The big league Padres scuffled once again through a disappointing season, finishing in last place with a 94-loss campaign. While the product in San Diego was often putrid at best, San Diego continued to stockpile young talent, in hopes of building a contender in the not-too-distant future.
Last season, while writing my first prospect list for MadFriars, I felt like I had 20-25 guys for 30 spots - a year later I really had to make tough decisions because of all the talent that has been added to the system over the last calendar year. I wrote down and analyzed about 70 players before making my cuts down to the top 30.
When I looked at the Padres system as a whole, the organization is rich with young pitching -- although most of it is in the lower levels. The team also has an abundance of relievers who are close to being able to contribute at the big league level, perhaps as soon as next year.
San Diego made waves with a spending spree in the international market, although with a few exceptions, most of the teenagers who were signed did not crack my list. While many of those kids drew rave reviews on an article on Fangraphs it’s hard to rate them above guys I have seen and followed. I am sure many will crack next year’s top-30, though.
I generally look at both tools and numbers and I tend to favor guys who have produced at the higher levels. A guy who has huge numbers in Double-A, seems more likely to me to produce at the big league level. I am no scout, but I feel like I know enough to make a solid list.
Like John did last week, let’s take a look back at last year’s list and figure out where I was right and where I was wrong.
Where I was right: I had center fielder Manuel Margot as my number one prospect after last season and he hit .304 in El Paso with 30 stolen bases and ultimately made his big league debut. The Padres seem likely to give the 22-year-old a little additional seasoning (and get an extra year of control) by having Margot begin the season in El Paso. Margot is one of the most talented players in the entire organization.
I had Alex Dickerson at #12 and the left-handed hitter continued to hit, even after reaching the big leagues. Dickerson even hit for more power than usual last season and seems like he will be a solid contributor in the big leagues.
Where I was wrong: I had second baseman Luis Urias way too low and, in my opinion, it was the biggest oversight of my list a season ago. Urias put up solid numbers in 2015, playing as an 18-year-old in the Midwest League but his lack of power and the fact that he profiles as just a second baseman put him down on my list.
A breakout campaign in the Cal League, in which Urias won the MVP, flashed a little power and played well in a few stints at shortstop showed that I underestimated the talent that the Mexican-born prospect possesses. The organization has even toyed with giving Urias a look at shortstop in 2017 -- a move that could enhance Urias’ value as a prospect - assuming he can play at least competently at short.
Shortstop Javier Guerra topped our cumulative list last season and I had him as my number two prospect. The shortstop still has the ability to hit for power and is skilled defensively but he seemingly failed to make any adjustments and his strikeouts were a major cause for concern. I still have faith that Guerra has the ability for a rebound campaign but his 2016 was nothing short of a disaster.
With that, here is my top-30 prospect list for 2016.
1) Manuel Margot, CF
2016 stats with Triple-A El Paso: .304/.351/.426, 21 2B, 12 3B, 6 HR, 55 RBI in 124 games. Hit .243/.243/.405 in September cameo with Padres.
Margot, 22, takes the top spot on my list for the second straight season. The outfielder hit a career-high .304 and added 39 extra-base hits for the PCL champion Chihuahuas. Margot gets the top spot for several reasons, as I considered a few players for the top slot.
First, Margot’s overall tools are off the chart. He makes contact at an impressive rate, possesses plus speed and can play a premium center field. Margot introduced his defensive prowess to the San Diego fanbase in the Futures Game when he robbed the US team of a home run.
I used a Lorenzo Cain comp for my list last year and I really believe that Margot can be a guy who hits .300, with 15 home runs, 35 stolen bases and elite level defense in centerfield. He has the biggest ceiling of any position player currently in the San Diego system.
2017: I believe that Margot will return to El Paso for some additional seasoning. By spending the first few months in Triple-A, San Diego will also gain an additional year of control on the outfielder. Margot should get an opportunity to play every day in San Diego by mid-season.
2) Anderson Espinoza, RHP
2016 in Low-A (Greenville and Fort Wayne) 6-11, 4.49 ERA, 108.1 IP, 115 H, 35 BB, 100 K.
Espinoza, 18, was acquired by the Padres in the controversial Drew Pomeranz deal. While Boston had an opportunity to renege on the deal, ultimately Espinoza remained in the San Diego organization.
