Gwinn Davis

2016 MadFriars San Diego Padres Top 20 Prospect List

As opposed to last winter, when the Padres traded many of their top prospects to acquire Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel, the club spent this offseason building up the minor league system.

The biggest infusion of talent came from trading away Kimbrel, one of the top closers in the game. A.J. Preller netted one of the biggest prospect hauls of the winter in the deal, and three of the four prospects sent over make our Top 20 and the fourth just missed. The club also added more pitching depth by dealing Joaquin Benoit as well.

Despite not picking until the middle of the second round last year, the Padres had a productive draft, nabbing young pitchers Austin Smith and Jacob Nix and 20th-round sleeper prospect Phil Maton, who had one of the better years in the Northwest League in 2015.

The departures of Upton and fellow free agent Ian Kennedy netted the club two compensation picks in June’s draft, giving them a chance to significantly impact the depth of the system with  six of the first 85 selections in the amateur draft.

2016 Top 20 at a Glance

Out from 2015 Top 20:
Graduated:
C Austin Hedges (Padres); 2B/OF Cory Spangenberg (Padres)

Out of organization: RHP Matt Wisler (Braves), OF Rymer Liriano (Brewers), Casey Kelly (Braves), RHP James Needy (injured), Jordan Paroubeck (Dodgers) and 1B/3B Cody Decker (Royals)

Still in Organization: RHP Zech Lemond, OF Auston Bousfield, RHP Kyle Lloyd, 2B/3B Fernando Perez, RHP Elliot Morris, OF/SS Franchy Cordero, OF Franmil Reyes and RHP Seth Streich.

New for 2016:
SS Javier Guerra (acquired from Red Sox), CF Manuel Margot (acquired from Red Sox), SS Rudy Giron, RHP Jacob Nix (2015 draft), RHP Austin Smith (2015 draft), OF Alex Dickerson, Dinelson Lamet, OF Nick Torres, Luis Urias, LHP Logan Allen (acquired from Red Sox), Enyel de los Santos (acquired from the Mariners), LHP Jose Castillo (acquired from Rays) and Phil Maton (2015 draft).

Synopsis: The strength of the system should be a combination of strong pitching at the A-ball level with potentially three Major League-ready outfielders in Triple-A El Paso. Much of the  individual attention will be on Guerra, who should end up in High-A Lake Elsinore and speedy centerfielder Margot, who will likely start in Double-A San Antonio.

Lottery Ticket(s): The starting staff in Fort Wayne.  If they send Smith and Nix out to the Summit City to join de los Santos, Allen and Castillo, the rotation will consist of five starters in the Top 20, all twenty or younger, and all with ceilings to dream on.

All ages are based on the age the player will be on April 1, 2016.

1.  Javier Guerra

Position: Shortstop
Height/Weight:
5-11/165
Age: 20
Bats/Throws: L/R
How Acquired:
Trade with Boston Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

Greenville (BOS)

.279

.329

.449

464

30/112

121

41

15

2015 Highlights: The key player the Padres wanted from Boston in the Craig Kimbrel trade in the off-season, Guerra is a left-handed hitting defensive whiz with some pop. He was named the Red Sox minor league Defensive Player of the Year and was fifth in the Sally League in slugging percentage.

Negatives:  A .329 on-base percentage should give most who follow the Padres some pause, and despite the gaudy power numbers last season, his offensive game in the future will be much more predicated on line drives.  While there’s plenty of time to make adjustments, he also showed serious platoon splits with 13 of his 15 home runs against right-handed pitching and an OPS almost 175 points lower against lefties.

Projection:  Don’t let last year’s home run totals fool you – Guerra’s glove is the reason he’s at the top of the list. To max out his upside, he’ll need to stop selling out for power, work the ball the other way some more, and cut his alarming strikeout totals from this season. If he can do that, he could become the Padres’ everyday shortstop for a long time.

MadFriars’ Assessment: What gets people’s attention with Guerra is his glove and while there are legitimate questions about his bat at higher levels; there is a lot to like. He should begin the season in Lake Elsinore, but with Alexei Ramirez only having a one-year contract at the big league level he could be in San Antonio by the second half. Guerra cracked many top-100 prospect lists for 2016, and has an opportunity to be special. He grades out as an above-average defensive shortstop with an elite arm.

