Evaluating the San Diego Padres’ minor league depth, starting with the catching position.
The San Diego Padres have an abundance of talent.
At virtually every position and every level, the team has players who are potential prospects.
We will examine each position in an attempt to keep you informed on how A.J. Preller and his staff have built a highly-regarded system.
First off- here are 23 men in the Padres’ system who are catchers. The Padres presently have Austin Hedges, and Francisco Mejia locked into major league roles at the position. Both men are relatively young, but the Padres have a tremendous amount of depth behind them at the catcher position.
The Cream of the Crop
Luis Torrens– .873 OPS (.300/.373/.500) Double-A Amarillo
Torrens is not considered a prospect due to his one-year of service time in 2017. The Venezuelan native is still only 23 and considered a promising young talent. The backstop is well-rounded in his game as he puts the ball in play efficiently and also works well behind the plate. At this point, Torrens will likely start the year in El Paso and be the first person called by the Padres if either Francisco Mejia or Austin Hedges go down with an injury.
Luis Campusano– .906 OPS (.325/.396/.509) Single-A Lake Elsinore
One of the Padres top prospects, Campusano, is very highly-regarded around the industry. The 21-year-old put up impressive numbers in the California League, where he was named an All-Star. The right-handed hitter has a bit of a long swing, but the power potential is there, and he shows a positive eye at the plate. The strong-armed catcher is agile and has the perfect size for the position. He will be a major league catcher one day.
Blake Hunt– .712 OPS (.255/.331/.381) Single-A Fort Wayne
Selected right after the Padres took Campusano in the 2017 draft, Hunt brings a terrific defensive profile to the field. He is a large catcher and shows plenty of pop, but there are concerns about his swing. The right-handed hitter is working hard to use the whole field and become more stable with the bat. Lake Elsinore is where Hunt will likely begin the 2020 season. If all break correctly for him, the catcher could be knocking on the door at Petco Park in the next two years.
Youth with Upside
Jonny Homza– .615 OPS (.216/.313/.303) Short-Season Tri-City
The 20-year-old Alaskan has an excellent swing but is new to the catching position. Drafted in 2017 with a fifth round pick, Homza was expected to be an infielder for the Padres. The catching change was almost immediate as he shows excellent baseball IQ. The right-handed hitter played in Australia this winter, where he saw some time at third base as well. Homza has a long way to go with his receiving skill, but there is some upside to his game.
Brandon Valenzuela– .689 OPS (.248/.399/.290) AZL Padres
Being a switch-hitter is a positive thing for this young backstop. The 19-year-old has little power, though he does show the ability to take a walk. The Mexican native will likely earn some more seasoning in the lower levels this year. If he can continue to show the same walk rate and gain some muscle to his frame, there is the thought that he will be a relevant prospect one day.
Gilberto Vizcarra– .751 OPS (.302/.381/.371) AZL Padres
Vizcarra’s numbers took off on his third year in the system. The backstop improved his numbers across the board as the stocky right-handed hitter concentrated on putting the ball in play more effectively. The Mexican native from the city of Mexicali is a strong defender with a plus arm. The 20-year-old should have no problem displaying plenty of value for the Padres in the coming years as he has a decent amount of upside.
Wilfredo Tovar– .892 OPS (.369/.462/.431) DSL Padres
This Venezuelan youngster just turned 18 and has plenty of value at the position. The right-handed hitter barreled up baseballs in the D.R. at the age of 17 in limited action. The defense needs to be polished, but there is time for him to improve his mechanics behind the dish. The Padres will take it slow with this young prospect, who might get a taste of action in Tri-City in 2020 if he continues to progress.
Alex Ramirez– .760 OPS (.260/.333/.427) DSL Padres
Ramirez is just about to turn 18 and is another example of youth at the position for the Padres. The 5-foot-9 Venezuelan backstop has impressive bat speed and power despite the smaller frame. The right-handed hitter produced 16 extra-base hits in 150 at-bats this past season in the DSL at the age of 17. The defense needs refining, but he will likely be a decent prospect for the Padres in time.
Jalen Washington– .637 OPS (.215/.301/.337) Single-A Lake Elsinore
24-year-old Jalen Washington is stuck behind some excellent young catchers in the system. Luis Campusano and Blake Hunt might have priority over him as far as development goes, but he has shown much in his three minor league seasons. There is power to his right-handed swing. The backstop has some speed to his offensive game and is flexible enough to play different positions if needed. The defense is not an issue either as he displays a decent amount of skill.