Most other publications have Espinoza has the number one prospect in the San Diego organization but I just could not put him ahead of Margot at this point. However, Espinoza has the type of talent that should get Padres fans excited about the future.
Espinoza possesses a powerful heater that sits at 95 mph but touched 98 mph at the Futures Game. His curveball has excellent downward action and will be a plus pitch. Espinoza will need to develop a third pitch but his two pitches are good enough to get him the big leagues.
While Espinoza isn’t the biggest guy in the world (listed at 6’0, 160 lbs, which is light.) he has a strong lower body and may add some weight as he fills out. Espinoza also operates with a swagger - both on the mound and in the locker room that displays confidence and poise. His stuff makes him a potential number 1 starter and he is one of the most exciting players in the entire organization.
2017: I believe that the Padres will be aggressive with Espinoza and push him to the front of what should be a very talented Lake Elsinore rotation.
3) Hunter Renfroe, RF
2016 stats: .306/.336/.557, 30 HR’s, 105 RBI, 22 BB, 115 K in 133 games for Triple-A El Paso. Hit .371/.389/.800, with 4 home runs in 11 games for San Diego.
Hunter Renfroe finally arrived in 2016. Renfroe, 24, has been near the top of Padres’ prospect lists since 2013 when he was selected in the first round by the Padres. I am anticipating that Renfroe will be gracing the MadFriars’ prospect lists for the last time.
Renfroe brings a couple of big tools to the table: power and a rocket arm in right field. Renfroe tied for the PCL lead in home runs with 30 and most of them weren’t cheap. Many will point to the home/road splits (Renfroe had a 1.049 OPS at home and a .737 OPS on the road) but Renfroe did sock home runs in parks that aren’t considered your typical PCL launching pads.
Renfroe reduced his strikeouts significantly in 2016 and only struck out five times in 35 at-bats in a small sample size in the big leagues. However, Renfroe walked just 22 times in over 500 plate appearances in Triple-A -- although he stated the lack of walks are due to his aggressive approach paying off more often in ‘16.
I see Renfroe as a guy who has 30 home run potential, although he will need to be more selective at the plate in order to reach his ceiling. Still, I believe in Renfroe and he should be at least a solid regular for the duration of his big league career.
2017: Renfroe should be in the Padres opening day lineup in right field. He strikes me as an early candidate for Rookie of the Year in the National League.
4) Cal Quantrill, RHP
2016 Stats: 0-5, 5.11 ERA, 37 IP, 39 H, 8 BB, 46 K, .264 opposing batting average between three levels.
Quantrill was the Padres’ top pick (8th overall) in June’s draft and he is the type of pitcher that you can dream on.
Quantrill’s recovery from Tommy John was well documented; he missed the entire college season and worked his way back with abbreviated outings in the AZL and Tri-City before starting a couple of games in Fort Wayne. While the overall numbers aren’t overly impressive, a few things about Quantrill jump off of the page for me.
First, he has the potential to have three above-average pitches. His fastball can touch 96 mph and there were reports of him hitting 98 mph in the AZL. He hit 96 mph in the Padres’ Future’s Game and his changeup is a clear strikeout pitch. His slider is good and many (myself included) think that it can become an above-average pitch.
Quantrill’s intangibles are quite impressive as well. As you would expect with a pitcher who attended Stanford, Quantrill is incredibly bright and had the advantage of growing up around the game, as his father pitched in the big leagues for over a decade. Quantrill has the makings of a potential ace in my eyes.
2017: Quantrill seems likely to slot right behind Anderson Espinoza in the Lake Elsinore rotation to start next year. Quantrill could be big league ready by 2018.
5) Michael Gettys, CF
2016 stats: .305/.363/.442, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 35 BB, 146 K in 128 between Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore.
Gettys, 21, was the Padres’ second-round pick back in 2014. When he was drafted, he was praised for his supreme athleticism, although a subpar showing in pre-draft showcases had scouts concerned about his ability to maximize his talents.
In 2016, Gettys had his finest professional season, hitting over .300, while reaching double-digits in home runs for the first time. In addition to the developing power and athleticism, Gettys patrols centerfield with ease and he should be able to play an above-average center field, should he make it to the big leagues.
While I have seen Mike Trout comps on Gettys, no player should have expectations that lofty placed upon them. He can be an above-average regular with 15-20 home run pop.
