The Padres are deep. They’re so deep that they’ll be running with two AZL teams in 2017. Some guys on this list will likely be starting in 2017; others won’t see the big leagues for a few seasons, but they’ll be there. Because a lot of this talent is in the low minors we can expect quite a bit of variance. Some of these guys may be perennial All-Stars or may fizzle out at AA. Other organizations are full of prospects that have succeeded at AA and beyond. That’s not where the Padres are wealthy, but the Padres are prospect-rich nonetheless. The Pads took 3 guys in the Rule 5 Draft this year which will put those guys on the fast track to MLB production and fantasy production. They also signed 10 International Top Prospects in July including 6 of the top 30, as listed by MLB.com at that time. At the big league level they have a lot of weaknesses which will lead to accelerated climbs through the minors for their prospects. MLB.com and MiLB.com are two obvious resources to research when delving into these systems, but for Padres specific stuff I found East Village Times to be extremely helpful.
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have high likelihood of making the majors but providing minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players who are worth keeping an eye on, but likely to never make a team’s 40-man roster
1. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
Age: 18 (DOB 03/09/1998)
He’s been known to reach 100 with his fastball and his consistent mechanics have resulted in good control. The next few seasons will really show us who he is, but with his fastball and a curveball and changeball that are developed beyond what is expected of an 18 year old he could wind up being someone’s #1 starter for years to come.
2. Manny Margot, OF
Age: 22 (DOB 09/28/1994)
He steals bases and hits for average. After hit .304 for El Paso last year he was brought up to the show where he hit OK for a September call up. By all accounts he’ll be a starting outfielder next year for the Padres.
3. Hunter Renfroe, OF
Age: 24 (DOB 01/28/1992)
I’m not going to make a Hunter Renfrow joke (Good job Clemson!). We’re here to talk about Hunter Renfroe. Unless I’m missing something I don’t see anyone standing in the way of Renfroe or Margot reaching the big league club. A lot of outlets are projecting an OF of Jankowski, Margot and Renfroe. Renfroe is more promising when it comes to power than Margot is and he has a cannon for an arm. He’s still striking out too much though. Hopefully we’ll see that diminish as he gains experience. It does not take a huge stretch of the imagination to see him being in the Tier 1 category, but that’s true of several of these prospects. Most likely he will be a solid contributor for years to come.
4. Cal Quantrill, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB: 02/10/1995)
Despite a rough showing at with Fort Wayne he’s still a 1st Round Draft pick with 4 pitches. His Tommy John surgery can’t be ignored, but at this point tons of pitchers have come back from it. He should climb through the minors quickly, but maybe not as quickly as you’d expect of a #8 overall draft pick with college in the rearview.
5. Adrian Morejon, LHP
Age: 17 (DOB 02/27/1999)
Some things I read make it easy to imagine Morejon as a Tier 1 player. It’s just hard to project how much success a 17 year old will have. Quantrill outranks him on the list because he’s much closer to MLB ready. Morejon does have the higher ceiling. He’s been known to hit 96 MPH with his fastball and he also has a good curveball and changeup. Oh… and a knuckleball? He could wind up as 1 or 2 in the rotation one day, but not very soon.
6. Josh Naylor, 1B
Age: 19 (DOB 06/22/1997)
He’s slow and he’s not expected to get any faster but he can hit for power. Potentially a 30 HR a season kind of power. 2016 did not go very well for him, but he’s expected to rebound. He’s a first-base only prospect but maybe a move to the AL would help his fantasy potential.
