A look at the depth at the first base position in the San Diego Padres’ minor league system.
With Eric Hosmer entrenched at the first base position, there is no need for the Padres to be stocked in the minors. There are a few relevant prospects, but the majority of the group consists of players with an unknown future.
Here is a breakdown of 20 plus men in the system who played first base in some degree in 2019. Most of these men are capable of playing in other areas but play first base out of necessity. There are not many highly-regarded prospects in this area throughout the system.
Cream of the Crop
Nick Gatewood– .659 OPS (.229/.296/.363) Single-A Fort Wayne
The left-handed hitter was selected by the Padres as a catcher, but has defensive issues and will move forward through the system as a first baseman. There is some power to his swing, where he generates decent bat speed. The swing can get a bit long, and strikeouts have been a minor issue so far. The right-handed thrower is taking to the first base position where he failed to make an error in over 150 innings at the position. Fort Wayne is where the 22-year-old will likely begin the 2020 season.
Brad Zunica– .744 OPS (.230/.313/.431) Double-A Amarillo
Arguably the best first baseman prospect in the system is this mammoth slugger. The 6-foot-6 left-handed hitter shows great power to all fields though he hasn’t unlocked his abilities at the plate. The former 15th round pick has made steady progress through the system and is a solid defender. If the 24-year-old can figure out his swing more, expect a jump in his power numbers. Zunica tends to be a bit streaky and is attempting to find consistency with his play.
Lee Solomon– .655 OPS (.224/.322/.333) Single-A Lake Elsinore
For two years, Solomon has played first base for the Padres even though he is capable of playing other positions. The right-handed hitter is scrappy and does not have the swing of a prototypical first baseman. The 23-year-old will start in either Lake Elsinore or Amarillo and could see some action all around the diamond. Veteran leadership is what he brings to the field as Solomon works well with others.
Jason Vosler– .890 OPS (.291/.367/.523) Triple-A El Paso
The 26-year-old hit over 20 home runs for the third consecutive season in 2019. The left-handed hitter came over from the Cubs last winter and put up a .890 OPS in 116 games for the Chihuahuas. The right-handed thrower can play third base as well as first, where he shows a plus arm. El Paso is where he will begin the 2020 season, but he could earn a promotion to the Major Leagues if all breaks his way.
Taylor Kohlwey– .820 OPS (.302/.396/.424) Triple-A El Paso
Playing in Australia this winter, Kohlwey showed a little more power than usual. The left-handed swinging outfielder puts the ball in play and displays decent speed on the bases. Defensively, he can play all three outfield positions as well as first base, though he is better suited for a corner spot. The 25-year-old will start in El Paso and is close to making his debut in the Major Leagues.
Seth Mejias-Brean– .826 OPS (.316/.371/.455) Triple-A El Paso
Mejias-Brean made the 40-mad roster late in 2019 and recorded a .803 OPS in 30 at-bats for the Padres. There is not a lot of power to his swing, though he does barrel up the baseball well. The 29-year-old can play all over the diamond, including shortstop where he shows decent range for a player of his size. The Arizona native will start in Triple-A and might get another shot with the Padres in 2020.
Youth with Upside
Albert Fabian– .743 OPS (.245/.361/.381) DSL Padres
Fabian just turned 18 and has a decent upside. The left-handed hitter shows plus power and a great eye at the plate. The Dominican recorded 14 extra-base hits in 139 at-bats last season as a 17-year-old in the DSL. Defensively, he can play the outfield where he shows a decent arm.
Mathew Batten– .779 OPS (.298/.353/.426) Triple-A El Paso
Versatility is a huge positive for this right-handed hitter. The 32nd round pick from 2017 has far exceeded expectations. The swing is short and compact as he sprays line drives all over the field. Power is not his game, but he does bring some speed to the ballpark. The 24-year-old is capable of playing all four infield positions and did so in 2019.
Tyler Malone– .761 OPS (.258/.398/.364) AZL Padres
The 27th round pick from 2019 out of Oregon State has always shown a great eye at the plate. The left-handed does not have a huge amount of power but is a decent option for the team moving forward. Defensively, the right-handed thrower can play corner outfield and even caught a game last year in the minors.
Emmanuel Guerra– .764 OPS (.265/.328/.436) AZL Padres
This big right-handed-hitting Venezuelan native has some power in his bat. The swing is decent, and he also shows a plus eye at the plate recording a .367 on-base percentage in 312 minor league a-bats. The 19-year-old is a decent defender and an intriguing prospect moving forward.
Michael Suarez– .787 OPS (.303/.379/.408) AZL Padres
In 2018, the Padres used a 38th round pick on this 19-year-old from Miami. The left-handed hitter put up an impressive .787 OPS in the desert this season, showing a little bit of power. The swing is a bit long, as he will swing and miss often. The left-handed thrower is a bit of a project on defense for the Padres.
Chris Givin– .815 OPS (.306/.377/.438) Single-A Fort Wayne
22-year-old Chris Givin can play all over the infield and played 12 innings at the first base position last season in the AZL. The right-handed swing is short and compact, but he does not have much power. The 19th round pick out of Xavier in 2019 produced in his first taste of professional baseball.
Axcel Peralta– .655 OPS (.223/.314/.341) DSL Padres
Peralta just turned 18, and this Dominican has a ton of power ability. The 6-foot-4 left-handed hitter has a nice swing and is probably going to advance in the system. On defense, Peralta is a natural lefty and can play first base with ease. At some point in 2020, Peralta should debut in the States.
Minor League Depth and Uncertainty
Jason Pineda– .633 OPS (.224/.304/.329) Short-Season Tri-City
20-year-old Jason Pineda has yet to find his offensive stroke for the Padres. The right-handed hitter has spent three years in the system and recorded a .648 OPS in 435 at-bats. The native of New York can play third base but looks shaky at the position.
Carlos Luis– .661 OPS (.254/.315/.346) Short-Season Tri-City
At 20 years of age, there is still time for this left-handed hitter to develop. The Dominican youngster swings a good bat but is showing little power presently. At 6-foot-2, the Padres expect to see more pop in his bat. Defensively, the right-handed thrower can play third, but he is a first baseman moving forward in the system.
Anthony Nunez– .637 OPS (.222/.364/.274) AZL Padres
Drafted in the 29th round of the 2019 draft out of a high school in Miami, Nunez is an intriguing prospect. The switch-hitter shows a decent eye at the plate but also has contact issues. The 18-year-old can play all over the infield and might not be a true first baseman when it is all said and done.
Yerry Landinez– .614 OPS (.196/.307/.307) AZL Padres
This Venezuelan infielder shows power but struck out 75 times in 163 at-bats in the desert this past season. The switch-hitter will walk, but the strikeout percentage is alarming, as is the fact he has put up a .609 OPS in 66 minor league games. The soon-to-be 19-year-old can play all over the infield but is a work in progress with his skillset.
Peter Van Gansen– .754 OPS (.250/.307/.446) Triple-A El Paso
25-year-old Peter Van Gansen is a versatile player. The veteran minor league played at least 65 games at all four infield positions last year. The left-handed hitter features a line-drive swing. More power came in 2019, and that could push Van Gansen to the majors eventually.
Michael Cantu– .745 OPS (.259/.333/.412) Single-A Lake Elsinore
The catcher/first baseman has some nice right-handed power, but there are some issues with his mechanics. The 24-year-old has a bit of a long swing and will need a little luck to advance in the system. At first base, he is serviceable and shows the ability to move forward both behind the plate and in the infield.
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