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Takeaways from Keith Law’s Padres top 20 prospects list

Included is Law’s entire top 20 list

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Kansas City Royals v San Diego Padres Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Athletic’s Keith Law has come out with his top 20 prospects list for the San Diego Padres organization. To be considered a prospect, Law said players must still be eligible to win the 2022 Rookie of the Year award. To qualify for the Rookie of the Year, players need to enter this season with less than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues, or 45 days on the 26-man roster.

Here is Law’s full top 20:

  1. CJ Abrams, SS
  2. Robert Hassell III, OF
  3. MacKenzie Gore, SP
  4. Luis Campusano, C
  5. Jackson Merrill, SS
  6. Joshua Mears, OF
  7. James Wood, OF
  8. Euribiel Angeles, SS
  9. Robert Gasser, LHP
  10. Sammy Zavala, OF
  11. Victor Acosta, SS
  12. Tirso Ornelas, OF
  13. Justin Lange, RHP
  14. Victor Lizarraga, RHP
  15. Eguy Rosario, 2B
  16. Nerwilian Cedeno, 3B
  17. Brandon Valenzuela, C
  18. Adrian Martinez, RHP
  19. Kevin Kopps, RHP
  20. Ray Kerr, RHP

Others of note: Steven Wilson (RHP), Efrain Contreras (RHP), Jarlin Susana (RHP), Ryan Bergert (RHP), Max Ferguson (INF, OF), and Ethan Elliott (LHP)

Takeaways

Abrams is certainly the best prospect in the Padres farm system and he could end up being a smaller version of Fernando Tatis Jr. when he arrives in San Diego. There isn’t a definite answer on where Abrams will play when he arrives but he will be up the middle somewhere (whether that’s shortstop, second base, or center field). There has been some speculation about Abrams possibly being a better defensive shortstop than Tatis is but Tatis probably will get to decide who gets to play shortstop since he just got $340 million. Kevin Charity of MadFriars joined the Talking Friars podcast earlier this week and mentioned Abrams could come up in September after he gets more at-bats under his belt.

Gore struggled mightily in Triple-A last year, so much so that he was sent all the way back to Peoria to work on his mechanics. With this said, he still deserves to be at least a top four prospect in the Padres system because he still has the potential to be a frontline caliber starting pitcher. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League and experienced some good and bad moments. As Kevin Charity told me this week, it certainly is hurting Gore’s development that new pitching coach, Ruben Niebla, isn’t able to communicate with him during the lockout. The longer this lockout goes on, the harder it will probably be for Gore to make it to the roster in the first half of next season (obviously assuming there aren’t a lot of injuries again) because it’s taking time away from Gore being able to work with the Padres coaching staff.

As for any prospects to keep an eye on past Gore and Abrams in terms of their chance to be with the big league club this year, I’d turn towards towards Kevin Kopps and Ray Kerr. Kopps is already 25 years of age and spent five years at Arkansas in the SEC, which means he has plenty of experience pitching in big games. He owned a 0.61 ERA during his first professional season in 14 appearances, which includes two Double-A games. If Kopps keeps throwing strikes and pitching like this, he could just keep moving up the ranks and find himself in the Petco Park bullpen in 2022.

Kerr was acquired in the Adam Frazier deal before the lockout and he’s even older than Kopps. He’s 27 years old and has already gotten to Triple-A, although that was in the Seattle Mariners system. Kerr can get up to 102 mph with his fastball so he has the talent—it’s just a matter of if he can throw more strikes. Law thinks Kerr “should pitch in the majors right now”.