The new rankings have come out for each teams’ top-30 prospects from MLB.com. Here are my current ranking for the top 30 prospects in the San Diego Padres farm system, plus a few other prospects that are worth mentioning. Enjoy, and please remember, this is my list. Take it with a grain of salt and remember that the value of these players fluctuates very easily from year to year. This list will be ever-changing and what you see now will definitely be altered again by time.
1- Anderson Espinoza (18) RHP Fort Wayne TinCaps/Single-A
This young man comes with a ton of hype and it all seems justified. When you see scouts make comparisons of him to Pedro Martinez and Felix Hernandez, you know that he is special. Most Padres fans are still in disbelief that the team landed him from the Red Sox. He is ranked as the #21 prospect in all of baseball and is fifth as far as right-handed pitchers on the list. He is still very young and the Padres may have to wait for him to develop a little more. He’s gotten off to a rough start in Fort Wayne, but the future is sure bright for this young man. He features a mid-to-high 90s fastball and excellent command of it. His secondary pitches are all above average and he is ahead of the curve in terms of using them correctly. ETA is sometime in 2018 or 2019 for this potential future ace.
2- Manuel Margot (21) OF El Paso Chihuahuas/Triple-A
The prized prospect obtained from the Red Sox in the Craig Kimbrel deal is off to a great start as a Padres farm hand. Margot impressed in the Spring and has certainly taken off from there, hitting over .300 in his first taste of Triple-A pitching. He will never hit 25-30 home runs, but he has so many other exciting aspects to his game that it doesn’t matter about the power. He has great speed and plays a well above average center field. His bat is quick and his swing is compact. He will be a major league talent for years to come. He was impressive in September and manager Andy Green loves the way he plays the game.
3- Hunter Renfroe (24) OF El Paso Chihuahuas/Triple-A
Padres fans have heard about Renfroe for a long time and it is exciting that he has taken his game to the next level this season in Triple-A. If not for Matt Kemp, Renfroe would have already been called up to start his career. Hunter Renfroe is the prototypical right fielder with a power bat and a rocket arm. He is a five tool talent, although speed is certainly not something he relies on to play the game. His approach at the plate is a work in progress though, as he still tends to strike out too much. He will never be a contact hitter, but with a better approach, there is no reason why he can’t be a .280 hitter at the major league level. Expect Renfroe to be in the middle of the lineup come April as he will look to build off his hot September.
4- Josh Naylor (19) 1B Lake Elsinore Storm/Single-A High
The recently acquired Naylor brings the Padres a first base prospect that they have lacked. Brad Zunica is another young first baseman, but Naylor seems more polished at this point. The return from the Andrew Cashner/Colin Rea trade was huge. The Padres love what Naylor brings to the table with his bat as he has legit power and a smooth left-handed stroke. His foot speed and fielding are real questions at this point. He projects as a DH in the long-term and will need to improve his defense if he wants to play first base at the highest professional level. Naylor makes decent contact and he will probably breeze through the Padres minor league system. He looks to make an impact in San Diego sometime in 2018 or 2019. I really like the way he plays the game. Padres fans got a glimpse of it at the Future’s games.
5- Cal Quantrill (21) RHP AZL Padres/Singe-A
The Padres made a surprise selection with their first pick in the 2016 amateur draft. With that selection, they picked Cal Quantrill out of Stanford, despite the fact he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. The right-handed pitcher has a great pedigree, as his father Paul Quantrill pitched in the major leagues. The younger Quantrill has excellent stuff, and if not for his elbow injury, he could have been the number one selection overall. The Padres worked him out a number of times before using their pick on him, so they obviously have no worries about his arm. Quantrill wasted no time in reporting to the AZL Padres where he has been impressive so far. The Padres will have to take it easy with Quantrill and that will slow his progression to the major leagues. Expect him to arrive mid-to-late 2018 or early 2019.
6- Adrian Morejon (17) LHP AZL Padres/Instructional League
The only reason he is so high on this list is the fact he has a major upside. His command and demeanor are off the charts for a teenager. He also has a mid-to-high 90s fastball with at least three above average off-speed pitches. His change and curve are already excellent swing-and-miss pitches at this stage in his career. At 17, Morejon has a long road ahead of him, but you cannot argue the fact that this young man has a very high ceiling. If healthy, he is almost a guarantee to be a major leaguer someday. It will depend on him to what degree he impacts the game. His work ethic has been praised by some scouts so that bodes well for his future. Expect Morejon around 2019 or 2020, but he does have an outside chance to progress faster. He has that type of makeup.
7- Eric Lauer (21) LHP TFort Wayne TinCaps/Single-A
The most polished and major league ready pitcher in the June draft went to the San Diego Padres. Eric Lauer will not blow you away with his stuff, but he continues to show that he is a pitcher in every sense of the word. Sometimes in games a pitcher does not have their best stuff, but that has never bothered Lauer, as he has a great understanding of how to get batters out. You can’t teach that. His 0.69 ERA last season was the lowest ERA allowed by a starter in NCAA Division-1 baseball since 1979. He has a four-pitch arsenal and is unafraid to attack hitters on both sides of the plate. He is tall and athletic and projects to arrive in San Diego relatively soon. Late 2017 seems about right for this young man as long as he progresses at every level.
8- Luis Urias (19) INF Lake Elsinore Storm/Single-A High
I really love this kid. He does everything you ask of him and is remarkably young. At 19, Urias is currently hitting like a madman at Fort Wayne. He will be promoted to Double-A this season, and if he continues to improve, he could really turn some heads nationally. Urias has a quick compact stroke and his power is certainly developing. At 5′ 9″, he is small in stature, but that does not limit him one bit. His walk to strike out numbers are insane as Urias continually walks as much as he K’s. He is primarily playing second base right now but he does have the ability to play shortstop too. This young man does everything correctly on the field and is only beginning to get stronger. If he continues to progress, he will arrive at the major league level by the end of the 2017 season at the age of 20. If not, you will certainly see him by 2018.
9- Chris Paddack (20) RHP Fort Wayne TinCaps/Single-A
A recent injury is a bit of a concern, but Paddack has an outstanding future. I still cannot believe the Marlins parted with him for Fernando Rodney, only to use Rodney as a setup man. At 20, Paddack has dominated A-Ball. He has excellent control and shows excellent composure for a young man. He has great size at 6′ 4″ and is just beginning to fill out his frame. His fastball tops out at around 94 MPH, but there are whispers he could easily add a few MPH as he gets bigger and stronger. Paddack’s changeup is a thing of beauty, and because of it, he should make the major leagues someday. You cannot teach the feel he has for that pitch, and he could easily eventually be a relief pitcher in the major leagues with his fastball/change combo. The Padres have higher hopes for him in the rotation and he is progressing well. 2019 or 2020 seems like the target date for his arrival.
10- Jorge Ona (19) OF AZL Padres/Instructional League
I am really excited to see the development of this young man. At 19, he is a little more seasoned than most of the international picks. In fact he played some games in the Cuban baseball league as an 18-year-old so he has some experience, in a sense. The powerful right-handed hitter has drawn comparisons to Albert Belle with his approach at the plate. He has no problem spraying the ball around the field and plays defense well, despite not having great foot speed. Ona has an above-average arm and projects as a right fielder. The Padres hope to have him in a camp soon to see exactly what they have. Ona is built really well and his power projects to be a 60 plus. If he can progress through the system, he may be seen in San Diego late 2019.
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