The complete guide to the 2020 San Diego Padres prospects

[Photo by John Moore/Amarillo Sod Poodles]

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Here is a look at the starting pitchers throughout the San Diego Padres’ minor league system. 

The San Diego Padres have a ridiculous amount of pitching depth right now down on the farm.

Beyond Gore and Patino, the team has several tiers of pitchers who could easily emerge in time for the franchise. Adrian Morejon, Ronald Bolanos, and Michel Baez all made their debut last year, and several more could during the 2020 season.

Cream of the Crop

MacKenzie Gore– High Single-A/Double-A (9-2) 1.69 ERA/0.832 WHIP- 101 IP/28 BB/135 K

The best left-handed prospect in the game of baseball is very close to major league service time. With four above-average pitches, a funky yet repeatable motion, and a tremendous work ethic, Gore will be special. The native of North Carolina just wants to dominant hitters each day and has the moxie of an ace. The 20-year-old should make his major league debut in 2020 for the Padres. The only question is- when?

Luis Patino– High Single-A/Double-A (6-8) 2.57 ERA/1.130 WHIP- 94.2 IP/38 BB/123 K

Energetic and eager is how you would describe this Colombian pitcher. With a nasty fastball and slider combination, Patino is proving to be another ace-like pitcher coming out of the Padres system. The 20-year-old also spins up a developing curve and is showing a lot of progress with his changeup as well. In time, he could very well have a four-pitch arsenal that rivals Gore. It seems a little early to rush him, but it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Patino at Petco in 2020.

Adrian Morejon– Double-A (0-4) 4.25 ERA/1.222 WHIP- 36 IP/15 BB/ 44 K

This Cuban left-hander made his debut in 2019 and showed well in his first taste of the majors. Though regarded as a starting pitcher, he did not last longer than two innings the whole year, making a total of 18 starts. We only saw 44 total innings from this pitcher, so it is a little difficult to get a gauge of his overall value. Were the Padres playing it safe with their young pitcher, or was there something that was not made public? Morejon should provide more clarity to that question in 2020. Expect the Padres to stretch him out.

Michel Baez– MLB (1-1) 3.03 ERA/1.315 WHIP- 29.2 IP/14 BB/28 K

The large right-handed pitcher had traditionally been a starter throughout his career, but he was used out of the bullpen in 2020. Baez made his debut for the Padres are pitched extremely well. The Cuban native is blessed with two decent offspeed pitches to go along with a fastball continually clocked in the mid-’90s. His future may still be in the rotation as he has a terrific ceiling.

Credit: MiLB

Ryan Weathers– High Single-A (3-7) 3.84 ERA/1.240 WHIP- 96 IP/18 BB/90 K

Weathers showed an intensity in 2019 that was well-regarded by the Padres. If he can continue to pitch that way this coming season, then he could blossom into far more than a mid-rotation starter. The former first-round pick throws strikes and has a great feel for his offspeed pitches. Weathers will surely start the year in Lake Elsinore and could stay there the whole year based on his age and the fact the system is loaded in front of him.

Reggie Lawson– Double-A (3-1) 5.20 ERA/1.482 WHIP- 27.2 IP/13 BB/36 K

Despite an elbow injury (that did not require surgery), Lawson looked great at the end of the 2019 season. His fastball velocity increased slightly as he threw well in the AFL and at the Don Welke Classic in October. All signs point to him having a productive 2020 for the Padres. The right-handed will begin the year in Amarillo and could conceivably make his major league debut at some point this coming season.

Joey Cantillo– Low Single-A/High Single-A (10-4) 2.26 ERA/0.931 WHIP- 111.2 IP/34 BB/144 K

With a slight increase in velocity, Cantillo is turning into a terrific prospect. The left-handed pitcher works very hard and is described as someone with a chip on their shoulder. The Hawaiian native and 16th-round pick throws strikes and is blessed with an above-average changeup. 2020 will be another opportunity to see if Cantillo’s growth is for real. Expect him to start the year in Lake Elsinore.

