Lake Elsinore Storm
LHP MacKenzie Gore
Perhaps the most talented left-handed pitcher in all of the minors, Gore had a frustrating 2018 dealing with blister issues. On the bright side, the stuff, when healthy, was the same that made him the #3 overall pick in the 2017 draft. He has premium velocity from the left-hand side sitting 93-95 mph with an ability to bump it even higher when needed. To go along with that heater, he demonstrates both a plus curveball with a 1-7 break in the high-’70s and a power slider in the mid-’80s. His changeup also gives him a potential plus pitch. He simply needs to prove he is past the blisters and you will see his stock improve even higher. In fact, he could race towards Petco within the next year or so if his stuff plays as scouts believe it can against higher level competition.
RHP Luis Patino
Giving Gore a run for his money for the title of most athletic pitcher in the organization is Patino. He has put on over 40+ lbs. of healthy weight to a lithe frame when he signed which saw him at only 150 lbs. This additional strength has seen his stuff skyrocket to now one of the top arms in the system. He can comfortably sit 95-96 mph and will top out at 99 mph. With this, he has seen is breaking stuff take large steps forward with his slider in particular rating as the top slider in the entire system. It’s a power tilter with two plane depth that comes in 85-87 mph. His curveball and changeup give him two more pitches that tease plus but lack the consistency of the former pitches. He has even mirrored Gore’s windup in an example of his aptitude to adapt and adopt things quickly to his advantage, creating more deception with his windup. His ability to recreate his 2018 while working on these secondary pitches that he will need against higher level competition will be key.
RHP Anderson Espinoza
The former crown jewel of the Boston Red Sox system has had a challenging career so far in the Padres’ organization. Acquired straight up at the 2016 trade deadline for left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz, Espinoza dazzled as a prospect in limited duty. It culminated in the inaugural On Deck Classic where he started off the game sitting 96-98 mph with his fastball while flashing two other plus pitches. His 12-6 curveball and a fading changeup were both very advanced for a 19-year-old at the time. Unfortunately for him and the Padres, the following season began a two-year delay due to Tommy John surgery that has knocked him out of action until now. He will have to prove his stuff is still there and will likely be on a similar program that fellow TJ recipient Chris Paddack was on last year. He should be earmarked for roughly 90 innings pitched.
This 20-year-old Cuban import competed for the Midwest League ERA title all the way up onto the end of the season when he barely fell shy of the innings requirement. His 1.81 ERA was highly impressive but some of his peripheral numbers don’t support future success at higher levels with a K/9 of 7.71 as an example. He did limit the long ball to the tune of .25 per nine innings. We shall see if competition brings out the best in one of the most talented rotations out there.
RHP Mason Thompson
The all-prospect rotation continues with the former third-round pick who signed for first-round money in 2016. His 6-foot-7 frame gives him an imposing figure on the mound but with his size, it has also given him a lack of continuity with his mechanics like most big-bodied pitchers. He also has dealt with multiple nagging injuries over the last couple of years so a healthy season in which he can eclipse the 100 inning mark will be imperative to his development. Thompson throws a fastball in the 92-94 mph range while topping out at 96 mph. He throws both an 11-5 curveball and a changeup that showed flashed of being above average, yet lack consistency. Competition brings out the best in athletes and he will have a lot of that around him and a wealth of potential to still unlock.
Others to consider- RHP- Jean Cosme, LHP- Tom Cosgrove
Fort Wayne TinCaps
LHP Ryan Weathers
The young hurler comes from a baseball pedigree as his father played in the majors for 19 seasons. He brings a consistency of mechanics and stuff that belies a pitcher his age. He was a multi-sport standout in high school who, just like the Padres 2017 draftee MacKenzie Gore, won the Gatorade High School National Player of the Year. He comes at hitters with a fastball that sits 90-94 mph but will bump higher in shorter stints. Both his curveball and changeup give him solid options that he can throw for strikes or use as chase pitches. Like Gore, the high school left-hander has the ability to move quickly through the system as a rare ultra-polished teenager.
LHP Joey Cantillo
The Hawaiian product had a very impressive 2018 in which he dominated rookie ball hitters at just 18 years of age. His K/9 of 11.51 and BB/9 of only 2.38 show that his ERA of 2.18 isn’t a fluke and backed it up by allowing a measly .196 opponents batting average. Facing a full season of the Midwest League looks the course of 2019 and will have a large challenge set forth in front of him. His fastball and 12-6 curveball are both good pitches to build on for this young man moving forward.
RHP Henry Henry
One of the best names in baseball, this young man is the definition of physical projection at 6-foot-4 and 178 lbs. He brings a growing arsenal that includes a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 96 mph in shorter stints. His breaking stuff lacks behind his fastball but both his slider and changeup project to be at least average pitches in the future. He could easily add up to 30 pounds to his frame and with that additional strength, there could be a lot more in the tank in terms of velocity and stuff. He will compete for the entirety of the 2019 season at the age of 20 so time is on his side, but he will look to finally start turning tools and potential into production out on the field.
RHP Angel Acevedo
The 20-year-old Venezuelan will look to piggyback on a very impressive 2018 season in which he pitched at short-season Tri-City of the Northwest League. Over 65 innings pitched, he allowed one home run while also limiting the free passes with a BB/9 of only 2.22. He will have a good opportunity to break into full-season ball in a big way at Fort Wayne and start off the year in the rotation.
RHP Sam Keating
This right-hander has a power arsenal with a fastball that sits 92-94 mph and a slider that can miss some bats. He will have an opportunity to begin the year in Fort Wayne if he looks well this spring.
Others to consider: LHP- Ramon Perez, LHP- Omar Cruz, RHP- Cole Bellinger, LHP- Manuel Partida, RHP- Nick Thwaits