The concern I have with Gettys is the lack of plate discipline. Gettys reduced his strikeout rate a bit in 2016 but he still struck out a staggering 146 times. The young outfielder will need to make more contact before he can be considered a “can’t miss” type of guy -- however, I will bet on his tools and I believe he can become an everyday player.
2017: Gettys should be patrolling center field in San Antonio.
6) Luis Urias, INF
2016 stats: .330/.397/.440, 5 HR, 52 RBI, 26 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 40 BB, 36 K, in 120 games for Lake Elsinore.
Like I wrote above, I grossly misinterpreted the talent that Luis Urias possesses. The infielder had a good campaign in 2015 but was even better in 2016. Urias was the youngest player in the Cal League for the majority of the season but the 19-year-old won the batting title, MVP and led the Storm to a winning record in the season’s second half.
I love Urias’ offensive game. He barrels up the ball and hit balls harder and more consistently than any player I saw suit up for the Storm in 2016. His plate discipline is incredible and Urias has the best bat-to-ball skills in the Padres’ organization. Urias is never going to be a big power guy -- but he can hit 30 doubles a year with and be a threat to win a batting title down the road. The organization has hinted that Urias could see time at shortstop in 2017 -- a development that would only continue to raise his stock as a big-time prospect.
2017: Urias should begin next season with San Antonio as the starting second baseman.
7) Adrian Morejon, LHP
2016 stats: Has not pitched professionally.
Morejon, 17, was the Padres’ crown jewel of this year’s international spending spree. San Diego paid $22 million ($11 million bonus, plus 100% tax) to add Morejon to the system. While he is a virtual unknown to most of us, his talent has intrigued scouts for the past few years.
I have not seen Morejon but he comes highly regarded. Padres DSL manager Jeremy Rodriguez commended the lefty for his polish and his advanced feel for pitching. Morejon is still a long way from San Diego but his presence in the system is akin to adding another first-round talent into the fray.
2017: If the Padres are aggressive, Morejon should start in Fort Wayne, although waiting until June and sending the lefty to Tri-City could be a possibility as well.
8) Josh Naylor, 1B
2016 stats: .264/.302/.407, 12 HR, 75 RBI, 29 2B, 84 K, 25 BB, 11 SB in 122 games with Low-A Greensboro (Marlins organization) and Lake Elsinore.
Naylor, 19, was the centerpiece of the deal that saw Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea (briefly) moved to Miami. Naylor was the 12th overall pick in the 2015 draft -- and in a way gives the Padres a first-rounder from that draft. (San Diego lost the 11th overall pick when they signed James Shields).
Naylor is a 6’0, 225 lb. first baseman who probably won’t be able to play another position. While reports stated that he is limited defensively at first, he did show good footwork and soft hands in the few games I saw him live.
Naylor’s true value is with the bat. Naylor has quick wrists and for a guy with home run potential, he does not strike out a ton. Naylor hit several home runs in batting practice during the Futures Game and he socked an opposite-field homer in the Padres Futures game. Naylor does possess tremendous power to the opposite field and it should be interesting to see if he starts using the pull side more next year. Naylor reminds me a bit of Prince Fielder and he could be an above-average bat in the future.
2017: Naylor should open the season with Lake Elsinore, as he only played 33 games there last season.
9) Eric Lauer, LHP
2016 stats: 1-1, 2.03 ERA, 31 IP, 24 H, 9 BB, 37 K between three levels.
Lauer, the third of the Padres’ three first round picks in 2016 had the lowest ERA the NCAA has seen in over 30 years and pitched well in his professional career.
Lauer, 21, was said to a safe pick, meaning that he is likely to pitch in the big leagues and potentially could be the first starter from this draft class to reach the big leagues.
He has four pitches, all of which project to be average. His fastball sits in the low-90’s and his slider seems to be his best secondary pitch. Lauer, to me, may not have the type of ceiling that Quantrill or Espinoza have but I believe his polish and command give him the ability to become an above-average starting pitcher.
2017: Lauer seems likely to start the season in Lake Elsinore but he could move up the chain quickly.
10) Dinelson Lamet, RHP
2016 stats: 12-10, 3.00 ERA, 150 IP, 126 H, 61 BB, 158 K in 28 starts between three levels.
Lamet, 24, built on an impressive 2015 by flashing dominance wherever he pitched in 2016. Lamet has a big fastball that can hit 96 mph and an above-average slider.
