Padres Continue to Deal – Snell & Darvish In; Several Prospects Out

Luis Patino - Photo credit Cherished Memories Photography

The Padres are going to put me out of a job. A year ago, they had one of the best farm systems in baseball and talent at all levels. Fast-forward to today, and the Padres have traded nearly 25 prospects away for more established pieces, signaling a clear “all-in” stance. As the Padres resident here at Prospects1500, I had come to really admire some of these young guys, so I felt it was appropriate to go over the prospects heading out one last time. If you’re a fan of the Cubs or Rays I hope you enjoy these young guys and appreciate the value that they are bringing to your organization.

Rays Deal

Mejia wasn’t really a prospect, so we can skip him for now. The headliner in the deal is very clearly Luis Patiño, who checked in at #4 in my rankings as a Tier 2 player. Cole Wilcox was drafted in the third round in 2020, but he was an obvious first-round talent who the Padres managed to float down to them later in the draft. I hadn’t officially decided where to rank him, but he was going to be close to top 10. I had mentioned #11 in a piece I wrote when the draft had just finished. Blake Hunt was set to see a major jump in my rankings, but he had been slotted in at #37.

Luis Patiño – RHP (#4)

If Patiño was a few inches taller, I would have probably had him in Tier 1. Unfortunately, the size keeps me from being 100% confident in the right-handed Colombian. Every other box is checked in permanent maker though. He has a high leg kick and a smooth delivery that allows the ball to explode out of his hand. What’s more, everything looks the same coming from the release point. In his brief exposure to the big leagues in 2020 he struck out 21 batters in 17 innings while working mostly in relief. But make no mistake — he is no reliever. We are looking at a #2 pitcher here, with the upside of a #1 in terms of the stuff and command. His fastball/slider combo is lethal against right-handers with his fastball hitting 97 mph consistently. It’s an electric arm, often cited as elite in the scouting world. The slider is a wipeout pitch as well, playing extremely well off the fastball. The issue that was holding him back slightly, was the lack of a third pitch to help neutralize left-handers, but I was impressed with how far his change-up has come. It’s flat still, but he is commanding it a lot better than he was in 2019. If he can gain some depth on it then we have the ace that Rays are hoping that they acquired. If not, he still sits very comfortably as a solid #2.

The downside, as mentioned before, is the size. I always worry about longevity and durability with these under-sized pitchers (he checks in at 6’1”, 190 lb) but there is just too much potential here to dock him too much for this. What gives you hope is that he has managed to put on 25-30 pounds since being signed, so as he matures he should be able to post some incredible seasons. The Rays lost their ace, but probably just replaced him with another.

Cole Wilcox, RHP (#11)

If the size is the main concern with our last prospect, then that is the opposite here. Wilcox is a specimen at 6′ 5”, 230 pounds, and looks like a typical top-of-the-rotation stud. Drafted in the third round in the 2020 draft, Wilcox is a first-round talent. In fact, I am a bit shocked that the Padres gave him up in the deal, seeing as their entire draft was basically based around him. To give up Wilcox, the Rays must have insisted on him in the deal relentlessly.

His fastball is wicked, clocking in the high 90s, but what makes it special is the heavy sink and run. It just looks like a pain to hit hard and it explodes to the plate. The slider is also very good but can hang a bit at times. It’s also very fast, which gives me a slight concern that it might not be a true strikeout pitch, but rather a weak ground-ball inducer. The change-up is also very promising and could be what the Rays saw the most potential in. If he can turn it into a weapon, I don’t know how people could hit Wilcox.

That is a big “if” however, and there is not a long track record recently with him (this can be said about most prospects, however). His delivery is a bit off and the fastball flattens out at times, making it very appealing to hit. If he doesn’t get that change-up he could be a reliever, but honestly, the Rays must have seen something that they like here and that is what makes Wilcox tantalizing. With their developmental history, the Rays could turn Wilcox into a monster and the tools are pretty much already there. Patiño is the main prize; Wilcox is the bonus.

Blake Hunt – C

The Rays need catchers. Literally, they have almost no one. So it was no big shock that they got a nice catching prospect here in Hunt. He looks like an old-school catcher and has some pop in his bat as well. He was getting some love around the internet as well, even making it up to #14 on MLB Pipeline. But if you’re reading this website, you are likely looking at these guys from a fantasy perspective and that is where there is a big difference. Hunt is an elite receiver, showing amazing arm strength, elite pop times, and his framing as gone next level recently. However, his bat is still well behind and will probably always be. So, yes Hunt is a wonderful piece to the deal and will probably be a big-league catcher for a long time but if you are interested in him for fantasy, I truly feel you can do better.

The bat has pop though and he shows a decent understanding of the strike zone. He should hit a few long balls, but I don’t see his hit tool being anything beyond average and he runs like a catcher. For the real life value, however, Hunt is a great inclusion in this deal and someone that really fills a huge need for the Rays.

Overall Thoughts

The winner of the deal really depends on how you value Blake Snell. The fact that he is a legit major league arm, with a Cy Young Award under his belt convinces me that he is a valuable asset, especially when you include his contract. With that being said the Rays probably extracted that value out of the deal in the prospects that they are getting back. Patiño is probably just as valuable as Snell right now, although a touch riskier and Wilcox has a huge ceiling. Hunt is a great value at catcher for a team that could probably start him now based on their depth. And we can’t forget to value Francisco Mejia, who might actually do something in a new place (again). I think the Padres probably got the better end of the deal here, but seeing as the Rays clearly hate Blake Snell (I almost made it through the end without mentioning that atrocious hook in game 6) the deal will probably make both teams happy.

