Top 39 Prospects: San Diego Padres by Eric Longenhagen May 12, 2021 Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the San Diego Padres. Scouting reports were compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as my own observations. As there was no minor league season in 2020, there are some instances where no new information was gleaned about a player. Players whose write-ups have not been meaningfully altered begin by telling you so. Each blurb ends with an indication of where the player played in 2020, which in turn likely informed the changes to their report if there were any. As always, I’ve leaned more heavily on sources from outside of a given org than those within for reasons of objectivity. Because outside scouts were not allowed at the alternate sites, I’ve primarily focused on data from there, and the context of that data, in my opinion, reduces how meaningful it is. Lastly, in an effort to more clearly indicate relievers’ anticipated roles, you’ll see two reliever designations, both on my lists and on The Board: MIRP, or multi-inning relief pitcher, and SIRP, or single-inning relief pitcher. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed, you can click here. For further explanation of Future Value’s merits and drawbacks, read Future Value. All of the numbered prospects here also appear on The Board, a resource the site offers featuring sortable scouting information for every organization. It can be found here. Top Prospects Team Lists 2021 2020 ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG ALBALCHWHOUBOSCLELAANYYDETOAKTBRKCRSEATORMINTEX NLATLCHCARIMIACINCOLNYMMILLADPHIPITSDPWSNSTLSFG Padres Top Prospects Rk Name Age Highest Level Position ETA FV 1 CJ Abrams 20.6 AA 2B 2023 60 2 MacKenzie Gore 22.2 AAA SP 2021 60 3 Luis Campusano 22.6 MLB C 2022 55 4 Ha-Seong Kim 25.6 MLB SS 2021 50 5 Robert Hassell III 19.7 A CF 2023 50 6 Ryan Weathers 21.5 MLB SIRP 2021 45+ 7 Justin Lange 19.7 R SP 2025 40+ 8 Reiss Knehr 24.5 AA MIRP 2021 40+ 9 Anderson Espinoza 23.2 A+ MIRP 2021 40+ 10 Victor Acosta 16.9 R SS 2025 40 11 Tucupita Marcano 21.7 MLB 2B 2021 40 12 Brandon Valenzuela 20.6 A C 2023 40 13 Joshua Mears 20.2 A LF 2024 40 14 Nerwilian Cedeno 19.2 R 2B 2024 40 15 Ethan Elliott 24.0 A+ MIRP 2023 40 16 Charlis Aquino 19.5 R SS 2024 40 17 Carlos Guarate 20.1 A SP 2023 40 18 Efraín Contreras 21.4 A SP 2022 40 19 Steven Wilson 26.7 AAA SIRP 2022 40 20 Reggie Lawson 23.8 AA SIRP 2021 40 21 Mason Thompson 23.2 AAA SIRP 2022 40 22 Javy Guerra 25.6 MLB SIRP 2021 40 23 Euribiel Angeles 19.0 A 3B 2024 40 24 Nabil Crismatt 26.4 MLB SP 2021 40 25 Eguy Rosario 21.7 AA 2B 2022 40 26 Victor Lizarraga 17.4 R SP 2025 35+ 27 Zayed Salinas 18.3 R SP/OF 2025 35+ 28 Jordy Barley 21.4 A SS 2023 35+ 29 Brayan Medina 18.6 R SP 2025 35+ 30 Jagger Haynes 18.6 R SP 2025 35+ 31 Chase Walter 22.8 R SIRP 2024 35+ 32 Evan Miller 26.0 AAA SIRP 2022 35+ 33 Pedro Avila 24.3 MLB SP 2021 35+ 34 Ivan Castillo 25.9 AAA 2B 2022 35+ 35 Sean Guilbe 21.4 A- SS 2023 35+ 36 Dwanya Williams-Sutton 23.8 A+ RF 2023 35+ 37 Mason Fox 24.3 AA SIRP 2022 35+ 38 Angel Solarte 20.1 A- CF 2023 35+ 39 Cristian Heredia 20.1 R CF 2023 35+ Reading Options Detail Level Data Only Full Position Filter All All C 1B 2B SS 3B OF LF CF RF LHP RHP 60 FV Prospects 1. CJ Abrams, 2B Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2019 from Blessed Trinity HS (GA) (SDP) Age 20.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr L / R FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 50/70 45/55 40/55 80/80 35/45 50 Abrams spent 2020 in the black box that was the Padres’ alternate site, then came to Arizona for Instructional League, where I saw him more than just about any hitter on the backfields. I thought it was an irresponsible comp when I first heard it, but Abrams does kind of swing like, and generally remind one of, Kenny Lofton. The way Abrams’ bat traverses the zone and the way his head kicks back like the butt of a shotgun when he really lays into a ball are both evocative of Lofton, as is Abrams’ speed. But my main takeaway from the 2020 fall look was how much better of an infielder I thought Abrams had become. Over the last decade or so, infielders who have tended to be on the middle infield/center field line due to poor arm strength or utility (Billy Hamilton, Roman Quinn) have trended to the outfield, so I had been projecting Abrams there. Now I think he can make enough of the throws to play second base, though I also think it makes sense for the Padres to give him reps in center for the sake of versatility, and they might want to do it soon because Abrams’ bat is coming quickly. The .401/.442/.662 line he posted throughout the summer after he was drafted isn’t sustainable — players who run as well as he does are a nightmare for rookie-ball infields and Abrams posted a .425 BABIP — but Abrams can absolutely rake. His gaze appears to be laser-guided as he tracks pitches deep into the hitting zone, he has a knack for impacting the baseball in a way that creates hard contact even though his swing is currently pretty flat, and he can do so all over the strike zone. Of the trio of elite middle infield prospects who still aren’t yet old enough to drink (Abrams, Bobby Witt Jr., and Marco Luciano), Abrams has the most polished hit tool and the most room left on his frame. Even without a swing change, he’s going to grow into more power through physical maturity, which is pretty scary considering his exit velos were already above the big league average in 2019 (though, again, AZL pitching wasn’t good that year). This is the best leadoff-hitting prospect in baseball. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 2. MacKenzie Gore, SP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Whiteville HS (NC) (SDP) Age 22.