2. Manuel Margot

Position: Centerfield
Height/Weight:
5-11/170
Age: 21
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
Trade with Boston Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

Salem (BOS)

.282

.321

.420

191

11/15

51

14

3

Portland (BOS)

.271

.326

.419

279

21/36

70

28

3

2015 Highlights: Guerra edged out Margot by a whisker, mainly because an elite shortstop has more value than an elite centerfielder. Margot has the ability to play a solid defensive centerfield and at the plate is more of a gap-power hitter with an ability to steal some bags.

Negatives: Both Margot and Guerra have the same questions, ability to control the strike zone at higher levels. 

Projection: He profiles best as a top of the order hitter that can run with gap power in a strong, yet compact frame. At worst, he should be a high-contact/low-OBP center fielder.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Margot is only 21 and will be the everyday centerfielder in Double-A San Antonio. If he can build his patience a bit and make sure he hits his pitch hard rather than the pitcher’s pitch weakly, he could provide league-average offense as well and emerge as a very valuable big leaguer.

3.  Hunter Renfroe

Position: Rightfield
Height/Weight:
6-1/205
Age: 24
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
2013 First Round

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

San Antonio

.259

.313

.425

453

33/112

109

39

14

El Paso

.333

.358

.633

94

4/20

30

13

6

2015 Highlights: Regardless of how up-and-down Renfroe’s season was, he still was one of only two hitters in the system to finish with 20 home runs.  He can play all three outfield positions, but is most comfortable and has the arm to be above-average in right field. As with most players coming from San Antonio,  Renfroe took advantage of the friendly hitting conditions in the PCL and slammed six homers in 21 Triple-A games.

Negatives: There is a lot of swing-and-miss.  The Padres worked extensively on his swing when he was hitting .208 in mid-May but made progress with mechanics and his approach at the plate. In the field, he showed off his plus arm, but had periods when, despite his athleticism, he was sub-par defender.

Projection: Next to Michael Gettys, Renfroe is easily the most athletic player in the Padres’ system.  If the hit tool develops, he is an everyday major league outfielder.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Renfroe should start the year in Triple-A and a second trip around the PCL may be more revealing than the first.  If he can get off to a quick start in the first two months there will be a lot of calls to bring his right-handed power to PETCO.

4. Travis Jankowski

Position: Centerfield
Height/Weight:
6-3/200
Age: 25
Bats/Throws: L/R
How Acquired:
2012 Supplemental First Round

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

San Antonio

.316

.395

.401

318

40/33

89

17

1

El Paso

.392

.464

.495

110

13/10

38

8

0

San Diego

.211

.245

.344

94

4/24

19

6

2

2015 Highlights: Jankowski came back from a serious arm injury in 2014 to put together his best year professionally. The big change was his ability to turn on the inside pitch and an improved two-strike approach which significantly raised his on-base percentage. Defensively he was the organization’s best outfielder, and he also may be the best leadoff prospect in the organization. He stole 71 bases in Lake Elsinore in 2013 and 34 this past season. Jankowski will never be a power hitter, but he did manage 25 extra-base hits between Double-A and Triple-A.

Negatives: Power, which has always been a conundrum for him. If he goes for too much, he’s putting the ball in the air too much and if it’s too little, defenses will be able to cheat on him, especially the opposite way.

Projection: If Jankowski can keep the solid line drive stroke he showed in San Antonio and El Paso, he could be the Padres’ centerfielder of the future. Though he doesn’t have Margot’s strength, he has a more patient approach at the plate, and is at least his equal defensively.

MadFriars’ Assessment: With Jankowski’s role in 2016 will depend on how thing shake out with John Jay and Melvin Upton Jr. in the big league outfield. Jankowski will have to convince the Padres that he has value in a platoon role, but he may go back to El Paso for a little more seasoning.