Ronald Bolanos– Double-A (13-7) 3.66 ERA/1.235 WHIP- 130.1 IP/53 BB/142 K

Bolanos has quite the differential on his pitch speeds. The Cuban native is capable of throwing in the high 90s with his fastball. While at the same time, he will toss up a slow curve in the upper 60’s. If he can continue to find a consistent arm slot and develop his mechanics more, Bolanos has the arm to be a major leaguer for a long time. If starting does not work, he may find himself in the bullpen.

Omar Cruz– Short-Season/Low Single-A (2-3) 2.73 ERA/1.161 WHIP- 56 IP/19 BB/76 K

With a knack for missing bats, this Mexican pitcher is moving up the system at a decent pace. Cruz is not blessed with a high-velocity fastball, but he gets the job done. In almost 100 minor league innings, he has allowed one home run. Batters describe his fastball as unusual as he hides the ball well during his motion. Despite the fact he is not a huge pitcher, there is a decent floor with this young pitcher who could eventually grow into a role as a reliever.

Credit: Jerry Espinoza

Youth with Upside

Frank Lopez– DSL/AZL (1-5) 3.49 ERA/1.394 WHIP- 56.2 IP/22 BB/66 K

At the age of 18, there is a lot to like about this young right-handed pitcher. Lopez features an impressive fastball and is striking out batters at a high rate. The Venezuelan native has struck out 101 batters in his first 84.2 innings pitched at the minor league level. The 2020 season should be the year when he makes his debut in a full-season league.

Osvaldo Hernandez– AZL/High Single-A (0-2) 3.39 ERA/1.179 WHIP- 37.1 IP/11 BB/28 K

Cuban native Osvaldo Hernandez has the ability to stick in the rotation longterm. He mixes pitches well but does need to pound the zone more and stay ahead of hitter to really enjoy longterm success. The southpaw pitched in the AFL to end an injury-riddled 2019 season. Now at full strength, Hernandez could be a prospect to keep an eye on in the future.

Ramon Perez– Short-Season/Low Single-A (3-7) 5.17 ERA/1.479 WHIP- 94 IP/50 BB/103 K

Throwing strikes is an issue for the young pitcher, and the lefty struggled in 2019 at the Single-A level. Perez is a project, but he is still 20 years old, and there is time for him to develop into a more polished pitcher. Expect the Cuban pitcher to begin in Fort Wayne and try to establish strikes early. If all else fails, he might excel in the bullpen.

Manuel Partida– Injured- DNP

Young left-handed pitcher Manuel Partida had a great 2018 season in which he recorded a 2.31 ERA in the DSL. The Mexican pitcher struck out 58 batters in 58 innings and looked to make his debut in the States last year. Tommy John surgery kept him out the entire year, but he is still 19 and could pitch in 2020 with some effectiveness.

Henry Henry– Low Single-A (7-5) 3.32 ERA/1.094 WHIP- 81.1/ 16 BB/80 K

This Dominican pitcher threw the entire season out of the bullpen for the TinCaps. The lanky right-hander was very effective getting ahead of batters and should a slight increase in velocity. It remains to be seen if he will be given a chance to start again, but if he isn’t, Henry has the arsenal to be an effective high-leverage reliever.

Mason Thompson– AZL/High Single-A (0-5) 7.24 ERA/1.829 WHIP-27.1 IP/22 BB/25 K

Blessed with a fastball that tops out at 97-99 mph, Thompson is a really interesting prospect. Several different minor injuries have limited his growth, but there is still time for him at the age of 21 to become a very useful prospect. The big Texan should start 2020 in Lake Elsinore and is capable of breaking out. If he can get his health in order, there is a very high ceiling with him.

