It’s June and the Padres are 31–45; that means it’s the time of the year when mid-season prospect list start popping up. Last week Padres ProspectusEast Village Times, and Phillip unveiled lengthy and well-done Padres prospect lists, and somewhere in his east coast palatial estate David Marver is (apparently) working on a top 110 or something. I figured, what the heck, here’s mine.

(all stats through some point this weekend)

11. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, Single-A Fort Wayne

You might glance at Fernando Tatis Jr.’s numbers and wonder what all the fuss is about. Tatis is hitting “just” .260/.338/.430 in 296 plate appearances. He’s striking out 26.3 percent of the time and walking 9.5 percent of the time. He has 12 steals in 20 tries. There are two things here:

1. Once you adjust for age, those numbers are quite good. In the Midwest league there are only 11 18-year-old position players. Of them, only offensive wunderkind Vladimir Gurerro Jr. has a higher wRC+ than Tatis (146 to 116). Keibert Ruiz is tied with Tatis, but five of the others—including teammates Jack Suwinski, Hudson Potts, and Reinaldo Ilarraza—have figures of 80 or lower. Flip over to the South Atlantic League, the Midwest League’s east coast cousin, and it’s more of the same. There are only two 18-year-old position players there, and neither has a wRC+ better than 110.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Michael Kelly, RHP, Double-A San Antonio

While we wait for Cal Quantrill, Adrian Morejon, and the rest of the Famers that will be the foundation of the Padres’ dynasty (2021-2025), we must first drudge through “Jhoulys Chacin Pitching on the Road” piles of shit and ride Clayton Richard’s stapled shoulder to 5-2 losses.

It’ll be a long time before the Padres rotation is truly great, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to have to wait that long before it’s good. We’ve already seen what Dinelson Lamet’s capable of in his short time with the big club, and Luis Perdomo, while still mostly just stuff and upside, can every now and then give you a 6 IP, 6h, 2er, 1bb, 8k night.

While two OK arms don’t make a good rotation, three might! I wrote about Michael Kelly last year for one of our first What’s Brewing on the Farm segments. Kelly pitched at three different levels last year, including Triple-A El Paso, where he was mostly up and down. He struggled at Lake Elsinore (29.1 IP, 25K, 12BB, 5.83 ERA), looked great in San Antonio (49.2 IP, 49K, 17BB, 2.90 ERA), before getting knocked around again Triple-A (49.2 IP, 41K, 23BB, 4.89 ERA).

Kelly, who’s still only 24 and was a supplemental 1st-round pick back in 2011, has been terrific at Double-A, where he’s pitched the entire season. Even with the caveat that he’s repeating the level and San Antonio is a pitcher-friendly environment, 91 strikeouts in 84.2 innings (15 starts) is impressive.

As I wrote last year, Madfriars had Kelly’s fastball in the mid-90s; with his strikeout numbers, it’s safe to assume not only has he maintained that velocity this year, but his secondary pitches have also started coming along. Kelly will probably be promoted to Triple-A at some point, and considering how mostly trash the rotation is right now, a call up to the big leagues shouldn’t be far off. (Oscar)

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Last Tuesday night Padres Public converged on Eastlake, Ohio for a Midwest League game between the Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Lake County Captains. Nathan traveled from about a half hour away in Cleveland, and myself from somewhere in the middle of New York, a cool six-hour trip. Nathan made an additional appearance on Thursday night.

This is what we saw.

Ronald Bolanos, RHP

Bolanos, a 19 year old Cuban who signed last August for $2.25 million during A.J. Preller’s summer abroad, started his minor league career in extended spring training, but he was sent out to Fort Wayne in mid-May, and he’s now made 5 starts for the team. Thursday night was the fifth, and it was his longest start of the year, at 6 2/3 innings pitched. In his previous start, he went 5 innings, giving up 2 runs and striking out 9 batters against a very good Lansing team, his best start of the year. Thursday’s was on course to be better, but it had to settle for also quite good.
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The Padres started this week’s amateur draft with six straight high schoolers, highlighted by 6-foot-3 left hander MacKenzie Gore. Then, just when you thought you had them figured out, they reeled off nine straight college players, taking 25 of them in total from round six onward. Just for good measure, they added in some exciting high schoolers in between, like LSU commit Daniel Cabrera.

