Now that the dust has settled on the Craig Kimbrel trade we can look at the shiny new toys the Padres’ added to their farm system, and what better way to start than by looking at the shiniest, Manuel Margot.
The Red Sox signed Margot out of the Dominican Republic back in 2012 when he was just 17 years old as a center fielder. He hit the ground running and in his first season of pro ball he hit .285/.382/.423 and stole 33 bases in 42 attempts in 68 games in the Dominican Summer League. It was quickly apparent that he had the potential to be a 5 tool player. Even so, it wasn’t until this year Margot got his name in the national spotlight.
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Coming into the 2015 season, Margot was ranked as a top 100 prospect by MLB.com, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, ranking 99th, 72nd, and 61st respectively. It was lofty praise for someone entering their age 20 season, but Margot took the challenge head on and excelled. He started the year in high-A, but after just 46 games he earned the call to AA. In AA he didn’t slow down, hitting .271/.326/.419 in 64 games.
Regardless of the level Margot has maintained strong numbers. Also the jump to AA is considered the highest jump in level in the minor leagues, and he’s passed it with flying colors. Every bit of information we have on him makes him seem like the real deal, and that’s why he’s the headliner of this deal.
The biggest concern with Margot is the lack of power. In 342 minor league games Margot has just 23 home runs. A reason for the low power numbers could be that he’s still extremely young and he hasn’t fully grown into his body yet. Once he fills out he’s sure to hit for more power, but we can’t know for certain if it’ll be a meaningful difference. While power isn’t everything, it could be what separates Margot from being a very solid leadoff hitter and a superstar. Right now he’s being billed as a superstar, and in order for that to happen the power has to come. He wouldn’t be rated as highly as he is if people far smarter than you or I don’t think he’ll develop that power eventually, so I wouldn’t worry too much.
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While I’ve focused mainly on Margot’s offensive abilities, his best asset is considered to be his defense. His outstanding speed gives him great range and he also takes great routes to fly balls. His arm isn’t going to wow anyone, but it’s considered to be above average for a center fielder.
Overall, A.J. Preller got what could be a star in the making. Margot has all the tools to be a successful major leaguer and could develop some more to take him to the next level. He still has a little ways to go before he’s big league ready, but he’s made his way to AA faster than expected, so maybe he’ll make it to San Diego sooner than we expect.