A Comprehensive Look at How the Padres Minor League System Blossomed Before Your Eyes

(Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

(Luis Patino) Credit: MiLB

This series of signings might be the most pivotal in the creation of the San Diego Padres you see before you.

With penalties, the Padres spent over $80 million on young teenage talent as the franchise has never done at any point in their existence. Seven of these men are already on the Padres top-30 prospect list, and a few more have the chance to be, in time.

Here is a glimpse at that rare class of players.

The 2016-17 international draft class

Luis Patino

This right-handed pitcher was initially drafted as a shortstop in 2016-17. The Colombian native always displayed a rocket arm while playing the infield, but who would have thought he would show plus secondary pitches and an ability to stay composed. He is athletic and a great student of the game. Patino broke out in 2018 and should continue to develop in the California League and beyond.

Adrian Morejon

Morejon came with much fanfare as the Padres spent $11 million on the left-handed pitcher from Cuba. He is 20-years-old and has excellent stuff. There are some concerns about his health as Morejon has yet to eclipse 65 innings in a season. He has a high ceiling and should take his game to the next step in 2019.

Michel Baez

Baez was signed for $3 million and has blossomed in the system. In 2017, his velocity was up in the 97-98 mph range, but a nagging back injury limited his speed last season. He was up to 96 at the Don Welke Classic in September, so everything seems to be okay with his arm. He has a very loose motion despite being 6-foot-8. Baez needs to be consistent with his secondary to remain a starter, but at the very least, he should be a late-inning reliever.

(Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

Gabriel Arias

Defense is his forte, but the bat is developing. The right-handed hitter from Venezuela has plus power. His swing can get a bit long when he tries to do too much, but there is a lot to like with his offensive potential. He has plus speed and a rocket arm. He should one day make the major leagues on his defensive abilities alone.

Jeisson Rosario

This left-handed hitter has excellent hand-eye coordination. He is ambidextrous and able to do a running backflip ala, Ozzie Smith. Rosario is an athletic outfielder. At 19, there is much reason to be excited about his ceiling. He played in Fort Wayne last year recording a .722 OPS in 112 games.

Tirso Ornelas

This 19-year-old outfielder from Tijuana has a beautiful swing. He battled some injuries last year only playing in 86 games recording a .732 OPS for the TinCaps. He has a great eye at the plate and added muscle this offseason. He could have a very nice offensive year in Lake Elsinore.

Tucupita Marcano

Marcano came out of virtually nowhere last year, to landing on the Padres top-30 list according to MLB pipeline. He recorded a .888 OPS in 52 games between the desert in Arizona and Tri-City. The 19-year-old left-handed hitter has a great ability to put the ball in play. He walked 30 times last year in 194 at-bats while only striking out 16 times. Marcano could be an extraordinary player if he can gain some weight and add power to his swing.

Jorge Ona

This Cuban outfielder has a ton of talent but is struggling to put it all together. He only hit eight homers last year in the California League (368 at-bats), and power was supposed to be his forte. There are some concerns for Ona, who is built like a fire hydrant. He has great muscle mass but is not the most prominent outfielder in the system. He will need to refine his approach and put the ball in play to advance through the system. There is still time for him.

Credit: AP Photo

Justin Lopez

Switch-hitting infielder Justin Lopez is progressing very well. He started last season in Fort Wayne as a 17-year-old and hed his own. Lopez has a developing bat and great size at 6-foot-2 to get better in time. In Arizona this spring he looked more muscular and was playing an excellent shortstop. He has the size and bat to move to third eventually, but he may be alright at short moving forward.

Jordy Barley

Barley has had issues developing but is still only 19 years old. The right-handed hitter shows flashes but has some real holes in his swing. He has yet to make it passed the Arizona rookie league in his career. Barley looked decent this spring but still is not polished as most of the J2 players signed in the same year as him.

Ronald Bolanos

22-year-old Ronald Bolanos has a terrific arm. The Cuban national threw 125 innings last year in Lake Elsinore but was hit around a bit. At 22, he has an excellent chance to start in Amarillo in 2019. He has a plus fastball but needs to refine his secondary to continue to start. He could be a relief option for the team eventually.

Ramon Perez

This left-handed Cuban pitcher is very impressive despite not being the most massive pitcher in the system. He pitched well last year as an 18-year-old and should get a start at full-season ball this spring. Perez has an excellent chance to remain a starting pitcher in the system as he commands his secondary pitches very well.

Michell Miliano

At 19, and armed with a power fastball, Miliano has been frustrating so far for the Padres. The Dominican right-hander has excellent ability, but mechanics and control are a severe issue for him. He strikes batters out but is also wild in the strike zone. The 6-foot-3 pitcher has decent size and could figure it out eventually.

Agustin Ruiz

Mexican outfielder Augustin Ruiz generally flies under the radar, but he has an excellent chance at being a decent prospect one day. He put up a .829 OPS in over 200 at-bats last season between three teams in the system. The left-handed hitter has great size 6-foot-2 but is very thin presently. The power should come eventually, and when it does, he could be a good one.

