San Diego Padres third base prospect Hudson Potts is showing growth at the plate in Lake Elsinore.
If there’s one weakness within the San Diego Padres farm system, it’s the hot corner. If you ask a lot of San Diego fans, they may tell you it’s a weakness at the major league level, also. Using a combination of Cory Spangenberg and Christian Villanueva at third base has lead to a series of recent rumors connecting the Padres to third basemen such as Maikel Franco (please no) and Manny Machado (Padres paying him more than $300 million?).
Prospect evaluators, media members, bloggers, and fans have all been willing to push Fernando Tatis, Jr to the hot corner, however, it doesn’t appear as if the Padres are planning to pursue that route. Luis Urias has played the position a few times in El Paso. Eleventh-ranked prospect, Esteury Ruiz has also played a little third down in Fort Wayne.
The highest-ranked “true” third baseman the Padres have down on the farm is Hudson Potts. Potts was drafted 24th overall back in 2016 and now finds himself with the Lake Elsinore Storm (High-A) as a 19-year-old teenager. After hitting .253 and posting a highly lopsided K/BB ratio, Potts finds himself progressing in his second full-time season in the minors.
Appearing in 70 games thus far, Potts is slashing .265/.346/.496 with an .842 OPS and 126 wRC+. His biggest improvement has been his ability to get on base. With the Fort Wayne TinCaps, Potts drew a walk in 4.4% of his plate appearances last season. He has more than doubled that rate this year, earning a free pass in 9.1% of his PAs.
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On-pace to better his 20 home run mark (up to 11 now), Potts has already surpassed his 23 doubles of 2017. Sitting at 25 as of June 26th, 36% of the hits accumulated by Potts have been doubles. His production is quickly mirroring the type of player Potts is projected to become, according to one of the top resources in prospect evaluations, the crew over at 2080baseball.com.
According to John Eshleman’s report from the beginning of the season, Potts has
"A level swing that shoots line drives and shows gap power in batting practice produces over-the-fence power in game action more than it does BP: in both my looks this season (both in spring training and in April), he hasn’t shown enough pop to grade out as average in the raw power department. He’s likely to finish with fringe-average game power with the ability to hit more doubles than dingers."
Eshleman also believes that Potts could eventually see playing time in the outfield, ultimately projecting as a platoon option at the major league level. Regardless of how the San Diego Padres use him, one thing is becoming more clear, Hudson Potts has a much better bat than some publications point out.
A California League All-Star this season, the real test for Hudson Potts will come when he moves up to the Texas League, with the San Antonio Missions. He will play this entire season at the age of 19, so there’s no real reason for him to be moved up to San Antonio this year.