5. Colin Rea

Position: RHP
Height/Weight:
6-5/220
Age: 25
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
2011 12th Round

2015 Stats

W-L

GS

IP

ERA

K/BB

Hits

WHIP

HR

San Antonio

3-2

12

75

1.08

60/11

50

0.82

1

El Paso

2-2

6

27

4.39

20/12

29

1.54

2

San Diego

2-2

6

32

4.26

26/11

29

1.26

2

2015 Highlights: Rea was MadFriars’ Pitcher of the Uear, and it wasn’t even close. He dominated the competition in the minors, and his excursion through the Texas League was nothing short of remarkable. For years, Randy Smith, who ran the Padres’ development side and is now a Special Assistant to the General Manager, raved about Rea. In 2015, the big righty rewarded their faith. When asked the reasons for the turnaround, Smith said, “Colin finally started believing he was as good as we thought he was.”

Negatives: Rea relies more on a hard sink than velocity with his fastball so he must continue to throw to the inside part of the plate to prevent batters from selling out to the outside. His breaking pitches still require more consistency.

Projection: If his curve and slider continue to come along, he could emerge as a solid middle of the rotation pitcher who can give the team 200 innings.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Of all the prospects, Rea should have the most impact on the major league team in 2016. He doesn’t have one plus pitch, but can use his cut- and four-seam fastballs and overhand curve very effectively. If he can establish his change (a split-finger) as a consistent strike-getter, Rea will be a valuable addition to the big league rotation for the foreseeable future.

6. Ruddy Giron

Position: Shortstop
Height/Weight:
5-11/195
Age: 19
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
International Free Agent 2013

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

Fort Wayne

.285

.335

.407

415

29/68

110

25

9

2015 Highlights: Giron, who was never intended to play full-season ball last spring, had the game of the year in the Padres’ system when he went 6-for-6, with a home run in his debut with Fort Wayne. From there, Giron established himself as one of the most exciting players in the Padres’ organization. As a rare 18-year-old in the Midwest league, he 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.

Negatives: Defensively, has the tools to play shortstop, but he could wind up growing off the position. He'll need to show that the first six weeks in Fort Wayne weren't a fluke.

Projection: Giron is really young and his frame probably won’t fill out for a few more years. With the Padres’ organization lacking at third base, and with Guerra at shortstop, he could be the third base/second base prospect of the future.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Despite the swoon in the second half, Giron is a prospect who will get people excited. His early power numbers in the first half may have gotten him away from his line drive approach. When he’s on, he is gap-to-gap. Look for a big year from him in Lake Elsinore where with the inclusion of Guerra he will see some more time at second and third base.

7.  Ryan Butler

Position: RHP
Height/Weight:
6-4/230
Age: 24
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
2014 Seventh Round

2015 Stats

W-L

GS (G)

IP

ERA

K/BB

Hits

WHIP

HR

Lake Elsinore

3-2

7 (12)

47

3.66

31/14

52

1.41

2

San Antonio

0-3

3

17

4.76

7/9

16

1.47

0

Peoria (AFL)

3-1

4 (6)

14.2

10/11

14

1.70

1

2015 Highlights: After dominating as the Fort Wayne closer in his 2014 professional debut, Butler moved him into the rotation, where he also dominated in Lake Elsinore. Mid-season shoulder soreness cut down his season after his promotion to San Antonio, but still a six-foot-five pitcher who can consistently throw in the mid-90s nearly defines the term prospect.

Negatives: A 50 game suspension for recreational drugs is certainly not anyone’s idea of a good start to the season; however limiting the innings of a former Tommy John recipient who experienced shoulder soreness might not be the worst thing. As big as his fastball is, Butler's going to have to show he can be an effective pitcher, not just a thrower, whether he stays in the rotation or the bullpen.

Projection: Butler has all of the ingredients to be a very good major league starter. He has outstanding velocity, but also a relatively straight fastball. Throw in an inconsistent change-up and slider - and there is still some work to be done - but of all the arms in the Padres’ upper minors, he may have the greatest upside.

MadFriars’ Assessment: He should return to San Antonio in mid-season after his suspension and likely will finish out the year in Double-A as he builds up his arm strength. If he can use the first half of the season to continue to refine his secondary options, he will be a rotation piece to watch. If not, the organization may just decide to send him back to the bullpen full-time.