Aaron Leasher– High Single-A/Double-A (10-7) 3.60 ERA/1.267 WHIP- 122.1 IP/38 BB/114 K

Flying under the radar is this young left-handed pitcher. The former sixth-round pick in 2017 will not blow you away with velocity, but he is hardly a soft-tosser as well. During the 2019 season, Leasher quietly went about his business and was one of the most useful pitchers in the whole system.

Michell Miliano– AZL (2-0) 5.14 ERA/1.952 WHIP- 21 IP/26 BB/35 K

At 6-foot-3 and armed with a high-velocity fastball, Miliano has a lot of upside in his arm. The issue is that he cannot throw strikes. The Dominican has walked 53 batters in his 64 career innings with the Padres. The 20-year-old also struck out 87 during that time. There are hopes he can start, but the power-pitcher is looking like a project in that regard.

Credit: TinCaps

Gabe Mosser– Low Single-A/High Single-A (7-5) 4.17 ERA/1.343 WHIP- 108 IP/25 BB/110 K

Drafted in the 27th-round of the 2018 draft, Mosser has been an impressive right-handed pitcher. He showed excellent control in Fort Wayne this season and was named to the Midwest League All-Star game. Mosser pitched well after his promotion to Lake Elsinore and looks like a great value pick for the Padres.

Drake Fellows– Has yet to debut

Drafted out of Vanderbilt University this past season, this is a pitcher with big-game ability. There is plenty of velocity from the right-hander who could tighten up his mechanics and really blossom under major league coaching. Expect him to start the 2020 season in Fort Wayne, but he could be a fast riser in the system.

Andrew Mitchel– Has yet to debut

Another newly drafted Friar is this funky left-handed pitcher out of San Jose State. Mitchell will strike batters out but needs to pound the zone more effectively. There is a chance the team uses him out of the bullpen, but he has the stuff to get batters out a third time through the lineup.

Bodi Rascon– AZL (0-0) 0.00 ERA/0.833 WHIP- 6 IP/2 BB/6 K

The Padres drafted high school pitcher Bodi Rascon this past June. The left-handed hurler has great size and could be a great value for the team in the 14th round. He throws in the low 90’s already, and the thought process is that he could add velocity in time. The Texan will look to pitch at full-season ball in 2020, but that may be a stretch.

Efrain Contreras– Low Single-A (6-6) 3.61 ERA/1.176 WHIP- 109.2 IP/32 BB/121 K

Contreras pounds the zone with his fastball. The Mexican right-handed pitcher was very effective in Fort Wayne as he made 23 starts for the TinCaps. With a bit of a reputation as an innings-eater, Contreras is an interesting option for the Padres. The undersized pitcher should start the 2020 season in Lake Elsinore.

Adrian Martinez– Low Single-A/High Single-A (7-4) 3.22 ERA/1.19 WHIP- 81 IP/22 BB/76 K

Mexican right-handed pitcher Adrian Martinez is another pitcher who throws strikes and gets ahead of hitters. He ended his 2019 on a great note, going 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA and striking out 41 batters in 38.1 innings pitched. Not overly flashy, Contreras will likely quietly start the season in the Cal League to begin the 2020 season.

Carlos Guarate– AZL/Low Single-A (6-1) 2.22 ERA/1.212 WHIP- 48.2 IP/13 BB/43 K

This 18-year-old pitched well in the AZL and earned a promotion to Fort Wayne late in the season. He showed well there, and this right-handed pitcher could be a sleeper for the 2020 season. The Venezuelan native has decent size and the mechanics to succeed.

Credit: Amarillo Sod Poodles (John Moore)

Lake Bachar– High Single-A/Double-A (8-4) 3.93 ERA/1.410 WHIP- 132.2 IP/60 BB/ 13o K

Bachar put up a very reasonable season in Amarillo during the 2019 season and is now considered a decent option for the team. The 24-year-old is not young, but his pitching style is effective and advanced in a system full of youth and upside. Bachar will likely go between El Paso and Amarillo in 2020.

