A look at the first basemen throughout the San Diego Padres organization. The position is currently solid at the major league level and the future is bright as well.
In January of this year, the San Diego Padres signed first baseman Wil Myers to a 6 year contract extension for $83 million with an option of $20 million for 2023. The most lucrative contract in the history of the organization officially designated Myers as the face of the franchise for many years to come.
Although Myers has experienced some struggles so far this season, the organization hopes that consistent playing time and continued work with his coaches will bring out the perennial All Star that they feel they signed.
As fans, we all need to hope this happens. The future of the organization does not depend on Myers’ success. He is only one cog in the wheel that will hopefully produce a consistent winning team for many years. But a look down into the minor leagues of the Padre organization will show you that Myers having success at first base will make the future much easier for the front office.
Without him the Padres have one legitimate prospect at the number 3 position.
At single A Lake Elsinore, Josh Naylor is the #10 prospect in the organization per Baseball America. Drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 1st round of the 2015 draft, Naylor was acquired in the Andrew Cashner trade. A left hander who is limited to first base on defense, he possesses plus power with a quick swing and lower half torgue. Not known for his defense, Naylor has to excel as a hitter to be a true major league player.
His maturity was questioned in Miami due to a knife incident that was described as a prank that went wrong. Watching him play, you see an exuberant player who clearly enjoys the game. Thru 61 games this season he has a .300/.365/.458 line with 7 HR and 40 RBI. His biggest weakness as a hitter is versus lefties where he is hitting only .186.
At 6-0 and 225lbs, Naylor is thick bodied and would probably due well to drop a little weight to improve his natural athleticism. He runs fairly well at 20 years old but will slow down as he gets older unless he drops some lbs.
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Fort Wayne Tin Cap first baseman Brad Zunica is a big man. At 6-6 and 255 lbs he is a lefty with tremendous power as his primary tool. Drafted by the Padres in the 15th round of the 2015 draft, the 21 year old is repeating at least part of this season with the Tin Caps. His current line of .252/.378/.497 with 10 HR and 24 RBI in 50 games shows a big improvement over last season. His 14 HR in 110 games with Fort Wayne was less than what you would expect from him but it was his first full season of pro baseball.
Effectively blocked by Josh Naylor in Lake Elsinore, Zunica may have to wait awhile for a promotion to the next level. Unranked as a prospect in the organization, he will need to impress with his bat over the next couple seasons and play acceptable defense to bring attention to himself.
Double-A and Triple-A Levels
There are no first base prospects at either AA San Antonio or AAA El Paso. The organization also did not draft a first baseman above the 17th round in the current draft.
If Myers doesn’t work out and Naylor doesn’t develop as hoped, the trade market will be the most likely avenue for acquiring a first baseman. Currently there is no legitimate back up player for Myers either. With Solarte on the DL, catcher Hector Sanchez is the most likely candidate. If and when the Padres develop the championship team of the future, they will need to acquire a utility player able to provide relief at the first base position.