8.  Jacob Nix

Position: RHP
Height/Weight:
6-3/200
Age: 20
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
2015 Third Round

2015 Stats

W-L

GS (G)

IP

ERA

K/BB

Hits

WHIP

HR

AZL Padres

0-2

3 (7)

19.2

5.49

19/7

23

1.53

1

2015 Highlights: The Padres felt they got a steal when Nix came to them in the third round. After a very public snafu after the Astros drafted him in 2014, Nix spent a full season with the IMG Academy prior to the draft. Based on his workload earlier in the year, Nix only threw 19.2 innings in the Arizona League, although he did go five innings in each of his last two outings.

Negatives: As with all young pitchers there are some questions about the consistency of his secondary pitches and his fastball command.

Projection: He’s got a strong pedigree, ideal pitcher’s frame, and all the building blocks to eventually become a major league starter. He features a low 90s 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.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Nix should join Smith in anchoring the most talented staff that the Padres have sent to Fort /Wayne since 2013. Under the tutelage of TinCaps’ pitching coach Burt Hooten, he will learn how to pitch.

9. Austin Smith

Position: RHP
Height/Weight:
6-4/220
Age: 20
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
2015 Second Round

2015 Stats

W-L

GS

IP

ERA

K/BB

Hits

WHIP

HR

AZL Padres

0-3

9

17

7.94

11/9

27

2.12

0

2015 Highlights: After making him their first overall pick, the Padres limited him to two inning stints in the Arizona League, where he made nine appearances. He twice gave up five earned runs, heavily skewing his abbreviated season stats.

Negatives: Obviously, it would have been nice to see him get out of the gate professionally better, but complex league statistics are to be taken with a grain of salt, so it won’t diminish Smith’s status as a top prospect.

Projection: Size, velocity and athleticism are great things to dream on. 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.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Smith has great size, but right now he is primarily all fastball with a developing curve and change-up. As a guy who was older for his draft class, San Diego will throw him into the mix in Fort Wayne to start the year. 

10. Michael Gettys

Position: Outfield
Height/Weight:
6-0/205
Age: 20
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
2014 Second Round

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

Fort Wayne

.231

.271

.346

522

28/162

114

39

6

2015 Highlights: Gettys has as much raw talent as anyone in the organization and at times this year in the Midwest League we caught some glimpses of it. On the positive side he was voted the league’s best defensive outfielder in the Midwest League by Baseball America and stole 20 bases at only 19.

Negatives: His big problem, and the number that jumps out, is 162 strikeouts in 522 plate appearances. That underscores the question that caused him to fall to the second round in the draft: will he ever hit enough to capitalize on his immense talent?

Projection: Before he departed to Fort Wayne last spring, the Padres’ organization put a big emphasis on cutting down his strikeouts. That didn’t happen. While the team was happy with some of his progress, his ability to recognize what he can hit is going to have to pick up. Gettys has the ability to be elite defensively, armed with plus speed and arm. While he struggled last season, the ability and potential are still ripe with the former second rounder.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Whether he ends up in Lake Elsinore or back in Fort Wayne will be determined by whether he shows better in-game hitting mechanics and bat-to-ball skills in Spring Training. Even a moderate hit tool would ultimately be enough to make Gettys a valuable big-leaguer, and a success story for the player development group.

11. Alex Dickerson

Position: Outfield
Height/Weight:
6-3/230
Age: 25
Bats/Throws: L/L
How Acquired:
Trade with Pittsburgh Pirates for Jaff Decker

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

El Paso

.307

.374

.503

504

45/96

141

57

12

San Diego

.250

.250

.250

8

0/3

2

0

0

2015 Highlights: If there is a sleeper in the San Diego system, it’s Dickerson and his left-handed bat. The Poway High graduate was one of the Pacific Coast League’s leaders in extra-base hits, and even had nine triples. He played both corner outfield spots effectively, and even worked a bit at first base for the first time since 2012.

Negatives: He has a long swing and there have always been some questions about how much ground he can cover in the outfield.

Projection: Dickerson has a good eye at the plate, sprays the ball all over the field and has decent power. While he has always hit, he might not have enough home run power to be an everyday corner outfielder and has enough defensive questions that he could easily wind up as a ‘tweener.

MadFriars’ Assessment: With the departure of Justin Upton, the Padres find themselves with an opening in leftfield. Dickerson joins Jankowski and Rule 5 pick Jabari Blash in a competition to stick in the big league outfield with Matt Kemp, John Jay and Melvin Upton, Jr.