Gabriel Morales– AZL/Short-Season (4-1) 2.29 ERA/1.020 WHIP-51 IP/17 BB/60 K

This left-handed pitcher strikes batters out and has a decent amount of ability on the mound. The Venezuelan youngster is still 20 and looks to establish himself in Fort Wayne this coming season. If he can walk fewer batters, Morales might turn into a top 30 prospect in time.

Luis Guiterez- Has yet to debut

Signed this period out of Venezuela was this nifty left-handed pitcher. The 17-year-old will need time to develop, but the future of the staff is already being built with this youngster. For a teenager, he is very reformed with his stuff and should stay in the rotation.

Bryan Medina- Has yet to debut

Medina throws hard and is still only 17 years old. The top pitching prospect out of Venezuela during the last international signing period signed with San Diego and will likely start the 2020 season in the DSL. Medina tops out at 97 mph already, and there is a lot to like about his future.

Miguel Rondon– AZL (3-2) 3.79 ERA/1.388 WHIP- 40.1 IP/13 BB/48 K

Undersized pitcher Miguel Rondon has thrown well for the Padres the past two seasons. The native of Venezuela shows a decent fastball and should begin 2020 in the desert of Tri-City. The 19-year-old is raw, but there is some upside.

Jason Blanchard– Short-Season (1-3) 3.38 ERA/1.094 WHIP- 32 IP/12 BB/ 41 K

This right-hander was taken out of Lamar University last year and made his debut right away for the Tri-City Dust Devils. Though undersized slightly, Blanchard has a strong arm and shows an ability to keep the ball in the yard. In 2020, the 22-year-old should start the season in Fort Wayne.

Martin Carrasco– AZL/Short-Season (4-0) 1.23 ERA/1.023 WHIP- 29.1 IP/6 BB/48 K

From Tijuana Mexico, this pitcher finished the 2019 season well. The right-hander went 1-0 with a 0.56 ERA and two saves in 16 innings pitched in his final ten appearances. Though the 20-year-old spent the entire 2019 season in the bullpen, there is the thought process that he may be a starting pitcher moving forward.

Credit: Tri-City Dust Devils

Ethan Elliott– Short-Season (0-0) 1.77 ERA/0.869 WHIP- 35.2 IP/4 BB/38 K

In the 10th round of the draft last June, the Padres selected this left-handed pitcher out of Lincoln Memorial University in Tennesse. The 6-foot-3 pitcher threw extremely well in Tri-City this season, recording a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts. He threw a total of 127 innings in 2019 between college and the Padres. At the age of 22, Elliott could breakout in 2020.

Ignacio Feliz– Short-Season (2-4) 4.40 ERA/1.465 WHIP- 57.1 IP/27 BB/55 K

There is plenty of upside in this young pitcher out of the Dominican Republic. Feliz needs to refine his mechanics slightly as he can get wild in and out of the strike zone. The right-handed pitcher should start the 2020 season in either Arizona or Fort Wayne. A repeat of Tri-City is also not out of the question.

Jeferson Garcia– AZL/Short-Season (3-3) 5.69 ERA/1.408 WHIP- 49 IP/19 BB/62 K

It will take time for this young pitcher, but he shows an ability to record strikeouts. The right-handed pitcher from Venezuela progressed each season and could be an eventual player out of the bullpen. The Padres will explore him in a starting role, and he could start the season in Fort Wayne.

Conor Lehmann– Short-Season (1-1) 3.03 ERA/1.28 WHIP- 29.2 IP/16 BB/26 K

At 6-foot-7, Connor Lehmann is an imposing force on the mound. The seventh-round pick in 2019 out of Saint Louis will strike batters out and should rise rather quickly in the system. Lehmann spent some time in the bullpen in college and could ultimately be a high-leverage reliever for the team.

