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.
Click here for the series intro and last week’s reports.
Chris Baker, SS, Low-A Tri-City
Taken out of the University of Washington in the 17th round of this year’s draft, Chris Baker is currently plying his trade in the Northwest League with the Tri-City Dust Devils. Having played all over the infield at Washington (competently, according to multiple reports), he’s played shortstop exclusively during his month and a half as a professional. Currently at the All-Star break, Baker’s slash line is .300/.397/.393 in 179 PA, with a 129 wRC+. That’s good enough for him to be selected for the Northwest League All-Star team.
Baker’s an interesting player, as I found out when I had the opportunity to watch the Dust Devils play a series in person a couple of weeks back. Offensively, he already looks comfortable at this level. The ball looks solid off of his bat, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit more power develop before he’s through. Defensively, I thought he looked average/above-average, with a pretty strong arm. In each game of the series, there were some mental lapses on the bases and in the field. John Conniff at MadFriars saw Tri-City’s subsequent series and made no notes of such issues. Given this and reports I’ve read out of college, I’d venture to guess this isn’t a long-term issue worth being too concerned about.
While the draft position and rankings justifiably aren’t particularly sexy, this is a solid player who could end up being an interesting, “under-the-radar” type guy in the system. (Vocal Minority David)
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.
Ever hear that old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?”
Sure you have, because people like to use it often when talking about really cheap automobiles or free merchandise or rebates on purchased concert tickets or Chris Paddack, the guy the Padres got back from the Marlins in yesterday’s Fernando Rodney trade.
Paddack, after being drafted in the eighth round last year and acquitting himself well enough in rookie ball, is in the midst of a breakout sophomore campaign. In six starts—and just 28 1/3 innings—so far this season, the right hander has a 0.95 ERA and just nine hits allowed. Okay, fine, you can chalk that up to good fortune in a small sample size, or whatever. But Paddack also has 48 strikeouts and just two walks, which . . . well, wow. He’s faced 98 batters and he’s struck out nearly half of them while walking barely north of two percent. There’s deception and good fortune and small sample sizes and then there’s smack-you-in-the-head dominance, and Paddack’s performance thus far falls squarely into the latter category.
But wait: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.