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 197 Bat / Thr L / L FV 60 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 50/55 50/50 50/60 40/55 91-95 / 97 The 2020 Padres needed pitching, and it was thought entering spring training that San Diego would not hesitate to promote either Gore or Luis Patiño if they pitched well enough in the minors. Patiño got the call, as (eventually) did Ryan Weathers, but even when their staff was decimated by injury and were throwing bullpen game after bullpen game in the playoffs, Gore did not. Because the Padres’ taxi squad trained at the University of San Diego (where there’s no TrackMan unit) and the team did not opt-in to alternate site video sharing, other clubs do not have a real idea of how Gore looked there. The Padres acknowledge he was struggling to synch his mechanics, which seems feasible given their complexity. After 2020, Gore has now had bizarre issues in two of the last three seasons (he dealt with blisters throughout 2018), but sandwiched between them was one of the most dominant minor league seasons of the last several years, during which Gore was in the top five in minor league ERA, Swinging Strike Rate and Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio among pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. He made 15 starts in the Cal League and surrendered just nine runs. In the Cal League. Aside from the way his fastball plays (it averaged 93 in 2019, has carry and cut, and generated a 17% swinging strike rate, 16% overall), this is not a power pitcher. Gore has typically been athletic enough to maintain his very deceptive, intricate mechanics and execute his bevy of secondary pitches with consistency. His changeup has bat-missing action when it’s located, his curveball and slider rely on deception and location to miss bats; neither of them is plus in a vacuum. When Gore is pitching his best, he’s locating his secondary stuff where he wants. That has not been the case for a while now, including during my couple of looks at Gore during big league spring training and some of my scouting sources’ looks at him in Arizona at the Padres’ alt site before he broke camp to go to El Paso. I took a laissez faire approach to ranking Gore on the offseason Top 100 because it seemed plausible to me that the bizarre nature of 2020 was at the root of his turbulence, but now we’re a couple months into the 2021 season (from a scouting standpoint) and his issues persist. What happened here and how does it get solved? Gore does look thicker and more physical than before; maybe a loss of flexibility, or touch and feel for release, has come with that, which is resulting in worse command. It’s not as if Gore has turned into Brady Quinn; his physical development is consistent with typical player aging and maturation. It’s equally as likely that this is just another example of the risk and randomness that befalls high school pitching prospects, or that we’ve just been wrong about Gore. If I’m looking for traits that will get a player through a rough patch like this, it’s their athleticism and (insert makeup trait you like most here). I think Gore has those things and will still be a mid-rotation starter in time. He slides on the overall list near Asa Lacy and Tarik Skubal, both lefties with their own strike-throwing problems/question marks. Gore doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man until this offseason and so long as his command remains an issue, I don’t expect the Padres to use a 2021 roster spot on him unless they have a catastrophic string of injuries, which is obviously possible. (Alternate site) 55 FV Prospects 3. Luis Campusano, C Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2017 from Cross Creek HS (GA) (SDP) Age 22.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 232 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 45/55 55/60 30/50 40/40 40/45 60 Campusano was a bad-bodied catcher on the summer showcase circuit, but then completely remade his body for his senior spring. He showed above-average power, some bat control, and improved agility behind the plate, boosting his stock to the late first/early second round of the draft. He didn’t catch much velocity in high school and struggled receiving pro arms at first, but that has improved to an acceptable place. More importantly, he’s continued to hit. Though his 2019 High-A statline was aided by the Cal League’s hitting environment, Campusano’s 11% strikeout rate was the second best rate among qualified, full-season backstops in 2019 (Yohel Pozo was first) and his exit velos (89 mph on average) were great for a 20-year-old. He is rumored to have been the centerpiece of San Diego’s negotiations with Boston for Mookie Betts and while young catching has a tendency to take a beating and fall short of expectations on offense because of it, right now Campusano looks like a potential star offensive catcher. The Padres’ upper-level catching turnover and a spring 2021 injury to Austin Nola foisted Campusano into a situation for which he wasn’t ready, but it has had no impact on my long-term opinion of him, which is that he has All-Star offensive ability at the position. (Alternate site, MLB) 50 FV Prospects 4. Ha-Seong Kim, SS Video (SDP) Age 25.6 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 40/50 50/50 40/45 55/55 50/50 60 Ha-Seong Kim is an explosive, compact-bodied athlete with natural doubles power who frequently turns on pitches on the inner half and absolutely obliterates balls to his pull side. He took bigger hacks during the 2020 KBO season and hit more homers without impacting his contact rates, as he also had more walks than K’s, a paltry 10% strikeout rate, and an overall line of .306/.397/.523. The ZiPS projections conducted by our own Dan Szymborski this winter loved Kim so much that, purely based on those forecasts, he was one of the top free agents available last offseason. But, of course, there was no way of knowing whether or not Kim would be able to make the leap from the quality of pitching he saw in the KBO to the ungodly stuff coming out of the hands of big league arms. The Padres made a four-year bet on him (with a fifth year mutual option) with the notion that he’d be a superutility man. His defensive hands and actions are sufficient for shortstop though not great, but he has the speed and athleticism to play anywhere and make a lot of high-effort plays. He saw time all over the infield and outfield during the spring but has only been 2B/SS/3B so far during the big league regular season. Kim has struggled to adjust to big league stuff early on; 88 mph heaters are still in syndication in Korea. Kim only saw 16 fastballs over 95 mph during his final year with Kiwoom, but had already seen 45 of them by the end of April in the big leagues. He has way more hit tool risk than is typical of a player this age because of the leap and because he’s at risk of getting spotty at-bats in a bench role, but even if he ends up with a 40 bat he still has the pull pop to profile as an everyday middle infielder in a vacuum. (KBO) 5. Robert Hassell III, CF Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Independence HS (TN) (SDP) Age 19.7 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 195 Bat / Thr L / L FV 50 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 45/50 20/45 55/55 40/50 60 Hassell wielded arguably the most advanced bat of the 2020 draft’s high school hitters, spraying contact to all fields against upper-echelon high school pitching during his pre-draft summer. It was particularly impressive considering he often pitched on the showcase circuit as well. Somewhat stiff in the lower half, Hassell is not the sort of high-end speedster ideal for center field but his strides eat up space and his first step is pretty good. He looked more comfortable going back on balls last fall than he did as an amateur but closing the deal, especially approaching the wall, can still be an issue as Hassell is apt to lunge for balls late and often catches the ball way out away from his body. Hassell hit with substantially more power during 2020 instructs, then arrived to 2021 spring training (where he got a lot of run with the big league team) with a really steep, uphill swing, and I watched him swing through a lot of fastballs with lateral action during minor league spring training. Hassell’s a tempestuous guy and seems to be cut from the same stone-having cloth as Weathers, Gore, and several other guys to whom the Padres have gravitated with their first round picks. I buy that he’ll have an everyday hit/power combo eventually, and if he can end up playing center field, he really only needs to have one. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 45+ FV Prospects 6. Ryan Weathers, SIRP Video Drafted: 1st Round, 2018 from Loretto HS (TN) (SDP) Age 21.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 230 Bat / Thr R / L FV 45+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 50/55 40/45 50/50 88-93 / 97 I know that in one sense, Weathers has “passed” MacKenzie Gore at this moment after opening the season in San Diego’s rotation, but I have broader concerns about Weathers’ long-term success because of his history as a prospect. This is as gutsy and competitive a young guy as there is in the game, and that’s part of why he’s totally remade his body and is out there competing at the big league level at age 21 while other kids from his high school graduating class are in college or the mid-minors. But Weathers’ stuff has been on a roller coaster for the last couple of years, culminating in the joint inflammation that occurred in a late-April start against Arizona. After a dominant beginning to his first full pro season, Weathers’ stuff seeped away and he was eventually shut down with a dead arm and missed a chunk of 2019. When he returned, the mid-90s heat from early in the year did not, and Weathers’ strikeout rate fell during the dog days of summer. When I saw him later during 2019 instructs, he sat 86-90 for much of his outing, albeit with excellent command, especially of his slider. Last spring, before the pandemic really hit, Weathers was once again living in the mid-90s, and he held that velo for a whole year before he had to leave that aforementioned start against the D-backs with soreness; his fastball was down in the 87-88 mph range. This has happened with Weathers enough that it impacts how I line him up as a prospect despite how quickly he’s reached the bigs. There are exceptions, but it’s also not typical for a pitcher with a body and delivery like this to stick in a rotation, and while Weathers has surgical slider command, he makes more grip-and-rip use of his fastball and has barely thrown a third pitch as a starter. I’m very confident he’ll find a way to make an impact on a pitching staff, but I think he’s more likely to end up as a set-up man than a long-term mid-rotation piece. (Alternate site, MLB) 40+ FV Prospects 7. Justin Lange, SP Drafted: 1st Round, 2020 from Llano HS (TX) (SDP) Age 19.7 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/60 40/50 40/50 20/45 92-97 / 100 Lange’s draft stock exploded when his velocity did during his senior year of high school. He was 89-93 at Area Code Games the summer after his junior year, then up to 95 in the fall, then came out throwing even harder during his draft spring. He had added considerable muscle and had some spring 2020 starts where he was sitting in the upper-90s, but at least one other where he was only 91-96. Which teams liked him depended on which start they saw, and how data-driven their pitch evaluations are. As some teams pivot toward drafting pitchers with good command of good secondaries and try to develop velocity, Lange is a bit of the opposite. The Padres gave him $2 million in the comp round. He presents the Padres dev team with an elite frame, arm strength, and athleticism. The rest they’ll need to develop, as all of Lange’s secondaries are relatively raw. His fastball tilt isn’t ideal but I think the velo and angle created by his drop-and-drive delivery will mitigate that; it’s breaking ball depth that might be an issue from this slot. Regardless, Lange is a high-variance, high-upside talent. (Fall Instructional League) 8. Reiss Knehr, MIRP Drafted: 20th Round, 2018 from Fordham (SDP) Age 24.5 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/50 45/50 50/55 40/45 91-94 / 95 Knehr looked good during 2020 instructs and generated trade interest over the winter. He’s funky, deceptive, and his changeup has obvious bat-missing ability, while it takes multiple viewings to really appreciate how his fastball and slider play. Knehr (people within the org pronounce it like Greg Kinnear’s last name, not like the hair removal product) only sits 91-95 but his fastball has a lot of tailing action. It rides in on the hands of righties and moves enough to induce the occasional chase from lefty batters, though the changeup is more often Knehr’s putaway pitch. He’s struggled to get his slider to his glove side in my looks but even when that pitch backs up on him, it can freeze righty hitters, who have noted his fastball tail and think they’re about to get plunked, by diving into the zone for called strikes. His arm angle and deception helps the slider play against righties, too. I think the odd look Knehr presents is part of what makes him successful and that trait might loose impact if he’s seen over and over again as a starter, so I have him in as a multi-inning reliever. There are teams who think he can start and value him more like a 45. (Fall Instructional League) 9. Anderson Espinoza, MIRP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (BOS) Age 23.2 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 55/55 55/55 50/55 30/40 93-96 / 97 Acquired from Boston for Drew Pomeranz in July 2016, Espinoza had only thrown 32 innings of affiliated ball for the Padres until, after a series of injuries and the pandemic, he was finally back to start 2021. I was at what was, to this point, Espinoza’s last outing as a top prospect. It was his final spring training start of 2017, when he sat 94-97 and flashed a plus changeup and curveball during the course of a few breezy innings while a handful of scouts and Espinoza’s parents watched. Between that outing and his first regular season start for High-A Lake Elsinore, he felt discomfort in his elbow and was shut down. After several weeks of rest and rehab, it was decided that he needed Tommy John surgery, which he had