7. Luis Urias, 2B/3B/SS
Age: 19 (DOB 06/03/1997)
Could be an every day second baseman before too terribly long. His range will likely prevent him from putting in considerable time at SS though he has shown the ability to play there. Some of his prospect middle infield peers are on the 40 man roster, but he’s not. Does that mean anything? I’m going to lean towards no in this case. Asuaje, for instance has already spent some times in the big leagues but he’s older (25) and his ceiling appears lower. In 120 games at Lake Elsinore Urias hit .330 and then in very limited play at AAA Urias demonstrated that he had no problems adjusting to the caliber of pitching he found there. In his 15 plates appearances he walked 5 times, got hit by a pitch and collected four hits. Does that mean a whole lot? Statistically the sample size is too small to get really excited, but it’s clear AAA pitching didn’t bother him.
8. Eric Lauer, LHP
Age: 21 (DOB 06/03/1995)
Lauer is a great pitcher and he’s a great athlete. As a High School football player he was a Max Preps High School Varsity Football player of the week in 2011 and as a college pitcher he led all NCAA Division I pitchers in ERA posting a 0.69. His fastball and slider are good and his curve and change aren’t far behind. His ceiling is questionable to some, but with his poise and athleticism I think he could continue developing past expectation.
9. Dinelson Lamet, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 07/18/1992)
Lamet is 24 and reached AAA last year. He’s going to be in the big leagues sooner than some of the other pitching prospects on this list (Nix, Paddack) and he’s a lefty so that adds value. He has a great fastball, a good slider that is improving and a changeup. The changeup still needs work but he’s coming together and should continue improving.
10. Michael Gettys, OF
Age: 21 (DOB 10/22/1995)
Gettys is an exciting young outfielder. He has hit above .300 in two of his first three professional seasons and started to show a little more pop last year. But his ability in the outfield is more intriguing. He has a good glove, a great arm and he’s very fast which will allow him to cover ground. The Padres outfield will be a bit crowded if Renfroe, Margot and Jankowski are as good as expected so that could slow the ascent of Gettys and other outfielders on this list.
11. Jacob Nix, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 01/09/1996)
Nix is a big, strong guy with a good fastball reaching up to 95. He performed well in Fort Wayne but his mechanics are not always consistent and his changeup needs improvement.
12. Logan Allen, LHP
Age: 19 (DOB 05/23/1997)
He already has a Bowman baseball card so I suppose Topps believes in Allen. He projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter but it’s important the he projects as a Major League starter. He needs to stay healthy but if he does he should be on the fast track to the big leagues.
13. Enyel De Los Santos, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 12/25/1995)
His fastball has been clocked at 97 and his changeup is above average when compared to his peers. His curveball isn’t far behind and he has command of all three pitches. He’s still young but there’s every reason to believe he’ll wind up in the big leagues.
14. Chris Paddack, RHP
Age: 21 (DOB 01/08/1996)
Paddack is still growing and his fastball is still getting faster. He’s already in the 90s and could wind up consistently in the mid-90s. His changeup is his best pitch and his curveball is pretty good it lags behind the other two pitches. His season was cut short last year due to Tommy John and 2017 will probably be spent rehabbing from the surgery. It will be difficult to assess his progress for quite awhile.
15. Jose Rondon, SS
Age: 22 (DOB 03/03/1994)
Rondon is quite alright across the board, except for when it comes to power. Maybe that will develop, maybe not. Even if it doesn’t, he could find himself in the big leagues before too long. He has hit for decent average in the minors and the Padres thought it worthwhile to bring him up last year. His performance wasn’t great but with continued seasoning he could make it stick at the big league level. It’s more likely that he’ll be a utility guy than a starter though.
16. Buddy Reed, OF
Age: 21 (DOB 04/27/1995)
Buddy Reed beat Jorge Ona because of his glove and speed. He’s very fast and his glove is major league ready. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a switch hitter. His bat must improve though. There’s not much of a consistent consensus regarding his ceiling in terms of hitting.
17. Jorge Ona, OF
Age: 20 (DOB 12/31/1996)
He’s a big guy with a big bat. That means upside, especially in the fantasy world. He’s a bit slow which will affect his potential as an outfielder, but he’s demonstrated proficiency in the outfield. So what will become of Jorge Ona? Next year will make it a lot easier to figure out. With more information he might rise very quickly.
