10- Jorge Ona (19) OF (Has Yet To Make Pro Debut)
The big, right-handed outfielder from Cuba has great power potential. The Padres gave him $7,000,000 in June and he could be on the fast track to the majors. Ona has excellent bat speed and the ball just carries off his bat. The man is impressive to see in person. He is extremely strong and at the age of 19, he will only gain strength. Although Ona has the bat speed, there are some concerns about his swing as far as hitting for average. The outfielder uses the whole field, but needs to refine his approach at the plate. He is an average fielder and has average foot speed, so do not expect much defensively. Ona does have an accurate arm with excellent arm strength. He will likely start in Fort Wayne, getting his first taste of professional pitching. There will be plenty of eyes on him as he has a very nice ceiling, but there is some risk too.
9- Fernando Tatis Jr. (18) INF (Tri-City Dust Devils/Short Season)
The Padres acquired this young man from the Chicago White Sox for James Shields, after missing out on signing him during the 2015 international signing period. Tatis agreed to $700,000 deal with the Sox and there were multiple reports the Padres coveted him. A.J. Preller got his man, even though it cost the Padres tens of millions of dollars for the Sox to take on James Shields‘ contract. Tatis has all the skills to be an everyday shortstop. He has decent range and a plus arm strength. He also has the skill set to consistently drive pitches to all fields, though he is currently struggling with breaking pitches. He will need to improve in that area as the pitchers will only exploit his weakness as he climbs through the minor league system. At 6’ 3″, Fernando Tatis is an impressive young man. He has a very high ceiling and with his pedigree (son of a major leaguer), he could be a special everyday player for the Friars.
8- Luis Urias (19) 2B (El Paso Chihuahuas/Triple-A)
This young man is certainly impressive. If he was a couple of inches taller, he would be mentioned in the Top-100 prospects lists easily. At 5’9″, he is small in stature, but continues to impress at every level he plays. The Mexican infielder signed with the team as a 16-year-old and has been on the fast track to the majors ever since. He was the youngest player on any roster to start the 2016 California League. He ended up winning the league batting title as well as the MVP award, and the myth continues to grow about this young man. He does not have great speed, nor does he possess a lot of power, but he does everything else well above average. The Padres are looking at giving him a shot at the shortstop position this season in the minors. He has the range for second, but it remains to be seen if he can get the ball deep in the hole and up the middle. Arm strength is not his problem as he has an above average throwing arm. No matter what happens defensively, his bat and all-around ability on the field will ensure that Luis Urias will one day wear a major league jersey.
7- Eric Lauer (21) LHP (Ft. Wayne TinCaps/Low Single-A)
The Padres needed to draft and sign more highly-developed starting pitchers with their picks in the 2016 draft. They did just that in selecting Eric Lauer out of Kent State. He led the nation last year with a 0.69 ERA, which was the lowest recorded ERA in Division-1 baseball since 1979. The left-handed starter has a low 90’s fastball that he can locate exceptionally well. He also throws a slider and a curve ball. Both pitches are in need of some refinement, but he has the correct mindset to make the proper adjustments. Talking to Eric, I got a sense that he is ready to help mentor the young pitchers around him. He has excellent poise and composure, and at 21, a tremendous ceiling. He should start the year in Fort Wayne, but could progress rather quickly as he will not be under much of a pitch limitation.
6- Josh Naylor (19) 1B (Lake Elsinore Storm/High Single-A)
Acquired from the Marlins in the Andrew Cashner trade, is this power-hitting first baseman. I was really surprised when I saw Naylor’s name in the Padres/Marlins deal last July, as he is a top first base prospect. I witnessed Naylor firsthand in the MLB All Star Future’s game earlier in the month and was excited to think about him in a Padres’ uniform. Naylor has a power stroke from the left side of the plate, but he uses all fields well, and is hardly considered a pull-hitter. His defense is average at the moment, but he is working hard on it and has shown great improvement with his footwork. He is never going to be a stolen base threat, but the first baseman does have great baseball instincts that can be witnessed by seeing him play each and every day. Talking to Josh was a pleasure, and you can see why his teammates enjoy his company. Naylor will probably only ever be a first baseman, so being that the team is committed to Wil Myers long-term, that clouds the situation. Josh is not major league-ready at the moment, but he will be eventually. It will be interesting to see what the Padres do long-term with him and Myers.
