San Diego Padres Top 30 Prospects

Credit: Fastball Photo

Credit: Fastball Photo

A look at the San Diego Padres top 30 prospects. 

The San Diego Padres farm system may not be as deep as the season’s past, but there are still several men worth noting on a national level.

As the Padres major-league team became more and more relevant, it was natural that the minor league teams would suffer and not perform as well.

A.J. Preller and his staff packaged several top-30 type prospects and turned them into major league players. Seattle, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and the Chicago Cubs received several young players from the Padres’ deep system, but none were guaranteed success at the major-league level. Playoff caliber teams must not fall in love with their prospects as they gain relevance. The Padres have wisely turned over the farm system as the wins increased.

Despite all the turnover, the Padres possess several top-end prospects and plenty of youth with exceptional upside.

Most are not household names, and the truth is that several men have not even played in the States yet. The Padres are armed with a group of 17-19-year-old men who could blossom at any time. The international market is something the Padres are still extremely active in, and the 2021 DSL team performed the best of all the affiliates.

Here is a look at the top 30 prospects, starting with some that just missed the cut.


Worth Noting 

Cole Cummings 3B/1B  06/20/98
Acquired: Non-Draft signee from UC Santa Barbara
Highest Level: Single-A Lake Elsinore
2021 Stats: .311/.426/.563  .989 OPS  

This left-handed swinger shows a great eye at the plate and some developing skills. The power may never be a huge calling card for Cummings, but he does possess gap power and, at 23, could gain muscle and strength in time. The right-handed thrower played third base in college and could stick at the position moving forward where he shows a decent arm. Cummings will need to refine his swing further and gain some power to make a mark in the game. For now, he is worth a mention in this list.

 

Credit: San Antonio

Dwanya Williams-Sutton OF  07/10/1997
Acquired: 5th-Round 2018 Draft
Highest Level: Double-A San Antonio
2021 Stats: .215/.393/..374  .767 OPS

There is plenty to like about this right-hander approach at the plate. He gets on-base and has done so consistently since the Padres drafted him. Williams-Sutton can drive the ball out of the ballpark as well but battled injuries in 2021. The expectation is that he will have his health back this coming season and could be poised for a big year with the bat. Defensively, the outfielder struggles with route running but shows some athleticism with the glove.

 

Victor Lizarraga RHP  11/30/2003
Acquired: 2020 International Free Agent 
Highest Level: ACL Padres
2021 Stats: (0-4)  5.10 ERA/1.333 WHIP  30 IP/35 K

Signed this past signing period out of Mexico, Lizarraga is a very raw pitcher. The 18-year-old right-hander has excellent size (6-foot-4) and a fastball already clocked in the low 90’s. He shows an excellent feel for his changeup and spins a hard-breaking curveball. The mechanics are solid from this youngster, who should have no issues sticking in the starting rotation for the time being. The Padres are excited about Lizarraga, who should start the year in Arizona or possibly Lake Elsinore with the Storm if he shows well this spring.

 

Moises LugoRHP  01/20/1999
Acquired: 2017 International Free-Agent
Highest Level: Double-A San Antonio
2021 Stats: (4-4)  3.19 ERA/1.140 WHIP  90.1 IP/115 K

With a career 3.24 ERA over 52 games and 197 innings pitched in the minors, Lugo is someone to monitor this coming season. The right-handed pitcher made it up to San Antonio in 2021, going 0-1 in six games with a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings. He struck out 22 batters in that time, showing the arm is for real. The 22-year-old Dominican pitcher will likely start 2022 in San Antonio and is getting really close to major league service time.

Credit: Missions

 

Aaron Leasher LHP  04/28/1996 
Acquired: Sixth-Round- 2017 Draft
Highest Level: Triple-A El Paso
2021 Stats: (4-5) 3.76 ERA/1.345 WHIP  64.2 IP/ 62 K

With a bit of luck, Leasher could debut for the Padres in 2022. The lefty does not light up the radar gun, but he does throw three pitches effectively and can be useful as a starting pitcher. Leasher will be 26 next year and is showing signs of getting better. The southpaw may eventually be a relief pitcher when it is all said and done, but he will be given a chance to start for now. The mechanics are solid, and the lefty possesses a rubber arm.

 

The Top 30

30-Matthew Acosta  OF  04/01/1998 

Acquired: 2019 Draft- 12th Round
Highest Level: Single-A Lake Elsinore
2021 Stats: (.264/.372/.414)  .786 OPS

Past

Drafted out of USC in 2019, this talented outfielder is flying under the radar presently within the Padres system. Acosta does not have loud tools but does everything well across the board. Home runs may never be his forte, but he did show some impressive pull power this past season in Lake Elsinore. The footspeed is solid and he takes excellent routes on the bases.

