This is a list of the best prospects in the Padres’ organization.  To be eligible for this list a player must still possess their rookie status.  Prospects are ranked both by their ultimate potential and the likelihood that they will reach that potential.  The easiest way to understand the rankings is to consider what order players would be selected in if the entire organization were eligible for a draft.  Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) for each prospect is when they would reach the majors if they were able to reach their potential.

Two new wrinkles to the rankings:

  • Prospects have been split into tiers to help get a better idea of the talent gap between players (i.e. the difference between position 1 and 2 may not be the same as the difference between position 14 and 15)
  • Risk Factors have been included to help show the largest road block faced in each player’s development

Tier 1

1) Austin Hedges – Hedges is the main desire of many hearts in baseball. He offers the type of skills not often seen in a 20-year-old catcher. Headed to Lake Elsinore to start his season, Hedges may be a quick mover that could be MLB-ready in 2014. ETA: 2014

Risk Factor – some scouts aren’t convinced he’ll be more than a singles and doubles hitter

2) Rymer Liriano – Last year’s top prospect in the system, Liriano gets dinged a bit due to the fact that he’ll miss 2013 after Tommy John Surgery but should still be an impact player in the long term. Look for him to be ready for AFL games come October. ETA: 2014

Risk Factor – Liriano will miss out on approximately 500 at bats this year, which may hamper his offspeed recognition

Note: Liriano was ranked #1 prior to the announcement of his injury

Tier 2

3) Jedd Gyorko – Concerns about Gyorko’s defense at second base may have spun a bit out of control over winter. While he’ll never be a Gold Glove winner, Gyorko will easily provide enough value with his bat from day one to make up for any defensive limitations. ETA: 2013

Risk Factor – the hit tool is undeniable, but there are numerous bat-first guys that have failed

4) Max Fried – Fried is only this far down on the list due to the fact that he is yet to play a full season of professional baseball. Fried possesses all the tools necessary to be a true number one starter on a contending team, but has a long way to go. ETA: 2015

Risk Factor – see “yet to play a full season of professional baseball” note above

5) Keyvius Sampson – Sampson struggled with wildness for a large part of 2012 but really honed in his mechanics down the stretch. A San Diego debut before September isn’t out of the question for this right-hander. ETA: 2013

Risk Factor – guys who only have an MLB-level fastball and changeup are typically destined for the bullpen

6) Robbie Erlin – Erlin is coming off a strong AFL showing and should be less than 100 MiLB innings away from a call up. He missed a few months last season due to elbow inflammation but should be past those issues. ETA: 2013

Risk Factor – very few pitchability guys have long careers

Tier 3

7) Matt Wisler – Wisler burst onto the scene in 2012 after being drafted the year before as a pure projection arm out of Ohio. He now has a mature arsenal that is led by a mid-90s fastball. ETA: 2014

Risk Factor – Wisler doesn’t have the most conventional delivery but hasn’t shown any true red flags thus far

8) Joe Ross – While Ross missed significant time due to shoulder issues, he showed very well down the stretch with the Eugene Emeralds. Reports out of camp have Ross with a sharper arsenal than last season and just as big of a fastball as ever. ETA: 2015

Risk Factor – Ross will always have a dominant fastball, but he’s going to need at least one other 60+ pitch to reach his ceiling

9) Casey Kelly – Kelly has officially been shut down for the immediate future and appears destined for Tommy John surgery after seemingly having the inside track on a spot in the Padres’ rotation. While a full recovery is likely, Kelly and the Padres will be tasked with figuring out if mechanical tweaks to his delivery before the 2012 season are to blame for his injury woes. ETA: 2014

Risk Factor – there is a chance that Kelly will be forced to go back to his old delivery that didn’t allow him to attack hitters as effectively

Note: Kelly was ranked #6 just ahead of Robbie Erlin before his injury was announced

10) Cory Spangenberg – Spangenberg struggled with post-concussion symptoms for much of the season, which has earned him a reprieve for the year in most scouts’ eyes. He’ll need to show significant progress to retain his prospect status in 2014. ETA: 2015

Risk Factor – the hit tool that was supposed to be extremely advanced looked very ordinary in 2012

11) Jonathan Galvez – A severe ankle injury limited Galvez in 2012 and neutralized his most significant tool – speed. He still has a shot to be a first-division starter and could give the Padres an option to replace Gyorko if he switches over to third base in the event of a Chase Headley trade. ETA: 2014

Risk Factor – while his defense has progressed, it still has a long way to go unless Galvez makes strides at the plate

Tier 4

12) Zach Eflin – Eflin is slated to pitch this season in Fort Wayne, although he may be held back for the first few weeks of the season to shorten his overall workload. He’s an extremely projectable pitcher that should immediately show an impressive fastball and solid offspeed arsenal. ETA: 2016

Risk Factor – when drafted, Eflin featured an inconsistent delivery that would often leave his arm lagging behind his body

