A look at a few San Diego Padres prospects who could be on the verge of breaking out in 2020.
The San Diego Padres farm system is strong.
Everybody knows about MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patino, Taylor Trammell, and Luis Campusano within the Padres’ system. But there are several other players worth recognition, and a few of them could be on the verge of breaking out in 2020 for the Friars.
Here is a look at a few players worth keeping tabs on this coming season.
The 2019 first round pick hit .400 in the AZL and earned a promotion to Single-A Fort Wayne late in the season. A shoulder injury ended his year a week or two early, but the infielder showed a lot of promise with his initial taste of professional pitching. Abrams may not be a sleeper in the traditional sense, as he displayed great promise in his initial showing and is one of the Padres’ top prospects. He can, however, continue his rise through the system and easily become one of the best hitting prospects in the game. Abrams’ skillset is very high, and there are promising signs in regards to his baseball IQ. This will be an interesting year for him as the Padres may have him play some games in centerfield.
A swing adjustment may unlock the potential with this outfielder. After a slow start in Single-A Lake Elsinore, Ornelas saw time in Arizona, where he worked on simplifying his swing. He put up better numbers when he returned to Lake Elsinore, and the outfielder could be on the verge of a breakout. He turns 20 in March and could start the year with the Storm again, but he is very close to Double-A action. The power potential is real for Ornelas, and people should begin to see the results this coming year. Expect 20-plus homers in 2020, and that comes with a player who has reasonable bat control. The sweet-swinging Mexican outfielder is close to unlocking his overall abilities.
A balky elbow cost him a significant chunk of 2019, but he showed great promise at the end of the year that his arm is fine. Lawson chose not to go under the knife despite some ligament issues. To close out the year at the Don Welke Classic and in Peoria, pitching for the Javelinas, Lawson’s stuff looked really nasty. His fastball velocity was back up to the mid-90s, and he produced good movement on his curve. The arm is still a bit of a concern, but this 22-year-old is one of the hardest workers in the system. There may not be top-of-the-order potential here, but Lawson could easily be a very useful pitcher at the major league level. This year should give us all a sign of his potential in the game.
Lost in the catching shadow of Luis Campusano, this right-handed hitter shows excellent promise. He is already well-regarded as one of the best defenders in the system behind the plate. Hunt also shows plenty of pop and an understanding of how to better utilize his swing. The right-handed hitter is working hard to quicken up his swing, and the results are starting to show. He generally puts the ball in play, but still needs to utilize the middle-half of the field more. There are still offensive concerns when it comes to his swing, but he is 21 and will be way ahead of the curve this season playing for the Lake Elsinore Storm. Expect Hunt to increase his offensive profile while still displaying plus defensive skills.
Not much is publicized nationally about this Texan outfielder who the Padres stole with a third round pick in 2019. Head shows excellent plate coverage, where he sprays the ball from gap to gap. He has decent size and wiry strength. There may never be real big power potential with his swing, but he makes up for that with an excellent knack for barreling up baseballs. The left-handed hitter will need to tighten up some things with his swing, but there is no reason to believe that he will not be successful in 2020. Five-tool players are rare, and Head has all the tools to be an exceptional talent. He will be 19 during the 2020 season and could start to really generate some buzz within a deep Padres system.
At 20 years of age, Ruiz could be on the verge of something big. The left-handed-hitting Mexican outfielder played 120 games for the TinCaps, producing a .654 OPS. He did start the season with a .854 OPS in April, recording a .354 batting average in 79 at-bats. His season was up and down, but the Padres expect more. Ruiz is working on his swing and generating more leverage with his mechanics. He has plenty of size at 6-foot-2 and should be more of a power threat in time as he fills out. Expect Ruiz to start the season in the California League, where he should have a great opportunity to produce superior offensive numbers.
The chances are that you have not heard about Perez, who is only 18 and flying under the radar. The right-handed-hitting outfielder recorded a .861 OPS for the AZL Padres in 51 games. The Dominican has good size (6-foot-1) and is showing power and speed. He slugged 11 homers and stole 11 bases this season in 209 at-bats. He also walked 24 times showing impressive plate presence in the box. There is a little bit of a swing-and-miss to his abilities with the bat, but he could be one to emerge in 2020.
This Venezuelan pitcher will be 19 in April and could be someone to keep an eye on as the 2020 season opens. There is a lot to like about Lopez, who shows great command and an ability to strike out batters. He has yet to make his debut for any of the full season teams, but will surely do that this coming season. The 6-foot-1 pitcher owns a career 3.61 ERA in 84.2 minor league innings. He has struck out 101 in that time, featuring a tight-spinning fastball and developing breaking pitches. Lopez is the type of pitcher who could climb the minor league ranks very quickly.