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San Diego Padres

Original Published Date: December 22, 2015

I was struggling to write the San Diego list…really struggling, until the Craig Kimbrel trade quickly restocked a farm system that was gutted by first year General Manager, A.J. Preller last year.  While you can admire Preller for “giving it a go”, the fact is…it didn’t work and he traded away a ton of talent in the process.   While the system would look really good with Trea Turner, Matt Wisler, and Joe Ross sitting at the top, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Javier Guerra are not bad substitutions.

Margot is one of my favorite prospects in the game.  He’s a true center fielder who can really handle the bat with plus speed who is not far away.  Renfroe is also nearly big league ready and both should be able to help the Padres at some point in 2016.  Rymer Liriano is also ready but for some reason, he seems to have fallen out of favor in San Diego.  We are still believers and if he doesn’t get traded, he could also spend time in San Diego next year.

A little further away are Guerra and Ruddy Giron.  Both are shortstops with a chance to be impact major leaguers. While Guerra is the better known prospect, Giron is an intriguing power/speed player capable at playing a premium position at the highest level.

Padres fans should consider this list a “snapshot” in time.  If 2015 taught us anything, the Padres are a fluid organization and are not afraid to make moves to make the major league club better.

1. Manuel Margot (OF)

2016 Age: 21 Ceiling: All Star
Ht: 5-11 Weight: 170 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2016
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2015 A+,AA 439 73 6 50 39 .276 .324 88.4 6.7 .297

Manuel Margot made a rapid ascent through the Boston Red Sox system, meeting every challenge that then General Manager Ben Cherrington presented to him.  In fact, he performed so well, that new GM Dave Dombrowski was able to complete a trade for Craig Kimbrel using Margot as the centerpiece.  I thought it was a big overpay by the Red Sox but the Padres didn’t care as they likely have their center fielder of the future; perhaps as early as the second half of next season.

Margot had a solid season showing his ability to control the strike zone, get on base and wreck havoc with his speed.  In 100 games, he hit .276 with a .324 on-base percentage while striking out only 51 times in 480 plate appearance.  He also added 39 stolen bases and six home runs.

Scouting Report:  Margot is quick twitch athlete with wirey strength.  He has premium bat speed but little bulk in his lower half.  However, as he puts on weight and adds strength, you can project average home run power.  He’s an above-average runner with times of 4.12 to 4.17 from home to first but the speed plays up on the base paths as he gets great jumps on pitchers and can steal bases in bunches.

Margot’s hit tool is also very advanced with a mature approach and the ability to alter his swing to make contact.  To emphasize the point, Margot went 69 plate appearances before striking out to begin the season.  That’s a remarkable feat and shows the kind of top-of-the-order hitter he could become. Finally, Margot is a plus defender, getting excellent jumps and covering a lot of ground in the outfield.  He doesn’t have a plus arm but it’s plenty good to throw a plus overall defender profile on him.

Fantasy Impact:  Margot could be an impact fantasy asset with a ceiling of a Shane Victorino type player – the good Victorino.  There is double-digit home run potential, likely less in San Diego, with 30 plus stolen bases, a .300 batting average, hitting at the top of a line.

2. Hunter Renfroe (OF)

2016 Age: 24 Ceiling: 1st Div
Ht: 6-1 Weight: 215 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2016
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2015 AA,AA 511 65 20 78 5 .272 .321 74.2 6.6 .325

For the second year in a row, Hunter Renfroe ranks in the top two on our San Diego Top 10 list.  However, after a brutal start to the season, that didn’t look possible.  In 19 games in April, Renfroe hit .184/.229/.263, striking out 27 times.  For a guy who has plus raw power, it was hard to imagine a .263 slugging percentage.  The good news for Renfroe, the Padres, and all Dynasty League owners, by the end of the season, the ship was righted and he ended the year with a .272/.321/.462 slash line.

Renfroe is a solid prospect with a chance to be a solid regular, or even a first division performer at the highest level.  With the 2015 selloff, he has a chance to see significant playing time in San Diego next year.  Of course the Padres could trade him or others to try and recreate the 2015 debacle, but I just don’t see that happening.  The fact is the system is weak and while Renfroe is looked as a solid prospect he’s not someone you could build a trade around to bring in a young major league player with at least two-years of team control.   Instead, the Padres should promote him after 150 to 200 at-bats in Triple-A to see what they have.  Will they do that?  Based on what we saw last year, I haven’t a clue.

