Baseball America released their latest Top 100 prospects list and the San Diego Padres are frequent flyers. It’s no secret the Padres have one of the best farm systems in baseball. On their list, only the Atlanta Braves had more players (eight) than the Padres (six).
The Brewers, Rays, and Yankees also checked in with six prospects on the list.
The Padres have received a lot of respect for their deep and talented farm system. Not surprisingly, Fernando Tatis Jr. led the Padres at #9 overall. He was the biggest producer during the 2017 season with 22 home runs, 32 stolen bases, and 84 runs scored in 131 games between Single-A Fort Wayne and Double-A San Antonio. He has the most versatile skill set in the system with good power, a strong arm, and enough speed to make pitchers nervous. Tatis was not in their Top 100 during the 2017 season. The shortstop has been invited to big league camp to start spring training next month.
MacKenzie Gore was also an unsurprising entrant. He checks in at 26. He has done everything the Padres have asked since his arrival, and done it well. He had a 1.27 ERA in seven starts in Rookie ball and 34 strikeouts compared to just seven walks. Baseball America moved him from 31st in their midseason Top 100 list.
One player that exploded onto the scene was Michel Baez. They signed him as an amateur free agent in December of 2016. He made 10 starts for Single-A Fort Wayne and tore up the league. He had a 2.54 ERA and 89 strikeouts. On July 31st against Dayton, he struck out 14. He went from unranked to number 28 overall. That just testifies to the production Baez had in 2017. At 6’8″, with a plus fastball, he is a menacing presence on the mound.
Another player who seems to be a fan favorite is Luis Urias, the scrappy middle infielder. He hit his way from 37th to now 32nd in their top 100. He batted .296 for Double-A San Antonio and split time between second base and shortstop, playing both positions well. He has also been invited to big league camp this spring. He is perhaps the best contact hitter in the Padres’ system.
Baseball America’s list was very kind to the Padres. However, Cal Quantrill dipped from 21st during midseason to now 52nd. That being said, it’s still impressive to be on this list. In his first year back from Tommy John surgery, he started out in Single-A Advanced Lake Elsinore. He had a 3.67 ERA in 14 starts there and the Padres felt he deserved a promotion. He then made eight starts with San Antonio and had to make some adjustments. He had a 4.04 ERA and struggled with command at times. That may have led to this fall down this list, but the excitement for Quantrill is still very much alive. He also earned an invite to major league camp.
Adrian Morejon rounds out the list for San Diego at 66. He started out with Single-A Short Season Tri-Cities, where he posted a 3.57 ERA in seven starts. He was promoted to Fort Wayne and put up similar numbers. He has a plus curveball which makes for a nice “put away” pitch. With his 2017 success, he shot up the list from 85.
There were other deserving names left off of the list. Anderson Espinoza was understandably left off since he hasn’t thrown a professional pitch since August 31st, 2016. The upside certainly is still there. He was 29th overall in Baseball America’s initial 2017 list. He has triple-digit potential with his fastball. We will have to see how he bounces back from Tommy John.
Joey Lucchesi was a snub, in my opinion. He had as good a 2017 as any Padres prospect. In 24 games, he had a 2.20 ERA with 11 wins and 148 strikeouts. He’s got a big frame with an active fastball.
When Baseball America does their midseason report, the Padres could have as many as eight players on the list. The talent is there, it is deep, and the nation is taking notice.