18. Allen Cordoba, SS
Age: 21 (DOB 12/06/1995)
Cordoba is an interesting story. He’s a Rule 5 Draft Pick who has never played above rookie ball. But he raked there, hitting .362 last year. So now, all he has to do to stay in the big leagues is stay on the 25-man roster. But the thing you need to know for your fantasy team is he’ll have every chance to be on the big league club to start the season. I think he has a chance to make it. Other SS prospects in the Padres system have their own issues so why not hang onto the 21 year old with upside while waging through a rebuilding year?
19. Carlos Asuaje, 2B
Age: 25 (DOB 11/02/1991)
Asuaje is on the 40-man roster so he should have a chance to break camp with the team. He is expected to be a utility guy, but a good one. He hits well but his glove isn’t great. Also he’s only 5’9, 160 which is kind of small for a ballplayer.
20. Luis Torrens, C
Age: 20 (DOB 05/02/1996)
Acquired from Cincinnati after the Reds selected him in the Rule 5 draft this past December. If Austin Hedges doesn’t perform Torrens might get a shot in the bigs sooner, rather than later. He doesn’t have a ton of experience behind the plate, having converted from SS after being signed by the Yankees in 2012. He hits well for his age and he has a big league arm already.
21. Hansel Rodriguez, RHP
Age: 19 (DOB 02/27/1997)
Rodriguez has a great fastball reaching up to 98 MPH. His two other pitches, a slider and a changeup, are still lagging behind as his control. As he develops and works through his mechanics these pitches should come around. A 19 year old throwing 98 is someone to watch.
22. Miguel Diaz, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 11/28/1994)
Diaz is pretty similar to Rodriguez but he’s older and his control isn’t quite as good. On the plus side, his slider is a little bit better and he’s already on the 25-man roster after being taken by the Twins and traded to the Padres in the Rule 5 draft. So he has an immediate chance at big league success. It will be interesting to see how he looks in spring training.
23. Javier Guerra, SS
Age: 21 (DOB 09/25/1995)
Guerra had a bad 2016 just barely topping the Mendoza line. His glove is outstanding though which is why some people rank him much higher as a prospect. A good glove is important if you want to be a big leaguer. Much less important if you just play fantasy baseball.
24. Nick Torres, OF
Age: 23 (DOB 06/30/1993)
He hit well in AAA last year and if his power continues developing could be a starting outfielder one day.
25. Franchy Cordero, OF/1B
Age: 22 (DOB 09/02/1994)
Cordero is on the 40-man roster, which tells us the team is taking him seriously. He hit .290 last year along with stealing 26 bases so he’s continuing to progress. Will most likely start in AAA.
26. Mason Thompson, RHP
Age: 18 (DOB 02/20/1998)
The 6’7 18 year old reaches 94 with his fastball and projects to have an above average curveball and an average changeup. He could climb these prospect rankings fast but he still has a lot of minor league time ahead of him. He has had TJ surgery once already.
27. Brad Wieck, LHP
Age 24: (DOB 10/14/1991)
6’9 with a mid 90s fastball. He’ll likely be pitching out of the bullpen at the big league level next year.
28. Reggie Lawson, RHP
Age: 19 (DOB 08/02/1997)
Similar to Hansel Rodriguez and Miguel Diaz with a good fastball complemented by two below average pitches. His accompanying pitches are a curveball and changeup.
29. Jerry Keel, LHP
Age: 23 (DOB 09/26/1993)
Groundball pitcher who gives up very few home runs. Should start the season in AAA.
30. Ruddy Giron, SS
Age: 20 (DOB 01/04/1997)
His progress slowed a bit in 2016, but he can still hit and he’s still young. Considered to be remarkably mature by front office.
31. Pedro Avila, RHP
Age: 20 (DOB 01/14/1997)
A.J. Preller thinks he can be a big league starter. His curveball and fastball are his best pitches.