Credit: Storm Baseball

Present

A knee injury zapped Acosta for some of his skills throughout the 2021 season. The left-handed hitter did not complain and missed little time with the ailment. Instead, he underwent the knife in the offseason quietly. Acosta is a ballplayer and a gamer. He loves the game of baseball, and that in itself will guide him far. The native of California has short arms, which helps him get around on the ball well. The eye at the plate is a plus as Acosta has always taken a walk when given to him. He is a high-OBP player with the potential to also hit for a decent average.

Future 

The 2022 season will be a battle for Acosta, who will be vying for playing time in the system. The addition of Corey Rossier further complicates things for the outfielder, but his talent will rise to the top. Acosta played first base for the Storm last year, showcasing versatility with the glove. That will undoubtedly help him advance. His throwing arm is a plus, and there are whispers that he could pitch out of the pen for the Padres if they need it. He is athletic and full of love for the game. Matthew Acosta should climb this list in 2022.

 

29- Daniel Montesino OF  02/12/2004
Acquired: 2021 International Free Agent
Highest Level: DSL League
2021 Stats: (.316/.444/.489)  .934 OPS

Past

Venezuelan teenager Daniel Montesino projects well with the bat but has significant defensive issues. At 17, it is difficult to say that his defense will be well below average, but at the moment, Montesino is a bat-first prospect who has a lot of work to do with the glove. The 6-foot outfielder produces a great swing from the left side of the plate, where he is already showing a lot of power potential. Montesino also projects as a plus hitter with an ability to use the whole field.

Credit: DSL Padres

Present

It is way too early to project him as a DH, but the early reports are fairly alarming for his defense. The swing is presently pretty where he shows a steady eye and remains very still in his mechanics. There is a lot of hand strength with this teenager who uses a quick bat to flick the ball over the fence. Montesino does not have much speed to his game, and he will likely slow down as he gets bigger and stronger.

Future 

He will likely begin the coming season in Arizona as he will be 18 when camp opens this spring. The outfielder could make his professional full-season debut in 2022, but the Padres may also elect to be patient with the young hitter. There is no question that his defense will be worked on this spring. Perhaps major league coaches can unlock something with his glove. An eventual move to first base may be for Montesino, a left-handed thrower who may be serviceable there.

 

28- Jorge OnaOF 12/31/1996
Acquired: 2016 International Free Agent

Highest Level: Major Leagues
2021 Stats: (.250/.350/.353)  .703 OPS

Past

Ona was signed in 2016 by the Padres on the international market along with big names like Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez, Luis Almanzar, and Gabriel Arias. The powerful outfielder made it to the majors in 2020, recording his first major league home run. Ona brings a lot of power to the batter’s box, but he also struggles to adjust and make solid contact. Injuries are also an issue for the outfielder from Cuba who missed time in 2021 with elbow issues that required surgery (bone chips).

Credit: USA Today Sports

Present

The outfielder is on the 40-man roster and will be given an opportunity to play in the spring. The body on Ona is impressive as he is muscular and stout, and that sometimes limits his ability on the field. The throwing arm is a plus, but he struggles with route running and recognition of fly balls. The 2022 season will tell us a lot about the future of this young player. He has the opportunity to force the Padres hand into playing time, or he could just fade away.

Future 

Ona will be 25 next year, and it is getting to be a make-or-break time for him. With a slow start or bad showing, the Padres may elect to remove him off the 40-man roster. The raw tools are present for Ona, but there must be some serious tweaks to his swing mechanics and approach at the plate. His power alone will keep him in the game for a while, but it is up to Ona to determine how far he goes in the majors.

 

27-Brayan Medina– RHP 10/06/2002
Acquired: 2020 International Free Agent
Highest Level: ACL Rookie League
2021 Stats: (0-3) 5.88 ERA/1.693 WHIP  33.2 IP/49 K

Past

Venezuelan teenager Brayan Medina is a name to remember. The power pitcher is turning heads at an early age, flashing a mid 90’s fastball and a sharp breaking slider. The fastball has an excellent tilt, and it is not considered straight by any means. His changeup is a work in progress but is very serviceable at the present time. The 19-year-old signed for $700,000 in July of 2019 and could be one of the better players from that year’s selection of talent.

Credit: Four Seam Images

Present

The thought process is that Medina will be ready for action in the States in 2022. The right-handed pitcher already saw some pitching time in Arizona late last season for the ACL Padres. If he shows well early in the spring, there is a chance the pitcher starts the year in the California League with the Storm. There are a few chinks to his armor, but no major red flags as Medina has the characteristics to be a very good pitcher.