Luarbert Arias– AZL/Short-Season (5-1) 3.51 ERA/0.976 WHIP- 56.1 IP/10 BB/64 K

19-year-old Luarbert Arias established himself in 2019. The Venezuelan pitcher features very good control and an ability to record the strikeout. Arias has good size and should see some full-season ball at some point during the 2020 season. He is an interesting prospect with a decent ceiling.

Credit: USA Today Sports

Minor League Depth and Uncertainty

Jerad Eickhoff– MLB (3-4) 5.71 ERA/1.303 WHIP- 58.1 IP/18 BB/51 K

The major league veteran will be in spring camp on a minor league contract. There is a possibility he makes the team, but it would take an amazing outing in the spring. The curveball specialist will probably help guide the pitching staff in El Paso to start the 2020 season.

Anderson Espinoza- Injured- DNP

Two Tommy John surgeries leave a massive cloud of doubt over the head of Anderson Espinoza. The Venezuelan right-handed pitcher is still 21 years of age. He will miss most if not all of the 2020 season but could once again surface in 2021 as a relevant prospect.

Brett Kennedy– Injured- DNP

Kennedy essentially missed the entire 2019 season with a lat strain that developed in March. The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher was outrighted in October and was unclaimed. He will provide depth at the Triple-A level and could factor at some point again for the Padres.

Cole Bellinger– Injured- DNP

Tommy John surgery in 2019 puts some doubt into this youngster’s future. The right-handed thrower was never a high-velocity pitcher, so he will need to re-invent himself if he wishes to advance in the system. You may see him in 2020, but there is no rush for this 20-year-old.

Jerry Keel– Triple-A (10-7) 6.78 ERA/1.764 WHIP- 151.1 IP/60 BB/114 K

In 2019, the Padres took this big lefty out of Cal State Northridge. The ninth-round pick has had a respectable minor league career reaching Triple-A last year. Keel is close to major league action and would have probably made his debut already if it were not for the Padres crazy depth.

Sam Keating– Short-Season/Low Single-A (3-8) 7.79 ERA/1.688 WHIP- 69.1 IP/29 BB/40 K

Keating has not lived up to the hype of his fourth-round selection. The 21-year-old still has time to get back on track, but there are some reasons to be concerned moving forward as he has allowed 176 hits in 143 innings pitched throughout his minor league career.

Jesse Scholtens– Double-A (5-7) 5.40 ERA/1.480 WHIP- 125 IP/40 BB/129 K

25-year-old Jesse Scholtens is on the verge of major league service time. The right-handed pitcher is not a hard thrower, but he gets the job done. The former 9th-round pick out of Wright State University made it the Texas League in 2019 and should see plenty of action in El Paso this coming season.

Manuel Avila– DSL (4-2) 6.00 ERA/1.500 WHIP- 48 IP/15 BB/27 K

At this point, this 18-year-old is minor league depth. The undersized right-handed pitcher will probably repeat the DSL level as he needs a lot of work to be considered a serious prospect in the system.

Jose Garcia– AZL/DSL (5-3) 3.41 ERA/1.34 WHIP- 58 IP/12 BB/55 K

Left-handed pitcher Jose Garcia has quietly put up solid numbers for the Padres. The native of Venezuela owns a 2.91 ERA in 102 innings pitched between the DSL and the AZL Rookie League. He throws strikes but is 21 years old and undersized.

Jesus Cisneros– DSL (1-1) 5.00 ERA/1.22 WHIP- 18 IP/4 BB/15 K

At the age of 19, this young Venezuelan pitcher is minor league depth for the San Diego Padres. The skinny youngster needs to improve and will likely start the season in the DSL once again.

Luis Crisostomo– DSL (2-2) 4.96 ERA/1.324 WHIP- 45.1 IP/14 BB/29 K

Crisostomo has good size at 6-foot-2 and could eventually factor to some degree at the lower levels of the system. The right-handed pitcher got knocked around pretty hard in the DSL this past season and will likely repeat the level.