early in August. The timing wasn’t great, and Espinoza missed all of 2018 working back from surgery, then re-tore his elbow during the spring of ’19 and needed a second TJ; you know the rest. In his lone big league outing this spring, he sat 93-95 with very little feel to pitch, and the TV gun had him up to 97 in his first outing at Fort Wayne. Espinoza’s delivery has changed a little bit. His stride is a little longer and slightly more open than before. Just from comparing video from 2016 and now, his hips are a little more square to the plate on release and his arm slot is a bit higher, though that could be the camera angles playing tricks on me. Hopefully this aids in his command and fastball playability (if there’s indeed a new slot). At peak prospectdom, Espinoza had All-Star stuff with command-driven relief risk. What he ends up becoming after nearly five years without an affiliated inning will be impacted by a) workload constraints and b) roster flexibility. I think he has a chance to start long-term because he’s still just 23 and has the talent to generate swing-and-miss action on a couple different pitches. Plus, I ‘m betting on the Padres being granted an extra option year for Espinoza due to injury hardship, which gives him a little longer of a runway to rebuild an innings count and shake off whatever rust has accumulated since he last pitched consistently. I want to value Espinoza in an impact FV tier because of his pedigree and because some the dev context surrounding him is favorable. (Alternate site) 40 FV Prospects 10. Victor Acosta, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Dominican Republic (SDP) Age 16.9 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 30/40 20/30 60/60 45/60 55 As is often the case for a switch-hitter this age, Acosta’s two swings are fraternal rather than identical twins and they vary in their efficacy. His barrel drags through the zone from the left side, making it hard for him to turn on pitches and causing him to pepper the opposite field; his righty swing is more generic. But he gets the bat to the ball from both sides and, though small, is a pretty dynamic athlete who might grow into some pop the way D-backs shortstop Geraldo Perdomo has. Acosta has plus defensive feet, hands, and actions, making him a likely shortstop. If he can make even average contact while playing a good defensive middle infield, he’ll have a long big league career. (International Signee) 11. Tucupita Marcano, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Venezuela (SDP) Age 21.7 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 55/60 30/30 20/30 60/60 50/50 50 I love Marcano’s feel for contact. He’s got more career walks than strikeouts in the low minors and was trusted to be a bench stopgap in the big leagues early this year. He has plus-plus barrel control and is capable of making contact all over the strike zone, but he’s quite weak and often gently serves balls into play or inside outs stuff he’d ideally turn on and pull. Even though he’s only 21, Marcano is so rail thin that I don’t think he’s going to add meaningful weight and strength. You could argue this is a low-variance 45 sort of profile, but I don’t think Marcano is so good at shortstop that that’s the case. One-note offensive players like Freddy Galvis and José Iglesias, classic 45s, are each both comfortably better defenders than Marcano. His defensive footwork is great, but his hands and actions are just okay. I’m cautious about over-grading Marcano just because he’s so advanced. I think he’ll end up a utility player in the Cesar Izturis mold. (Alternate site, Fall Instructional League) 12. Brandon Valenzuela, C Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (SDP) Age 20.6 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding 30/45 45/50 30/45 30/30 40/50 Valenzuela was in the honorable mentions section of last year’s Padres list as a notable teenage follow due to his athleticism and physique, both of which are uncommon for a catcher. He’s off to a strong start at Low-A Lake Elsinore with three hits (one a homer), four walks and no strikeouts in his first two games. Valenzuela switch-hits and tracks pitches well, and the bat-to-ball and strike zone feel pieces were both in place already throughout 2019, but he’s swinging with a little more explosion now. Well-built players with a foundation of skills rather than tools are often a threat to breakout as those more overt physical tools come with maturity, and we may be seeing the early stages of that here. (Fall Instructional League) 13. Joshua Mears, LF Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 from Federal Way HS (WA) (SDP) Age 20.2 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 235 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 70/70 35/60 50/40 40/50 55 The ball Mears hit 117 mph during a big league spring training game shed some light on exactly how much power he has. I left my looks at Mears during 2020 instructs with extreme skepticism regarding his hit tool because his breaking ball recognition is raw and his swing looks grooved, but he deserves more time to iron that stuff out and has huge ceiling if he can. Remember that this guy wasn’t yet committed to a college when he arrived at Area Codes in 2018, then proceeded to have one of the best weeks of any of the players at the showcase and left knowing he had earned much more than a scholarship. There’s a big gap between where his feel to hit is right now and where it needs to be for him to profile. It’s so much power that Mears could conceivably play a role even if he strikes out a lot but walks. He hasn’t had the opportunity to turn in a full pro season yet, so there’s no public-facing way of knowing what his plate discipline is like, though as I said, he struggled to identify breaking pitches this spring. He’s barely 20 and several teams think he should be in the 40+ tier here because of how big the power is. (Fall Instructional League) 14. Nerwilian Cedeno, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SDP) Age 19.2 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr S / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/60 30/40 20/45 55/55 40/50 45 Cedeno is a twitchy, compact middle infielder with good feel for contact from both sides of the plate. He’s short but swings hard and is currently whistling balls over the heads of opposing infielders. He tracks pitches well, has precocious barrel control, and extremely short levers, which all combine to make him a potential plus or better bat. Cedeno lacks the frame and physicality typical of big leaguers but the quality of his fall contact, how hard he swings, and how well he controls the swing even though it features a lot of effort all excite me enough not to