At times, Lamet struggled with his command and he got himself into trouble by walking too many batters, but.his stuff is explosive enough to get strikeouts so he was able to pitch himself out of self-inflicted damage by using his slider to generate strikeouts.
The concern with Lamet is that he doesn’t necessarily have a third pitch. He has tinkered with a changeup but I haven’t really seen it thrown in any of Lamet’s outings. In order for Lamet to make the big leagues as a starter, he needs at least an average third pitch. The stuff that he does possess can be electric and that is why I am placing him so high.
2017: Lamet should be the opening day starter for the PCL champion Chihuahuas.
11) Jorge Ona, OF
2016 stats: Yet to play professionally
Ona, 20, was signed out of Cuba for $7 million by the Padres in July and is described by many as a likely corner outfielder with above-average power.
He launched a few balls into the second deck in left field during batting practice at Petco Park and seems to have very quick hands. Without seeing him play anything other than one game in instructional league, it is really hard to get a feel for what Ona can do.
I am putting Ona this high because I think he can be a big-time power threat, although defensively, he may be limited to left field. He is a wild card but he has had some success playing in Cuba. He will be a guy I will watch closely in 2017.
2017: Not sure at all about this one but a start in Lake Elsinore certainly seems plausible.
12) Chris Paddack, RHP
2016 stats: 2-0, 0.85 ERA, 42.1 IP, 20 H, 5 BB, 71 K in nine games between Low-A Greensboro and Fort Wayne.
Paddack, 20, was acquired in the Fernando Rodney deal and would have likely ranked much higher on this list if he wasn’t going to miss all of 2017 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Paddack’s numbers are absolutely insane -- a 14:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and just 4.3 hits allowed per nine innings pitched. His stuff - at least prior to injury - is other-worldly.
His fastball is around 90-94 mph but his changeup is the reason for his dominance. It has incredible movement and has been described as a “Bugs Bunny” pitch. He does have a curveball as well but it is clearly behind his other pitches. The injury clouds a few things but it is far from a death sentence. He can definitely be a big league starter but his changeup at least makes him a bullpen arm in the big leagues.
2017: Paddack will spend the entire year recovering from Tommy John surgery. In 2018, if healthy, he seems likely to be in Lake Elsinore.
13) Javier Guerra, SS
2016 stats: .202/.264/.325, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 34 BB, 141 K’s.
MadFriars and many other prospect lists had Guerra as the number one prospect in the Padres organization going into 2016. Then the games started and Guerra was easily the most disappointing player in the entire organization.
Guerra hit 15 home runs in Low-A and was supposed to be well above-average defensively. While the power is there and Guerra’s range and arm were apparent, for whatever reason, his tools just did not translate to game action.
Guerra seemed to always be late to the fastball and he could not handle any off-speed pitches thrown his way. He seemingly never made adjustments and was ultimately sent home before the conclusion of the 2016 season.
Still, Guerra can go in the hole and get to balls that many other players can’t and his arm is still truly elite. He needs to make the mental adjustments before I can even consider calling him the “shortstop of the future.” Next year will be pivotal for Guerra and the organization will need him to find his way.
2017: Guerra should repeat Lake Elsinore, as promoting him to San Antonio doesn’t seem viable.
14) Jacob Nix, RHP
2016 stats: 3-7, 3.93 ERA, 105.1 IP, 115 H, 20 BB, 90 K
Nix, 20, was the Padres’ 3rd round pick in 2015. He had a very solid first pro season and certainly did nothing to hurt his value as a prospect.
Nix is a three-pitch guy, with a fastball that can touch 94 mph and a curve and a change-up. After being piggy-backed in the first half, Nix struggled a bit in June in July before rebounding with an excellent August. He made the Midwest League All-Star team and showed good command all season.
Nix perhaps threw too many strikes -- opposing hitters hit .280 off of the righty, although some of that could be blamed on an outfield that wasn’t as good after Michael Gettys was promoted. Nix definitely can be a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues.
2017: Nix has earned a promotion to Lake Elsinore to start next season.
15) Logan Allen, LHP
2016 stats: 3-5, 3.47 ERA, 54 IP, 48 H, 22 BB, 47 K in 19 games between three levels.