12. Dinelson Lamet

Position: RHP
Height/Weight:
6-4/190
Age: 23
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
International Free Agent 2014

2015 Stats

W-L

GS

IP

ERA

K/BB

Hits

WHIP

HR

Fort Wayne

5-8

24

105

299

120/44

82

1.20

9

2015 Highlights: Though he didn’t sign out of the Dominican until he was 21 and had only 4 innings in the DSL coming into the year, the Padres sent Lamet out to full-season ball to start the year. He worked under incredibly tight pitch counts early on, but as the organization gave him more room to work, he really hit his stride down the stretch. In his final 53.1 innings, he was dominant, posting a 1.84 ERA and 57 strikeouts while allowing only 31 runners.

Negatives: Lamet works off a big fastball with some very good movement, but his secondary offerings remain inconsistent. His age and odd trajectory make it hard to find any comparable big league pitchers.

Projection: Stepping past his unique journey, Lamet’s stuff and ability are top-rate. He is a fastball-slider pitcher who can touch the mid-90s. Lamet is still a raw product, but his upside and talent make him one of the most intriguing prospects in the system.

MadFriars’ Assessment: It would be easy to characterize the club’s approach with the first 21-year-old Dominican signee in recent memory as aggressive because his first stateside pitch was in full-season ball. On the other hand, the highly calculated inning and pitch count limits could be seen as protective. In 2016, the leash will be completely off, and they might once again push the hard-throwing righty up to Double-A. A year from now, our ranking could look shockingly low.

13. Nick Torres

Position: Outfield
Height/Weight:
6-1/220
Age: 23
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
2014 Fourth Round

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

Fort Wayne

.326

.378

.462

306

18/52

94

33

2

Lake Elsinore

.275

.316

.408

220

9/45

58

20

3

Peoria (AFL)

.264

.278

.379

88

0/20

23

6

1

2015 Highlights: Only Jankowski made a bigger jump than the former Cal-Poly San Louis among position players. Torres finished second overall in the minors with 44 doubles and the athletic former Mustang was a solid defender at both corner outfield spots.

Negatives: Right now, it’s power and approach. To profile as a major league corner outfielder, he’ll need to hit more than five home runs. When he was hitting everything early in the year in Fort Wayne, his very aggressive approach was understandable. But he kept swinging a lot even as he cooled off. He’ll need to show more patience from the outset in 2016.

Projection: One of the harder working players in the system on both the physical and mental sides, his next big challenge will be to build a little more loft in his swing. If he can do that, he could develop into a major league corner outfielder.

MadFriars’ Assessment: The wind-swept caverns of Nelson Wolff Stadium in San Antonio are not the best place to develop power, but if he can conquer that, PETCO Park in San Diego won’t seem as daunting.

14. Luis Urias

Position: Infielder
Height/Weight:
5-9/165
Age: 19
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
International Free Agent 2014

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

Tri-City

.355

.487

.387

36

5/1

11

1

0

Fort Wayne

.290

.370

.326

209

16/18

56

1

0

2015 Highlights: As with Giron, when Urias joined the TinCaps from Tri-City, he gave the team a big lift. He hit .374 in his first month with the team before slowing down. He replaced Giron as the youngest player in the league, making his performance pretty remarkable. He showed he’s capable of playing multiple infield positions.

Negatives: Sam Geaney, the Padres’ Director of Minor League Development, has said he is one of the better fastball hitters in the organization. But the question is whether Urias will be able to add enough strength to put the ball in the gaps with enough frequency to make him viable at upper levels. If not, pitchers will go right after him and his ability to draw a walk will be neutralized.

Projection: He’s smaller than his listed 5’9”, 160 and doesn’t offer an awful lot of physical projection. 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. He can handle short, but is better suited to play second base.

MadFriars’ Assessment: The club will likely let him start the year back in Fort Wayne, where he might still be the youngest player on the circuit, and he’ll likely hit for high average once again. We’ll be looking to see whether he added weight in the offseason.

