No matter what’s happening at the big-league level, the Padres have collected an overwhelming amount of talent over the last few years. Even though Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, and Hunter Renfroe all graduated from last year’s top 20, the system right now is arguably just as good, with the emergence of prospects like Fernando Tatis Jr., Eric Lauer, and Michel Baez. Michael Gettys, ranked seventh on our list at the end of last season, didn’t even crack our top 20 this go around, and he’s having a fine season as a 21-year-old in Lake Elsinore (okay, the strikeouts are a concern). And there are a bunch of other intriguing names that also fell short.
Over the last couple of weeks, the What’s Brewing On The Farm crew has been huddled at Padres Public headquarters, trying to sort out this heap of exciting prospects. Our creation is a midsummer’s top 20 for your enjoyment.
20. Luis Campusano, 18, Catcher
AZL Padres: 40 PA, .290/.450/.581, 22.5 BB%, 25.0 K%
Campusano, a bat-first backstop, is the opposite of the other catcher the Padres took early in this year’s draft, Blake Hunt. You could probably take either one, depending on your preference for polished defense vs. bigger offensive potential at catcher. Campusano’s tool set includes plenty of bat speed and over-the-fence power, the kind of raw offensive skills that work at any position. He’s 18, so there’s still plenty of work to do on the offensive side of the ball, but the main question with Campusano might be how the work behind the dish progresses.
Eric Longenhagen had a mostly negative report on his defense from a late-June viewing, but it’s early. On the plus side, it’s possible his bat makes him an interesting prospect even at first base or in an outfield corner, but obviously that kind of switch would put a dent into his prospect status. For now, cross your fingers and hope the Padres can develop Campusano into a good catcher. Remember, Yasmani Grandal was once viewed as a bat-first catcher too. (Sac Bunt Dustin)
19. Enyel De Los Santos, 21, Right-Handed Pitcher
Double-A San Antonio: 103 innings, 91 strikeouts, 36 walks, 4.37 ERA
De Los Santos is a 21-year-old who the Padres acquired from Seattle in the Joaquin Benoit trade in 2015. He throws an above average fastball and also has an average curve and change. He’s pitched the entire year in San Antonio for the Missions, making 17 starts to date. He’s tallied 103 innings and 91 Ks to go with 36 walks. He’s also hit seven batters which is reflected in his work-in-progress FIP of 4.00.
The tall (6’3”) right hander out of the Dominican Republic is reported to be working on command of his three pitches, and with success should move up to El Paso with the next wave of stud San Diego pitchers. By 2019, De Los Santos can easily round out in a 4th starter role in support of a staff that could include Anderson Espinoza, Cal Quantrill, Eric Lauer, and possibly Michael Kelly. Good times ahead. (Billy Lybarger)
18. Reggie Lawson, 19, Right-Handed Pitcher
Single-A Fort Wayne: 40 innings, 45 strikeouts, 20 walks, 5.18 ERA
Lawson, nearly three years younger than the rest of the Midwest League, has been predictably volatile in his first full year in professional ball, mixing one excellent start with a retched one. But there are a lot of encouraging signs he could be the pitcher the Padres thought he’d be when they gave him a $1.9 million bonus last year.
First, Lawson has strong strikeout numbers (45 K in 40 IP; 10.13 K/9), and his ugly 5.18 ERA is mitigated by a strong 3.76 xFIP. Second, he doesn’t turn 20 for a couple of weeks, and he’s already having success. Finally, he’s already flashing plus velocity with ton of projection left (6-4/205 lbs.). He often goes unnoticed because of the guys ahead of him, but Lawson is one of the more talented arms in the system that can break out next year. (Oscar)
17. Luis Almanzar, 17, Shortstop
Low-A Tri-City: 133 PA, .227/.308/.328, 9.8 BB%, 29.3% K%
The Padres signed Almanzar as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic for $4 million last summer. Starting the year as a 17-year-old in Tri-City (Low-A), he has split time between short and third, rotating with the bevy of other young international infielders acquired by A.J. Preller. Reports are that his defense is still trying to catch up to the speed of the game, and we’re still waiting for his bat to heat up, but he has as much potential as any of the young international signees in the Padres system. (Marcus)
16. Dinelson Lamet, 25, Right-Handed Pitcher
Triple-A El Paso: 39 innings, 50 strikeouts, 20 walks, 3.23 ERA
San Diego: 45 innings: 62 strikeouts, 19 walks, 6.40 ERA