Jared Alvarez-Lopez- .594 OPS (.222/.324/.270) AZL Padres
The Padres selected this large backstop in 2019 with a 17th round pick out of a high school in Texas. The right-handed hitter is an impressive physical specimen who comes with a decent defensive profile. The swing is a bit long, and he will need to work on that. Defensively he is a quality receiver who has a plus arm. The 19-year-old will surely be a decent prospect in time though it may take a few years of seasoning.
Juan Fernandez- .728 OPS (.274/.348/.380) Single-A Fort Wayne
20-year-old right-handed hitting catcher Juan Fernandez is a free swinger. The Venezuelan generally makes contact and drives the ball efficiently. There is not much power to his game and he can get too pull heavy, but there are tools to admire in his game. Defensively, he is built like a catcher and receives the ball well. He will likely start in Single-A at either Lake Elsinore or perhaps Fort Wayne.
Minor League Depth and Uncertainty
Alison Quintero– .356 OPS (.142/.177/.169) Short-Season Tri-City
Quintero has not shown much with the bat since the Padres signed him during the 2016-17 international market spending spree. The Venezuelan native is still 19 and will likely take some more time to develop. There is little to no power in his bat as he has yet to hit a home run in over 300 at-bats at the minor league level. At this point, he is going to need to show a much better plate discipline to be even considered a prospect.
Nick Gatewood– .659 OPS (.229/.296/.363) Single-A Fort Wayne
Drafted in 2018 with an 11th round pick, Gatewood is looking more and more like a first baseman or DH. The 22-year-old left-handed hitter displays positive traits in the box as he possesses power and the ability to use the gaps. Defensively, he has arm and footwork issues that cannot be ignored.
Charlie Valerio– .713 OPS (.262/.296/.416) Independent Baseball League
The Padres signed this independent ball free-agent this past week. The switch-hitting Dominican backstop last played in the minor leagues for the Indians during the 2014 season. There is power in his bat, but he strikes out a ton as well. If he makes it through the spring cuts, he could show up on any roster.
Michael Cantu– .745 OPS (.259/.333/.412) Single-A Lake Elsinore
24-year-old Michael Cantu has plenty of power but is not a catcher in the traditional sense. He has throwing issues and could move forward in the system in a utility role. The right-handed hitter has never really gotten a large number of at-bats and is a bit of an enigma.
A.J. Kennedy– .552 OPS (.158/.206/.347) Double-A Amarillo
Kennedy is a great defender behind the dish and also works well with the pitchers. The right-handed hitter struggles with the bat as he owns a .180 career batting average in over 800 at-bats in the minors. There is power to his swing, but he provides little else with the stick.
Chandler Seagle– .648 OPS (.224/.303/.345) Single-A Fort Wayne
This 23-year-old is a decent defender where he shows a plus arm. The issue is Seagle has never swung a productive bat. Even in college, the 2017 30th round pick struggled to hit consistently. The right-handed swing on Seagle can get a bit long from time to time. This spring, his future will be determined.
Webster Rivas– .791 OPS (.281/.371/..420) Triple-A El Paso
Rivas is an excellent defender who works very well with pitchers of all ages. The 29-year-old Dominican has yet to make his Major League debut despite playing for three franchises in 10 minor league seasons. The right-handed swing of Rivas is capable of producing some pop though his best trait is clearly his defense.
Jose Lezama– .561 OPS (.200/.294/.267) Single-A Fort Wayne
Switch-hitting catcher Jose Lezama battled injuries throughout his brief career. The Venezuelan native owns a career .729 OPS in 360 at-bats for the Padres. The soon-to-be 22-year-old saw some time in Fort Wayne this year and could be on the verge of showing something in 2020.
Victor Duarte– .552 OPS (.173/.296/.256) DSL Padres
This 18-year-old backstop is someone to monitor as he shows an impressive eye at the plate. The right-handed hitter from Tucupita in the country of Venezuela has some pop and is a decent runner. That running part may be more to age than anything else. He has good size and decent defensive skills but is virtually unknown.
Andelson Arias– .580 OPS (.167/.302/.278) DSL Padres
This 19-year-old is a total project. The Dominican switch-hitter is a free swinger with power. Arias may not stick at catcher as he has defensive issues with footwork and throwing. The DSL is where he will likely start the 2020 season.
Matias Polanco .422 OPS (.147/.216/.206) DSL Padres
Matias Polanco is a left-handed hitting catcher who made it to the States this past season. The 19-year-old Venezuelan backstop needs to improve his defense and refine his mechanics with his swing, which is a bit long. 2020 will provide some answers to his future in the organization.
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