Scouting Report:  Renfroe’s carry tool is double-plus raw power that he generates from impressive bat speed and a highly leveraged swing.  Usually when you see a leveraged swing, you immediately think that the swing is long.  However, that’s not the case with Renfroe as his swing is short and direct to the ball.  Instead, he’s able to add leverage without adding tremendous swing and miss.  Despite his brutal start, he still managed to have a 75% contact across Double and Triple-A.  While I don’t believe the swing will translate to an above-average hit tool, he could easily hit .250 to .270 at the highest level with a .320 on-base percentage.

Given his average foot speed, I’m surprised that Renfroe has not stolen more bases than he has thus far in his career.  It appears that the Padres are not going to let this be part of his game.

Fantasy Impact:  The elephant in the room with Renfroe is Petco Park.  In most other organization, Renfroe would have 25 home run upside, but playing half his games in Petco, fantasy owners should downshift by 20%, setting the ceiling at 18 to 20.  Put it all together and he’s a .270, 20 home run guy with average runs scored and RBIs.  That should make him rosterable as a third outfielder in most deeper mixed leagues.

3. Javier Guerra (SS)

2016 Age: 20 Ceiling: 1st Div
Ht: 5-11 Weight: 155 Bats: Left Throws: Right ETA: 2018
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2015 A 434 64 15 68 7 .279 .329 74.2 6.3 .342

Along with Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra was the second piece that landed Craig Kimbrel.  While he ranks slightly behind Margot in upside, it’s not by much as there is a lot to like with  the 5-foot-11 shortstop.

Guerra’s offensive game is currently behind his defense but does show promise.  In 116 games in Greenville, he hit .279/.329/.449 with a 75% contact rate.  His .449 slugging was driven by his surprising 15 home runs.  When I saw the team, the swing was fairly line drive-oriented so the 15 home runs are indeed a surprising.

Scouting Report:  Guerra is slightly built at 5-foot-11 and 155 pounds and will need to add strength in order for him to have success as he moves through the system.   He uses his size and athleticism very well at short with excellent footwork and arm strength.

Offensively, he has a short and compact swing with good bat speed.  The Red Sox worked with him to use his lower half more with the hope of adding more power to his stroke.  He’s uber-aggressive at the plate and that was demonstrated by only walking 30 times in 116 games this past year.  While there’s a lot to dream on with Guerra, the bat still has a way to go before we can project an above average offensive player.

Fantasy Impact:  Guerra will be a sexy pickup this year but I’m not jumping in yet with both feet.  I’m not sold on the offensive upside.  There’s a chance for 8 to 10 home runs but he’s a below average runner so stolen bases will not be a factor making his upside a .270 hitter with 10 home runs and five to eight stolen bases.

4. Ruddy Giron (SS)

2016 Age: 19 Ceiling: 1st Div
Ht: 5-11 Weight: 175 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2018
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2015 A 386 58 9 49 15 .285 .335 82.4 6.9 .325

Fort Wayne can humble many players, particularly young Latin players who are unfamiliar with playing in the cold weather of the Midwest League in early April.  Knowing this, the Padres held Ruddy Giron back in extended spring training until mid-May before sending him out.  The plan worked to perfection.

In 96 games, Giron hit .285/.335/.407 with nine home runs and 15 stolen bases.  He showed a mature approach with the ability to make hard, consistent contact with a 16% strikeout rate and a 7% walk rate.

Scouting Report:  Giron has solid, all-around skills that have already started to translate into in-game production.  He’s an excellent athlete and is stronger than his 5-foot-11 and 175 pound frame would suggest. He has quick strong hands and a short bat that should allow him to grow into average power.  He’s an above-average runner but clearly needs help on the base paths as he only stole 15 of 29 bases.  The most exciting thing about his profile is his ability to make contact.  Scouts who saw him in the Dominican as a young teenager thought he would hit.  However, thinking a 15-year-old can hit and seeing him succeed against professional pitchers, most of who are much older than him is indeed encouraging.

Defensively, the Padres believe that he has the defensive chops to stay at short.  He has very good lateral movements and an above-average arm.  If he does grow out of the position, his bat is good enough to play at the keystone.

Fantasy Impact:  Given his upside, Giron could make the back half of our Top 100 list.  His speed will be the determining factor in whether he’s an impact fantasy bat.  The ceiling is 10 home runs, 20 stolen bases, and a .280 batting average.  However, if he loses a step and becomes a 10/10 player, his fantasy profile will be impacted.