Future 

Medina projects as a mid-rotation starter or better. With three decent pitches and a great build, this right-handed pitcher should have no issues moving up the ranks. Control and command are his main issue, as that seems to plague most young pitchers who throw hard. Medina will need to learn how to hit his spots and take a little off his fastball to take his game to the next level. The sky is the limit with this young arm, but he is very young, and it is difficult to predict his future.

 

26-Efrain Contreras– RHP 01/02/2000

Acquired: 2017 International Free Agent
Highest Level: Low Single-A Lake Elsinore
2021 Stats: DNP

Past

Tommy John surgery in November of 2019 sidelined this young Mexican pitcher for the last two years. Before the injury, Contreras went 6-6 with a 3.61 ERA and a 1.176 WHIP in 25 games and 109.2 innings pitched for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. The right-hander struck out 121 in that time while walking 32. There isn’t much to Contreras, who stands 5-foo-10, but he does generate a fastball in the mid-’90s.

Credit: TinCaps

Present

Health will be a concern for this young pitcher, but he will be 22 next year, and the Padres can afford to take it slow with him. His fastball/curveball combination is top-notch, and Contreras can also throw up a solid changeup. The three-pitch mix dictates he should remain in the rotation moving forward. At this point, the curveball is his best pitch, but the other selections are also above average and impressive.

Future 

The young pitcher is still very early in his career and will likely start the year with the Storm. Contreras is an aggressive pitcher and will need to continue to show that kind of confidence moving forward. If he can remain healthy, the young righty should enjoy a great year, pitching with both Single-A affiliates. The mechanics of his pitching motion are pretty solid as he shows good arm speed and extension. The TJ surgery is a setback, but Contreras seems poised for a big 2022 season.

 

25- Tirso Ornelas- OF  03/11/2000

Acquired: 2016 International F/A
Highest Level: Single-A Fort Wayne
2021 Stats: (.248/.344/.389)  .733 OPS

Past

21-year-old Tirso Ornelas from Tijuana seems like he has been in the system forever. The left-handed hitter was signed in 2016, and most thought he would be a fast-riser within the system because of his beautiful swing. It has been the opposite for Ornelas, who is developing slowly and regressing in other ways. There is plenty of time for him to regain his hold as one of the Padres top prospects. He shows great plate discipline, and that is something that is difficult to learn for a young hitter.

Credit: TinCaps

Present

The sweet-swinging outfielder will likely start in Fort Wayne or San Antonio in 2022. Though he has not shown it yet, the power in his bat is coming as his swing is explosive and fluid. Ornelas has excellent size and athleticism and played center field in the past. He will have no problem advancing as a corner outfielder as the right-handed thrower shows a decent arm. Speed is the only subpar tool for Ornelas, though he is not considered a slug on the basepaths.

Future 

The lefty will take a walk and does not chase very often. He has a very nice ceiling but has yet to find consistency in his swing dynamics. The Padres are working with him to better utilize his tools and do what comes naturally. If Tirso can find some confidence and start to drive the ball out of the ballpark, he has the potential to be one of the best young hitters in the game. The Padres are still very high on this young Mexican outfielder. He may be a good one when it is all said and done. Time is on his side, but the Padres must see some improvement this coming season.

 

24- Corey Rosier– OF 09/07/1999

Acquired: Trade with Mariners
Highest Level: Single-A Modesto
2021 Stats: (.380/.451/.570)  1.022 OPS

Past

Rosier is not considered a top prospect just yet but it is very hard to ignore a guy who puts up a 1.022 OPS in over 120 at-bats. The left-handed swing is compact and powerful as the ball just jumps off his bat. Rosier put up a .354/.434/.604 slash line with a 1.038 OPS for the University of North Carolina- Greensboro in 2021. The 12th-round pick for the Mariners in this past June’s draft is turning heads, and the Padres traded for him and Ray Kerr a few weeks ago. They expect big things from Rosier.

Credit: Mariners

Present

The outfielder will start his 2022 season in Lake Elsinore or Fort Wayne and could be a fast riser in the system. Defensively, he can play center and looks to remain there, flashing plus speed and a good arm. The 22-year-old stole 13 bags in 32 games last year in the minors and showed great instincts for the game. The Padres found a prospect who is unheralded and someone who will rise up the prospects lists in 2022.