Lamet barely made the cutoff for inclusion on our list, but his overall resume and major-league readiness (and, really, my slight obsession) couldn’t keep him off it. Lamet has struggled of late in San Diego, tossing out back-to-back four-inning, four-walk clunkers, but his body of work—and ability to miss bats—still entices. Lamet still has plenty to work on, like his command and his changeup, but his 31.2 percent strikeout percentage ranks sixth in the majors among all starters with at least 30 innings, right between Robbie Ross and Clayton Kershaw. He should get a long look in the Padres rotation, but a conversion to a lights-out reliever remains a possibility down the road. (Sac Bunt Dustin)
15. Franchy Cordero, 22, Center Fielder
Triple-A El Paso: 253 PA, .315/.361/.562, 6.3 BB%, 26.9 K%
San Diego: 94 PA, .230/.280/.414, 6.4 BB%, 44.7 K%
At the beginning of last year, Cordero was playing in High-A Lake Elsinore, and now he’s in the major leagues. The obvious, glaring weakness in his game is his strikeout rate, but at just 22 years old, there’s still plenty of time for him to tighten it up a little. He has some pop, and elite speed, which plays on the base paths as well as in the field. His floor appears to be a MLB bench player, perhaps a late game defensive replacement. While he’s not someone that you’d build a team around, his proximity to the big leagues can’t be overlooked, and there’s a chance that he could turn into a starter. (Marcus)
14. Mason Thompson, 19, Right-Handed Pitcher
AZL Padres: 12 innings, 12 strikeouts, 5walks, 2.25 ERA
Single-A Fort Wayne: 22 innings, 25 strikeouts, 9 walks, 5.73 ERA
Thompson had TJ surgery in his junior year of high school, which caused him to fall in the 2016 draft. He ended up being a third-round pick by the Padres, and began his pro career throwing 12 innings in the AZL, striking out a batter per. Thompson began 2017 impressing in the back fields at Peoria, and his performance there earned him a late-May promotion to Fort Wayne’s rotation. Although he did have a bit of an injury scare (elbow bursitis), Thompson is finally pitching consistently for the first time since his sophomore year of high school. The control in Fort Wayne has been wary at times, but Thompson is getting plenty of swings and misses during his first season of pro ball. With a mid-90s fastball to go along with a curve/change, Thompson should only improve all around as he continues to get more professional innings under his belt. (John Horvath)
13. Joey Lucchesi, 24, Left-Handed Pitcher
High-A Lake Elsinore: 78 2/3 innings, 95 strikeouts, 19 walks, 2.52 ERA
Double-A San Antonio: 16 2/3 innings, 14 strikeouts, 4 walks, 3.24 ERA
Strikeout fiend Joey Lucchesi and his ridonkulous 30.5 K% saw enough success in the Cal League that the Padres promoted the college lefty to San Antonio. The strikeouts have fallen off, but he’s held his own with a 3.37 FIP (let’s be real, we’re talking about just 16 innings here). Dustin had a lot of great info on Lucchesi in June, so let’s hope he improves on that breaking pitch and continues moving quickly. (Sac Bunt Chris)
12. Josh Naylor, 20, First Baseman
High-A Lake Elsinore: 313 PA, 28 PA, .297/.361/.452, 8.6 BB%, 15.3 K%
Double-A San Antonio: 28 PA, .259/.286/.407, 3.6 BB%, 14.3 K%
I wasn’t super high on Naylor after he was acquired in the Andrew Cashner trade, but he’s shown improvement since the end of last year. At 6’0’’ and 225 lbs, he has a body that will keep him at first (or DH), though he actually moves better than you’d think. What’s struck me most about his performance this year are his bat-to-ball skills. As a first baseman, he needs to hit for more power (he only had 12 homers last season, and is on pace for slightly more this year), but he can flat out hit. Like I said, the in-game power needs manifest itself more often, but he’s still the youngest player in the Texas League, and we’ll see how far his bat can take him. (Marcus)
11. Jorge Oña, 20, Right Fielder
Single-A Fort Wayne: 316 PA, .294/.370/.434, 8.5 BB%, 23.7 K%
Oña has made a lot of progress both on the field and off since our last list, making his pro debut in minor-league Spring Training and now all the way to full-season ball in Fort Wayne. He’s succeeded, not just navigating his life changes but also putting up solid numbers for the Tin Caps: a .291/.369/.429 slash line for a 129 wRC+. At 20, he isn’t all that young for the league, but we’ll take this one step at a time. Here’s a recent interview about his Midwest League All-Star selection with some video clips of his swing. And I feel it’s worth mentioning that one of his two total tweets is a video of him flexing shirtless. Enjoy. (Sac Bunt Chris)
10. Logan Allen, 20, Left-Handed Pitcher
Single-A Fort Wayne: 68 1/3 innings, 85 strikeouts, 26 walks, 2.11 ERA
High-A Lake Elsinore: 18 2/3 innings, 15 strikeouts, 7 walks, 1.45 ERA
Another Padres lefthander pitching for the Lake Elsinore Storm, the 20-year-old Allen has been on the rise lately as he was promoted after 13 starts for the Fort Wayne Tin Caps. Allen was pretty much just dominant in Fort Wayne (2.55 FIP, 11.20 K/9) and moved up to Lake Elsinore where his three starts have been solid but not yet outstanding. In 18. 2/3 innings pitched he’s K’d 15 and walked seven. He too uses a four-pitch mix (FB, SL, CB, CH) with good command.
