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Keith Law's Top 10 Padres Prospects

The ESPN Insider profiles the best of the Padres' farm system.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In our third installment of worshiping at the altar of ESPN-spawned prospect lists, we have the top 10 Padres prospects ($) as determined by the ESPN prospects guru Keith Law. We already knew that the Padres have a talented farm system ranking #9 in all of baseball according to this source. We also knew that the first 4 names on the list would be Austin Hedges, Matt Wisler, Max Fried and Hunter Renfroe since all were ranked by Law in his top 100 prospects. Today we got to see the rest of the list along with some info about some key prospects that just missed:

Rank Prospect Position
1 Austin Hedges C
2 Matt Wisler RHP
3 Max Fried LHP
4 Hunter Renfroe RF
5 Casey Kelly RHP
6 Dustin Peterson 3B
7 Joe Ross RHP
8 Zach Eflin RHP
9 Andy Lockett RHP
10 Rymer Liriano RF

The name at number 5, and the first name of the list that has actually appeared in a Padres uniform, should not come as a big surprise. Even though he is coming off Tommy John surgery the prospect people still really like what he brings to the table. He is seen as someone that will end up as a regular in the middle of a major league rotation for years to come.

Law is a bit higher than most on Dustin Peterson in the 6th spot. Many see his upside, but being that he was drafted just last June in the 2nd round there are others that are a little more guarded than Law.

2011 first round pick Joe Ross is also a regular on these lists. Tyson Ross' brother throws hard, has a prototypical body and an advancing feel for the game. He still needs polish though, and a #7 ranking by Law is a bit higher than where some have put him.

In some of his comments Law mentions #8 Zach Eflin, along with Ross and Walker Weickel (who he parenthetically refers to as the Padres' #13 prospect).

(The three pitchers) all flash plus stuff but need to work on command and turning lineups over three times. Eflin is the most advanced on the mound, sinking the fastball and going to a plus changeup for swings and misses, throwing a slider now that projects as average.

I have heard that about Eflin before, he has a better feel for the game than most, but Ross has more upside. Weickel needs a better feel and his stuff does not have the potential that Ross' does.

Coming in at #9, Andy Lockett is the biggest surprise on the list. He is not a complete unknown as I recall prospect gurus that came to Peoria to check out the Padres' young arms being impressed with him. He is a big guy at 6'5" 225 lbs according to Law calls him a sleeper:

Andy Lockett missed all of 2013 (outside of three short relief outings in the complex league) with a blister issue that just wouldn't clear up; when that's not an issue, he'll run his fastball up to 94 with sink and shows a plus change. His arm works well and his slider was better than ever in instructs last year, although that won't really count until he can throw it against live hitters.

Lockett was a 2012 draftee out of high school, so even without the blister issue you would expect him to be a year behind that of Ross, Eflin and Weickel. His experience thus far has been a limited number of outings for the short season rookie ball team in Peoria. He will get a chance to live up to this praise in Fort Wayne this year.

The last man on the official list is Rymer Liriano. Law seems to have docked Liriano a little more than most for missing the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery. Law mentions that Liriano "desperately needed those at-bats to continue to work on recognizing off-speed stuff." I do not think anyone could argue with that, but at still just 23 years of age there is time for Liriano to recover. However, Law also mentions that the outfielder had not lived up to his potential before the injury either, so there is plenty of ground to cover to get him read for a big league career.

Other prospects mentioned in the story were SS Jace Peterson (referred to as the #11 prospect), newly acquired RHP Jesse Hahn (#12) and another surprise in SS Josh Van Meter (#14). Peterson has been a fixture on many of these types of lists, but falls off Law's top 10. His age with regards to level of play is questioned (he will be 24 in May and starting AA ball), but the feeling is he can play either middle infield spot in the majors at some point. Law is skeptical of Hahn's health (as well he should be), but does refer to him as a likely "premium reliever" if the pitching prospect's arm does not allow him to start. Van Meter was a 5th round pick in last June's draft. His defense is his calling card and is good enough to elevate him to top 15 prospect status according to Law. The bat will need to develop though.

I am not a scout and have no means with which to criticize any prospect list, but I can point out a couple curiosities. There was no mention of Burch Smith. I do not know if Law left him off because of some sort of eligibility (Smith had too much service time last year to still be eligible for the rookie of the year, despite not pitching enough innings to be disqualified). Most prospect sites kept him eligible for their lists and had him in the top 10 or a near miss. Alex Dickerson has no such eligibility issues and had been a consensus top 15 prospect for the Padres since being acquired from the Pirates. There is nary a mention of him here.