26. Owen Miller, SS
The Padres’ selected Owen Miller with their third-round pick in 2018 and the former Illinois State Redbird might be the first player from his class to reach the big leagues. Miller dominated at short-season Tri-City and low-A Fort Wayne last year and will start the 2019 season with the Amarillo Sod Poodles, the Padres’ Double-A affiliate.
Miller has hit well at every single level he’s ever played at. The 22-year-old batted .336/.386/.460 with 100 hits over 75 games in his first taste of professional action. He has quick hands and consistently makes solid contact to all sides of the field. Miller is a mature hitter and has advanced knowledge of the strike zone despite his lack of professional experience.
Despite being a tad bit undersized, Miller has the tools necessary to be a big leaguer. His bat is going to play at any level, he’s a great athlete with good speed, and his glove is solid. He’s currently a shortstop and has played there since his college days, but the Padres’ will probably experiment with playing Miller at second base to fit their future needs.
27. Esteury Ruiz, 2B
Acquired by the Padres’ prior to 2017 trade deadline, Ruiz should be considered one of the more underrated prospects in this system.
The 20-year-old made his professional debut with the TinCaps last season, where he batted .253/.324/.403 with 12 home runs, 111 hits, and 49 stolen bases. Despite only weighing in at 170 pounds, Ruiz has a lot of power in his swing and makes solid contact with the baseball. His baserunning ability is a major part of his game, as Ruiz is aggressive on the basepaths and is already a legitimate threat when he gets on base.
Ruiz is a solid hitter, but his plate discipline is below-average and he strikes out way too much. He needs to be more patient and find ways to get on base more often as his baserunning ability is a legit weapon. Defensively, Ruiz is a below-average defender with a below-average arm that likely means he is stuck playing second base. The tools are there for Ruiz to be an impact major-league player, but he needs more development and will probably not be close to major league ready for another two or three years.
28. Osvaldo Hernandez, LHP
Osvaldo Hernandez was another product of the Padres’ 2016-2017 international spending spree, as the left-handed pitching prospect signed a $2.5 million contract with the Friars at the age of 18. Hernandez made his professional debut in 2017 but established himself on the prospect’s radar in 2018 when he went 11-4 and posted a 1.81 ERA over 109 and 2/3 innings pitched with the TinCaps.
Hernandez is not an overpowering pitcher by any means, but his ability to just simply pitch is what makes him such an intriguing prospect. His fastball primarily sits in the low 90s with some glove side movement and has touched 94-96 before. His curveball is his best secondary offering by far and is an effective putaway pitch for Hernandez. Both his slider and his changeup are serviceable pitches that he can throw for strikes but they do not hail in comparison to what his curveball is and will likely never be anything more than just average pitches.
The best thing about Hernandez is the fact that he just knows how to pitch. His ability to consistently change speeds and keep hitters off balance for a 20-year-old is very impressive and a good sign for his development. None of his pitches project to be anything special at any time in his career but his ability to consistently throw strikes and keep hitters guessing is going to aid Hernandez on his quest to reaching the big leagues. His upside is a Dallas Keuchel-like pitcher that just knows how to get hitters out.
29. Reggie Lawson, RHP
Reggie Lawson, in my opinion, is the most confusing and inconsistent prospect in the entire Padres’ system. The Padres drafted Lawson in 2016 and signed him for almost twice his slot value, showing the high confidence that the organization has had in him since day one.
His arsenal is made up of three pitches, all of which are quality offerings. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with the ability to touch high-90s on the radar gun. Lawson’s curveball is his best pitch and can truly be an elite pitch when he throws it the right way. An improved changeup that plays well off his fastball gives Lawson another quality pitch to consistently keep hitters off balance.
While Lawson’s repertoire might be impressive, the young right-hander needs to improve in a lot of areas. There is not a lot of consistency in his delivery which makes it hard for him to frequently throw strikes and is a big reason as to why his walk numbers are quite high. Lawson’s career minor league numbers are awful (5.31 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .270 BAA) and a solid 2019 is an absolute must at this point for Lawson. The potential is there for him to be apart of the Padres’ rich future, but Lawson needs to figure it out as soon as possible as he is far from being a major leaguer.
30. Blake Hunt, C
The Padres selected Blake Hunt in the 2017 MLB draft with a competitive balance round B pick, where Hunt bypassed a commitment to Pepperdine and signed for $1.6 million. Hunt’s first full season as a professional will be in 2019, where he will likely spend the entire year with the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
Catchers typically aren’t as large as Blake Hunt, 6’4″, but the organization believes that Hunt can stick at the position long-term despite his stature. Hunt’s frame alone suggests that he has raw power, but his swing has a lot of moving parts to it and he does not consistently make enough solid contact with the baseball. His calling card is his defense, as Hunt already has a 60-grade arm and was arguably the best defensive catcher in his draft class. The 20-year-old’s pop time regularly sits under 1.9 seconds and he is a decent framer for how professionally inexperienced he is.
Hunt is not as polished of a prospect as Luis Campusano, who was selected in the same draft as him, but there are still a lot of things to like about him. He is very raw overall as a prospect and needs to continue to develop both offensively and defensively. The potential for him to be a contributing major league player is there, but Hunt needs a lot more seasoning until he is ready.