Here is a look at four San Diego Padres prospects who could emerge in 2019. The Padres have plenty of young players in the system, but these men could be players to keep a close eye on as the Friars become more competitive.
There are literally dozens upon dozens of relevant Padres prospects in the minor leagues right now. With so many viable players who could one day be major leaguers, it is impossible to track them all and completely understand their value. Players emerge every year, seemingly out of nowhere.
The following list consists of some players who could have a positive 2019 and take their game to the next level. These are not necessarily players who are flying under the radar, but men whose value is probably lower than it should be.
Once considered an ace of the future, Quantrill has had two disappointing years for the Padres where he has struggled in the minors, giving up plenty of hits. Battling back from Tommy John surgery is not easy, but Quantrill has had no physical setbacks with his arm. That is positive. His velocity has increased slowly in the past year and a half, though he will probably never be a high 90’s fastball pitcher. The Canadian born right-hander has good mechanics and a great assortment of breaking pitches, which he controls well.
As for the future, there is still hope that Quantrill can blossom. He pitched well last year in Triple-A after having consistency issues in San Antonio to start the year. With that, the Padres seem excited that he has developed. There are still some questions surrounding Quantrill, but he has the ability to be a valuable pitcher. He is probably not going to live up the ace expectations, but there is no reason why he can’t be a middle of the order hurler with upside. Look for 2019 to be a year where he emerges from the pack, as Quantrill has plenty of heart.
Another pitcher who is battling back from Tommy John surgery is Espinoza. The Padres have yet to really see the total package from this young right-hander as he came from the Red Sox in 2016 with a sore arm. He should start the year in Lake Elsinore or Amarillo and could be a quick riser if his arm troubles are in the past. The Padres will likely monitor his innings a bit. Expect him to start slowly with an affiliate and be pushed accordingly, somewhat what the team did with Chris Paddack this past year.
Espinoza has the ability to be one of the best pitching prospects in the game of baseball. Despite not picking up a ball in a meaningful game for over two years, he is still listed by MLB pipeline as the Padres’ #12 prospect, and until recently was listed in their top-100 overall prospects. Look for the Venezuelan pitcher to break out in 2019 and remind many Padres fans that he is still a viable player. After all, he is still only 20 years old. The ceiling of a real bonifide ace is here if he can continue to get better command and, of course, stay healthy.
This switch-hitter had a nagging wrist injury that limited his ability to bat right-handed late in the season. He still played in the Prospects Game/Don Welke Classic at Petco Park and hit lefty against any and all pitching he saw. He is a gamer. You will not hear a peep from him about playing in pain and he looks to be a ballplayer in every sense of the word. The middle infielder can play second or short, where he exhibits great range and a decent arm. There is little pop from his bat presently, but Edwards is a leadoff hitter with 70-grade speed. He will get on and he will steal bases and manufacture runs. That has tremendous value in itself.
There is a lot of competition in the middle infield throughout the Padres’ minor league system. Edwards will need to battle and compete to emerge from the pack. With the structured way he looks at his craft, there is no doubt that he will break out in 2019. Having already excelled in Tri-City, the infielder will likely start in Fort Wayne. Do not expect to see him there for long, as he should be a fairly quick riser. He has an excellent swing from both sides of the plate and a hunger to get better.
It is no secret that I admire this young man very much. He has a high baseball IQ and is a very hard worker. The fact he was drafted a few picks behind fellow catcher Luis Campusano has delayed his rise through the system a bit. Campusano was a little more advanced with the bat than Hunt and the team elected to give him the start in Fort Wayne to begin 2018. Hunt started in extended (Arizona) and worked with many youngsters there. He then went on to Tri-City where he had an up and down year. After putting up a .825 OPS in June, he got a little too long with his swing and put up a .579 OPS in July. He rebounded with a ton of hard work to record a .884 OPS in August to close out his season.
Hunt is a plus defender, a plus communicator, and a student of the game. He will be a solid defender in the upper minors and beyond. The question has to do with his bat. The right-handed hitter can get a little too pull happy, but he is not an easy out by any means. He continues to educate me on how he is working hard on his swing mechanics and that leads me to believe more consistency is coming from the 19-year-old. He hit .462 in his last 10 games in Tri-City. He will begin 2019 with Fort Wayne and could emerge with consistent playing time.
There are obviously more players capable of breaking out in 2019 as the system is loaded with talent.