(Luis Almanzar) Credit: Baseball America

Martin Carrasco

This 19-year-old right-handed pitcher from Tijuana had a very nice 2017 season in the DSL. He struggled last year with injuries, only pitching 11 innings in the desert. Carrasco does not have a power fastball just yet, but at 19 there is time for him to improve on that. He knows how to pitch. 2019 could be a coming out year for this pitcher.

Luis Almanzar

He was supposed to be a plus hitter and one of the better signings from this J2 period. Instead, Almanzar regressed and hasn’t found his swing. He hit under .200 in Fort Wayne, looking overmatched last year in Indiana. In Peoria this spring he looked way better with the bat. He was also seen taking extra fielding work after a backfield game. There is still time for the 19-year-old to get back to prospect relevancy.

Alison Quintero

The Padres are stacked at the catching position, and Quintero adds to that depth. The 18-year old from Venezuela has a decent bat and is also a plus defender. He has added strength this winter and could be a factor for the team eventually behind the plate.


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12 thoughts on “A Comprehensive Look at How the Padres Minor League System Blossomed Before Your Eyes

  1. Owen Miller?

    Yeah, the Padre farm system is stacked so deep and wide with high ceiling prospects, I know a few may be overlooked. However, for a guy who went from short season Tri-City to AA (playoffs) in his first, SHORT year (i.e. he was still playing college ball last spring), and slashed .336/.386/.460/.846 his first year of professional baseball, I would think he would rate somewhere on your list. Plus, he played a very polished plus-level shortstop, a premium position. Add in a little power which should reasonably come as his game matures, and he’s Tatis II. The only real “knock” on Miller is that he’s an “old guy” at age 22, in a system filled with platinum prospects aged 18-19 years old, but that should be offset by his substantial college experience.

    He may not necessarily be a “high floor, high ceiling” prospect, but he’s very likely a “high floor, mid-ceiling, ready for the show within 1-2 years) prospect.

  2. This was nice. Like taking a trip down memory road. (Oh yeah, I remember that trade!) Thanks for writing it!

    I spotted a typo. You call Mejia a pitching prospect. (I make typos like these all the time!)

  3. Great article, but one question. Why isn’t there any mention of Osvaldo Hernandez. He had a very big year last season at Ft Wayne, but seems to be overlooked by all. Is there something I am missing about him?

  4. Love this article! Being a Padre fan in South Dakota is challenging! It appears the system is balanced throughout with pictures and infielders. Hope the talent assembled can acquire the “hit” tool. I’m looking forward to getting down to Omaha to watch our AAA’ers perform this summer. Been a Padre man from their inception in 69. Feel great about the future….KEEP THE FAITH,,,,,

  5. Trea Turner has posted 10 WAR combined for very little cost. Is currently projected to do double Myers projection in 2019. Is 3 years younger than Myers and plays a premium position. Myers has only 6.8 WAR during the same time, his cost is 5 times that of Turner. Ross is a starting pitcher who is projected for 0.4 WAR this year coming back from injury. Both G. Reyes and J. Castillo are RP who are both projected to pitch most of the season in the minors again. Both combined gave a 0.0 WAR projection.

    1. @SDDon

      “Turner … posted … Myers has only … ”

      I’m still trying to relate this post to the rest of article. Maybe he posted it to the wrong article by mistake, i dunno ….

      Nothing in the post about the spectacular job AJ Preller & the Padres baseball ops department has done to turn a Padres “top farm system” of 2013 with low depth and filled with low-floor, low-ceiling prospects into arguably one of the best minor league systems of high floor, high ceiling prospects, with depth in these prospects going 3, 4, and even 6 deep.

      An oversight, I suppose. Regards, and have a fun baseball year rooting for …whatever team you root for!

  6. Great Job with this breakdown ?. An excellent look at how all these moves paid off. Really enjoyed it and the prospect breakdowns as well.

  7. I have the answer to why we never had a great farm system. Look at the general managers who have been involved in the organization. Expansion teams don’t usually get good farm systems, and the Padres were a collective of castoffs in 1969. Ballard Smith, was not a great GM, Jack McKeon was a “trader” for talent, Kevin Towers was a core player and build around type. Others have had little success. The history of misses vs hits in the systems history is well noted too. Mike Ivie, and many others were busy, bad trades that sent talent for poor returns, and talent that didnt have the ability to go as far as expected in the game. We have had a poor history, but we have a guy now, who has proven himself able to get talent, and now we need to have it pan out and earn our needed respect in the game. Look at the organizations that have perennial resources, all have had GM’s that were proven. Yes, poor decisions are also inevitable, but maybe those days are few and far between. Preller has a good eye, the team has more revenue than ever before, and the reputation for being a winning team instead of an also ran is now realistic and inevitable, finally. I am in Louisiana, but follow the Padres, as I go back to the PCL days with my dad in 1963 went to my first game. I was there opening night in 1969, I lost my taste for baseball with the strike, and just got back I to the game in 2005. I didn’t follow them from 87 till 2005, but I am now on board for the long term, and I am really excited and optimistic.

