Tirso Ornelas– OF, Rookie League, AZL Padres
53 games, 238 plate appearances, .276/.399/.408, 127 wRC+
To say the Padres signed a plethora of international talent over the last year and a half is an understatement. Now the Padres house so many teenaged international prospects that they had to field two different Arizona Rookie League teams in 2017. One such player that played with the AZL Padres is 17-year-old Tirso Ornelas, who had a very productive first taste of big league action.
Although he didn’t display a great deal of power, with only three home runs in over 200 plate appearances, Ornelas did show a pretty discerning eye at the plate, as demonstrated by his 16.8 percent walk rate. Plate discipline is probably one of the hardest things for players to pick up, but it appears that as a 17-year-old, Ornelas already has a solid sense of the strike zone. His strikeout rate was over 25 percent in his first season of professional ball, but if he can walk enough, that won’t matter much.
Jeisson Rosario– OF, Rookie League, AZL Padres
52 games, 224 plate appearances, .299/.404/.369, 121 wRC+
It is kind of interesting that Tirso Ornelas and Jeisson Rosario had almost identical statlines in 2017. Both signed as 17-year-olds as part of the Padres’ 2016-2017 international class, Rosario was definitely the bigger name of the two based on his raw tools. However, they ended up having similar seasons when all was said and done. The main differences between the two were two-fold: 1) Rosario did not show nearly as much power as Ornelas, as he hit only one home run and had only 11 total extra base hits compared to 17 from Ornelas, and 2) Rosario had even better plate discipline, with a walk rate (14.7 percent) that was nearly identical to his strikeout rate (16.1 percent). Rosario is clearly the toolsiest of the two, but both should be well on their way to successful minor league careers in 2018 and beyond.
Mason House– OF, Rookie League, AZL Padres
39 games, 181 plate appearances, .293/.354/.463, 121 wRC+
While not nearly as patient at the plate as either Ornelas or Rosario, House showed power that neither Ornelas or Rosario did. While strikeouts were a problem for House, with a strikeout rate up over 37 percent and a nearly 30 point difference between his K rate and his walk rate, he more than made up for it with six doubles, eight triples, and two long balls. House may lack the raw tools of Rosario, but he more than made up for it with his on-the-field success in 2017. There is still some doubt that House can stick as a center fielder long term, but he did not disappoint in that capacity in 2017.
Rod Boykin– OF, High-A, Lake Elsinore Storm
112 games, 424 plate appearances, .279/.350/.467, 125 wRC+
In terms of prospects that came out of nowhere, no one on this list was a bigger surprise than outfielder Rod Boykin. Outside of Brad Zunica, Boykin is the only player listed here who does not crack top prospect lists for the Padres. After toiling in the Padres minor league system since being drafted in 2013, Boykin broke out in a big way in 2017. Following a successful 205 at bats to start the season with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, Boykin earned a promotion to High-A Lake Elsinore, where he was even better. In 172 at bats in High-A, Boykin slashed .314/.376/.529 with a .215 ISO, 142 wRC+, all while providing great value both on the bases (seven steals to only one caught stealing), and in the field. Boykin was a 22-year-old playing in High-A, but it’s hard to ignore the success he had on the field in 2017.
Franchy Cordero– OF, Triple-A, El Paso Chihuahuas
93 games, 419 plate appearances, .326/.369/.603, 146 wRC+
Speaking of guys who came out of nowhere, who expected outfielder Franchy Cordero to end up having big league success in 2017? Sure, he came back down to earth in a big way before being demoted to Triple-A, but it’s hard to argue with the potential there with Cordero. Cordero does a little bit of everything on the field, with hit potential, power potential, speed, smart baserunning, and a great glove. However, even with all the tools, strikeouts were still a rather significant problem for Cordero in Triple-A this season. After finishing his major league stint with a strikeout rate above 44 percent(!), Cordero finished the Triple-A season with a K rate just shy of 30 percent. If Cordero can cut his big league strikeout rate to the high 20s or low 30s he could certainly be a productive big league option for the Padres in 2018 and beyond. He is a similar profile to Travis Jankowski with more power and a better hit tool.