15. Logan Allen

Position: LHP
Height/Weight:
6-3/200
Age: 18
Bats/Throws: L/L
How Acquired:
Trade with Boston Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel

2015 Stats

W-L

GS

IP

ERA

K/BB

Hits

WHIP

HR

GCL Red Sox

0-0

7

20

0.90

24/1

12

0.65

0

Lowell (SS)

0-0

1

4.1

2.08

2/0

6

1.38

0

2015 Highlights: Allen, considered by many to be the sleeper of the Craig Kimbrel deal, brings another young arm with a tremendous amount of upside. After pitching alongside Nix at the IMG Academy in Florida, the Red Sox drafted him in the eighth round and gave him third round money to get him to forgo his commitment to South Carolina. Among the younger players in his draft class, Allen was stellar in his professional debut, earning a few late-season appearances in the college-heavy New York-Penn League.

Negatives: It’s hard to find one in his debut except the small track record. Now we have to see how well he adapts to the full-season grind.

Projection: He’s only 18, throws a low-90’s fastball, is left-handed with a plus curve and developing change. You do the math.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Allen will be part of the strongest Fort Wayne pitching staff in years. The Padres are going to keep an eye on his innings, but there is a lot to like for anyone that age.

16. Enyel de los Santos

Position: RHP
Height/Weight:
6-3/170
Age: 20
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
Trade with Seattle Mariners for Joaquin Benoit

2015 Stats

W-L

GS

IP

ERA

K/BB

Hits

WHIP

HR

AZL Mariners

3-0

5

24.2

2.55

29/5

24

1.18

1

Everett (NWL)

3-0

8

38

4.06

42/13

37

1.33

2

2015 Highlights: The Padres not only got out of paying $7.5 million for Joaquin Benoit in 2016 – a talented set-up reliever, but a set-up man nonetheless - they were also able to pry away a quality arm from the Mariners. Only 20 years old, the Dominican possesses a live fastball that can touch 97 MPH and sits in the mid-90s. Overall, the big righty acquitted himself well in his stateside, and professional, debut.

Negatives: He has a strong fastball, but caught a little too much of the plate with a .263 batting average against in Everett. His breaking stuff and changeup are still developing, as would be expected at that age.

Projection: De Los Santos has the frame and building blocks you look for. He’ll be among the pitchers we’re most interested to see in spring training.

MadFriars’ Assessment: The TinCaps staff should include Nix, Smith, Allen, De Los Santos and Jose Castillo. All five are prospects with big fastballs, plus, yet inconsistent secondary pitches and all are under 21. It will be a fun team to watch a game in Parkview Field.

17. Jose Rondon

Position: Shortstop
Height/Weight:
6-1/185
Age: 25
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
Trade with Los Angeles Angels for Houston Street

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

Lake Elsinore

.300

.360

.414

275

21/38

71

18

3

San Antonio

.190

.219

.230

104

4/15

19

3

0

2015 Highlights: Rondon went back to repeat in the Cal League to open the season, and while his average was strong, his slugging percentage in the hitter-friendly circuit didn’t progress at all. He was overmatched at the plate following his midseason promotion to San Antonio and then suffered a season-ending arm injury.

Negatives: Offensively, everything relies upon his batting average since he doesn’t walk much or hit for power. Defensively, there are questions about his ability laterally. Rondon’s stock has dropped a little in the last calendar year, and the addition of Javier Guerra means he has been lapped on the organizational depth chart.

Projection: The organization protected him on the 40-man roster this winter, so they see things differently than we do. Some believe he has the capability of being a starting second division shortstop or, at worst. a utility player. He’ll need to demonstrate an ability to produce offensively in the Texas League.

MadFriars’ Assessment: National pundits are much higher on him than any of us at MadFriars. They’re banking on him staying at shortstop, adding some strength to be able to do more than spray the ball around, and finding a way to be a threat against advanced pitching. We don’t see any of those as likely for the 21-year-old Venezuelan. This will be a pivotal year for Rondon, especially with Guerra behind him in Lake Elsinore. The big learning curve for Rondon will be figuring out what type of hitter he is and learning to refine his approach at the plate to reflect it.