Allen came from Boston in the Craig Kimbrel trade after the ’15 season, the one where the Padres also received Manny Margot, Carlos Asuaje, and Javier Guerra. Unfortunately, that trade has set the bar for plenty of Padres fans who expect A.J. Preller to do the same with Brad Hand this trade deadline. But back to Allen, who’s another promising lefty in the Padres stable that is loading up on quality southpaw arms that include Morejon, Eric Lauer, Allen and, newcomer MacKenzie Gore. It’s getting deep in here. (Billy Lybarger)
9. Michel Baez, 21, Right-Handed Pitcher
AZL Padres: 5 innings, 7 strikeouts, 2 walks, 3.60 ERA
Single-A Fort Wayne: 18 innings, 24 strikeouts, 2 walks, 0.50 ERA
I wrote a very glowing report on Michel Baez recently where I thought I may have gone a little overboard with my praise. He had only made one (dominant) start and overreacting to an A-ball pitcher’s debut is often a fool’s errand. Let’s just take a quick peek at Baez’s season totals to see how he’s been doing: 23 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 31 K.
Usually when a pitcher backs up a glowing scouting report with a near 8/1 K/BB rate people are going to rightfully start taking notice. I ranked Baez eighth in my personal top-15 prospect ranking, and I expect him to be near the top of most people’s top-5 by the time next spring comes around. (Oscar)
8. Eric Lauer, 22, Left-Handed Pitcher
High-A Lake Elsinore: 67 2/3 innings, 84 strikeouts, 19 walks, 2.79 ERA
Double-A San Antonio: 18 1/3 innings, 16 strikeouts, 2 walks, 3.44 ERA
Taken with the 25th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Lauer was considered by many to be the “safe” pick, after the Padres went with the risky Cal Quantrill (then still recovering from Tommy John surgery). Words like “high floor”, “polished”, and “mature” have all been used to describe him, and while not particularly sexy, he’s shown that he might have a higher ceiling than previously anticipated. After putting together a 11.2 K/9 rate and a 2.79 ERA in 12 starts at High-A, he was promoted to Double-A. He rarely walks anyone, throws strikes, and features a low-90s fastball with strong secondary pitches. At this point, he seems to be on the fast track to the majors, and even if it’s probably as a middle rotation piece, there’s still a chance it could be more. (Marcus)
7. Jacob Nix, 21, Right-Handed Pitcher
High-A Lake Elsinore: 55 1/3 innings, 41 strikeouts, 7 walks, 3.90 ERA
Nix was sidelined by a groin injury to start 2017, and ended up making his first start on May 26th. His first six starts resulted in a 2.84 ERA over 38 innings, with 36 strikeouts and 37 hits allowed. The solid stretch was capped off by an 11-strikeout complete game in which Nix gave up only two hits against Rancho Cucamonga. Following that outing, Fangraphs’ prospect guru Eric Longenhagen called Nix “firmly” a top 100 prospect. His last three outings since that performance, though, have not been great. 17 1/3 innings, 22 hits, 12 earned runs, and only 5 strikeouts. In the hitter-friendly Cal League, though, stretches like that happen. There is a solid chance Nix will get back on track and make his rise to being a mainstay in the top 100 prospect lists, like Longenhagen said. (John Horvath)
6. Anderson Espinoza, 19, Right-Handed Pitcher
High-A Lake Elsinore: No Stats
The good news: Espinoza is just 19, and it’s fun to think about his 2017 season as the equivalent to a gap year for a rich kid from Connecticut, one who gallivants all over Europe after high school before enrolling at Tufts. Alright, it’s not that fun.