Are they going to be able to sign all of their picks inside the first 10 rounds? Is there going to be money left for someone like Cabrera or another late-round high schooler? These are questions you might have. We don’t have the answers, but let’s take a crack at it.

Player Status Commitment Pick $ BA Rank Slot Bonus Proj. Bonus
MacKenzie Gore HS East Carolina 3 4 $6,668,100 $6,200,000
Luis Campusano-Bracero HS South Carolina 39 42 $1,760,700 $1,600,000
Blake Hunt HS Pepperdine 69 123 $858,600 $600,000
Mason House HS Oklahoma State 78 84 $732,200 $900,000
Sam Keating HS Clemson 108 116 $497,000 $800,000
Jonny Homza HS Hawaii 138 Unranked $371,200 $200,000
Aaron Leasher College Jr. N/A 168 Unranked $278,500 $100,000
Nick Margevicius College Jr. N/A 198 234 $217,000 $165,000
Olivier Basabe College Jr. N/A 228 Unranked $172,000 $80,000
Alex Cunningham College Sen. N/A 258 Unranked $147,000 $25,000
Dominic Taccolini College Sen. N/A 288 Unranked $136,600 $25,000

The last two columns are the slot value for that pick and my projected signing bonus, based on a super-secret formula (it’s just a guess, really).

Gore has Scott Boras in his corner, but the commitment to East Carolina probably never scared anyone. A lot of early picks sign for something under slot, just because the slots are so high. A player might not mind going under slot when he’s still getting a check for $5 or $6 million. Not saying Gore shouldn’t get full slot for being a kick-ass pitcher and bypassing three years of college, but my guess is that he settles for something closer to $6 million.

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Last week, Nathan did a great job covering the potential candidates for the Padres third overall pick, including commentary on all five of the top consensus prospects, Hunter Greene, Kyle Wright, Brendan McKay, MacKenzie Gore, and Royce Lewis.

All of them sound pretty good to me, but given who’s likely to be there, I think I’m leaning toward Gore or Lewis. Anyway, if you’ve read Nathan’s post or anything from sites like Baseball America, then you have a pretty good handle on all of the obvious candidates. What’s going to happen in the rest of the Padres draft, though? Well, shoot, who knows, but here are some things to look for.

The First Pick Shocker

Actually, before we hit the rest of the draft, let’s consider the improbable: what if the Padres go outside that conventional top five with their first pick at no. 3? There’s nothing to indicate that it will happen, and usually teams at the top of the draft want top-of-the-draft talent. But the Padres have zagged before a time or two, so there’s always a non-zero chance. It’d likely be a maneuver to save some money early to go over slot at pick no. 39 or later on, but there’s also the possibility the Padres just like somebody better than the conventional names, depending on who’s on the board. Some potential candidates here are outfielder Heliot Ramos (more on him later), high school righty Shane Baz, or fast-rising junior college righty Nate Pearson.

Alright, here are some overall trends (and some specific players) to look for beyond the first pick.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

MLB Farm, one of Daren Willman’s sites, has some pretty cool features. One of its coolest ones is the cumulative org stats page, which allows one to easily compare statistics from players across an entire farm system. Here are some eye-catching early stats—both good and bad—from the first couple months of 2017.

(stats through Tuesday’s games)

Position Players

Michael Gettys: 34.4 percent strikeout percentage

Gettys has been on a role of late, popping home runs with good regularity and padding his slash line. Then again, he’s still striking out in bunches. On Monday and Tuesday of this week alone, he went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts and a walk. Even in his last 10 games, over which he’s crushed four home runs and hit .351, Gettys has struck out 16 times, no better than his seasonal rate. He’s just 21, but he’s also getting his second look at the hitter-friendly Cal League, and he’s actually striking out more frequently (by six percentage points) this year than he did last year at Lake Elsinore. Gettys is full of exciting tools, but the main sticking point with him will continue to be whether or not he can make enough contact to let those tools play at the big-league level.