5- Adrian Morejon (18) LHP (Has Yet To Make Pro Debut)
This 18-year-old left-handed pitcher has an opportunity to be really special. He was signed for a record $11,000,000 during the Padres’ July 2 spending spree. He has a power fastball and has shown great control of it despite his young age. The Cuban southpaw throws in the mid to upper 90’s and has an above average curve ball and two different change-ups, which he controls very well despite only being a teenager. He has yet to get a taste of professional hitters, but you can be sure that he will be prepared for the task when it is finally put in front of him. He has been working out in the Arizona area and looks to have an impressive first season with the team. He has the ability to ascend quickly through the farm system and will be one to keep an eye on in 2017.
4- Cal Quantrill (22) RHP (Ft. Wayne Tincaps/Low Single-A)
The Padres used their first round selection on Quantrill, and some raised their eyebrows on the pick. The team did a ton of homework on the pitcher, and had him throw bullpen sessions before the draft in June. Though Tommy John surgery is not a joke, the team trusted that Quantrill could reach his potential in time. Having talked to this man myself, I will tell you he has all the intangibles necessary for success. He is dedicated to his craft, and all he wants to do each and every game is win. He had success last season in Tri-City and Fort Wayne, featuring a lively mid-90’s fastball and a well-above-average change. He also has a decent slider, which he utilizes to neutralize right-handed hitters. The sky is the limit for this young man as he has all the ability to become an ace on the Padres staff. The team will likely take it easy on him in 2017, though Cal told me himself he wants to pitch at Petco by the end of the year. A very lofty goal.
3- Hunter Renfroe (25) OF( San Diego Padres/MLB)
The hype on Renfroe has been slowly building since he was drafted by the Padres in the first round of the 2013 draft. He finally arrived at Petco late last season and did not disappoint Padres’ fans. His power is a legitimate aspect of his game, and he displayed that, hitting four home runs in his first 35 at bats and 11 games, including a blast onto the Western Metal Supply Building which was the first time a player has done so in game action. There are serious concerns about his strikeout-to-walk ratio, which has always been below-average. He K’d 115 times and walked 22 times last season in 533 at bats in El Paso. He uses the whole field well with his swing, so there is promise that he can make some adjustments with his approach at the plate. Renfroe is a plus defender with arguably one of the best arms in the league. He will be the man everyday in right for the Padres, and it will be fun to see what he has on a daily basis.
2- Manuel Margot (22) OF (San Diego Padres/MLB)
The speedy outfielder is basically ready for the majors, but the Padres will likely let him stay in Triple-A to start the season in order to protect his service time. With the Padres in rebuild mode, that is the smart move, and the team has Travis Jankowski to hold down the center field position until Margot is ready. The tools on this young Dominican are very advanced, though he will probably never be a real power threat. He does keep his bat through the zone consistently and continues to barrel up balls to all fields. Margot has above-average speed that he is still learning to utilize on the base paths. Defensively, he is well above average on all aspects and could be a gold-glove caliber player in the outfield. 2017 will be an exciting year for Padres’ fans to witness the tools Margot brings to the ball park each and every day.
1- Anderson Espinoza (19) RHP (Ft. Wayne Tin Caps/Low Single-A)
Anderson Espinoza has the ability to be really special. He has a power fastball that has an amazing tail to it and he commands it well, despite being a teenager. His second best pitch is his change-up, which has the potential to be a dominant pitch. He also throws a decent curveball, but it still needs some polish to it. It’s not just the repertoire that is special, Espinoza has the makeup and poise to be a star. The young hurler is presently pretty fluent in English, which speaks volumes to his commitment to being a better player. He is able to communicate with all his teammates, and will only grow as a player in time. He could easily ascend through the Padres’ system quickly with a little luck. It is not uncommon for stud pitchers like Espinoza to make the jump directly from Double-A to the majors. A late 2017 or early 2018 showing in a Padres’ uniform is not totally out of the question, but that depends on his progression. Once he arrives, he will be here for the long run. The team will not shuttle him back and forth from the minors.