San Diego Padres 2019 Preseason Top 10

Fernando Tatis Jr
Fernando Tatis Jr. in Spring Training 2018, now the Opening Day shortstop in San Diego. Courtesy: Aaron Whelan

1)

Player: Fernando Tatis Jr.
Position(s): SS/3B Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’3” Weight: 185 lbs.
Quick Report: News recently came out that Tatis Jr. will be on the roster on Opening Day (mere hours from when this is being posted) and is widely ranked as one of the top three prospects in all of baseball. The Padres got Tatis from the White Sox in the James Shield trade before he took the field as a pro, and it is about to haunt the White Sox. Tatis is a genuine five tool player with a plus bat, plus power, can really run with an arm that plays anywhere on the field. His glove may be his lightest tool, but even that is above average and leaves no doubt he will be the shortstop for the long term. He has Hall of Fame potential, but that is getting well ahead of ourselves, although it shouldn’t be too long before he makes his first All-Star game.

2)

Player: MacKenzie Gore
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’3” Weight: 190 lbs.
Quick Report: The number three pick in the 2017 draft, Gore did not get as many innings as season ago as most would like due to blister issues, but the pure stuff is second to none. I got to see Gore a good amount during his pro debut both on the mound and off, and what stood out was his desire to seek out senior members of the organization and pick their brains, looking to improve his mental side as well as his physical side of the game. He has a big leg kick but incredible balance with an effortless 3/4 slot deliver that allows him to have plus command for his young age. The fastball is up to the high 90s but sits in the mid-90s with some late run. His slider is far and away his worst pitch but has shown the ability to have good two plane break, it is just inconsistent. Both the curve and change are plus offerings allowing Gore to have the ceiling of a true ace.

3)

Player: Luis Urias
Position(s): 2B/SS Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 5’9” Weight: 185 lbs.
Quick Report: It appears Urias is the short term casualty of an active off-season by the Padres and the Tatis call-up, as it appears he will start in AAA despite getting in a dozen MLB games a season ago. Unlike Tatis, Urias is not a guy who possesses much in terms of power, instead he is more of a doubles guy, but the hit tool is very good and he could hit .300 in the future. The open stance leg kick does see him out on the front foot a bit much and he gets off his back foot in his swing, sapping the home run power that could be in the bat. In the field he is a sure handed fielder who could be a solid shortstop, although with Manny Machado and Tatis now in San Diego, Urias’ future is at second base where he could be a truly plus defender.

4)

Player: Francisco Mejia
Position(s): C/OF Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: MLB
Bats: Switch Throws: Right Height: 5’10” Weight: 180 lbs.
Quick Report: Somebody who will never be considered a plus defender is Mejia. I saw him a good amount of him the season he was in the Fall League playing third base as the Indians were trying to find a spot for him in the big league lineup, that experiment did not go well. Eventually the Indians sent Mejia to the Padres for their top two relievers, Adam Cimber and Brad Hand, and Mejia is trying to carve a role for himself at the big league level. He is a below average receiver behind the plate but has a massive arm that allows him to really control the running game well. Problem is Austin Hedges stands ahead of him on the depth chart and Hedges is about as good a defensive catcher as you will find. Mejia is seeing some time in a loaded Padres outfield but, regardless of where he end up defensively, Mejia has hit and will be able to hit at any level and be an above average bat in any lineup.

5)

Player: Chris Paddack
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height:  6’4” Weight: 195 lbs.
Quick Report: One of the more surprising announcements when it comes to names who have made the big league roster is Chris Paddack. He has just seven starts at AA, but the Padres are making him their number four starter to start the season. He has a mild short arm delivery at times, but the effort isn’t concerning and the ball jumps out of his hand, regularly touching 95-96 on the gun. His change is arguably the best in minors, and now is one of the better ones in the big leagues. The curve tends to come out of an arm slot that shows more bend than his other pitches, making it a distant third offering. He can spot both the fastball and change remarkably well and that duo is enough to be a future number three starter, and the Padres feel it is already enough to be a number four. If he can turn the curve into at least an average offering, he could be an elite mid-rotation arm.