Cubs Deal

Our second deal to analyze brings Darvish and Caratini to San Diego in exchange for Zach Davies, Owen Caissie, Ismael Mena, Reginald Preciado, and Yeison Santana.  I had Caisse penciled in for #21 in my rankings, but his arrow was pointing up. Preciado and the other guys are a little less well-known so let’s take a look at each player and see if the Cubs have anything here.

Owen Caissie – OF (#21)

I bet that Caissie gets the nod as the headliner here, but I would argue that should Preciado. With that aside, Caissie is someone that really impressed me after the 2020 draft. He is a huge kid already, even if he was one of the youngest in the entire draft. The big selling point is the power-potential and it’s there alright. He can hit the ball out to all fields and seems very effortless. I was thinking of Joey Gallo when watching his tape. He probably will struggle with left-handers for his entire career, but the kid can mash. I also read some glowing reports on his work ethic and mindset at the dish. He has shown the ability to make adjustments quickly and cover up weaknesses. This makes Caissie very intriguing and someone that will probably put up some ridiculous low-minor numbers. The key will be how he handles the better pitching and if he can cover up what is probably a below-average hit tool.

The issue here is the time it will take for Caissie to develop into a major leaguer. He is very young and hasn’t seen elite talent. There are going to be growing pains along the way and he won’t be making an impact for 4-5 years at the earliest. A lot can go wrong during that wait time, but if the Cubs are patient they may have a masher here in the long run.

Reginald Preciado – SS (#18)

A recurring theme with this trade, Preciado is going to take a lot of time to develop. But, oh boy is he fun to dream on. A switch-hitting middle infielder with a 6’4” frame from Panama, Preciado is all projection at this point. That projection is quite special, however. He has a good knack for barrelling balls, showing no weak side from the dish and the power is there to tap into once he matures. Everything that he does makes you forget that you are looking at a 17-year-old. Good control with his swing, fluid, confident; he has done everything that you could ask of a teenager. Will that continue? That’s the big question here, and there is a lot of body to fill out and the power still needs to come.

Preciado is the guy that you really want in this deal, if you are the Cubs, even if you know you won’t be seeing him in the bigs for 6-7 years. There is a high ceiling, but we haven’t seen him in the states yet, so there is much to learn. A classic lottery ticket guy in a deal like this, Preciado at least has the things that scouts are most looking for.

Ismael Mena – OF (#19)

Mena is probably the outfield version of Preciado in that he is very young, athletic, and has all the tools to dream on. He is lanky and strong, and probably more athletic than Preciado but plays the less premium position. With that said, the swing shows a lot of force behind it, even if it doesn’t make the most efficient path to the ball. He reminds me a little of Alfonso Soriano in that his swing doesn’t look smooth but it just produces big-time results. I think he might get it exploited if things don’t go right, but he has a massive ceiling to do a lot of things very well on the diamond.

The problem here is the same as the last two prospects. We just haven’t seen enough of these guys to be confident in anything. How will he face premium talent? How is the work ethic? Will he fill in too much? There are thousands of questions to be answered and we haven’t gotten any clues on any of them. Mena could be a star, but he could also flame out in a year. The Cubs are gambling on the unknown here and hoping they get lucky.

Yeison Santana – SS, (NR)

I wasn’t very impressed with Santana when I first did my top-50 list, but looking at him a bit closer there is a lot to like about him. I didn’t like his swing but found some newer video where he is more crouched and athletic and produced some impressive bat speed. There is something here, even if he doesn’t have the ceiling that the other players have in this deal. With all things considered, he is the “safe” prospect in the deal, in the simple fact that we have actually seen him in pro ball. Probably an Adeiny Hechavarria-type, he will probably be about average at the dish in his prime, but he is a slick defender and should provide value there for the big league club. Of course, that doesn’t really do us much good in fantasy, but for the real-life value, there is quite a bit here to like.

Overall Thoughts

This deal is a clear salary dump for the Cubs. Thus, it is very clear to see why they chose the prospects they did. They were never going to get Robert Hassell or Campusano but they did well to find the lottery ticket guys in the organization that have some massive potential. Preciado could be the best of the bunch and is worth a gamble on, especially when your first priority was to dumb the contract. These guys are so far from the big leagues that we won’t know who won this deal for a decade. History also shows us that these guys usually don’t make it. But, the odds that at least one of them hit their ceiling is pretty strong and I can’t blame the Cubs for going for as many as they could get. The Padres, however, know what they need to do to win, and giving up these lottery tickets usually is the right move, especially for a pitcher like Darvish.

My goal is to provide an unique perspective when it comes to baseball so that readers can have the information and insight, as well as a bold and progressive analysis. I trust the analytics, but I also trust my eyes when I see the player perform on the field. I don’t want to regurgitate the same, old information but rather I want to give my opinion that is based on research and well-developed thought. Baseball is a game on intricacies and delicate balances and I want to explore every facet that I can. Here on Prospects1500 I will give you the inside scoop on the prospects so that you get to know who they are before everyone else. I won’t always be right, but I can promise my logic and dedication will be sound. Feel free to reach out to discuss and debate and let’s get to prospecting!

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