60- Austin Smith
Sadly, Austin Smith has regressed in his development. The Padres first selection (#51 overall) in the 2015 draft out of high school has just not looked good for the past year or so. He lacks command on his fastball and he has not fine-tuned his breaking pitches. There are also reports that his shape and work ethic have come into question. He was demoted to Tri-City recently after getting knocked around a bit in Fort Wayne and came up lame with a rib injury. This is really too bad. At 20, it is not time to write off the young hurler, but he clearly needs to make adjustments if he wants to have success in the game of baseball. On the mound, he still has a great pitcher build and a mid 90’s heater, so there will always be hope. Sometimes ballplayers have to figure it out for themselves, and hopefully the young Smith is currently on that path.
59- Luis Asuncion
20-year-old outfielder Luis Asuncion is currently in Tri-City and producing. The right-handed hitter has some serious power potential. At 6′ 4″, he is barely beginning to tap into his ability to drive the ball. The Dominican native spent last year in Tri-City and only managed one homer in 199 at bats. This year he already has a home run, a triple and two doubles in his first 24 at bats. If he keeps progressing, he might find himself in Indiana very soon playing for the TinCaps.
58- Osvaldo Hernandez
Left-handed pitcher Osvaldo Hernandez signed with the Padres for $2.5 million this signing period and is already showing great promise. He just turned 19 and the 6′ 0″ pitcher has gotten the attention of many Padre fans. He has a 90-94 MPH fastball, with a tight, spinning curve, excellent slider and advanced changeup. With the potential to throw four above-average pitches, he will quickly be moving up this list. Pitching in 18U tournaments in 2016, Hernandez struck out 84 batters in 68 innings, while walking 23 and recording a 0.92 ERA. He has international experience and is mature for his age.
57- Colby Blueberg
Drafted by the Padres in the 24th round of the 2014 draft, Blueberg was no given for success. The right-handed pitcher is not a physical presence on the mound (6′ 0″), but he has done nothing but perform since being given the chance. He owns a 1.91 career ERA in his 133 relief appearances and 193 innings. That is impressive and when you factor in that he has struck out 212 batters in that time, and you have the makings for a decent relief option in the future for the Friars
56- Jonny Homza
This Alaskan wonder is exciting to me. Reports are the Padres are going to move him to catcher, and that seems very interesting. There are no doubts he can handle the switch as he is a gamer who loves to play the game. He has a great swing from the right-handed batter box that should provide ample power. He was selected in the 5th round by the team, and has already signed. Homza could climb this list very quickly, depending on how smooth his transition is to professional baseball.
55- Walker Lockett
This big, right-handed pitcher is pitching in El Paso presently, and could be seen at Petco Park fairly soon. He is already on the 40-man roster and the 6′ 5″ hurler seems destined to pitch once the Padres move some of their veteran starting pitchers. He isn’t impressive at all with his numbers. He has only struck out 243 batters in his 337 minor league innings. He has maintained a 3.90 ERA during that span while slowing progressing through the system since he was selected in the 4th round in the 2012 draft out of a high school in Florida. His fastball is in the low 90’s and he relies on plus change to keep hitters honest. His curve is fringe at the moment and that pitch needs to improve if he want to have any success moving forward.
54- Kelvin Melean
18-year-old shortstop Kelvin Melean is someone to keep an eye on. The Venezuelan native has a productive right-handed swing and is already making his pro debut this season in Tri-City. Last year in the DSL league he put up a .291/.401/.372 batting line in 172 at bats. He only struck out 28 times, while walking 27 times on the year. He has plate discipline, but little power. At 6′ 0″, the power should play eventually. Defensively, he struggled last year playing short and could be moved to third or second. That remains to be seen.
53- Sam Keating
He signed for $900,000 and is likely to start his career at some point this summer. The high school right-handed pitcher has a very nice motion and a loose arm from the 3/4 slot. He creates nice movement on his pitches. He currently sits at 90-94 with his fastball and has an excellent slider with plus spin. The 108th pick in this year’s draft also has an excellent feel for his changeup and should be able to remain a starting pitcher at the professional level. At 6′ 3″ and 185 lbs, he has plenty of time to grow into his body. Keating was an excellent student in school and should benefit from major league coaching. He played outfield in high school and has excellent speed on the base paths as well.
52- Jean Cosme
Acquired from the Baltimore Orioles for Odrisamer Despiagne, this right-hander has a quality arm. At 6′ 2″, he has decent size, but fails to generate a lot of velocity with his fastball. He is currently on the D.L. with an arm issue after starting six games in Lake Elsinore this season. He has started in 37 of his 55 minor league appearances, but he could eventually be a bullpen piece. He needs a refinement of a third pitch if he wishes to progress as a starting pitcher. He just turned 21 and seems capable of making the needed adjustments. Landing this young pitcher for the services of Despaigne was a nice acquisition for A.J. Preller.
51- Jesse Scholtens
Drafted by the Padres in the ninth round of the 2016 draft, Scholtens has really developed nicely. The starting pitcher is producing in Lake Elsinore and his name is really flying under the radar because he is surrounded by names like Quantrill, Lauer and Lucchesi. The 6′ 4″ right-hander has an excellent arsenal and he has a decent upside being that he just turned 23. Scholtens has K’d 113 batters in his 109 career minor league innings, and he has done that as a starter. He adds to the incredible depth of this Padre farm system.
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