worry about how little he is right now. The broad strokes of his profile — smaller frame with sneaky strength, switch-hitting, 2B/3B look on defense — compares a lot to Tommy Edman. Out to start 2021 due to a meniscus injury, further evaluation of this sleeper favorite of mine will likely have to wait until the AZL begins. (Fall Instructional League) 15. Ethan Elliott, MIRP Drafted: 10th Round, 2019 from Lincoln Memorial (SDP) Age 24.0 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr L / L FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 45/50 55/60 45/60 88-92 / 93 Signed out of Division II Lincoln Memorial University, Elliott is a pitchability lefty with a plus changeup. He’s super loose and lanky, his 88-92 mph (that’s up, he was 86-88 in 2019) fastball seem to sneak past hitters somehow, and he projects to have plus command. Lefties with a good changeup and command are high-floor types likely to pitch toward the back of a rotation. (Fall Instructional League) 16. Charlis Aquino, SS Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SDP) Age 19.5 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 165 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 30/50 20/40 40/50 45/55 60 One of many interesting $300,000 signees from the Padres’ two IFA periods following their 2016 spending spree, Aquino is a high-variance shortstop prospect with a very projectable frame. He’s been one of the more physically immature players at Padres camp each of the last couple of years but has the range, athleticism, and actions to stay at shortstop, and his broad shoulders portend the kind of mass and strength that could enable Aquino to make meaningful contact. This is the holding pattern Aquino has been in for about two years now, though he arrived for 2021 camp with a thicker upper body and slightly stiffer look to his lower half. Outside the 40+ FV tier, this is the prospect with the highest ceiling from a traditional scouting POV. (Fall Instructional League) 17. Carlos Guarate, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (SDP) Age 20.1 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 178 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/45 50/55 40/50 35/50 88-91 / 93 Among the many $300,000-ish pitchers San Diego signed in 2017, Guarate has the most projectable frame. His breaking ball has depth and power and could be plus at maturity, especially if he continues to add mass and throw harder. Guarate is also somewhat advanced, enough that the Padres gave him a cookie Low-A start late in 2019, where they sent him again to start this season. Note that this is the third true starting pitching prospect in this system. He’s tracking like a No. 4/5 starter but there’s still a chance for a velo bump here because of Guarate’s age and body projection. (Fall Instructional League) 18. Efraín Contreras, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Mexico (SDP) Age 21.4 Height 5′ 10″ Weight 210 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 45/50 55/60 35/55 92-94 / 97 The Padres have recently had several short, stocky, advanced pitchability types in the lowest levels of their system, the kind of pitcher who ends up as a sixth starter if their stuff plateaus. They had so many of these sorts that it seemed possible one might have an uptick in stuff just at random, even though none of them had obvious physical projection. During instructs, Contreras was that guy. I saw him up to 97, sitting 93-95 during early innings and then settling in the 92-94 range later in outings. He had previously been 90-92, worked a lot with a plus changeup, and he averaged 10 K/9 and just over 2 BB/9 against low-level hitters at that velocity. Though less high-profile, he joined the parade of Tommy Johns required of Padres pitchers after blowing out during an instructs game against the Dodgers. It means he’ll miss all of 2021. Contreras needs to be put on the 40-man this offseason or be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, and I think he merits consideration from teams that want their pick to start on the 60-day IL rather than one who can contribute immediately. Several pitchers in a similar TJ rehab boat were picked in the 2020 Rule 5, and I don’t think the lag between when Contreras last pitched and when he’ll next pitch is a deterrent. The arrow was so firmly pointing up for Contreras last year that I think I’d welcome the post-surgery risk if it meant acquiring an advanced young pitcher with a chance to take the ball every five days. (Fall Instructional League) 19. Steven Wilson, SIRP Drafted: 8th Round, 2018 from Santa Clara (SDP) Age 26.7 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 221 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 60/60 55/55 30/30 40/45 91-95 / 97 Once a 23-year-old senior sign (who missed a year of college ball due to Tommy John), Wilson has rapidly emerged as a potential bullpen piece thanks largely to his fastball, which tops out at 97 and benefits from big extension, spin rate, and a favorable axis. The Padres accelerated his track in 2019 by skipping him over Double-A, and he was dominant as Escogido’s closer during the winter of 2020. He profiles as a middle reliever and should debut in 2022. (LIDOM) 20. Reggie Lawson, SIRP Video Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Victor Valley HS (CA) (SDP) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 205 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/55 55/55 45/50 35/45 92-95 / 97 There’s no change here as Lawson has been rehabbing from TJ: Some teams moved off of Lawson when he had some injury issues as a high school senior, but the Padres found themselves flush with pool money after taking underslot prospects late in the first round (Hudson Potts and Eric Lauer), which enabled them to give Lawson $1.9 million in the second, $1 million above slot. He filled out, began throwing harder, added power to a curveball that has ticked up nearly 10 mph since he was an amateur, and stayed healthy until May of 2019 when he was shut down and given a PRP injection in his elbow. He made a few Fall League appearances during which he looked fine, sitting 93-96 with the usual above-average curveball and sinking, mid-80s changeup. Then last spring, after a big league camp outing against the Cubs, Lawson was shut down again and eventually opted for Tommy John surgery in late-March. He had No. 4/5 starter projection before the surgery, which now increases the odds that he eventually works out of the bullpen. (TJ Rehab) 21. Mason Thompson, SIRP Video Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 from Round Rock HS (TX) (SDP) Age 23.2 Height 6′ 6″ Weight 223 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/60 50/50 40/55 50/60 30/35 91-95 / 97 Thompson