After starting our What’s Brewing On The Farm series, we thought we would put it all together by publishing our own top Padres prospects list. It’s important to note that while we’ve seen a few of these players in person, we aren’t scouts or experts. We follow the Padres farm and collect as much info as we can from a variety of real experts.
What follows is a list based on mixing those opinions, and our own preferences of the importance of a player’s qualities. It’s also a mixture of each contributor’s thoughts into one final result. So throw on your AJ Preller approved bucket hat, it’s about to get real prospecty in here.
Series intro and week no. 1
Week no. 2
Week no. 3
Carlos Asuaje, 2B, Triple-A El Paso
Asuaje might best be described as a high floor prospect. Acquired as part of the Craig Kimbrel trade last offseason, he’s already spent significant time at three different positions (second base, third base, and left field) while showing off on-base skills and some occasional power at the plate. Even if he doesn’t develop into some kind of everyday monster—and there’s a good chance he doesn’t—there’s a place on every major-league team’s bench for a player with this skill-set.
Presumably, Asuaje is good at—or at least working on—other things that would make him valuable in a utility role, like base running or being able to get down a bunt or clubhouse meal spread manners. Of course, that’s the floor. Before you toss Asuaje into the Geoff Blum bin, consider that, two years ago, he racked up 65 extra-base hits between Boston’s Single-A and High-A affiliates, including the rare extra-base hit triple double (24 doubles, 10 triples, 11 home runs) in just 90 games at Single-A Greenville. After a subpar season last year at this dish, Asuaje has rebounded nicely this year with an .847 OPS through 515 plate appearances, although careful reader’s will note that performance’s context (the hitter-friendly PCL).
Andrew Cashner. Gone. Matt Kemp. Gone. Melvin Upton Jr. Gone. Fernando Rodney. Gone. James Shields. Gone. Twelve out of thirteen draft picks from the first ten rounds of the 2016 Amateur Draft signed. Over $60 million in international signings so far, and that’s just since July 2nd.
One thing that all of these trades, draft picks, and international signings say to me is that Lake Elsinore is going to be the perfect place for Padres fans to watch baseball on a regular basis. And, it’s looking like it’s going to be that way for a couple of years, at least.
I’ll be honest, I should have written at least part of this earlier in the season. But the influx of talent to the lower levels of the minor leagues made it relevant again.
So you like prospects? We do too, so we decided to carve out a place at the corner of the bar where we’ll talk them. . . non-stop, like that annoying dude discusses his car collection. Each week (hopefully) we’ll grab a select number of Padres minor leaguers we’re interested in and write about them, discussing everything from advanced statistics to prospect rankings to developmental strategy to first-hand scouting reports. (The format, you’ll note, is inspired by Baseball Prospectus’ Monday Morning Ten Pack.)
Austin Allen, C, Single-A Fort Wayne
As I noted in BP2016, Allen’s Twitter bio ends with the phrase “Somewhere Hitting Baseballs Hard.” It’s no lie. The first time I saw him in spring training, his sweet left-handed swing caught my attention. I made a point of watching his batting practice most days, and it was always the same: easy swings, loud contact. As FanGraphs’ David Laurila observed in May, “he’s looking for balls up in the zone and thinking middle of the field,” which isn’t a bad idea.
Allen brought that approach with him into his first full professional season at Fort Wayne, where he earned Midwest League Player of the Month honors in April with a ridiculous .460/.539/.603 line that included ten multi-hit games and only four zero-hit games. The 6’4” 225 lb Allen has cooled considerably since then (.267/.304/.379 from May 1 to July 25, including an 11-game hitting streak that remains intact as of this writing), but his overall numbers are solid. The 2015 fourth-round pick out of Florida Tech has performed especially well against southpaws, hitting .359/.391/.495 against them.
Last offseason the Padres turned Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski into Drew Pomeranz. Then they turned Pomeranz into a healthy and effective pitcher for three and a half months. Then, earlier today, they turned that healthy and effective pitcher into Anderson Espinoza, a consensus top 25 prospect in all of baseball.
My opinion on A.J. Preller’s body of work seemingly changes weekly (as it should, I suppose), but right now it’s hard to argue that he’s not moving this franchise in the right direction. Give him—and his staff, obviously—credit for realizing that Alonso wasn’t the guy and that Pomeranz was both a good buy-low option and a potential breakout candidate. Give them further credit for actually helping Pomeranz reach that level and then, finally, for realizing that this season is lost and that Pomeranz is probably more useful as a trade chip in a thin market than as an ace on a fourth or fifth place team—especially when Dave Dombrowski has a team in the playoff hunt.
Espinoza is just 6-feet tall and 18 years old, but he’s already thrown 79 and 1/3 innings at Red Sox Single-A affiliate Greenville, posting a 4.54 ERA but a much more impressive 2.62 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 0.2 HR/9. Remember, he’s 18, nearly four years younger than the average South Atlantic League player. A few weeks back we noted that recent Padres pickup Chris Paddack was super young for the South Atlantic League . . . well, Espinoza’s a full two years younger than him. In fact, Espinoza entered the season as the youngest player in the entire South Atlantic League. There’s a decent change he’s never faced anyone younger than himself.