Last week, Baseball America released their “Padres Prospects Podcast”, breaking down some of the top prospects in the Padres’ system, including a few that fans should keep an eye on in 2018. Spoiler alert…the future is even brighter than you think.
Being a San Diego Padres’ fan hasn’t been a lot of fun over the last decade. The Friars have had just one winning season since 2007, winning 90 games in 2010. Last season, the Padres finished 71-91 and 33 games out of first place in the National League West. However, this season, fans of the Friars have more to look forward to than fans of just about any other franchise.
Last week, Baseball America released their “Padres Prospect Podcast.” The show featured Carlos Collazo and Kyle Glaser who broke down a few of the top 30 prospects within the San Diego farm system, along with a few names that fans should keep any eye on in 2018.
At the end of the 2017, Bleacher Report ranked the Padres’ system fourth overall in Major League Baseball (behind the Yankees, White Sox, and Braves). In Kyle Glaser’s view, the Padres have the top ranked system in baseball. The only reason why publications like Bleacher Report and MLB Pipeline don’t rank them as high is because there’s really no one available to contribute right now for the Padres.
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However, no other franchise in Major League Baseball has the depth the Padres do. Glaser mentions that, in his opinion, you can take just about any Padres’ prospect in the top six and they would be the number one prospect on most other franchises.
Here’s what Glaser and Collazo had to say about a few of these prospects, along with what it means to the organization, in my opinion.
Fernando Tatis, Jr.
Tatis ended the season in Double A San Antonio, but played in 117 games in High-A ball. He slashed .281/.390/.520/.910 with 21 home runs and 29 stolen bases. It’s assumed that he will be the shortstop of the future, hence the stop-gap trade for Freddy Galvis.
Glaser believes that Tatis may be better suited for third base if he adds more height and weight. That could very well happen since he is only 18 years old. He is more than capable of handling the shortstop position at the major league level, but his 60-grade fielding arm would work just as well at third. The move paid off for Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado, could it also for Tatis? It would also allow Luis Urias to play shortstop. At least one scout believes that should be his position at the major league level.
According to the podcast, Tatis “gets it.” He’s just 18 years old playing in Double A, he’s also “nearly bilingual and engaging.” From a character standpoint, there’s little doubt that Tatis will step in and immediately become a leader on what is sure to be a very young Padres team in 2019-2020.
Look at his monthly splits while in High-A. His walks went up, along with his home run totals, and his strikeouts went down. He really does “get it.”
Gore was the first round pick of the Padres in the 2017 draft. Despite having just 21 innings of minor league baseball under his belt, Gore is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the top prospect in the Padres’ organization.
In his 21 innings of work in the Arizona League, he gave up just 14 hits and 7 walks while striking out 34. As mentioned in the podcast, some scouts called Gore “the greatest prospect to ever come through the league.” That’s high praise for such a young athlete!
While he is notorious for his extreme leg kick, Glaser points out that it has very little impact on his accuracy. What little bit of accuracy he loses with his delivery, Gore makes up with deception. His ability to hide the ball, combined with that delivery, effectively keeps hitters off balance.
Touching on the depth
There is a lot of debate surrounding first base prospect Josh Naylor. Is he a Prince Fielder type player? Is he too big to play at the major league level? No and no.
Baseball America believes Naylor will be an “average major league first baseman” that can hit .260 and drive 20 home runs a season. The only hindrance may be his weight. Naylor has gained a bit since being drafted in 2015. So far, his “above average hand-eye coordination” has helped offset the weight.
Is Joey Lucchesi destined to have a better major league career than MacKenzie Gore? Collazo believes so. Despite being 24 years old and in Double A, Lucchesi has three plus pitches, can hit 96 with his fastball, and is accurate on both sides of the plate.
According to MLB Pipeline, Lucchesi is a future front-of-the-rotation starter at the major league level. With another extreme leg kick, pairing Gore and Lucchesi would not only be aesthetically fun to watch, but could be one of the best 1-2 punches in the majors. Did I mention they are both lefties?
Lastly, I wanted to highlight Glaser’s sleeper pick, Trey Wingenter. Standing at 6’7″, Wingenter brings a 100 mph fastball out of the bullpen. He could be a staple in the Padres’ bullpen for years to come. However, many teams have inquired about Wingenter. With relief pitchers in such high demand this offseason, could he be a major piece of a trade?
What does it all mean?
I could have turned this into a four-part series. The depth of this organization isn’t an over exaggeration. If Padres’ fans can wait it out just one more season, expect years of highly competitive baseball in San Diego.
Will we see any of these guys at Petco Park this year? No. That’s ok though.
The depth also allows General Manager A.J. Preller to move a number of of these prospects for major league ready talent, without disrupting continued development of the farm system.
Keep being patient ladies and gentlemen. It won’t disappoint, I promise.