The Padres farm system changes a lot, like the lights that flick and flash off a brilliant diamond. Hopefully, that diamond we are speaking about is one that is associated with a championship. With the 2022 season underway, there are familiar faces that were sent packing as well as a few fresh faces that we should get to know a little better. The Padres are probably going to make some more trades as the season wears on, but for now here are five players that I am most excited to follow in the minor leagues this year, counted down from 5 to 1.
5. Jarlin Susana, RHP (18 years old) – Susana was signed shortly after my January Padres Top 50 Prospects published, but he surely would have made the top 20 already. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.7 million. The system is full of teenagers that show potential, but many of those names (Brayan Medina, Victor Lizarraga) are sitting low 90’s and weigh 180 pounds soaking wet. Susana is a beast of another nature. Already 6′ 6” and 235 pounds, Susana has one of the best pitching frames you could possibly hope for in an 18-year-old. Combined with nearly perfect size, he also throws very hard, hitting 100 mph a few times already. It’s far too easy to dream on the guy getting some professional instruction and simply taking off into frontline starter territory. What’s even more exciting is that he is more than just a hard throwing teenager at present; he throws a tight slider, a slower curve and even a changeup that shows potential with nice sink. Of course, there is a lot of work to put in and those offerings are not commanded at all right now, but the building blocks are there to be sure.
Welcome to the Padres Organization, Jarlin Susana! ✍️ pic.twitter.com/ZOTgwttZxz
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) January 15, 2022
As you can see from the video, Susana looks like a big leaguer going down for some rehab work with at the Complex League. He is absolutely a monster out there. I can’t wait to see how he looks when he gets stateside, but we probably will have to wait a little while for that, as the Padres really prefer to let these kids work at the complex for as long as they need. Once again, the DSL might be the team to follow the most in 2022 as Susana will look to follow Victor Acosta, Samuel Zavala and the others who had awesome debuts.
4. Jackson Merrill, SS (18) – Seemingly underrated as a first round pick last year, Merrill is a true all-around type of player. He doesn’t really show elite tools at the moment so many people faded him in FYPD for dynasty. That may ultimately be the correct call as I did the same, but we have to remember we are dealing with an extremely young player that has already shown a nice floor. The reports so far have been overwhelmingly positive, especially when it comes to his maturity and work ethic. To me, this sounds a lot like Yankees stud prospect Anthony Volpe. Another late first rounder, Volpe didn’t jump off the page at first, but thanks to an 80-grade work ethic and some mechanicals adjustments he became a top 10 guy in a year. I think Merrill has a chance to follow a similar path. There were talks about a big swing adjustment over the winter and if I had to pick a guy that might follow a Volpe-like ascent, it has to be Merrill. I’ll be following him closely in Lake Elsinore in 2022 while remembering that Volpe got a year to revamp his swing and the results follow quickly; with Merrill we might need to be more patient but the end result could ultimately be the same.
3. Victor Acosta, SS (17) – Somehow still 17, Acosta is all projection at this point. He is someone that you have to buy in early because otherwise you will never have him on your teams. This is how the Wander Francos of the world come to be. Of course, there are also 100 non Wander Francos as well, but if you’re going to take your shot, take it with this switch-hitting middle infielder. Acosta even got a taste of the big leagues in spring, getting a hit in 4 at bats. The sky is the limit for this kid. His level of competition is going to way older this year so keep that in mind when checking box scores. If he can somehow get up to Lake Elsinore, then he is going to skyrocket on ranks. And that is saying something, as many publications have him in the top-100 already. I will hold back some optimism, but Acosta has a true chance to be the next #1 prospect for the Padres in a very short amount of time.
2. James Wood, OF (19) – If you enjoyed reading about the physical specimen that was Jarlin Susana, then you will obviously love James Wood. 6′ 7”, 240 pounds and fast, Wood has everything that you could possibly want in a prospect. The hype is also developing with him as he often went ahead of Merrill in FYPD. While Wood certainly has the higher risk, he obviously has that ceiling that everyone can dream on. In his full season debut, Wood smashed two HR for Lake Elsinore firmly putting him on hyper-prospect-inflation watch. The giant hasn’t experienced any failures thus far, so there are bound to be some things that slow him down, but right now he is must-see television while he terrorizes single-A pitchers in the California League.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 9, 2022
1. C.J. Abrams, SS (21) – I’m putting him here as sort of a tribute. I have had Abrams #1 in my system for a long time now, and he finally was able to make the Opening Day roster for the major league club in 2022. I am very excited and proud for the youngster and I am also impressed with the Padres for bringing him right away. It’s the cool thing to do nowadays guys! (#FreeOneilCruz) I don’t think Abrams is a finished product, and he hasn’t gotten off to a blistering start, but given time I have full confidence that we will see some special things for this guy. I predicted a ROTY performance in 2022 and I stand by it. Abrams has the speed and has started hitting the ball with authority so a Trea Turner-like ascension is very real here. I just hope that the moving of positions or lack of every day at bats don’t hinder him (like Gavin Lux) in the short term. Overall, I don’t think I’ll be able to write about Abrams much longer, so here’s to you my king. Go dominate!
1st at-bat at Petco Park, 1st MLB homer for C.J. Abrams! pic.twitter.com/2wchV1Hl4s
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 15, 2022
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!