was tracking like a traditional first round Texas high school arm until he had Tommy John and missed all but one game during his senior year. He was a wild card on draft day, but ended up going in the third round, signing for early second round money ($1.7 million) with the Padres. He has been quite a roller coaster prospect to follow as a pro, dealing with intermittent injury (two IL stints in 2019), wildness, and extreme fluctuations in stuff en route to a 40-man roster spot on the strength of his 2020 instructs. Thompson sat 96-99 last fall, and his slider was consistently plus. It’s the stuff of a reliever you’d be happy to have out there in the seventh or eighth inning of a close game but I have Thompson valued below that because of his command, and track record of injuries. (Fall Instructional League) 22. Javy Guerra, SIRP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Panama (BOS) Age 25.6 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 185 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 65/65 45/55 35/45 96-98 / 100 A converted shortstop, Guerra had premium velocity almost immediately upon taking the mound; he mostly sits 97-99 and will touch 100. His fastball featured natural cut initially, but it has quickly morphed into a pitch with sink and tail. It can miss bats when it’s located to his glove side but isn’t a dominant, in-zone offering; instead it generates groundballs. Guerra’s slider is similarly dependent on precise command, which he doesn’t have just yet. The best converted pitchers tend to ascend pretty quickly, and Guerra’s now a couple years into his transition, beyond the usual two-year timeline of Jansen, Motte, and other late-inning types. Maybe I should be allowing for a longer timeline for him to really pop because Guerra’s fastball shape was overhauled, and this version of him is still relatively new. The Padres are also walking a roster tightrope here. Guerra is out of options. When he comes off the 60-day IL this year, he’ll need to rehab and be ready to help a pennant-chasing big league club right away, without the security blanket of an option if things aren’t going well. He might be a better fit with an org that can give him low-stakes big league reps in the short-term with the hopes of enjoying fully-formed upside later. (Alternate site, MLB) 23. Euribiel Angeles, 3B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Dominican Republic (SDP) Age 19.0 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 25/55 40/45 20/45 50/50 40/50 50 Angeles is an interesting player who is set up to succeed statistically and, when combined with his age, perhaps get juiced in a big way by pro scouting models. He is not the sort of player who you notice getting off the bus but Angeles has a track record of hitting in games dating back to his amateur days. He hit well in the 2019 DSL (his traditional stats are supported by the TrackMan data sourced from that year) and forced the Padres to push him to full-season ball with a great 2021 minor league spring training performance with the bat. He’s now an 18-year-old in full-season ball playing in the ballparks that constituted the old Cal League. He could make a lot of contact, have his power output inflated by the offensive environment, and look like a stud on paper. I saw Angeles twice during the spring but he’s not the kind of guy who jumps out at you with big power or speed on a short look; he’s a vanilla athlete with very advanced feel for the bat. He’s definitely a prospect because hitting, after all, is the most important thing, but I don’t get the sense that there’s huge upside here. (At-home dev) 24. Nabil Crismatt, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2011 from Colombia (NYM) Age 26.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 220 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 30/40 45/45 60/60 55/60 86-90 / 91 Crismatt at least has utility as a viable, strike-throwing spot starter. He throws his offspeed stuff — a low-80s changeup with big tailing action and a really slow, shapely curveball in the low-70s — a combined 75% of the time, leaving his 87 mph fastball by the wayside as a tertiary pitch. Crismatt is so loose and athletic that I think there’s a chance he ends up throwing harder as his career progresses. If not, then I still think his combination of secondary stuff and command makes him a viable multi-inning reliever who’s just on a big league roster all the time, rather than an up/down spot starter. (LIDOM) 25. Eguy Rosario, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic (SDP) Age 21.7 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40 Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 40/40 30/35 50/40 45/50 45 It’s pronounced “Eggy,” and Rosario is nearly as versatile, occupying all four infield spots at points in 2019, fitting best at 2B/3B. Throughout the early parts of his pro career, the Padres assigned Rosario to play several levels above what is typical for his age, even though he wasn’t always performing on paper. They finally asked him to repeat a level in 2019 when he was again in Lake Elsinore (High-A at the time). There he had his best career offensive season. He made consistent, hard contact again during my 2020 instructs looks but went unselected in the Rule 5 draft even though he was eligible. I like the bat-to-ball skills enough here to project Rosario as a low-variance bench infielder. (Fall Instructional League) 35+ FV Prospects 26. Victor Lizarraga, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2021 from Mexico (SDP) Age 17.4 Height 6′ 4″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 35/50 45/55 20/50 25/55 88-91 / 92 This is the second year in a row the Padres have signed the best young pitcher from Mexico in Lizarraga, another projectable, athletic righty with middling present stuff but a frame on which you can dream. (International Signee) 27. Zayed Salinas, SP/OF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Mexico (SDP) Age 18.3 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 20/50 40/50 20/45 55/50 40/50 60 Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 45/50 40/50 20/50 87-91 / 92 There’s no change here: It’s rare for a pro team to have an opportunity to develop a two-way player from the ground up, and consider how the developmental freedom of pro baseball might allow the club to improve on the college models. A “backwards” prospect who hits righty and throws lefty, Salinas has fairly polished feel to pitch off what is presently 40/45 stuff, is built like a typecast prom king, and has a contact and instincts skillset as a hitter. (At-home dev) 28. Jordy Barley, SS Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2016 from Dominican Republic (SDP) Age 21.4 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 55/55 30/45 60/60 40/45 60 He’s been held behind his fellow 2016 class members because Barley’s on-field decision-making and consistency are taking longer to cook. He still makes the occasional highlight reel defensive play, runs 4.10, or hits a 420-foot bomb and as long as he’s doing that stuff, he’ll have a home on these lists. For now, that Barley both went to an affiliate in 2019 and performed there was a big step. He needs to keep doing that. His physical ability is not in question; he needs to level up from a baseball procedure and consistency standpoint. (Fall Instructional League) 29. Brayan Medina, SP Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2019 from Venezuela (SDP) Age 18.