Allen, still just 19, was acquired by San Diego in the Craig Kimbrel deal. He was ranked very highly in pre-season publications like Baseball America and, when healthy, he certainly didn’t disappoint.
Allen has gained quite of bit of velocity on his fastball since being drafted and the lefty can now hit 94-95 mph. His curve and changeup are pretty decent as well and he can throw them for strikes. He seems to be a guy that can reach the big leagues quickly and he profiles as a mid-rotation guy.
The lefty missed a big chunk of the season due to elbow soreness, which seemed more precautionary and less like a serious issue. He was throwing quite a bit in instructs to make up the innings he lost.
2017: Allen could start the season back in Fort Wayne, although he should be in Lake Elsinore by the end of the campaign.
16) Carlos Asuaje, INF
2016 stats: .321/.378/.473, 9 HR, 69 RBI, 32 2B, 11 3B in 134 games for El Paso. Hit .208/.240/.292 in seven games with the Padres.
Asuaje, 25, just hit all year in 2016. He hit .321 at home, .322 on the road, .316 off righties and a .333 average against lefties. Asuaje had 172 hits - which led the PCL.
The most impressive thing about Asuaje is that he knows his game. He hits the ball where it is pitched, is quick to the ball and has good plate discipline. He is solid at second base but can play all over the field.
Asuaje is also highly regarded in the clubhouse for his leadership. Manuel Margot singled him out on his making Margot’s transition to the Padres organization and the English language much smoother. Asuaje is one of those guys who has great intangibles.
2017: Asuaje will compete for the big league second base job but also could win a utility spot.
17) Hudson Potts, INF
2016 stats: .280/.338/.366, HR, 27 RBI, 12 2B, 3 3B, 18 BB, 47 K, 10 SB.
Potts, 18, was the Padres’ second first-round pick in this year’s draft. He signed a below-slot deal of $1 million, but while his selection was a bit of a surprise, the young infielder is definitely talented.
Potts has some power in his bat, although right now he is more of a gap-to-gap guy. While he only hit one homer, he also drove several balls to the wall, including one at Gesa Stadium, which might be the worst park to hit in all of minor league baseball. At his ceiling, he could be a 15-20 HR guy.
Scouts say he will end up at third base but he looked passable at shortstop. His arm might not play there but he seems athletic enough to remain.
2017: Potts should start next season in the cold of Fort Wayne and the Midwest League.
18) Fernando Tatis Jr., INF
2016 stats: .273/.311/.432, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 17 2B, 3 3B, 13 BB, 57 K.
Tatis, still just 17, was acquired in the James Shields deal with the Chicago White Sox. He made his professional debut with the Padres and certainly did not disappoint.
While Tatis is young, he has already shown impressive power. Chris Kemp, the Padres director of international scouting, marveled that Tatis’ raw power had increased quite a bit since joining the organization.
Tatis is already 6’3 and could grow another inch or two, meaning that his future is probably at third. He has a very strong arm and if everything goes right, he could be a big-time power bat. He is a long way from being a sure thing but he is certainly worth the lottery ticket that the Padres received for a pitcher who is on the decline.
2017: Tatis seems likely to start next season in Fort Wayne.
19) Buddy Reed, CF
2016 stats: .254/.326/.337, no homers, 13 RBI, 9 2B, 4 3B, 22 BB, 53 K, 15 SB
Reed, 21, was the Padres’ second-round pick this year, out of the University of Florida. While his college stats were underwhelming, he is a supreme athlete and you can easily see why the Padres were intrigued by his talent.
Reed can flat-out fly -- he plays an excellent centerfield and stole 15 bags for Tri-City. He made several highlight reel catches and has a pretty good arm.
He doesn’t have a lot of power, and his tools remind me a lot of Travis Jankowski. Reed has worked on his bunting, attempting to utilize his speed but his bat definitely needs some work. Still, Reed is one of the best athletes in the system,
2017: Reed should be patrolling Parkview Field for the TinCaps to start next season.
20) Mason Thompson, RHP
2016 stats: no record, 2.25 ERA, 12 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 12 K with AZL Padres.
Thompson, 18, could end up being the steal of the Padres’ 2016 draft. The high school pitcher out of Texas fell to the third round because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The righty has a fastball that can touch 94 mph and his changeup should be an above-average pitch. In the Futures game at Petco Park, Thompson also flashed a few good curveballs. Like Quantrill, the recovery from Tommy John is behind him. If he is healthy, he has a chance to be a top ten guy a year from now.
