Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges against the East during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
It’s that time of year again. Everyone and their mothers are updating preseason top prospect lists to reflect adjustments and performance through the first half of the 2014 season. With the Padres organization loaded with prospects, it’s no surprise to find some of our farmhands in many highly-regarded lists, such as Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus.
Since both put out their updates today, we’re going to compare rankings and scouting reports to get a more refreshed view on our top prospects. We’re going to use these two rankings as a base for where are prospects stand now, how they’ve developed, and who has perhaps fallen off. Leading off…
249/295/379 93 wRC+ 15.5% K 5.2% BB
BP Midseason – 20 Preseason – 18
BA Midseason – 17 Preseason – 27
Hedges’ main focus remains defense, as he’s far and away the best defensive catcher with an ice cube’s chance in hell to actually hit. He doesn’t have the big impact potential of some other backstops, like the Red Sox’ Blake Swihart or the Rangers’ Jorge Alfaro, but it should play big enough for him to be a fixture in a contender’s lineup. Still just 21 in Double-A, he’s struggled against some of the best pitching prospects in the minors, and may need to improve his results if he wants to see Triple-A by the end of the year. Otherwise, expect him to show up in San Diego around mid to late 2015.
Matt Wisler RHP
5.63 ERA 5.57 FIP 17.6%K 7.9%BB 62.1 IP
BP Midseason – N/A Preseason – 47
BA Midseason – 41 Preseason – 44
Entering the season at Triple-A, the consensus top 50 prospect seemed to have little to work on before his major league debut. Baseball America said all he had to improve was his approach versus lefties, which he has executed well by improving his changeup. He tends to work off of his fastball that can stay in the mid 90s when throwing well, and a true plus slider he uses for strikeouts. But poor performance this year in El Paso has stalled his path to the Show. His delivery has noise in it which causes some concern in scouts, and he may need to refine that to get back to the top pitcher he was last year. He’s still just 21 and has plenty of time to work on adjustments. Despite his struggles, he should still be ready for a promotion later this season.
295/370/565 138 wRC+ 25.6%K 8.9%BB
BP Midseason – 44 Preseason – Just missed
BA Midseason – N/A Preseason – 80
It’s not often you hear “Padres’ prospect” and “plus-plus power” in the same sentence, but that’s exactly what Renfroe brings to us. He’s already starting to show his light tower power in games, mashing 16 homers in just 69 games at Advanced A-Ball. He’s been recently promoted to Double-A where the 22 year old’s skill set will be challenged more, and will help him develop. Baseball America is hesitant to rank Renfroe any higher because of a complicated approach and swing, which is a big reason why he wasn’t able to make the cut on their list despite ranking higher preseason. On the defensive side of things, Renfroe’s routes are solid-average but his arm is a weapon, and everything about him profile well for right field down the road. Even though he’s had a hot start, he’s still a little bit away from getting his final call-up. He should be around at earliest mid-2015, but later in the season or early 2016 would fit his development cycle better.
Left Off: Max Fried
Fried ranked 55th and 53rd from Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, respectively, but injuries have limited him to just the one start yesterday, his only of the entire season. Just 20, he still oozes projection with a clean delivery. Has a fastball with plus velocity, a curveball that misses bats and his best pitch is a changeup with great late fade that is his ticket to the show. Has a tendency to lose command and control, and let his deception evaporate. But that’s the point of getting him started slow again, as he’s still so young that a slow development curve with him could be the best choice in the end. Fried still has a ways to go before he’s even considered major league ready, but he has the potential to be a game changer when he does get there.