6)

Player: Adrian Morejon
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 20 2018 Highest Level: High A
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 6’ Weight: 175 lbs.
Quick Report: I remember the first time I saw Morejon pitch. It was on the backfields in Peoria, I was getting looks at some high minors guys (I believe it was Logan Allen) when I hear a few pops of a catcher’s glove behind me. I walked down the small hill between fields 1-2 on the Padres side and watched Morejon buzzing fastballs by quality Padres prospects Hudson Potts, Buddy Reed, amongst others. To go with that he has a solid change already that could develop into a plus pitch and a curve that is big league ready. The delivery has some balance and consistency concerns as he has a heavy body lean towards the third base side that can leave the change and curve floating high in the zone in a very hittable spot. If he cleans up the mechanics some and goes from just below average command to merely average, he could be a solid number two starter, but the command is just enough of a concern to keep him behind the big league ready Paddack for me.

7)

Player: Luis Patino
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 19 2018 Highest Level: Low A
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’ Weight: 190 lbs.
Quick Report: In practically any other system Patino would be a slam dunk top five prospect, but he started last season in extended spring before heading to the Midwest League for 17 starts. He has a fastball that runs up to 99 but sits in the mid-90s although it lacks run. His slider could play in the big leagues today and has the makings of a truly plus offering. He has a curve and change that are well behind his fastball and slider, but both flash signs of at least being average. The delivery is high effort with the arm getting quite whippy at times and a wide inconsistency in his arm slots. There is a chance he ends up a power reliever, although there is also the upside of being a potential number two starter.

8)

Player: Logan Allen
Position(s): LHP Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: AAA
Bats: Right Throws: Left Height: 6’3” Weight: 200 lbs.
Quick Report: Allen is not the flashy, radar gun darling that is so popular in today’s game, but his pitch mix and approach on the mound gives him a very high floor. His fastball rarely tops 93 and will have a digit that begins with an 8 at times, but it has cutting action to it making it play well above the velo would suggest. His best secondary offering is his change that doesn’t have a ton of velo gap but comes out of the same arm slot and speed as his fastball and can really drop late. He has a slider that is just a slower, bigger cutting version of the cut fastball while his only true breaking ball would be his curve that is rather easy to read thanks to its loopy action, but given the pitch mix it plays really well. He might have an upside of a number three starter, but a likely future of a number four who is a quality start machine while never being dominant.

9)

Player: Michel Baez
Position(s): RHP Opening Day Age: 22 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Right Throws: Right Height: 6’8” Weight: 220 lbs.
Quick Report: Baez is the first pitcher on the list that I truly believe will end up as a reliever long term rather than a starter, but that could be a dominant high-leverage reliever. He has an incredibly long body that is every bit of the 6’8” he is listed. He does not take full advantage of his length in his extension through his delivery, and he allows his upper half to drive the command of his pitches, causing some command concerns. The fastball has a good plane and regularly touches 98 but can get flat when he attacks the upper half of the zone. The slider just spins too often, but when it is at its best the late, sharp, downward break can be unhittable. His change I doubt will ever be a viable offering, which is why I think he is a future closer, although there is an outside chance he develops into a mid-rotation arm.

10)

Player: Josh Naylor
Position(s): 1B Opening Day Age: 21 2018 Highest Level: AA
Bats: Left Throws: Left Height: 5’11” Weight: 250 lbs.
Quick Report: This legitimately might by my favorite person in Minor League Baseball as he is a competitor but will have you keeled over laughing at least a handful of times a game. Based on his stocky frame, you expect a pure power hitting pull hitter, but he has an impressive approach at the plate and could develop into a guy who can hit .280. The raw power is everything you would anticipate, and he has the upside of hitting 30 home runs, the real concern with him is in his defense. He has long been a first baseman where his is serviceable with the glove, but the Padres tried him out in left field in AA last season where he actually has a very good arm for the position, but his well below average speed and raw reads led him to posting just a .913 fielding percentage. He is probably best suited for an AL club, but I also wouldn’t be shocked to see him hit his way to San Diego this season.

Others of Note:

Cal Quantrill – RHP – 24 – AAA
Anderson Espinoza – RHP – 21 – DNP
Hudson Potts – 3B – 20 – High A
Tirso Ornelas – OF – 19 – Low A
Esteury Ruiz – 2B/3B – 20 – Low A
Jacob Nix – RHP – 23 – MLB
Ryan Weathers – LHP – 19 – Low A
Buddy Reed – OF – 23 – AA
Jeisson Rosario – 19 – Low A
Luis Campusano – C – 20 – Low A
Xavier Edwards – SS – 19 – Short A

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