2017: Thompson seems likely to start next season in Fort Wayne.
21) Phil Maton, RHP
2016 stats: 5-3, 1.74 ERA, 11 SV, 51.2 IP, 32 H, 11 BB, 78 K in 38 games between three levels.
Maton, 23, has been the system’s most dominant pitcher since being drafted in the 20th round last year. His stats are mind-blowing: 14.5 K’s per nine innings with opposing hitters batting just .180 against the righty.
Maton was been lauded for the spin rate on his fastball and the movement it generates makes him virtually unhittable. His slider is pretty decent, too. The organization considered moving him back into the rotation but his stuff plays much better in the ‘pen. He started the season in Fort Wayne and ended up closing games for El Paso in the PCL playoffs. Maton is almost big league ready.
2017: Maton should get an invite to big league camp and could make the 25-man roster when spring training breaks. A return to El Paso seems to be the most likely outcome.
22) Austin Allen, C
2016 stats: .319/.362/.429, 8 HR, 62 RBI, 22 2B, 29 BB, 69 K between two levels.
Allen, 22, was one of the best offensive players in the Padres’ organization in 2016. He got off to a torrid start in April, cooled off considerably in May and was solid the rest of the year.
Allen makes contact, has a good approach at the plate and a solid stroke from the left-hand side of the plate. While the homers weren’t plentiful, I expect him to hit for more power next season, when he plays in a more hitter-friendly environment.
The concern with Allen is his defense. He works very hard but his glove is far behind his bat at his point. He may eventually shift to first base but if his glove becomes passable, he could develop into a very good player.
2017: I expect Allen to be behind the dish in Lake Elsinore to start the season.
23) Walker Lockett, RHP
2016 stats: 10-9, 2.96 ERA, 164 IP, 150 H, 24 BB, 123 K between four levels.
2016 was quite the year for Walker Lockett. Not only did he win the illustrious MadFriars Pitcher of the Year award (LINK), but he also advanced all the way to Triple-A and started the championship game that was broadcast on national television.
Lockett just flat-out throws strikes. He led all Padres minor leaguers with 164 innings and he walked just 24 hitters all season. Lockett gets ahead of batters with a sinker that can touch 95 mph and a pretty good breaking ball. He flashes a changeup as well but guys with his control generally crack the big leagues.
In a way, he reminds me of Joe Musgrove of the Astros (go Grossmont Hillers) in that he is a large pitcher with a good sinker who rarely walks batters. Lockett may not have the upside as some of the pitchers on the list, but he is a legitimate candidate to start in San Diego next season.
2017: Lockett, who was added to the 40-man roster, will get a chance to pitch in the big leagues at some point next season.
24) Franchy Cordero, OF
2016 stats: .290/.344/.450, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 24 2B, 16 3B, 23 SB, 39 BB, 154 K between three levels.
If there was an award for the most improved player in the system in 2016, then Franchy Cordero would be my choice.
The shortstop-turned-outfielder was flat-out dynamic in his first full year as an outfielder. He had 51 extra-base hits, including a Padres minor league record of 16 triples. He has quick wrists, very good speed and has some pop in his bat.
Cordero will still need to improve on making contact --154 is simply too many strikeouts. He did steal 23 bases but was also caught 14 times - he will need to pick his spots better in 2017.
If Cordero cuts down on the strikeouts, he would be a lot of fun to watch at the top of the order, with his combination of speed and power.
2017: Cordero probably starts in Triple-A, although a return to San Antonio is certainly possible.
25) Reggie Lawson, RHP
2016 stats: no record, 8.31 ERA, 8.2 IP, 12 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 7 K for AZL Padres.
Lawson, 19, was a competitive balance (round B) pick by the Padres in the 2016 draft. San Diego threw him $1.9 million to keep him away from Arizona State. Lawson battled injuries through his senior year and prior to the season, some considered him a first round talent.
Lawson is has a fastball that can touch 95 mph but will sit in the low 90’s. He has a curveball and a change, and his curveball seems to be the better of the secondary pitches. You can put almost zero stock in his AZL stats - the most positive development is that he should go into the 2017 season healthy.
Anytime you can get a potential first round pick in the later rounds, it is certainly a victory. Lawson is a guy that I really want to see more of.