    1. @Dave from the great state of Louisiana

      I’m as much of an AJ Preller booster as anyone. He is uniquely talented, and more than that, he’s bold.

      However, there’s not “a reason”, but several, the most significant two being:

      * Ownership: Other owners (like Moore) have talked the talk, but never really walked the walk. Moore (in my mind) was merely an investor passively interested in baseball as a vehicle for obtaining huge profits redeveloping choice property that he gained ownership or control over during the Petco Park development. Nothing wrong with a little capitalism, but that kind of capitalist isn’t dedicated to the Padres development as much as his own interests. He proved that when he walked away with over 10% of all future Padres broadcasting revenues for the next 20 years, when he sold the team. On the other hand, the owners group put together by Fowler and Seider are baseball people, interested in developing a winning franchise, to their own profit perhaps, but also to the profit of the fans of San Diego. They invested $80M in one year ALONE on nothing but PROSPECTS, more than several years team salary during the Moores/Moorad years, and actually, a total of $95M in that one year alone, for the Padres future years down the road. Of course, they’ve spent money in other significant areas, but the farm system doesn’t put people in the seats or revenue in the bank for YEARs, and it’s 100% at risk capital, i.e. it’s a crap shoot. That’s dedication like the fans of San Diego have never had before, and I (as another – now out-of-state fan), appreciate it.

      * Culture: What a GM can do is only partly constrained by the owners $$$ invested. It’s also constrained by the demands of the fans and expectations of the owners. It’s a tribute to both, and particularly the fans, that we have “kept the faith” and waited for the product to develop, without walking away. I rarely see that virtue attributed to the “laid back fans” in San Diego. Most GM’s worked towards “this year and maybe next”. AJ Preller has had a long term vision that he never waivered from. In fact, I think he went ahead with his “win-it-all-now” crap shoot of 2015 planning for the future, knowing that the current “top ranking” farm system was a mostly “low floor, low ceiling” system which held maximum value before any of the prospects stepped onto a major league ball field. He turned those prospects into stars to created better prospects. I’m sure he was looking at the 2016 International draft year when he interviewed for the job, and in fact, that was a major part of his presentation to the owners that got him hired pronto, hands down, unanimous vote.

      Yeah, I’ve “bought the kool-aid”. No, I have no expectation at all that the number prospects transforming into MLB players for this farm system will greatly exceed the norm. However, I can count, and the Padres have the numbers (i.e. high floor, high ceiling) to swamp the historical percentages. I certainly have a hope that we’ll see more than one or two super-star-studs coming out of the system. But I am certain that at least one or two will hit, and that a couple of dozen decent to high level major league players will come out of the system as currently stocked.

      Here’s a big difference: When Donavan Tate and Matt Bush were busts, we all felt like it was over, that the Padres entire future was doomed. When a high level prospect hits a bump in the road now, we think “Bummer, that’s a disappointment, maybe he’ll go back and work on the stuff, and have a decent future. Meanwhile, let’s look at what the other top 10 prospects are doing, should be exciting …. “. When we heard Cory Luebke was down for TJ surgery after a fantastic rookie year, we thought “oh boy, there goes our top #1 start of the future”, and when he had his second one, “oh no, that’s another two years until MAYBE we can win some games”. Now, we hear that a prospect has Tommy John, and it’s “bummer, but we’ll see ya when you’re back; it’ll be perfect when you hit the rotation because there might even be a spot available for ya then …”. I’m exagerating of course, but the point is no one, or two, or three prospects missing is going to crush the fans. When Drew Cumberland had to retire due to concussion syndrome, it was like “oh, no, we’ll NEVER have a good short stop now”. If we lost Tatis (God forbid), we actually have a half dozen talented SS prospects who could fill the position. Maybe not as well as Tatis, who could be something special, but Tatis by himself won’t make or break Padres teams for the next five years.

      Padres fans have never had that kind of hope, that kind of reasonable expectations for the team’s future. Time to drink the kool-aid, folks, and jump on board.

  8. One thing worth mentioning is the trade with Tampa and Washington. Maybe I am wrong, but – at the time – I wasn’t sure about unloading the talent we sent packing. Maybe Joe Ross and others will develop further, but none , save Trae Turner, have really developed. To have Wil Myers and Jose Castillo shows we at least broke even. Frankly, that’s better than I expected. In the other deals, Fried, etc. may still be coming, but you cannot criticize than talent acquisition over the past few years.

    A second point worth mentioning: I don’t understand why it took this long to adopt the philosophy and action the current registration e is carrying out. Four decades essentially of not valuing a farm system. ? Thankfully, future days appear much much better!

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