Padres’ Minor League Depth: Top 5 First Basemen

Credit: MiLB

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Brad Zunica Credit: Journal Gazette

With the signing of Eric Hosmer to an eight-year deal, there is no immediate need for a youngster to emerge at this position.

Before Hosmer’s arrival, the Padres had Wil Myers manning the position and there was no need to stockpile first basemen.

Currently, behind Naylor and Zunica, there is not much in terms of long-term major league-capable first basemen. Both France and Perez can play other positions and could be utilized in multiple areas once they eventually reach the higher minor league levels, and ultimately (possibly), the major leagues.

Here is a glimpse of what the Padres have now in terms of talent at first base:

1- Josh Naylor

The powerful, left-handed Canadian is on a fast-track to the majors. He is still only 20, but has shown a ton of maturity at the plate in his brief tenure in the Padre’ organization. He is known for his power, but has had trouble showing it at the plate recently in game action. Naylor only hit 10 homers in total for the year in 2017, and only two of them came in San Antonio. Given his age, the Padres do not seem too concerned about it. They always say that power is the last thing to develop in a good hitter. Naylor certainly qualifies as a good hitter. Only time will tell. Defensively, he gets a horrible rap. He is an average defender with decent foot speed. The 20 grade from MLB Pipeline is a disgrace for his speed and they have since changed it. He got in some games during the spring for the Padres, but was sent down. Naylor is only capable of playing first, so he will probably have to be dealt to get consistent playing time in the future.

2- Brad Zunica

I really enjoy this young man. He is very calm and collected with his demeanor, but at the same time you feel the intensity he has about the game of baseball. He has the ability to hit the ball over the fence to all sides of the field and has outstanding plate coverage. The left-handed hitter has a big strike zone (6′ 6″), but he has shown recently that he is willing to take a walk when needed. Zunica repeated Fort Wayne in 2017, but should be in Lake Elsinore for 2018, and his numbers should climb in the hitter’s league. Zunica hit .300 off of left-handed pitchers this past season. That right there shows his true ability with the stick.

3- Ty France

This SDSU product had a wonderful 2017 season which saw him promoted to Double-A from Lake Elsinore. France is a ball player. He does not do any one thing spectacularly, but he does have skill in all facets of the game. He enjoys grinding out at-bats, and has surprising pop that could develop in time. France played both first and third, where he showed decent footwork and a solid arm. He could eventually be a first baseman as he gets stronger as the right-handed hitter lacks footwork to probably continue at third base. France is a hitter and should have no problem excelling with the stick.

4- Nick Feight

This 22-year-old first baseman was selected in the 19th round of the 2017 draft out of UNC Wilmington. He put up a .247/.341/.380 batting line in 40 games and 150 at bats at the Arizona Rookie League level. The right-handed hitter is small in stature and played some left field also in 2017. He needs more pop to be considered a real viable prospect at first, but shows some decent plate discipline. His .721 OPS in 2017 was nothing special, but he could get better in time as he figures things out with his swing.

5- Justin Paulsen

Drafted in the 39th round out of Missouri State in 2017 was this young man. The left-handed hitter has shown gap power already that could develop in time. Paulsen recorded a .291/.409/.492 batting line last year in 44 games and 148 at-bats. His .821 OPS was impressive as he seemed to get better with more tutelage. Paulsen is probably going to remain at first base where he has shown decent ability. The 23-year-old, right-handed thrower has an accurate arm. Paulsen could move through the system quickly if he continues to make quick adjustments within the game.

Honorable Mentions

Carlos Belen

This 21-year-old has been slowly progressing since being signed by the team in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic. He played the whole year in Lake Elsinore, where he put up a .238/.308/.426 batting line in 89 games. He is a corner infielder with developing pop. The right-handed hitter needs to refine his approach at the plate if he wishes to succeed.

G.K. Young

The converted catcher is going to stick at first base for the time being. He also pitched in six games for the TinCaps, so he is a bit of an enigma. Young went six innings, on six different occasions, allowing three earned runs on five hits. He walked four batters, hit two, and struck out a pair. He has always had a rocket arm, but his catching skill was limited beyond that. Offensively, Young has legit power as he has hit 15 homers in his pro career. Young is an interesting story, as his left-handed bat is useful and his right-handed arm is golden. Could the team turn him into a pitcher full-time some day? Young was released by the club this week, perhaps he will surface as a pitcher somewhere.


2 thoughts on “Padres’ Minor League Depth: Top 5 First Basemen

  1. Great job on these prospect reports. You guys do an excellent job of covering the minor league system, and your work is much appreciated.

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