Six Padres’ Prospects Currently Flying Under the Radar
Anyone remotely familiar with the Padres’ organization has heard the names before… Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe, Anderson Espinoza, Manuel Margot… the Padres have loaded their minor league system with prospects, and have a rich top-30 prospects, third best in baseball according to Keith Law of ESPN.
But with over 250 players scattered throughout the system, there are more than the top-30 that can potentially make big contributions at the big league level. Below I give a little insight into a handful of prospects you won’t find in the Padres’ top-30 prospects list, but you may see them climbing the charts soon:
Franmil Reyes (21 OF – Lake Elsinore Storm)
Signed in 2011 out of The Dominican Republic, the 6’4” 250 lb outfielder is an imposing figure at the plate. He impressed in rookie ball in 2013, hitting .315 and recording a .854 OPS, but after a late-season promotion, he never really got on track. In two plus seasons at Eugene and Fort Wayne, he accumulated a .251 average with 19 home runs in just under a thousand at bats. But after beginning the season a little slowly at High-A Lake Elsinore, Reyes turned it on, flashing the power the Padres expected him to develop when he signed as a 16-year-old. He hit 16 bombs in 493 at bats, while batting .278. Though he has been in the Padres’ system for five years, he is still young at only 21 years of age (he turns 22 in July), and could find himself starting at Double-A San Antonio in 2017.
Eguy Rosario (17 3B, 2B – AZL Padres)
Another Dominican prospect not yet familiar to the top-30 is Rosario. He is a slight of build, 17-year-old that can spray the ball on a line all over the field. He split time almost equally between second base and third base during his first full season in the Padres’ organization. Rosario stole 22 bases in 60 games, while finishing the season between the DSL League and Arizona Rookie League with a .346 average and a home run. The Padres hope the youngster can grow into his 5’9” 150 lb frame and continue to develop his power. While not expected to necessarily hit double digit home run numbers, he has enough power potential to develop into a hitter that can drive the ball a little more in the game as he matures.
Jose Castillo (21 LHP – Fort Wayne Tincaps)
Once ranked the #20 prospect in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system, Castillo came to San Diego in the three team trade that brought Wil Myers and Ryan Hanigan to the Padres, and also included former Padres prospects Joe Ross and Trea Turner. The lefty posted decent numbers as a starter in the lower levels of the Rays’ system, compiling a 3.74 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, while finishing with a 4-2 record. But when the Padres converted him to a full-time reliever, he excelled, appearing in 20 games with an impressive 2.03 ERA in three stops (Short-Season Tri-City, Low-A Fort Wayne and High-A Lake Elsinore). While he did allow more hits per innings pitched and a 1.38 WHIP, he struck out 49 in just 40 innings pitched. If Castillo can be less wild in the zone, and learn to hit his spots, the 21-year-old could shoot up the system, and be contributing to the Padres’ bullpen by 2019.
Yimmi Brazoban (22, RHP – San Antonio Missions)
Another starter turned reliever, the 22 year-old Brazoban had what seemed to be a coming out party when he posted a 1.88 ERA in 11 starts (13 games total) in the lower levels of the Padres’ system in 2012. But after a solid 2013 season at then Short-Season Eugene, Brazoban shuffled to a 6.53 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in 19 starts between Eugene and Fort Wayne, and it seemed Brazoban’s struggles put a damper on his future. Then came 2015 when the Padres decided the starting rotation may not be in the cards and moved him to the bullpen where he proceeded to breeze through opposing hitters at Fort Wayne with a 2.26 ERA, while those hitters recorded a .199 batting average against him. Last year between High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio, Brazoban had similar success and could be knocking on the door of San Diego’s currently crowded bullpen situation by September of this year. He had a stem cell procedure on his elbow this winter, and was left unprotected in the rule-5 draft. His heath puts a slight cloud over his future.
Brad Zunica (21, 1B – Fort Wayne Tincaps)
Zunica actually graduated high school early to enroll at the University of Miami where he played sparingly in his freshman season, then transferred the following year. The Padres drafted him out of the State College of Florida in the 15th round of the 2015 draft. The big 6’6” 255 lb first baseman has potential 30+ home run power, if he can put the bat on the ball more consistently. As a 20-year-old at Low-A Fort Wayne, Zunica hit just .242, but launched 14 homers in 401 at bats in a ballpark and league that is not considered a hitters’ delight. But the strike out numbers are alarming, as he whiffed at a 38.9% clip during the 2016 season. Nonetheless, Zunica is certainly an intriguing bat coming up through the system, who could one day have game changing power.
Joey Lucchesi (23, LHP – Tri-City Dust Devils)
Drafted out of Southeast Missouri State last year, after his senior season that saw him go 10-5 with a 2.19 ERA for the Redhawks. He pleasantly surprised the Padres with his command, issuing a remarkable three walks over 42 innings, while striking out an impressive 56 batters. The 23-year-old, 6’5” southpaw was one of the older players in short-season Northwest League last season, but with his excellent command, along his swing and miss ability, he has the potential to fly up the ranks of the Padres’ system. Expect to see Lucchsesi’s name on the top-30 prospects list once a few current prospects log enough big league service time.
Omar Fernandez (17, LHP – DSL Padres)
Chris Baker (22, SS – Fort Wayne Tincaps)
Kyle McGrath (24, LHP – El Paso Chihuahuas)
Jean Cosme (20, RHP – Fort Wayne Tincaps)
Rocky is a local San Diegan, born and raised in America’s Finest City. He grew up around San Diego sports tagging along as a kid with his father Bruce, who served as PA announcer for the Padres, Chargers, Aztecs and many other local teams for over 20 years. Rocky played baseball at Mt. Carmel high school and collegiality at Azusa Pacific University. Rocky and his wife Pamela have 5 boys and owns a Financial Services company in the North County.