The MLB.com pipeline crew just released their final top 100 prospect list for the 2018 calendar year. The Padres, home to the No. 1 ranked farm system in baseball, have their fair share of prospects that made the cut.
Fernando Tatis Jr. holds his seat as the #2 overall prospect. Despite a thumb injury that ended his 2018 season, the 19-year-old shortstop still has the potential to one day be amongst the best players in all of baseball and should be the centerpiece of the Padres throughout their rebuild.
Coming in at #13 on the list is left-hander McKenzie Gore. Some believe that Gore should be lower, considering he posted a 4.45 ERA in 60 2/3 innings this season, but this high of a ranking speaks to how talented of a prospect he truly is. According to several scouts, the 18-year-old out of Whiteville, North Carolina could have four plus pitches once he develops and projects to be a frontline starter when he reaches the big leagues. Gore did struggle in 2018, but his season was affected by a nagging blister injury that caused him to hit the disabled list three times. If McKenzie Gore comes into 2019 fully healthy, watch out.
The #26 and #27 overall prospects for the Padres both reached the majors this season. While Fransisco Mejia and Luis Urias did not have the most impressive “first stint” in the majors, they both showed flashes of greatness at times. Mejia and Urias, two players the Padres believe are part of their future core, will start the season with the team next year and should graduate from this list fairly quickly. Both possess a phenomenal hit tool that projects them as above-average big league hitters, with some scouts saying Urias could win multiple batting titles before his career is over. Nonetheless, both Fransisco Mejia and Luis Urias are electrifying prospects that should have successful rookie campaigns in 2019.
Perhaps the most impressive pitching prospect in 2018 was Chris Paddack. A year removed from Tommy John surgery, Paddack posted video-game like numbers with a 2.10 ERA, 120 strikeouts, and only EIGHT walks. Jumping 12 spots, from 47 to 35, Paddack deserves to be ranked higher on this list. He is right there with McKenzie Gore as the best pitcher in a farm system full of talented pitching prospects. Paddack possesses a lethal arsenal, but it’s his 65-grade changeup that truly gives him the potential for an elite “out pitch” at the big league level. Expect to see Paddack pitching on the Petco Park mound in 2019 at some point.
An injury-riddled season kept #46 overall prospect, Adrian Morejon, from truly breaking out in 2018. The 19-year-old left-hander from Cuba also has the potential to have four plus pitches once he is fully developed and many scouts believe he could be a frontline starter one day. The biggest concern with Morejon has to be his health, as he has suffered numerous injuries in his short-lived professional career. Similar to Gore, if Morejon comes into 2019 at full health, expect him to put his talents on full display.
Nobody had a more up-and-down season than #57 overall prospect Michel Baez. In 86 2/3 innings pitched with High-A Lake Elsinore, Baez posted a 2.91 ERA with 92 strikeouts, 33 walks, and a 1.22 WHIP. This success earned Baez a promotion to Double-A San Antonio, where he started four games in which he only pitched 18 1/3 innings, struck out 21 batters, walked 12, and posted an astronomical 7.36 ERA. The main concern with Baez has been his fastball velocity. In 2017, in which he dominated, the 22-year-old’s fastball velocity was consistently sitting in the mid-to-upper 90s. This year, Baez was often clocked in at somewhere between 92-94 and was not as successful. His offspeed pitches are above-average, including a slider that has proved to be elite at times. If Baez can regain his fastball velocity, whether it be returning to full health or a mechanical fix, he should be in line to have a successful 2019 season and reach the Padres soon.
One of the most surprising pitching prospects in 2018 was #76 overall prospect, Logan Allen. Once considered a “throw-in” piece in the Craig Kimbrel trade, Allen has solidified himself as a legitimate prospect and could potentially open 2019 in the Padres’ starting rotation. Posting an absurd 1.63 ERA in 27 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level, as well as a 2.75 ERA in 121 innings at Double-A, Logan Allen truly dominated minor league hitters this season. If he stays healthy, the 21-year-old left-hander will certainly make his big league debut next year.
Remember when I said Chris Paddack had one of the best seasons amongst all pitching prospects this season? Luis Patino, the #83 overall prospect, is right there with him. Coming out of absolutely nowhere, the 18-year-old Colombian native was dominant all season. He struck out 98 batters and posted a 2.16 ERA in 83 1/3 innings before the Padres shut him down for the season. Patino can bring it as his fastball has touched triple digits before and usually sits somewhere in the mid 90’s. His slider and curveball are both swing-and-miss pitches that are only going to get better as he develops. While Patino is only 18 years old and is likely two to three years away from making his big league debut, he is a prospect that should skyrocket up this list next season.
With their first pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, the San Diego Padres selected the #92 overall prospect, Ryan Weathers. The 18-year-old was one of the best prep arms in the nation and joined the Padres despite a strong Vanderbilt commitment. A phenomenal athlete, who was supposed to be a two-way player in college, Weathers possesses an advanced arsenal for a teenager. Right now, Weathers has good stuff, but he will need to develop a true “out pitch” before he can be considered a high-end prospect. Nonetheless, Weathers is young and still has plenty of time to develop before he is even remotely ready for the big leagues.
The Padres surely have an elite farm system, with ten prospects on this Top 100 lists and several other prospects that could find their way on this list one day. One thing is for sure: 2019 will be another exciting season for the Padres’ minor league organizations.
Diego works at Prep Baseball Report as an Area Scout in Illinois and Missouri. He graduated this spring with a Bachelor Degree in Communications and played four years of college baseball, logging nearly 50 innings of work in a relief role. Diego hopes to work in an MLB front office one day and has been a Padres fan since he was six years old.