13) Walker Weickel – Weickel should follow the same path as Eflin in 2013 to Fort Wayne where he could have immediate success due to his relative polish. Weickel offers less overall projection, but flashes an impressive ceiling. ETA: 2016

Risk Factor – while Weickel showed a fluid delivery in high school he had a tendency to collapse his lower leg a bit leading to increased work for his arm

14) Donn Roach – In 2012 Roach posted the best ground ball rate in all of professional baseball through the use of his low-90s sinker that he can locate with tremendous arm-side run. He still needs to gain consistency with his secondaries, but Roach could be in San Diego by July if needed. ETA: 2013

Risk Factor – Roach at times lets his front half fly open which causes him to lose command of his two seamer, turning it into a very hittable below-average offering

15) Matthew Andriese – It was admittedly surprising to see Andriese remain in Lake Elsinore for the entire 2012 season, but he remains a guy that should be able to contribute sooner rather than later. He’s pretty far down the depth chart so 2013 may be out of the question, but his polished arsenal will help him move. ETA: 2014

Risk Factor – Andriese needs to have command to be effective. When his mechanics are off the raw stuff isn’t good enough to find success.

16) Edinson Rincon – After a bit of a surprising assignment to Double-A, Rincon settled in during the second half of the season to post a respectable final line. But, as a bat-only player Rincon will need to hit his way to San Diego. ETA: 2014

Risk Factor – Rincon is a below average defender at best at third, leading the Padres to try him out in left field about a quarter of the time in 2012 with mixed results

17) Joe Wieland – Wieland is set to miss most of the 2013 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. He should be an interesting test case as his extreme control pre-surgery will be tested during recovery. ETA: 2013 (although he will not pitch in San Diego this year)

Risk Factor – the success rate of Tommy John surgery is so high at this point it’s tough to imagine Wieland not returning to form, but anything is possible for a guy that relies on location over stuff

Tier 5

18) Jace Peterson – Peterson remains a supreme athlete still trying to refine his baseball skills. 2013 will be Peterson’s second full season of professional baseball, meaning he’ll need to begin showing real progress as more than a 23-year-old in High-A. ETA: 2015

Risk Factor – Peterson shows a great approach at the plate but needs to prove he can be a dynamic player on offense and defense

19) James Darnell – Darnell has missed time in two-consecutive seasons with left shoulder injuries, but can still be a useful player. An ideal role for Darnell likely sees him playing substitute at third and left field a few times a week while providing solid power off the bench. ETA: 2013

Risk Factor – Constant injuries have stunted Darnell’s growth and slowed the development of the aspects of his game that require improvement

20) Adys Portillo – There’s a lot to like about a guy that can sit in the upper-90s at times even if his secondaries need a fair amount of work, but Portillo is yet to show more than a well-above-average fastball in his four seasons with the Padres. A successful bullpen career is still very much a possibility for Portillo and seemingly the likely outcome at this point. ETA: 2014

­Risk Factor – Portillo’s career best mark at any level is 4.4 BB/9 – the control needs to improve for him to have ANY sort of career

21) Henry Charles – Charles failed to match expected power production in AZL action in 2012 but every other aspect of his game seemed to take a step forward. He’s a solid breakout candidate as he heads to Fort Wayne for his first full season. ETA: 2016

Risk Factor – Charles hit .190 with just two extra-base hits in 42 at bats against lefties in 2012. It’s a small sample size but also a concern in his scouting report.

22) Rodney Daal – Daal has continually showed an advanced bat since signing with the Padres. He has a long way to go defensively, but thus far has reassured the Padres of their investment. ETA: 2016

Risk Factors – there have been times where Daal has looked lost behind the plate, but that’s to be expected for an 18-year-old catcher

23) Cody Hebner – Hebner has a big fastball but struggled to find consistency in 2012. He’s still decently young but may be transitioned to a bullpen role before reaching the majors. ETA: 2015

Risk Factor – while Hebner’s fastball and curveball have worked well enough against low-minors hitters, he’ll need to find some resemblance of control to stick in the rotation

24) Burch Smith – Smith came out of relative nowhere in 2012 to absolutely dominate California League hitters. He’s got a huge fastball but is more likely to become a power reliever than remain a starter. ETA: 2015

Risk Factor – Smith needs to prove that he wasn’t a one-year wonder in 2013. He also has a long way to go in gaining consistency with his offspeed arsenal that he often tried to refine in game last season.

25) Jaff Decker – This is it. One way or another Decker will no longer be on this list next year. After three-straight seasons of regression Decker needs to show that he can make the necessary adjustments to his game to be a difference maker. Another lackluster year will likely force Decker to a different organization in 2014. ETA: 2013

Risk Factor – Decker has always possessed an average hit tool at worst, but his patience has actually HURT him over the last few seasons

The next tier after the Top 25 would be a group of high-ceiling relievers, in no particular order:

  • Matt Stites
  • Kevin Quackenbush
  • John Barbato
  • Brad Boxberger


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