32. Jose Torres, LHP
Age: 23 (DOB 09/24/1993)
He’s a lefty with a good fastball who has already seen time in the big leagues. Could make a fantasy impact in 2017.
33. Gabriel Arias, SS
Age: 16 (DOB 02/27/2000)
Only 16 but it’s not hard to see him as the Padres SS in a few years. Considered advanced for his age.
34. Austin Allen, C
Age: 23 (DOB 01/16/1994)
Allen’s a good hitter but his defensive skills need to improve. Bats left, throws right.
35. Jeisson Rosario, OF
Age: 17 (DOB 10/22/1999)
Needs a lot of development but could wind up being an every day outfielder. Look for him to move up prospect lists.
36. Luis Almanzar, SS
Age: 17 (DOB 11/01/1999)
Hits well and he’s expected to develop power. Very good arm.
37. Fernando Tatis Jr., 3B/SS
Age: 18 (DOB 1/2/1999)
He’s been impressing scouts and he has the pedigree. Excellent arm and should grow into more power.
38. Hudson Potts (Sanchez), 3B
Age: 18 (DOB 10/28/1998)
Lots of upside with Potts. I expect he’ll be much higher on next year’s list. He’s Hudson Sanchez on baseball-reference.com.
39. Brad Zunica, 1B
Age: 21 (DOB 10/21/1995)
6’6. Hits home runs. Strikes out. He’s interesting, but it’ll be awhile before he gets close to the big leagues.
40. Jean Cosme, RHP
Age: 20 (DOB: 05/24/1996)
He’s 6’2 and still filling out. Velocity should increase. Ended the season on a high note with a 1.38 ERA over his last five starts.
41. Phil Maton, RHP
Age: 23 (DOB 03/25/1993)
Skyrocketted to AAA and has an ERA of 1.60 after 84.1 professional innings. He could be somebody and soon.
42. Joey Lucchesi, LHP
Age: 23 (DOB 06/6/1993)
He’s striking people out and hardly walking anyone. Maybe AA this year and then a promotion to AAA before the end of the season?
43. Austin Smith, RHP
Age: 20 (DOB: 07/9/1996)
2nd rounder out of high school but his numbers so far haven’t been great.
44. Michael Kelly, RHP
Age: 24 (DOB 09/6/1992)
Made a huge jump last year and pitched decently in AAA, but he definitely didn’t blow through the opposition.
45. Diego Goris, 3B
Age: 26 (DOB 11/8/1990)
He’s shown flashes of power and he hit pretty well last year. But he’s been bouncing around the minors so he’s probably been dubbed a AAAA player for life. I think he’s worth watching for utility purposes.
46. Tirso Ornelas, OF
Age: 16 (DOB 3/11/2000)
His work ethic is reported to be remarkable and he sprays the ball all over the place. Keep an eye on him.
47. Andrew (Walker) Lockett, RHP
Age: 22 (DOB 5/3/1994)
Big climb last year. Probably AA or AAA to start next year and if he can make the right adjustments he could be in the bigs as soon as 2017.
48. Ty France, 3B
Age: 22 (DOB 7/13/1994)
6’0 first baseman with some power. Hit over .300 at Lake Elsinore last year. Maybe due a promotion.
49. Kyle Lloyd, RHP
Age: 26 (DOB 10/16/1990)
He’s already a proven workhorse and his ERA has dropped as he’s advanced.
50. Jose Castillo, LHP
Age: 21 (DOB 1/16/1996)
Was once a Top 20 prospect for the Rays. He has not progressed as hoped but he is still young and had a 2.03 ERA last year.
Eric Killian is an Army Officer who covers the San Diego Padres for Prospects1500. He is a longtime baseball fan and collector whose collecting inspired him to learn all he can about up-and-coming players. He recently relocated from Sierra Vista, AZ., to El Paso, TX. Follow him on Twitter @USKillian