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 180 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 45/55 45/55 30/45 30/45 91-92 / 94 Medina’s velo popped late during the amateur process and he was touching the mid-90s before he signed, though his heater was sitting a little below that, mostly 91-92, when he threw in Arizona during the fall. His delivery is somewhat violent but it’s coming from a vertical slot that also creates depth on his curveball. (Fall Instructional League) 30. Jagger Haynes, SP Drafted: 5th Round, 2020 from West Colombus HS (NC) (SDP) Age 18.6 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr L / L FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Changeup Command Sits/Tops 40/50 40/50 35/50 20/50 88–92 / 94 Haynes is an athletic lefty whose delivery imparts rare traits on his fastball. Similar to Josh Hader, he has a low release point but also creates backspin on the baseball, whereas most lower slot/release pitchers create sidespin. Haynes checks a lot of traditional scouting boxes, too, notably via his on-mound athleticism. He’s got a bunch of 40- or 45-grade pitches right now but he could develop an impact heater with more velocity, and you can go wild projecting on his secondaries and command based on how athletic Haynes is. (Fall Instructional League) 31. Chase Walter, SIRP (SDP) Age 22.8 Height 6′ 7″ Weight 260 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 55/55 50/55 30/40 94-96 / 98 Most of the teams that ended up signing several non-drafted free agents for $20,000 bonuses last year were the ones with thinner farm systems, like the Reds or Nationals. But the Padres inked several as well, and the first one to pop up and look like a real steal, at least for me, is Western Carolina signee Chase Walter. Walter sat 96-98 out of the bullpen during minor league spring training. His breaking ball shape varied pretty significantly, looking like a lateral slider sometimes and a power overhand curveball at others. Regardless of its shape, Walter’s breaking ball bent in at 84-87, and the ones that had more of a curveball look to them were plus. He looks like a potential quick-moving relief piece. (Fall Instructional League) 32. Evan Miller, SIRP Drafted: 22th Round, 2016 from Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne (SDP) Age 26.0 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Slider Command Sits/Tops 55/55 60/60 40/45 92-95 / 97 Miller traversed three levels in 2019 and was invited to big league camp in 2020. He profiles as a sinker/slider middle reliever whose option years are used to keep the ‘pen fresh. (Mexican Pacific League) 33. Pedro Avila, SP Signed: July 2nd Period, 2014 from Venezuela (WAS) Age 24.3 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Changeup Command Sits/Tops 50/50 55/55 55/60 45/50 91-95 / 96 Back from the Tommy John that kept him out for all of 2020, Avila’s arm strength has totally returned and he was sitting 93-95 during a backfield outing I saw during minor league spring training. He still has three well-defined secondaries such that he could be a fifth starter, but he’s begun the year in the Double-A bullpen. He’s no longer on the 40-man but I do think he’d be in the mix for big league innings if injuries continue to burden the Padres. (TJ Rehab) 34. Ivan Castillo, 2B Signed: July 2nd Period, 2012 from Dominican Republic (CLE) Age 25.9 Height 5′ 9″ Weight 173 Bat / Thr S / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 55/55 40/40 30/35 50/50 45/45 55 Castillo is a 5-foot-9 switch-hitting infielder with great feel for contact, so it should come as no surprise to readers well-versed with our prospect coverage that he originally signed by Cleveland. Castillo is on here mostly because of his career statistical performance, and also because I watched a lot of him over the winter in the Dominican Republic. He has fantastic feel for contact and has only struck out at a 14% career clip while playing both middle infield spots at an acceptable level. His bat control is undercut by a free-swinging approach. Castillo is one of those guys who can make contact with most pitches and so he chooses to swing at most of them, which causes him to chase and put mediocre contact into play. His righty swing looks like Justin Turner’s while he has a classic low-ball lefty cut. He’s blocked by terrific big leaguers in San Diego but is the sort of prospect who deserves a stint in the majors with a rebuilding club to see if the contact skills can translate against big league pitching. He’s viable upper-level injury depth until then. (LIDOM) 35. Sean Guilbe, SS Video Drafted: 12th Round, 2018 from Muhlenburg HS (PA) (SDP) Age 21.4 Height 6′ 1″ Weight 190 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/40 50/55 30/45 50/50 35/45 50 Built like a muscle car, Guilbe has electric bat speed and exciting pull-side power for a player his age. Already very muscular and strong, he needs to develop on defense (he played the middle infield when I saw him as an amateur, played third and left field last year, and some scouts want to see him catch) and probably needs a swing overhaul (both the bat path and lower half usage were pretty rough in high school), but there’s a chance he’s a power-hitting multi-positional player. (At-home dev) 36. Dwanya Williams-Sutton, RF Drafted: 8th Round, 2018 from East Carolina (SDP) Age 23.8 Height 6′ 0″ Weight 225 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 30/35 55/60 40/50 60/60 50/55 55 Williams-Sutton is a physical corner outfielder with plus power, and swing and miss issues that present a likely barrier between him and everyday action. Unlike Jorge Oña, Dwanya has another season before the club needs to decide whether to use a 40-man spot on him or not, and he hasn’t had two surgeries in the last couple of years like Oña has. He has been dinged, though. His 2019 output was likely hampered by a wrist injury that necessitated an IL stint. (Fall Instructional League) 37. Mason Fox, SIRP Drafted: 21th Round, 2018 