Wil Myers, First Basemen:
By far the most important Padre of them all, Wil Myers has turned into a legitimate franchise player for the team. Not only was he named the all-star ambassador, Myers participated in the home run derby and also batted fourth in the All-Star game for the National League. His numbers have declined a little since the break, but Myers still puts up good numbers. His stat line boasts a .275/.352/.489 with 20 home runs and 64 RBI. Myers is one of the most versatile players in the game. Let’s start with him at the plate. The 25-year-old first basemen for the Padres has 109 hits this year. He’s on pace for a 30 double, 30 stolen base season. Myers is tied for fourth in all of baseball in opposite field home runs as he excels in using all parts of the field. Like mentioned earlier, Myers runs the base paths well as he has 20 stolen bases so far. Defensively speaking, he is very fundamentally sound. In his first season at the new position, Myers has the highest fielding percentage in all of baseball. Not making a single error all season, he is on his way to his first ever gold glove. The Padres fans love him for his play on the field and his personality off of it, and Myers is surely the player the team wants to build around. He’s here in San Diego to stay, so enjoy Padres fans, and watch him develop into a superstar.
Austin Hedges, Catcher:
In his first 56 big league games, Padres catcher Austin Hedges struggled mightily. He only batted .168 and pretty much did nothing for the team. Fans around the city of San Diego were calling for the demotion of Hedges and the team quickly turned against him. This year? Padres fans are begging for him to be called up. Hedges is absolutely tearing apart minor league pitching. His statline looks like this: .350/.391/.670 with 17 home runs and 63 RBI, all in 55 games. There is not a single pitcher in the minor leagues that Hedges fears as he is tearing up everybody. There’s a chance he is the best offensive catcher in all of Triple-A, and let’s not forget how solid he is defensively. Hedges has a strong arm and his .995 fielding percentage is among the highest at his position. Questions arise about how he will transition back into the Major’s after his miserable success last season, but with his further development, Hedges will become a very solid offensive option behind the dish.
Opening Day Starting Pitcher: Anderson Espinoza
Who would have ever guessed that the Padres would have traded all-star Drew Pomeranz for an 18-year-old pitching prospect that hits triple digits on the radar gun. If anyone predicted that at the beginning of the year, they are certainly a genius. Espinoza is the Padres current number one prospect, and the 15th overall prospect in all of baseball. He’s seriously every single GM’s dream. He lives at 95-97 with his fastball, but triple digits is not a strange thing to him. He has a plus curveball and a plus changeup, making him a three pitch mix type of pitcher. His potential is absolutely through the roof as Espinoza certainly has the stuff to develop into a staff ace. He will surely have to bulk up as he is only 160 pounds, but being able to touch triple digits with that tiny body frame is no joke. Look for San Diego to start him off with a small workload, and slowly increase it. Espinoza probably won’t come up to the majors until 2018 which is okay, but when he does come up, this guy will be a stud.
#2 Starter: Chris Paddack
Acquired in a deal that sent 40-year-old closer Fernando Rodney to the Marlins, 19-year-old Chris Paddack is destined for greatness. The 6’4” right hander sits at 92-94 mph with his fastball which he mixes into a solid three pitch mix. His changeup has outstanding tumble to it, and his curve ball is solid but could use some work. Throughout his first three outings before being traded to San Diego, Paddack went three straight, five inning starts without allowing a hit. In only nine games pitched, he has a 0.85 ERA with 71 strikeouts and only five walks. Unfortunately, Paddack went down with a UCL injury in his elbow forcing him to have Tommy John surgery. Hopefully his recovery is effective and quick as Paddack seriously has an extremely high ceiling. If he finds a way to get back to what he was before his injury, Chris Paddack will be close to the helm of the Padres pitching staff.
#3 Starter: Adrian Morejon
Signed by the Padres just a day after he was declared an international free agent, 17-year-old Adrian Morejon may have been the best international signing made by any team. He’s a very polished hard throwing left hander whose fastball sits around 92-95 mph. Not only does Morejon have a plus fastball, he adds a changeup, curveball, and a knuckle ball. Like I said, Morejon is only 17 and will need a few more years to develop than other prospects on this list, but most scouts believe he could be a potential number one or number two starter if he continues to develop at this pace. He hasn’t pitched a professional inning yet so there’s a chance that we could be totally wrong, but one thing is for sure: Adrian Morejon will be a productive pitcher for the Padres in the future.
#4 Starter: Cal Quantrill
Trust me when I tell you this: Cal Quantrill will one day be a very lethal pitcher for the San Diego Padres. Yes I am aware that Quantrill has already had Tommy John surgery and hasn’t actually pitched in a game since 2015, but hear me out when I tell you this kid is a stud. Quantrill possesses four above average pitches. His fastball sits around the low to mid 90’s, but he locates excellently. He has two ahead of the pack put away pitches in his curveball and his slider, and his changeup is a solid ground ball pitch due to its sink. Surely the Padres will be very careful with their 2016 first round pick and Quantrill will have an innings restriction put in place to start his pro career out. All of that being said however, Quantrill will surely develop in the Padres farm system and in a few years, he will blossom into the talented pitcher he truly is.
#5 Starter: Eric Lauer
It was very difficult to go with Lauer over Hansel Rodriguez, but the left-handed 21-year-old has dazzling stuff. Throughout his junior year, Lauer led all division one pitchers in ERA (0.69), the lowest ERA mark in Division 1 baseball since 1979. Lauer has four effective pitches and he knows how to use them correctly. His fastball sits at around 90-94 mph but is effective because of its cutting action and downward movement. Lauer throws a solid 78-83 mph slider, tagged along with a mid 70s curveball and changeup with a touch of movement. He doesn’t have a delivery with a ton of moving parts allowing him to repeat it over and over again while throwing quality strikes. He doesn’t have a straight swing and miss pitch, but with his ability to locate and throw strikes, Lauer has the highest ceiling out of any left hander in the draft.
Diego works at Prep Baseball Report as an Area Scout in Illinois and Missouri. He graduated this spring with a Bachelor Degree in Communications and played four years of college baseball, logging nearly 50 innings of work in a relief role. Diego hopes to work in an MLB front office one day and has been a Padres fan since he was six years old.