Future 

You do not need to be a top pick in order to advance in professional baseball. Rosier is an example of that, as he displays a knack for getting on base and an excellent eye at the plate. The Padres are high on this young outfielder who can also play first base. The 5-foot-10 outfielder is not blessed with great size, and power will never be a huge asset for him. But he does barrel the ball up and drive the ball into gaps. Expect Rosier to further develop in 2022 and turn more heads.

 

23-Adrian Martinez– RHP  12/10/1996
Acquired: 2015 International Free Agent
Highest Level: Triple-A El Paso
2021 Stats: (8-5) 3.38 ERA/1.240 WHIP  125 IP/122 K

Past

This Mexican right-handed pitcher is on the verge of debuting with the Padres and should do just that in 2022. He has battled through Tommy John surgery early in his career to become a very effective pitcher. The motion is free and easy, and Martinez generates good movement on his mid 90’s fastball. Last year for the Missions, he posted a 2.34 ERA and struck out 83 batters on 80.2 innings pitched. The changeup is a plus pitch for the 6-foot-2 hurler who gets great extension on the pitch.

Credit: El Paso Chihuahuas

Present

There is a possibility he works his way into a rotation spot for the Padres in 2022, but that would honestly take some injuries to veteran pitchers. The Padres view Martinez as an insurance policy in the minors who is capable of starting if the team needs it. Expectations are that the 25-year-old may be able to remain on the rotation moving forward, but he is capable of throwing out of the bullpen if needed.

Future 

The slider is not a good pitch for Martinez right now, who is basically a two-pitch pitcher. The changeup/fastball combination will play a few times through the lineup, but there may be real issues moving forward for this Mexican hurler. The good news is that he shows enough command to probably be an effective middle reliever at the major league level. The Padres will monitor him moving forward as Martinez hopefully continues his late-bloom into relevancy.

 

22-Esteury RuizINF  02/15/1999
Acquired: Trade with Royals 07/24/17

Highest Level: Double-A San Antonio
2021 Stats: (.249/.328/.411)  .739 OPS

Past

Ruiz was thought to be the next Alfonso Soriano, but that has not happened under the Padres watch. The right-handed hitter is showcasing plenty of speed, but the power has not come, and he is struggling to make quality contact. Ruiz’s OPS has gone from .997 in 2017 to .739 last year in San Antonio. Most feel the infielder is not a top-30 prospect anymore, but at 22, there is still some upside to his offensive profile.

Credit: 210 Gameday

Present

His game has some flexibility as Ruiz can play outfield and second base. The speedy Dominican stole 158 bases in his minor league career, including 36 last year with the Missions. Ruiz is flying under the radar right now and very capable of breaking out. The power is real in his swing as he generates plenty of leverage from his small frame. The glovework at second is suspicious, but he may be able to hit enough to play left-field at the major league level.

Future

There is a chance we see Ruiz in a Padres uniform in 2022, but that will be based upon his ability to get on base more. The free-swinger will drive the ball in the gaps, but he generally does not take a walk and is a bit of a free swinger (hence, the Soriano comparison). There is still plenty to like about Ruiz and his skillset on the field. Expect him to begin the year in Double-A or Triple-A and be a phone call away from making his debut with the Padres.

 

21-Ray Kerr– LHP  09/10/1994
Acquired: Trade with Mariners
Highest Level: Triple-A Tacoma
2021 Stats: (2-1) 3.18 ERA/1.059 WHIP  39.2 IP/60 K

Past

This southpaw throws absolute gas, averaging a fastball around 98 mph. Kerr regularly hits triple digits on the radar gun and is getting better each year that he plays. The former starting pitcher embraced his role out of the pen, limiting hitters with absolute heat from the left side. The Padres obtained him from the Mariners for Adam Frazier this winter as San Diego fell in love with the potential. He is an athlete as the former hitter can also swing the bat and put in a quality at-bat at the plate.

Credit: Penisula Clarion

Present

Control has been very shaky with this power pitcher in the past, but he seemed to find something in 2021. Ruben Nielbal, the Padres new pitching coach, will have fun refining Kerr and hopefully keeping him consistent. If the Padres unlock more from this pitcher, he could emerge as a closing candidate for the team. Kerr saved five games last season in the minors as his swing-and-miss arsenal is crippling to opposing offenses.

Future

The Padres will give Kerr every opportunity to make the team out of the spring. They surely want him to establish himself and become the pitcher he is capable of being. His slider is a great compliment to Kerr’s amazing fastball, but the lefty will need to throw strikes to succeed at the major league level. The 27-year-old is no spring chicken, so his time is now. Expect Kerr to make a name for himself quickly as the Padres will provide plenty of opportunities to pitch.

 

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James Clark
James was born and raised in America's Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that's our motto. Enjoy.

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