profile as a utility infielder in the big leagues?
Ben Davey: Was Alexi an average shortstop?  Obviously, none of us have seen him play as he has yet to appear in a game in a Padres uniform.  His hit tool is already better than Amarista’s, and from reports and the little video I have seen, his footwork and arm strength are enough that he could play a passable shortstop.  At best I can see him as a Geoff Blum type hitter.

Realistically his ranking is based on two things.  First his floor is higher than that of nearly every prospect on the list.  At worst he should be a solid bench player.  Secondly, well, the Padres have a bottom five system for a reason.

Kevin Charity: SS Peter Van Gansen had a decent season for Tri-Cities but was a mid-round pick with a defense-first skill set. What made him crack your top-30?
Ben Davey: In a weak system, pretty much any player with an advanced glove at a position like shortstop makes my list.  Add in the fact he was a Northwest League All-Star - he was even the MVP of the game - and even when he went into a slump the last month of the year, his defense never took a step down.  Van Gansen was my sleeper pick from the draft, and if he can even hit, 250, he can/will become a major league player.

Questions for Kevin Charity:

David Jay: You came in much lighter on Luis Urias than the rest of us did. What are your concerns on the mighty-mite, and what will you be looking for in 2016 to either support your opinion or change your mind?
Kevin Charity: “I do like Urias, just not as much as the rest of you. My concerns center around his lack of power. While he is just 18, he only slugged .335 and has not homered in nearly 500 plate appearances. He has played mostly second, which is one of the least valuable positions on the field. I’d like to see him play around the diamond a little bit more, but his lack of power, at this moment, makes him a utility guy at best for me.

Urias has decent speed, but was 5-for-15 in stolen base attempts last season. He will need to add more to his game. We all know he can hit the fastball, but at this point, I want to see more pop.

John Conniff:  You gave Tayron Guerrero a high ranking (#15) despite walking 31 batters in 56 innings.  “The Mad Stork” is fun to watch, and certainly has potential, but what makes you believe he will ever achieve enough command to become a competent big league relief pitcher and has more value than pitchers such Dinelson Lamet, Logan Allen and Jose Castillo who you ranked below him?
Kevin Charity: The control is a big concern for me, but the kid can dial it up to 100 MPH and has a potential plus pitch in his slider. He dominated most of the season in the Texas League, but had a few outings in which he imploded.

After the promotion to Triple-A, his command suffered, as he walked 11 batters in 15 innings but the talent is there. With all the uncertainty in the bullpen, his big fastball and plus slider puts him in the mix for a big league spot. To me, his talent is comparable to Jon Edwards, who seems to be a near-lock for a spot in the Padres’ spot.

Logan Allen is a wild-card to me; Baseball America is very high on him and I’d like to see him throw before I ranked him ahead of guys I know more about. I think Jose Castillo ends up in the bullpen – I think he needs to develop a third pitch. Dinelson Lamet is intriguing, but ultimately I think he ends up in the bullpen as well. I like Guerrero’s slider a great deal.

Ben Davey: Kyle Lloyd made your rankings despite getting absolutely hammered in Lake Elsinore last year.  While he did generate plenty of swings and misses with his split-fingered pitch, it seems like his repertoire consists of “swing and a miss” and “hammered.”  Given that he is also old for the league (25) do you actually see Lloyd as enough of a prospect to justify his ranking?
Kevin Charity: Lloyd’s numbers weren’t exactly sparkling but I really like the stuff that Lloyd has. His splitter is nasty and might be one of the best strikeout pitches any Padres’ farmhand features. That pitch is the biggest reason Lloyd has led all Friars’ prospects in strikeouts the last two years.

The issue with Lloyd seems to be the lack of a third pitch and why he might be suited for a bullpen role. Still, Lloyd had a near 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and pitched some absolute gems, including a start where he took a shutout into the ninth inning. He is 25, but I really love that splitter.

Questions for David Jay:

John Conniff:  As someone who also ranked Travis Jankowski above Manuel Margot - and also caught some grief about that selection - what do you believe is more likely; Jankowski shows the gap power and plate discipline that he did in San Antonio in the big leagues or Margot adds fifty points to his on-base percentage in Double-A? Second part, if both can do that, which one is more valuable?
David Jay: I don’t actually think that’s exactly characterized right. While both Margot and Jankowski offer well above-average to plus defense in centerfield and possess disruptive speed, Margot was playing competently at Double-A well before his 21st birthday while Jankowski had to re-emerge from a dreadful injury-marred 2014. Though I don’t think he’s the .395 OBP guy we saw in San Antonio last spring and early summer, if he can post a .350 OBP and .410 slugging percentage with his defense, that’s a 4 WAR player. Margot will probably show more power in the long-run, and he has a tool set that’s more fun to dream on, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they ultimately post similar OPS marks that they arrive at through different avenues.

I certainly don’t pretend to be a scout, but I also have watched enough guys to pick up changes in approach and skillsets every now and then. I think the advances Jankowski made at the plate last year were totally real, and that he could do for the Padres in 2016 what Kevin Pillar did in Toronto last year. Putting Margot a hair behind him isn’t a knock on Margot at all.

Kevin Charity: Jose Carlos Urena was a guy I considered for the bottom of my top-30 and you had him all the way at #17. He suffered through a miserable slump at the end of the Northwest League season. Why are you so high on him?
David Jay: I was high on Urena after his stateside debut in 2013, but he completely laid an egg in 2014. He was visibly different in Peoria last March and he went out with a hot start in Tri-Cities before the big-time slump you mention. To be honest, this is mostly a hunch play. I really like his ability to access his power in game situations and I think he’s a guy for whom it could really click. The power is a carrying tool in a system that had a dearth of those last year, and I’m willing to bet on it going into 2016.

Ben Davey: I personally was a fan of Franmil Reyes after the 2014 season, but unfortunately I thought he took a step back in 2015.  He fell off the radar for John, Kevin, and me, but you still thought he deserved a Top 25 ranking.  What about his 2015 performance gave you hope that he can still produce at higher levels? 
David Jay: While I was certainly hoping he’d take a bigger step forward than he did while repeating in 2015, Reyes most certainly did not go backward. He increased each of his triple-slash lines, cut his strikeout rate, grew his walk rate and the big man even ran the bases better. And even though he was a repeater, he was still among the youngest position players in the Midwest League. He’s such a big dude and he’s got some extra moving parts at times, but when he gets in a rhythm he does things like the we saw in the last week of the system. I thought he might be a guy who really exploded in 2015, and now I’m betting I was just a year early.

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