Baseball America is one of the sport’s best resources for tracking prospects from high school all the up through the minors, and their rankings carry weight across the game. They released their Top 100 MLB Prospects list this morning, and Padres fans have many reasons to smile as they check it out. BA’s staff works as their own scouting department, scouring the small ballparks across the nation as well as internationally to get information from every available source when gathering their data. They have recognized six Padres prospects among this season’s list, and they’re all young, and they all have tremendous future potential.
- #9 - Fernando Tatis Jr., SS: Son of former MLB player Fernando Tatis, this 19-year-old shortstop is still growing, recently reported at 6’4” and pushing 200lbs of fast-twitch muscle. His 20/20 season at Fort Wayne earned him a late-season promotion to San Antonio, where he got his first taste of professional postseason baseball. Some think he’ll outgrow the shortstop position, but as long as he’s making highlight-reel plays, the Padres would love to see him stick there.
- #26 - Mackenzie Gore, LHP: The Padres first-round pick in 2017 impressed scouts with a strong yet brief campaign in the Arizona Summer League. He combines four plus pitches with elite command and a bulldog approach that made him a buzzsaw through his high school career. His 6’3” frame is long and lanky, and his exaggerated leg kick adds deception (while reminding some of a lefty Trevor Hoffman), and he is working to add the muscle to carry him through the long baseball season.
- #28 Michel Baez, RHP: When he was signed for $3m in December of 2016, not much was known about the enormous 6’8” righty with the high-90’s fastball, but a season of dominating single-A drew the attention of scouts across the league. While his heat lights up the radar guns, it’s the release point and the command that make it so lethal. His 10:1 BB:K ratio is a testament to his command, which is unusual for a player so tall and so early in his professional development.
- #32 Luis Urias, 2B/SS: The undersized Urias has proven his outstanding contact skills throughout the minors, opening up opportunities that may have him on the Major League roster by season’s end. Long considered a 2B-only prospect, his performance at shortstop over the last year has some thinking he may be able to handle the task in at least a fill-in capacity when he gets the call.
- #52 Cal Quantrill, RHP: 2016’s Padres first round selection is building up his innings count while working on developing his secondaries, specifically a curveball, to complement his mature fastball/changeup combo. The change may be the best in the minors. His pedigree from his father, MLB veteran Paul Quantrill, has given him the building blocks to prepare and approach the game at the highest level.
- #66 Adrian Morejon, LHP: The Padres’ biggest acquisition of the 2016-2017 international signing period with an $11M signing bonus, Morejon has flashed the electric talent that sent his bidding so high as an amateur free agent. The stat lines he’s posted so far don’t impress, but scouts rave about the action of his repertoire of pitches, his aggressiveness and athleticism on the mound, and his mechanically sound throwing motion. Certainly a work in progress, the 18-year-old Morejon has the talent to pass some if not all of the pitchers above him in future rotations.
This list should only grow by this time next year. Many of the players currently listed are likely to leave this list over the next year by graduating from “prospect” status. Generally players are considered “prospects” until they have exceeded rookie limits, which is defined by MLB as follows:
To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Of the six Padres players listed above, only Urias and Quantrill have a chance of cracking the Padres’ MLB roster this season, and neither is likely to exceed the limits defined above. As players from other organizations leave and the kids in the Padres minor league camps continue to develop, we should see even more of the organization’s bright future on next year’s list. Guys like Anderson Espinoza, Logan Allen, Joey Lucchesi, Gabriel Arias, and others may find themselves listed here next year after another solid year in the minors. The wealth in the Padres’ system is in its youth and its depth. This system will only get richer in the coming years.