18. Jose Castillo

Position: LHP
Height/Weight:
6-4/200
Age: 19
Bats/Throws: L/L
How Acquired:
Trade with Tampa Bay Rays

2015 Stats

W-L

GS (G)

IP

ERA

K/BB

Hits

WHIP

HR

Tri-City

3-1

12 (13)

52.1

3.61

35/16

54

1.34

1

Fort Wayne

1-1

6

27

4.00

16/16

25

1.52

2

2015 Highlights: A key component of the trade that brought Wil Myers over from Tampa Bay, the 19-year old Venezuelan was uninspiring in his first season in the organization. Though his first assignment was to Fort Wayne, he had to go backward and spent most of the year in short-season Tri-City. Though he flashed some of his plus stuff, he was quite hittable at both levels and had only so-so results.

Negatives: Right now he has a fastball and not much else. If he can refine his slider, he could have a breakout season.

Projection: By virtue of his size, stuff, and being left-handed, Castillo was going to show up in these rankings. Castillo’s best pitch is his fastball, which can hit 94 MPH. His strikeout numbers weren’t eye-popping – just 51 in 79.1 innings between the two levels, but he is still just 19.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Castillo should spend the season in Low-A where the organization will gradually increase his work load. 

19. Phil Maton

Position: RHP
Height/Weight:
6-3/180
Age: 23
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
2015 20th Round

2015 Stats

W-L

G

IP

ERA

K/BB

Hits

WHIP

HR

Tri-City

4-2

23

32.2

1.38

58/5

23

0.86

0

2015 Highlights: A senior sign out of Louisiana Tech, Maton had an amazing year coming out of the bullpen for the Dust Devils. After working a lot of innings as a starter in college, he completely overwhelmed Northwest League hitters out of the pen. He finished his professional debut with twice as many strikeouts as runners allowed to reach base.

Negatives: What works in relief in limited short-season innings doesn't work at higher levels, especially if he wants to return to a rotation. But the late-round pick couldn't have hoped for a better start to his career.

Projection: A Midwesterner who scouting director Mark Conner watched as a high-schooler in Illinois, he has the skills to work in the rotation going forward, so the club will have an interesting decision to make with him in 2016. He has three quality pitches and the organization is going to explore his future as a starter before determining where he will fit best going forward. Maton touches 93 MPH with his fastball and throws a cutter that dances all over the strike zone.

MadFriars’ Assessment: Maton, because of his age (22), dominance in the Northwestern League and the sheer amount of pitchers they will have at Fort Wayne, could land in the Cal League for 2016. He was a starter all throughout his collegiate career and was only put in the bullpen as a professional to ease the amount of innings, so it shouldn’t be that big of an adjustment.

20. Jabari Blash

Position: Outfield
Height/Weight:
6-5/260
Age: 26
Bats/Throws: R/R
How Acquired:
Rule 5/Trade with Oakland Athletics

2015 Stats

AVG

OBP

SLG

PA

BB/K

Hits

XBH

HR

Jackson (AA)

.278

.383

.517

248

31/60

58

28

10

Tacoma (AAA)

.264

.355

.640

228

28/63

52

30

22

2015 Highlights: Coming off a 2014 campaign that was truncated by a drug suspension, Blash needed a big year. And boy did he produce. The mammoth outfielder blasted 32 homers in 476 plate appearances across two levels, including a torrid August when he slugged an absurd .750. If player development were simply about carrying tools, Blash would be a star because he has plus-plus power and an arm to match.

Negatives: Player development isn't simply about carrying tools. Blash is so big that his swing can be quite long, even with his quick wrists, so he's always had gaudy strikeout totals. He's old never to have even earned a 40-man roster spot, and the organization that knows him best, and saw him have his monster campaign, decided to leave him exposed to the Rule 5 draft.

Projection: Blash has his work cut out for himself to make the big league roster, but he'll get every opportunity. A native of the Virgin Islands, the big man has been a project ever since he was drafted in 2010, so the question now is whether his all-or-nothing approach at the plate fits what the club wants in its fifth outfielder. If not, he'll wind up back in Tacoma to start the year.

MadFriars’ Assessment: We considered a number of players at the back-end of the list, includingTayron Guerrero (who in some ways is the pitching equivalent of Blash), Carlos Asuaje, and fellow behemoth slugger Brad Zunica. Ultimately, the proximity, opportunity and upside of Blash claims the last spot here.

These rankings compiled and written by John Conniff, David Jay, Ben Davey and Kevin Charity.


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