2017: Lawson should be part of the piggyback crew in Fort Wayne.
26) Ruddy Giron, SS
2016 stats: .243/.302/.344, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 30 2B, 3 3B, 37 BB, 87 K between two levels.
Every Padre prospect geek knows the story of Ruddy Giron by now. He came out of nowhere with a 6-for-6 in his Midwest League and spent most of the first half terrorizing opposing pitchers. He struggled a bit in the second half but looked to be the breakout star of the system.
This season, he got off to a miserable start, hitting just .180 in the season’s first half. He picked things up a bit in the second half and went on a tear down the stretch after being promoted to Lake Elsinore.
I still believe in Giron’s bat -- he has good bat speed and a nice line drive stroke. I don’t think he will be a big power guy but he could be a .270 hitter. He played third in the instructional league and probably will stay there. I think his bat is better suited for second, however.
2017: Giron should open the season as the third baseman in Lake Elsinore.
27) Enyel De Los Santos, RHP
2016 stats: 8-5, 2.72 ERA, 121 IP, 108 H, 38 BB, 97 K.
De Los Santos, who was acquired in the Joaquin Benoit had a solid 2016 season. He dominated in Fort Wayne, pitching to a 2.91 ERA and was a little more hittable after a promotion to Lake Elsinore.
De Los Santos has a fastball that can touch 95 mph and has a curve and a change. He reminds me a lot of Rafael De Paula - a guy with a great heater and subpar off-speed stuff. I think that De Los Santos will ultimately end up in the bullpen unless his breaking pitches develop. He has a great arm and I do think he could be a setup man as a worst-case scenario.
2017: De Los Santos should open up in the San Antonio rotation.
28) Nick Torres, OF
2016 stats: .288/.326/.439, 12 HR, 58 RBI, 36 2B, 2 3B, 21 BB, 131 K.
Torres, 23, has been a favorite for us at MadFriars, ever since being drafted in 2014. The outfielder had another solid campaign in 2016, reaching Triple-A.
Torres isn’t a big home run hitter but he hits the ball with authority to the gaps and did hit six home runs in 130 at-bats with El Paso. Torres has always had the ability to hit the fastball and I think he can be a 15-homer type of outfielder in the big leagues.
Torres does need to improve his plate discipline -- he walked just 21 times last season. He gets over-aggressive at times, which leads to weak contact and strikeouts.
The former Cal Poly outfielder scores off the charts in intangibles and is one of the hardest working players in the organization. He is a guy who can become a big league bat, assuming his plate discipline becomes more refined.
2017: Torres will start next year in right field for El Paso.
29) Josh VanMeter, INF
2016 stats: .251/.331/.403, 14 HR, 56 RBI, 23 2B, 2 3B, 55 BB, 82 K.
VanMeter, 21, bounced back from a broken leg to have the best season of his professional career in 2016. The infielder opened the season in Lake Elsinore and hit 12 homers in the first half, earning a nod on the Cal League All-Star team. He struggled a bit in San Antonio in the second half, but he was promoted more out of necessity.
VanMeter added muscle in the off-season and his short, compact swing started to develop some pop. At the plate, VanMeter is one of the most disciplined batters in the system and profiles as a number two hitter. The power he flashed in 2016 makes him a legitimate prospect in my eyes.
VanMeter played a lot of third base last season but is better suited for second. With him and Luis Urias likely being teammates next season, VanMeter will probably see the bulk of his playing time at the hot corner in 2017.
2017: VanMeter should return to San Antonio and start at third base.
30) Brad Wieck, LHP
2016 stats: 4-1, 1.17 ERA, 61.1 IP, 44 H, 24 BB, 93 K, .202 opposing batting average in 41 games at two levels.
Wieck, 25, was acquired last year in the Alex Torres deal with the Mets. He initially debuted as a starter in the system, although a move to the bullpen looks to have given Wieck a clear path to the big leagues.
He is a physically imposing figure, standing at 6’9. He has a fastball that hits the mid 90’s and a slider that generates a lot of swing-throughs. His delivery is deceptive and he hides the ball well for such a large man.
Wieck actually fared much better against righties, so he is more of a setup reliever, as opposed to a left-handed specialist. The Padres have a ton of relievers that are close to big league ready and I believe that Phil Maton and Wieck are the best of the bunch.
2017: Wieck should start the year in the El Paso bullpen.