5. Rymer Liriano (OF)

2016 Age: 25 Ceiling: 2nd Div
Ht: 6-0 Weight: 230 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2014
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2015 AAA 472 85 14 64 18 .292 .383 72.0 11.7 .376

I’ve long been a fan of Rymer Liriano, but unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the Padres are.  In 738 minor league games, he’s hit .277/.350/.435 with 68 home runs and 190 stolen bases.  He does need to cut down on his strikeouts but in general, he profiles as an everyday regular at the major league level.

The Padres did play him in 38 games in the majors in 2014 where he held his own.  He did strikeout too much but his combination of power and speed with the ability to play an above-average corner outfielder should be enough to give him a prolonged look in 2016.  I’m assuming the reason they didn’t call him up in September this year was due to a crowded roster.  Then again, it could be that the Padres just don’t see him as part of their long-term plans.

Scouting Report: Liriano has solid-average tools across the board that starts with his plus bat speed.  While he seems to have settled into a mid-teens home run player, I believe there is more pop in the bat with a chance to hit 20 home runs annually.  Of course, the power will get tamped down if he stays in San Diego.  He’s an above-average runner but will likely never steal 65 bases again like he did in Low-A in 2011.   A more realistic baseline is 20 stolen bases annually.

The thing that is holding Liriano back is his propensity to strikeout.  His 73% lifetime contact rate is fine for a six-hole power bat, not for a potential top-of-the-lineup player.  If he can’t learn to shorten up his swing and develop better plate discipline, he’ll likely be a number seven hitter or a fourth outfielder at the highest level.

Fantasy Impact:  If Liriano can cut down on the strikeouts, he has a chance to be a 20 HR/20 SB threat.  I do think there is a high likelihood that Liriano will get traded in the off season as someone will believe they can fix the swing-and-miss in his game.  I think they can and therefore, I’m still bullish.  That said, he’s 25-years-old and time is starting to tick-away.

6. Colin Rea (RHP)

2016 Age: 25 Ceiling: #4 starter
Ht: 6-5 Weight: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2015
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2015 AA 101.2 79 22 3 2.04 7.08 1.95 1.00

I first saw Colin Rea in the California League in 2014 and thought he was a nice prospect, possibly a swing starter in the major leagues or a middle reliever.  His fastball was sitting 90 to 91 MPH with a quality curve ball and excellent control.  He didn’t make my San Diego Top 10 list that year as I just didn’t see a very high ceiling.

Rea has definitely improved as a pitcher and that improvement helped him to make six starts in the major leagues this year.  His velocity has ticked up a grade while still maintaining his excellent control.  While his overall ERA in those six games was a modest 4.26, his FIP was nearly a run better at 3.45.  While the ceiling is still limited, he does have a chance to be number four starter and should get a chance to begin the season in the Padres starting rotation in 2016.

Scouting Report:  Rea’s fastball now sits 91 to 93 MPH and he has developed a sinker that is getting plenty of ground balls.  His curve ball grades out as an above-average pitch but he lacks confidence in his change-up and therefore, just doesn’t throw it very often.  In time, it could also grade out as an average pitch.

While his fastball has ticked up a grade, it’s not a great pitch.  It’s relatively flat and therefore doesn’t miss many bats.  However, the extra velocity does allow his secondary pitches to play-up.

Fantasy Impact:  While the profile is a number four starter, Rea might be worth considering in a 2016 fantasy league.  He throws strikes, keeps the ball down and has enough secondary pitches to strike out seven per nine.  He’s far from an impact fantasy player, but he does pitch in Petco Park and should be readily available in the late rounds of a draft.

7. Jacob Nix (RHP)

2016 Age: 20 Ceiling: #4 starter
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2018
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2015 R 19.2 23 12 1 3.20 8.69 5.49 1.53

I’m a huge fan of what the Houston Astros are doing, but the situation that led to the reported $1.5 million dollar signing bonus to Jacob Nix being rescinded was just wrong.  Nix got caught up in the Brady Aiken debacle and after the Astros were unable to sign Aiken, they no longer had enough money to cover the bonus promised to Nix.  The Astros then cut his bonus to $600,000 and Nix refused to sign.  Can you blame him?  Well, the NCAA did and they then rescinded his scholarship.  In a word, Nix got screwed.

Supposedly the Astros reached a settlement with Nix and while the terms are not known, I’m guessing it was something far less than the promised $1.5 million dollars.  Nix did make the best of it and enrolled in the IMG Academy in Florida, pitched well and was signed by the Padres in the third round of 2015 first year player draft for a million dollar signing bonus.  While I no longer root for a franchise, I do root for players.  Please join me on the Jacob Nix train and hope that he wins multiple Cy Young awards.

