Through a winter of despair comes a beacon of hope . . . it’s prospect week here at Padres Public!
Today we’ll have a cumulative top 10 list and some Big Picture discussion. Throughout the rest of the week, we’ll discuss specific players more in-depth, re-heating the cooling winter hot stove with some overdue prospect fodder.
First, the prospect list. As most all reputable prospect outlets have released top prospects lists (we’re still waiting for Keith Law and a few others), we decided to combine them together with a top-secret algorithm and spit out an overall top 10. Without further ado, using the lists from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Chris Crawford, FanGraphs, Mad Friars, and—yes—Padres Public, voila:
1. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
2. Manuel Margot, OF
3. Hunter Renfroe, OF
4. Cal Quantrill, RHP
5. Adrian Morejon, LHP
6. Luis Urias, 2B
7. Jacob Nix, RHP
8. Chris Paddack, RHP
9. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
10. Michael Gettys, OF
A Pitcher at No. 1?
TINSTAAPP—There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect—is obviously an oversimplification, but it still makes plenty of sense, especially today, when pitchers undergo Tommy John surgery at the same rate you or I might get our teeth cleaned.
Espinoza is very much a prospect, duh—and an exciting one. He does tangible prospect-y things, like ramp up the fastball into the high 90s. And he’s also only 18, with the mound presence of someone much older.
Of the six lists that comprise our secret sauce top 10, four of them ranked Espinoza as the no. 1 prospect in the system. Only Baseball Prospectus and our own list ranked Margot ahead of him. It’s a testament to just how well-regarded Espinoza is in the prospect world, because those four sites certainly know the inherent risks that accompany a young pitcher.
Me? I’d still take Margot at no. 1, for the simple reason that his job doesn’t involve hurling a baseball 95 miles per hour with regularity. While injuries can wreak havoc on the careers of non-pitchers, it’s generally a much smoother trip to the majors. Plus, Margot’s just about ready for the big leagues right now; with a good spring training, he could prompt an Opening Day nod. There’s just that much less risk in the profile, and it still comes with the upside of an everyday center fielder.
But Espinoza—shall he successfully navigate all that seeks to harm his right arm—might have the highest ceiling of anyone in the system. It’s not a bad one-two punch, either way.
The Big 5
Of the five players in our cumulative top 5, none of them ranked worse than sixth in any individual list. In other words, there’s not much separation of opinion on these guys. Espinoza and Margot are the clear top two, and the other three guys are pretty evenly mixed behind them, with Renfroe getting a bit more love than both Quantrill and Morejon (call it the Western Metal Effect).
After that, there’s—not surprisingly—a bit more variation in opinion. In a couple of lists, for example, Fernando Tatis Jr. (more on him later this week) is comfortably in the top 10, whereas he misses the cut entirely on others (some lists go 20-deep). Luis Urias is ranked as high as fifth (us) or sixth (BA, Crawford) and as low as 12th (FanGraphs).
Hey, We’re Not Too Bad
As we hopefully made clear when we released our list in October, we’re not experts. We do get out and watch some games, we crunch some numbers, and we follow these guys closely. But a huge chunk of our information comes from the prospect sites referenced in this article, and we’re humble enough to understand that our top 20 list is, in many ways, just an accumulation of information we’ve sought out—from our own eyes (occasionally) and calculators and web browsers.
But I think we did a darn good job, either way. Our list came out before any of the national publications, and we nailed eight of the 10 prospects who made the cumulative top 10. The only players we missed on were Tatis Jr. and Jacob Nix, placing pitchers Eric Lauer and Dinelson Lamet in their place (and we had those two at nine and 10, respectively).
The Non-Top 10 Top 10
Arguably the most exciting thing about the Padres system is its depth. I don’t mean like the seventh guy in the system, necessarily—I mean like the 17th or 27th or, shoot, 55th guy in the system. The Padres have acquired (or retained) a ton of interesting talent. Using the information from the lists above and some further subjective input, here’s a potential top 10 list that doesn’t include any of the actual top 10 players:
1. Jorge Ona, OF
2. Logan Allen, LHP
3. Franchy Cordero, OF
4. Carlos Asuaje, IF
5. Dinelson Lamet, LHP
6. Javier Guerra, SS
7. Josh Naylor, 1B
8. Gabriel Arias, SS
9. Eric Lauer, LHP
10. Hudson Potts, SS
11. Mason Thompson, RHP
12. Wait, Do I Have To Stop, SS
You’ve got a couple of toolsy outfielders, three talented shortstops, a young lefty starter, a near-ready utility infielder, a first baseman who was drafted 12th overall in 2015.
I’m not going to pretend I know enough about every system in baseball to properly compare, but I’m guessing if you took away the Padres top 10 prospects, they’d still slot in like 25th in organizational rankings, ahead of teams like the Angels and Diamondbacks.
It’s a ridiculously deep system, with a nice mixture of high-upside projects and safer bets.
The Non-Top 10 Non-Top 10 Top 10
Alright, what the heck. Let’s keep going:
1. Mason Thompson, RHP
2. Luis Almanzar, SS
3. Jeisson Rosario, OF
4. Reggie Lawson, RHP
5. Phil Maton, RHP
6. Enyel De Los Santos, RHP
7. Austin Allen, C
8. Andrew Lockett, RHP
9. Jose Rondon, SS
10. Hansel Rodriguez, RHP
Still might beat out the Angels.