Jairo Iriarte– DSL (1-2) 3.31 ERA/1.387 WHIP- 35.1 IP/14 BB/21 K

This Venezuelan youngster just turned 18 and has some ability. The right-handed pitcher was able to maintain a 3.31 ERA last year in the DSL and could see some action in the States this spring.

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Dwayne Matos– DSL (2-3) 3.74 ERA/1.161 WHIP- 45.2 IP/6 BB/31 K

Matos is a strike-thrower, and that bodes well for him, possibly advancing in the system. The 19-year-old Dominican threw well in the DSL last year and could see some time in the AZL this spring and even play at Tri-City if all things break correctly for him.

Mauricio Rodriguez– DSL (2-2) 9.82 ERA/1.773 WHIP- 22 IP/5 BB/22 K

After an impressive 2018 season in the DSL when the right-handed pitcher recorded a 2.70 ERA at the age of 17, he regressed in 2019. The Venezuelan native throws strikes generally but will need to refine his mechanics.

Edgar Martinez– AZL (3-3) 4.40 ERA/1.47 WHIP- 43 IP/10 BB/54 K

Cuban pitcher Edgar Martinez is a bit undersized, but he has a decent arm. The right-hander throws strikes and racks up the strikeouts but is still a little raw. Fourteen earned runs in his last four starts clouded his overall numbers a bit. You could see him in Fort Wayne at some point in 2020.

Angel Acevedo– Short-Season/Low & High Single-A ( 1-12) 6.41 ERA/1.609 WHIP- 91.1 IP/35 BB/92 K

21-year-old Angel Acevedo is a right-handed pitcher with some upside. The Venezuelan native made it to Lake Elsinore in 2019 and could open the season in the rotation there. A relief role also may be in his future as he needs to refine some of his offspeed.

Jason Reynolds– Short-Season (2-4) 8.64 ERA/1.800 WHIP- 25 IP/20 BB/28 K

This right-handed pitcher may eventually be a relief pitcher, but he did spend some time starting last year for the Padres. The 32nd round pick needs to throw strikes to advance further. It remains to be seen if he can do that. Reynolds could surface on any roster in 2020.

Nick Thwaits-Short-Season (4-3) 4.66 ERA/1.517 WHIP- 58 IP/18 BB/47 K

Drafted in the 15th round of the 2018 draft, this right-handed pitcher is progressing well. The 20-year-old throws a lot of strikes and has good size to him. Reliving could be an option, but the Padres will likely allow him to progress in the rotation.

Cullen Dana– Short-Season/Low Single-A (3-4) 4.87 ERA/1.444 WHIP- 44.1 IP/15 BB/29 K

Despite being roughed up to end his season, Dana is still a player who could develop into prospect status in time. The left-handed pitcher will need to refine his mechanics to progress in the system. The former 30th round pick should begin in Fort Wayne and could eventually be a lefty specialist in the bullpen.

Jesus Gonzalez– AZL/Low Single-A (4-3) 4.86 ERA/1.380 WHIP- 50 IP/14 BB/48 K

This Venezuelan pitcher is a bit undersized, but he has an exciting arm. The 18-year-old southpaw progressed to the point where he is ready for Single-A baseball. There is a lot to like about his future, which could turn out to be very positive.

Caleb Boushley– High Single-A (5-4) 3.61 ERA/1.251 WHIP- 102.1 IP/16 BB/104 K

As a 33rd round pick, this right-hander has shown a lot. The 26-year-old spent the entire 2019 season with the Storm and did an adequate job as a starting pitcher at the end of the season. Boushley should get a taste of the Texas League in 2020 for the Padres.

Reiss Knehr– High Single-A (3-5) 5.43 ERA/1.492 WHIP- 66.1 IP/28 BB/83 K

Reiss Knehr started a handful of games at the end of the year for Lake Elsinore. The right-handed pitcher provides an ability to strikeout batters but struggled with command at points in the Cal League. Knehr will likely begin 2020 in Lake Elsinore with the Storm.


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