from Gardner-Webb (SDP) Age 24.3 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 170 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Fastball Curveball Command Sits/Tops 55/60 55/55 40/40 90-94 / 95 Another small-school, Day Three reliever who looks like a real bullpen piece, Fox hides the ball well, throws hard, and has a power, 12-to-6 curveball. His stuff was not as crisp this spring as it was back in 2019, so Fox has slid toward the bottom of this FV tier. (Fall Instructional League) 38. Angel Solarte, CF Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Venezuela (SDP) Age 20.1 Height 5′ 11″ Weight 155 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 30/45 30/40 60/60 45/60 55 It’s not as if he’s without physical ability, but Solarte is an instincts-first player. He has feel for contact and for playing center field, where I think he could be an impact defender. Whether he ends up with enough power to play every day is very much TBD, as Solarte is a smaller-framed player. (Fall Instructional League) 39. Cristian Heredia, CF Video Signed: July 2nd Period, 2017 from Spain (SDP) Age 20.1 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 175 Bat / Thr R / R FV 35+ Tool Grades (Present/Future) Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw 35/55 45/50 30/45 50/50 45/50 40 There’s no change here: Heredia grew up playing soccer in Spain before he moved to the Dominican Republic during adolescence, at which point he was introduced to baseball. He presents kind of an old school look: no batting gloves, proactively choking up on the bat, an all-fields approach to contact. And he’s grown into some power as his frame has filled out, mostly in the lower half. The feel for contact is impressive considering the limited baseball background, and is what will likely need to carry the profile forward. (Fall Instructional League) Other Prospects of Note Grouped by type and listed in order of preference within each category. Crafty Arms (Still) Too Young To Drink Jesus Gonzalez, LHP Edgar Martinez, RHP Luarbert Arias, RHP Miguel Rondon, RHP Frank Lopez, RHP Luis Gutierrez, LHP Bodi Rascon, LHP Names that were once part of this group include Efraín Contreras (velo spike, moved up) and Omar Cruz (traded to Pittsburgh as part of the Musgrove deal). So many of the pitchers San Diego signed in the 2017 and ’18 international classes are here, and they all typically have pretty average stuff except for a good changeup, with most of them having very impressive command for how young they are. Gonzalez, 20, went from sitting 86-91 to 91-94, where he has plateaued. Martinez, also 20, is the best athlete of this whole group and has the best breaking ball, but sits 87-91. Arias sits 90-92, has a potential plus changeup, and throws a ton of strikes. Rondon is the really athletic, skinnier, three-pitch reliever who might work more than an inning at a time. He has one of the better breaking balls in the group. Lopez was up to 96 as a 17-year-old but his velo has slowly dipped into the low-90s since then and he’s been hurt some. He too has a chance for a plus changeup. Gutierrez is just 18; he was a 2019 July 2 signee. He’s a lower slot lefty with a good breaking ball, but he needs to add velo. Rascon sits 90-92 with heavy sink. Several Hitters to Monitor Agustin Ruiz, LF Samuel Zavala, OF Jonny Homza, C/3B Brian O’Grady, CF Esteury Ruiz, LF Jorge Oña, DH Tirso Ornelas, 1B Jarryd Dale, 3B Agustin Ruiz is well-built and has a bunch of average and slightly below tools that might grow enough for him to be something in the long haul. Zavala signed in January. He’s a lefty bat with advanced feel for the barrel and some of his swings are really explosive. Homza is a tough-nosed backstop who can also play some infield and might end up with a 50 bat, which makes him an interesting 26th man candidate. O’Grady is an older gent with a sneaky power/speed combo but a 3 bat. The once-exciting Esteury Ruiz hasn’t developed as a hitter and now plays left field, raising the bar he needs to clear with the bat. Oña has had a couple of surgeries in the last three years and is a positionless bat with strikeout issues, though his power is special. Ornelas was a $1 million bonus guy who really bottomed out when his swing was tinkered with, though I’m not sure he’d have hit for 1B/LF power without one. Dale is an Australian infielder with huge bat speed and a grooved swing. Relievers James Norwood, RHP Carlos Belen, RHP Jake Sims, RHP Henry Henry, RHP Michell Miliano, RHP Belen (up to 98), Norwood (100), and Sims (97) all throw hard. Norwood was acquired from the Cubs for hard-throwing enigma Dauris Valdez. He has late-inning arm strength and Double-A control. Belen is a converted third baseman whose secondary stuff might yet improve since he’s only been pitching since 2018. Sims has a vertical action breaking ball that could play in relief and his delivery is deceptive in part because of its violence. Henry Henry is a loose, low three-quarters relief prospect whose fastball plays beneath his raw arm strength. Miliano hasn’t really developed. His velo (92-95) is the same, his breaking ball flashes plus, and his release is very inconsistent. System Overview Nipping at the heels of the Dodgers, San Diego began to trade a lot of prospects last year, mostly for starting pitching. Though the trades have siphoned away an awful lot of talent from the impact FV tiers (40+ and above), the club managed not to part with Abrams, Gore or Campusano. I expect that will continue to be the case no matter who might be on the table, since Abrams is tracking like a potential superstar and they’d be selling low on Gore and Campusano at this moment. Now that this system has been thinned of a lot of its high-end talent, a few more trends are evident. The Padres do well in Mexico and have been able to court among the most projectable athletes from that market. Guys like Ornelas, Valenzuela, Salinas, and (potentially) Lizarraga are all built like college football players. In Mexico, baseball overwhelmingly competes with soccer and, to a relatively lesser extent, boxing for the time and effort of youth athletes and the sport has tended to do better cultivating interest in the game in the northwestern part of the country, Sonora, which is just south of San Diego. Perhaps there’s some home field advantage driving this. The Padres’ farm is now about watching the young, 40 FV prospects to see who develops and performs. They may not have tools as loud nor frames as projectable as the prospects traded away, but there are some fresh and interesting names on this list. The system thinning out also meant it was easier to identify and spend time considering Elliott and Knehr, whose skills are best appreciated over multiple viewings.