10- Josh Naylor
The young first baseman has legit power and is still really growing into his swing. He is just about to turn 20, and is very young for the California League, but that has not stopped him from producing. Naylor was awarded a Cal League All-Star Game nomination this year, and it will surely be the first of many. For being a slugger, Naylor generally puts the ball in play. However, his excellent hand-eye coordination can often fail him as he can make weak contact from time to time on pitches he probably should not have swung at. Adjustments with his approach will be necessary, but he has plenty of time to get better. Defensively, he gets a bad rap, but is very serviceable at the position. His energy in the clubhouse carries onto the field, where Naylor plays with the exuberance you want from a young player.
9- Logan Allen
I really enjoy watching this man pitch, and from speaking to him quite a few times, he is an excellent human being. At 20, Allen is having a great year for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. If not for the excess of pitching at Lake Elsinore, he would surely already be in the California League. Instead, due to his age, he will just have to continue dominating in A-Ball. He features a mid-90’s fastball with an excellent curve. His change is also developing and has become a legit third weapon. He throws each of his pitches for strikes and, most importantly, has a great grasp for the art of pitching. Logan Allen is wise beyond his years. Padre fans will really enjoy him once they get to know him.
8- Jorge Ona
Signed for $7 million dollars in this year’s signing period, the 20-year-old outfielder has made rapid progression. He looks to be a really special player, with plus power and superb arm strength. Ona looks to be a solid right fielder at the major league level, if everything breaks correctly with his development. Speed is probably his only average tool right now (a tick below average), as he has a very decent swing for someone who is geared to hit the long ball. He uses the whole field with his approach and should be able to progress, though he does need to be more patient at the plate. Being that he is 20, and in A-Ball, there is still a lot of time for him to get better.
7- Eric Lauer
If pitching is considered an art form, then Eric Lauer is clearly a painter. He will not blow you away with his fastball, but he can spot it to both sides of the plate and to all quadrants of the strike zone. His fastball has a natural cut to it and is deceptive to the batter. Lauer’s slider is an effective weapon and he clearly has an idea of how to use it. He is currently in Lake Elsinore, but there is no way he finishes the year there. Expect him to get some action in Texas with the Missions at some point, and then from there he could ascend rather quickly. A very smart pitcher with a great respect of the game and his teammates.
6- Fernando Tatis Jr.
Vaulting up most everybody’s list is this son of a former major leaguer. The younger Tatis has great size (6′ 3″) and is really starting to grow into his frame. The power potential is real with this young man and he has played a very solid shortstop. It remains to be seen if he can stick there, but he hasn’t really had too many issues in Fort Wayne. In fact, he has made several highlight reel plays at short for the team. The bat is something to get extremely excited about with Tatis. He barrels up balls consistently, though he does lack patience at the plate currently. Breaking stuff is a problem currently, but he is 18, there is plenty of time for him to make the adjustments. With a rocket arm and a decent speed tool, Tatis is a legit 5-tool prospect and will surely be #1 on this list eventually.
5- Mackenzie Gore
He is not Clayton Kershaw. Those comparisons are not fair. This young man is special though. Yes, he is left-handed and has a high leg kick reminiscent of Kershaw, but there are differences too. Kershaw wasn’t this developed at 18, so can Gore surpass those comparisons? It remains to be seen, but this young man is going to have a chance to be a really solid pitcher. Health, development, and luck will play a vital role in his future, but all signs point to success this early. He has yet to sign, but reports are the two sides are progressing and a deal is near.
4- Adrian Morejon
Given $11 million dollars this signing period makes Adrian Morejon a man under the microscope. There is a lot of expectations surrounding this 18-year-old pitcher and they are rightfully justified. The lefty has a very high ceiling and could be a future ace for the team if his progression is fulfilled. He has a mid-90’s fastball that he can get up to 96 and 97 mph when needed. Morejon also has a curve that registers as an above-average pitch presently and he also throws a knuckle-change that is developing nicely. He is the whole package and is presently at Tri-City where he is starting his pro career. The young man pounds the strike zone and has a great feel for pitching, The sky is the limit with this young man. It really is.
3- Luis Urias
The strikeout-to-walk ratio that he produces is a thing of beauty. He has walked more than he has struck out at every level, except for 2015 when he struck out 18 times and walked 16 times in 193 at bats in Fort Wayne. The bat discipline is well documented, but the man has a demeanor about him that he just belongs in the game. He has shown that since he was 16 and playing against players three and four years older than him in the back fields of the AZL. His size isn’t ideal, but not necessary for overall success in the game of baseball. He will not hit you 25-30 home runs a year, but makes up for that lack of pop with overall play. Shortstop is probably not going to be his position for the long-term, so a move to second base seems in the cards eventually. Urias is the most polished Padres’ positional prospect and he could see some major league action within the next calendar year.
I could have very easily slid the teams’ first-round selection from last year’s draft into the #1 spot, and almost did. His stuff, and more importantly his attitude, dictate that he will be special. At 22, Quantrill is a California League All-Star and developing nicely. There are no setbacks from his Tommy John surgery a few years back, and appears it is full-steam ahead for this big right-hander. Quantrill has a fastball that sits in the low to mid-90’s and he sinks it to both sides of the plate. His changeup might be his best pitch, and with the arm action he gets off of it, his fastball appears even quicker to hitters. With those two pitches alone, he could have a successful major league career, but he also possesses a slider that has developed into a real weapon. With three plus pitches, he should easily pitch in Petco Park fairly soon.
Yes, I know he is hurt. Yes, I know he has yet to throw a pitch this season for the Lake Elsinore Storm. However, his arm difficulties are reportedly not serious, and the Padres are just wisely taking their time with this future stud. In reality, the arm troubles are a concern to any Padre fan, but Espinoza has reportedly starting throwing in recent weeks. He is 19, and blessed with amazing arm speed and exceptional poise. His fastball sits in the 94-97 MPH range and he has a plus changeup currently. His curve shows the ability to be a plus pitch, but he is still developing it. At 6′ 0″, he does not have exceptional size, so he will need to strengthen his body in order to eventually hold up to the rigors of a full major league season. Espinoza’s setback early this year is disappointing, but he is still the Padres’ #1 prospect. If if he has to repeat Lake Elsinore next season, he is still ahead of schedule for a teenager.