Espinoza is still 19, though, so even if he spends the rest of the summer in Amsterdam, he could start next season at Lake Elsinore and still be super young for his league, with a good performance track record, and excellent stuff. There’s a lot to like here, but the lack of innings this year is obviously concerning. It’s not so much a developmental thing as much as it is the mostly unknown status of Espinoza’s right elbow. The last report I’ve seen said no structural damage, but missing three and a half months due to elbow-related issues qualifies as a red flag, neon-style. Hopefully the arm is sound, and Espinoza can get in a few innings before the end of the season; he could catapult back toward the top of this list if such a thing happens. (Sac Bunt Dustin)
5. Adrian Morejon, 18, Left-Handed Pitcher
Low-A Tri City: 29 1/3 innings, 27 strikeouts, 3 walks, 4.30 ERA
Morejon has made six starts, thrown 29 1/3 innings, and has looked terrific doing so. He strikes batters out at a 22.1 percent rate while walking batters at an amazingly low 2.5 percent. His old timey numbers took a bit of a hit last time out as he gave up seven hits and six earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings, but his other five starts have been solid. He uses a four-pitch mix with all four being plus or above average. His command has been good and he is looking a lot like he earned that No. 2 international prospect ranking for 2016. The Padres have to be pleased with their high-dollar international selection.
Chris Kusiolek, an on-the-rise evaluator, loves a few Padres prospects, including Morejon:
Fernando Tatis Jr. is special. His success comes as no surprise. He, Michel Baez and Adrian Morejon are top 20 dudes in the sport for me
— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) July 8, 2017
4. Luis Urias, 20, Second Baseman/Shortstop
Double-A San Antonio: 401 PA, .307/.402/.395, 12.2 BB%, 11.2 K%
A whole lot has gone right for Luis Urias in 2017, which is a great way to follow up a 2016 where lots of other things went right. This time around he’s tearing up the Texas League, where he’s four years below the average age, plays in a pitcher’s ballpark, and still has a heart pumping .402 OBP. He’s sporting an adjusted 126 wRC+ while spending time at second base and shortstop, though he’ll likely wind up at second in the majors. There’s also the whole thing about Baseball America upgrading him to 37 in their top 100 prospects. As Bryant suggested in our 2016 prospect list, my butt is sufficiently prepared. (Sac Bunt Chris)
3. Cal Quantrill, 22, Right-Handed Pitcher
High-A Lake Elsinore: 73 2/3 innings, 76 strikeouts, 24 walks, 3.67 ERA
Double-A San Antonio: 5 1/3 innings, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks, 6.75 ERA
Quantrill, the 8th overall pick by the Padres in 2016, has had a solid 2017. Statistically, there is nothing too flashy that stands out (3.87 ERA and 88 hits allowed in 79 innings between A/AA). He has struck out roughly a batter an inning, though, and has gotten pretty unlucky in terms of BABIP. Given the fact this is Quantrill’s first full year of pitching since 2014, at this point we all should be more concerned with how his health/stuff looks rather than the numbers. And both are passing with flying colors, as evidenced by his Futures Game selection and promotion to Double-A. With a mid-90s fastball, a changeup (his best pitch), and a breaking ball which seems to be improving, 2018 seems like a realistic time for Quantrill to reach San Diego. (John Horvath)
2. MacKenzie Gore, 18, Left-Handed Pitcher
AZL Padres: 2 innings, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0.00 ERA
The Padres drafted left-handed prep pitcher Mackenzie Gore with the No. 3 pick more than a month ago. Since he was drafted, Gore has 1) become extremely wealthy ($6.7 million signing bonus), 2) been named Gatorade Athlete of the Year, and 3) made his professional debut with the Arizona League Padres.
Only the latter one really matters here (congrats on the cash and vast amounts of poon headed your way, MacKenzie; I guess). Gore’s line was solid in his debut (2 IP, 1H, 1 BB, 2K), but more importantly his stuff looked every bit the part of a No. 3 pick. According to reports from prospect experts who were there and half of Twitter, Gore was sitting comfortably 94-96 with plus secondary stuff.
We probably won’t learn much more about Gore the rest of the year that we don’t already know; the sample size just isn’t going to be significant enough. I expect him to toss only a few innings per start the rest of the way since there’s no need to push him. Still, it was an encouraging first look. (Oscar)
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., 18, Shortstop
Single-A Fort Wayne: 394 PA, .268/.363/.497, 11.9 BB%, 26.1 K%
Once somewhat sane people start driving six hours (one way) to watch one of your games, you’re a top prospect. Tatis started the year at Fort Wayne kind of treading water. It was good performance for an 18-year-old in full-season ball, but his slash line looked pedestrian compared to guys like Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Then Tatis apparently fully caught up to the Midwest League; he had a 14-game stretch from June 27 through July 12 where he OPSed 1.586 with six home runs, four triples, 15 walks, and six steals. He’s improved every facet of his game over the course of the season, from patience to strikeouts to power. Even Tatis’ propensity for errors at short has faded, as he had 13 in his first 39 games and just seven over his last 51. There’s a locker in Lake Elsinore with his name on it. (Sac Bunt Dustin)