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The Padres lost 11–0 to the Rangers on Tuesday, and Joey Gallo‘s third-inning home run off Jered Weaver skimmed the underside of one of Big Brother’s satellites. On a another note . . .

The other day I wrote about how the Padres might handle international amateur free agency over the next few years, unable to sign any players for more than $300,000. Then MadFriars, over on Reddit, made an interesting point that I’d overlooked. In their words:

Players from Mexico are generally signed directly from Mexican League teams, and so those teams require a rights fee for letting one of their players go to a major-league club. According to an older article by Ben Badler, only the portion paid to the player is considered as the actual signing bonus. So, as MadFriars notes, it’d be possible for the Padres to sign an international amateur from Mexico for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 million, with $900,000 going to the Mexican League team and the other $300,000 to the player. Badler confirmed as much yesterday.

This is, to say the least, an interesting development, since we thought that the Padres would be limited to $300,000-and-under talent for two years.

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Once June 15 hits, the current international amateur signing period will be over. The Padres will have spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 million, penalties included, and possibly much more if they make one final splash and ink Cuban star Luis Robert.

Robert or not, it’s been a historic run for an organization not necessarily known for shelling out the dollars. In their perfectly timed international spending frenzy, the Padres bolstered every part of their farm system, adding high upside arms like Adrian Morejon and a slew of young position players, highlighted by shortstops Luis Almanzar and Gabriel Arias, and outfielder Jorge Ona.

But what comes next?

Since the Padres blew past their $3.3 million signing bonus pool for the 2016-2017 J-2 signing period, they can’t spend more than $300,000 on a single international amateur player until 2019. In other words, all of the high-profile Dominican and Venezuelan players available to sign this July 2 are off limits, not to mention any major Cuban amateurs (i.e., players under age 25) that leave the island over the next two years.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Cal Quantrill, RHP, High-A Lake Elsinore

Don’t tell Quantrill that the Cal League is supposed to be friendly toward hitters. He’ll stare you down, find the nearest baseball, and strike you out with 95 mph heat.

Quantrill’s latest masterpiece came against Rancho Cucamonga, on Tuesday night, against a lineup that included major-league rehabbers Logan Forsythe and Joc Pederson along with some legit prospects. Quantrill’s line: six innings, seven hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, and a career-high 12 strikeouts.

As others have noted, the most important thing the Padres can do with Quantrill is try to keep his arm healthy. Coming off Tommy John surgery in college, there’s no rush to push Quantrill up a level or work him for innings. We don’t know all that much about arm health, so just take it slow, monitor his condition after each start, and watch his innings and pitches. So long as the arm stays together, natural talent should carry Quantrill in whichever direction he points it.

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what's brewing on the padres farm system

Yuniet Flores, OF, High-A Lake Elsinore

Are you on board with A.J. Preller loading up on young international talent, but not quite patient enough to see if any of these teenagers actually pans out? If so, you’re in luck, because there’s one Cuban that the Padres inked to a deal last August that’s already playing at High-A Lake Elsinore: Yuniet Flores.

Of course, there’s a catch—Flores isn’t a teenage phenom, he’s 31 years old. He debuted with the Storm on Sunday and promptly went 4-for-6, including a walkoff single. After playing in a few more High-A games, he is off to a .462/.563/.538 start in 16 plate appearances.

Is that enough to get excited about? I’m not sure. I’m a long drive away from Lake Elsinore (hello from Texas), so I haven’t had eyes on him yet. His stats from the Cuban National League are good but not great (.298/.371/.409 over an eight-year period). In terms of what he brings to the table, well… I honestly can’t even find even a shred of a scouting report on Flores.

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