The San Diego Padres have the top farm system in Major League Baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Every single minor league affiliate will field a team with exciting, can’t miss prospects. However, there’s one prospect in particular that fans should keep an eye on in 2018; Tirso Ornelas.
Pick a San Diego Padres affiliate to watch any night in 2018 and you won’t be disappointed. Owning Major League Baseball’s top farm system, the list of prospects to be excited about is seemingly endless.
There is one name that has gained a large following among those who closely follow the Padres’ system, Tirso Ornelas.
Ornelas was a part of the notorious “J2″ signing class in 2016. Just 16 at the time, Ornelas received a $1.5 million signing bonus. Now 18 (as of last week), Ornelas finds himself as the 15th ranked prospect in the top system in baseball.
He’s listed at 6’4” and 180 pounds with a lot of room to grow. As you can see from the video below, he hits the ball to all parts of the field from the left part of the plate and can generate some impressive power with his bat. According to Fangraphs, Ornelas hit 47% of balls to right field, just under 18% to center, and a shade under 35% to left. All three of his home runs in the Arizona League were deposited over the right field fence, in nearly the same exact spot.
The San Diego Padres outfield prospect shows promise.
Ornelas made his stateside debut last season, appearing in 53 games in the Arizona League. Through his first five games, Ornelas was just 1-18 at the plate (.056) but quickly settled in. He put together a 10-game hit streak starting in his sixth game of the season. Five of those games for multi-hit performances.
He finished the AZL with a slash line of .276/.399/.408/.807, 17 extra-base hits (11 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR), and a 61/40 K/BB ratio. Nearly 17% of his at-bats resulted in a walk, showing impeccable patience at the plate for a young teenager making his debut. Ornelas also posted a 127 wRC+ and a .383 wOBA
The Mexico-native has a long way to go with his development, however many evaluators tend to agree that he’s capable of posting 20 HR and an OBP of .350+ consistently in the major leagues.
It’s the defense that many are questioning. He played the majority of his first season in center field, but few believe he has the ability to stick. MLB Pipeline’s tool breakdown grades his arm at a 55 and fielding at a 50, both of which are some of the highest marks I have seen.
I had the chance to talk briefly with a fellow writer from Arizona who was lucky enough to watch a few outings of Ornelas last July. She offered up the suggestion of moving Ornelas to first base as he moves up through the Padres’ system due to his lack of speed and arm. Regardless, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com believes that Ornelas has one of the highest upsides of all the Padres’ positional prospects in the system.
I mentioned earlier about his ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field, here’s a clip from a minor league game he appeared in last September at Petco Park.
He’ll move slowly through the farm system, especially since there’s no reason to rush him with a heavily crowded list of OF prospects. Expect to see Ornelas roaming the outfield for the Tri-City Dust Devils in 2018.