Padres minor leaguers who may be future Top 100 Prospects

Credit: Fastball Photo

Credit: Fastball Photo

Following a two-year period filled with high-profile trades and promotions, the San Diego Padres farm system, which once was considered the best in the league, has now been considerably thinned out.

The team still has four Top 100 Prospects in infielder: CJ Abrams, catcher Luis Campusano, outfielder Robert Hassell III, and starting pitcher MacKenzie Gore.

With Abrams, Campusano and Gore expected to graduate sometime in 2022 or 2023, followed closely behind by Hassell in 2023 or 2024, the Padres don’t have any clear-cut prospects set to give them a continued presence in the Top 100 following these promotions.

While they have the 15th pick in the 2022 draft, which should allow them to draft someone with immediate Top 100 potential, the organization does have some very intriguing prospects that have flashed the potential of becoming marquee prospects.

Let’s look at four names currently in the Padres system that could potentially develop their way to being regarded as one of the Top 100 prospects in the sport.

 

James Wood | Outfielder | Age: 19 | 6’7 240 pounds | MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 40,
Power: 55, Run: 55. Arm: 60, Field: 50, Overall: 50

Once touted as one of the top outfield prospects on the 2021 draft, Wood’s stock dropped from a first-round blue-chipper to a second-round pick after concerns with his hit tool started emerging. The Padres took a chance on Wood’s toolsy upside in the second round, and it seemed to have an immediate payoff, with him hitting .372/.465/.535 in his professional debut.

Credit: Fastball Photo


With Wood’s hit tool beginning to flash much higher than projected, the towering 19-year-old has a much higher ceiling. He generates impressive raw power from the left side of the plate that should translate into 30+ home run power in MLB. Wood is an above-average runner, not just for his size but in general, flashing it by stealing 10 bases in just 26 games of Rookie Ball. Defensively, Wood is talented enough to handle center field and has the plus arm needed to make him an above-average right fielder should he need to be moved there long-term.

Wood’s ceiling will be dependent on if his hit tool continues to show promise. If not, he has the floor of a Joey Gallo type of outfielder, with his value coming from his power and defense, albeit with neither quite on Gallo’s level. However, if he continues to hit for a higher average, Wood has the impressive ceiling of an Aaron Judge type of outfielder. This hulking right fielder can impact the game both offensively and defensively.

 

Victor Acosta | Shortstop | Age: 17 | 5’11 170 pounds | MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 55, Power: 45, Arm: 60, Run: 55, Field: 50, Overall: 45

The Padres saw quite a bit of potential in Acosta when they signed him for $1.8 million during the 2020-2021 international signing period, and it seems like they may have struck gold with the 17-year-old shortstop. Acosta had an extremely impressive professional debut that already garnered him praise and mentions as a future top 100 prospect. Acosta hit .285/.431/.484 with five home runs, 12 doubles, five triples, and 26 stolen bases in 186 at-bats.

Credit: MiLB

Acosta is an above-average hitter with great plate discipline, and the switch hitter has begun flashing surprising power, especially from the left side of the plate. Evaluators believe Acosta will have no problem handling shortstop long-term and already has a plus throwing arm. Acosta’s 26 stolen bases display the plus speed he also brings to the table, giving him the possibility of developing five tools.

The teenager has the floor of a contact-first, defensive shortstop in the mold of Nicky Lopez. At the same time, some evaluators believe Acosta could add enough power to reach the very high ceiling of a five-tool switch-hitting infielder like Jorge Polanco.

 

Jackson Merrill | Shortstop | Age: 18 | 6’3 195 pounds | MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 50, Power: 45, Run: 50, Arm: 55, Field: 50, Overall: 55

Selected 27th overall in the 2021 draft, Merrill has the size and raw tools to carry him forward as a potential five-tool infielder.

Credit: Fastball Photo

Merrill possesses solid bat-to-ball skills and the 6’3 195 pound frame of a corner outfielder that stands to help him generate average to above-average power in his left-handed swing in the future. Merrill’s good defensive skills could see him as an above-average shortstop in the future, but it’s also possible he could move to third base due to his size.

Merrill posted an unimpressive .280/.339/.383 line in his professional debut, raising some questions as to how much power he’ll hit for in the future. He certainly has the frame and raw power to hit 20 or more home runs annually but may need to make adjustments for a more consistent swing to fully tap into that. That power will be the difference between Merrill becoming a more contact-based Jeimer Candelario-type infielder or a more powerful Brandon Lowe-type infielder.

 

Jarlin Susana | Starting Pitcher | Age: 17 | 6’6 230 pounds | MLB Pipeline Grades: Fastball: 55, Slider: 50, Curve: 50, Changeup: 50, Control: 50, Overall: 50

The Padres’ prize of the 2022 international signing period, Susana may very well already be the Padres’ second-best pitching prospect to MacKenzie Gore.

Susana has a huge 6’6 230 pound frame and an impressive array of pitches at age 17. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and has touched triple digits at times. He pairs it with three solid offerings in his mid-80s slider, low-80s curveball, and mid-80s changeup, as well as average command.

Susana has yet to make his professional debut, so it’s unknown how he’ll fare just yet. The right-handed pitcher’s powerful fastball gives him the floor of at least a high-leverage reliever in the mold of a flame-throwing closer like Camilo Doval. If he can put everything together, Susana has the ceiling of a powerful top-to-middle rotation starter like Sandy Alcantara.

 

4 Honorable Mentions


Ethan Salas

Is it cheating to put Salas on here already? While not official yet, catching prodigy Ethan Salas is slated to sign with the Padres during the 2022-2023 International Signing Period. Salas is still very young and should be around 16 years old by the time he signs his Padres deal. He already possesses a frame over 6’0 and a wiry-yet-powerful frame for his age. Salas is an extremely advanced hitter and catcher, drawing comparisons to Adley Rutschman at the plate and Yadier Molina behind it. Salas was regularly barreling up mid-90s fastballs at age 14 and could grow into immense raw power. Salas not only could crack the Top 100 in his teen years, but it may not be long before he sits atop them altogether.

Samuel Zavala

Zavala is a 17-year-old, left-handed outfielder that flashed five tools in his professional debut. Zavala stands 6’1 and 175 pounds, and evaluators believe that he could end up as a Carlos Gonazalez type outfielder at his peak. However, he’ll need to add more size to reach that level of power.




Yendry Rojas

The Padres other top signing out of the 2022 international signing period, Rojas, is positionally flexible and has a projectable frame. Evaluators think Rojas could develop into being average to above-average across the board, and he has drawn comparisons to Yoan Moncada.

Daniel Montesino

Forming an impressive trio of hitters with Acosta and Zavala, the 18-year-old Montesino has flashed plus raw power in his short professional career. While some believe his lack of athleticism may limit him to first base in the future, Montesino has the size and swing to develop into a 30 home run threat in the future.

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Ryan Michel
Born and raised in San Diego, aspiring Baseball Journalist and lifelong fan of the San Diego Padres. My life's goal is to retire early, become a season ticket holder and practically live at Petco Park in the summer.
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