Scouting Report:  Nix has good size at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds with a fastball that he can run up to the mid 90’s.  While his sitting speed is less, he has some physical projection and therefore the chance to increase his velocity over time.  His secondary pitches are still a work in progress but he does show the ability to spin a curve with a feel for a change-up.

As the Padres work with his mechanics, his control should improve as he has plenty of athleticism to repeat his delivery.  While he has a long way to go, he could develop into a mid-rotation starter or a middle reliever down the road.

Fantasy Impact:  While I’m rooting for Nix, I’m not ready to put him on my fantasy team.  There’s raw talent there but he has a long way to go.  He’s only rosterable in leagues with 400 or less minor league slots.

8. Austin Smith (RHP)

2016 Age: 19 Ceiling: #4 starter
Ht: 6-4 Weight: 220 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2018
Year Class IP H ER HR BB/9 K/9 ERA WHIP
2015 R 17.0 27 15 0 4.76 5.82 7.94 2.12

In the Padres quest to get better…quickly…not only did they trade away most of their farm system, but they also lost their 2015 first round draft pick when they signed James Shields.  They did though make a great selection in the second round when they tapped high school pitcher Austin Smith, signing him for $1.2 million dollars as the 51st overall player selected.

Scouting Report: At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Smith is already a big boy but most observers believe he will add a mile or two of velocity once he tones his body.  His fastball currently sits 91 to 92 MPH but was touching the mid-nineties in the Fall Instructional League.  His secondary pitches are still very raw but he does flash a quality curve ball.

Smith also is quite athletic with a nice, easy delivery.  He gets very extension and pitches with a traditional high three-quarters delivery.  He does need to work on his landing as he falls off to the first base side.  Again, he’s raw, but with instruction, Smith could turn into a nice mid-rotation starter.

Fantasy Impact:  Smith is only ownable in very deep Dynasty Leagues that roster at least 450 minor leaguers.  That said, he is a player to monitor as he has the size and the arm strength to develop quickly.

9. Michael Gettys (OF)

2016 Age: 20 Ceiling: All Star
Ht: 6-1 Weight: 205 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2018
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2015 A 494 62 6 44 20 .231 .271 67.2 5.3 .326

While I’m down on the Padres farm system, Michael Gettys is a player that if he can pull it all the together, has the tools to become an impact major leaguer, an All Star performer.  In his first exposure to full-season ball, he did hit six home runs and steal 20 bases but he also hit .231 in 122 games with a 31% strikeout rate and a 5% walk rate.  While he played the entire season as a 19-year-old, his ability to control the strike zone needs a lot of work and that’s what the Padres will focus on in 2016.

Scouting Report:  Gettys has the raw tools that get major league teams excited.  He has elite bat speed, plus raw power, an 80-grade cannon of an arm, and is a double-plus runner.  The problem is he has a 30-grade hit-tool.  I asked a source for a comp and got a young Carlos Gomez but at the same age, Gomez was a much better hitter.  I thought it was an interesting comp as it shows the upside of Gettys, but Gomez was not a good hitter in his youth and is still not a great hitter.

Sometimes toolsy guys learn to hit enough to become Carlos Gomez but more times than not, they are the definition of fringe-average. Where does Gettys wind up?  I’m actually not sure.  He could use another year in Low-A, but the Padres will likely move him to the California League where his power numbers should start to emerge but he could also strike out 200 times.

Fantasy Impact:  As a sexy name in last year’s draft, Gettys is owned in most Dynasty Leagues.  While I support him being owned, he’s got a long way to go.  If you own him, you need to be patient and also need to know that there’s an equal chance that he never makes it.

10. Jose Rondon (SS)

2016 Age: 22 Ceiling: Utility
Ht: 6-1 Weight: 160 Bats: Right Throws: Right ETA: 2017
Year Class AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP CT% BB% BABIP
2015 A+,AA 337 56 3 31 18 .267 .320 84.3 6.7 .307

Jose Rondon was the primary return in the Angels acquisition of Huston Street in July of 2014.   After playing well in 58 games in the California League where he hit .300/.360/.414, the Padres promoted him to the Texas League where after a month of action, he fractured his elbow in a head first slide and missed the remainder of the season.

Scouting Report:  Rondon doesn’t have a true carrying tool.  He’s a contact-oriented hitter that can be a tough out for pitchers as he really battles.  His body is more wiry strength and doesn’t project to hit for much power at the highest level.  He does have above-average speed and should be able to steal 20 bases.  He’s a solid defender with excellent foot work with soft hands and an adequate arm.

If you add it all up, the ceiling is second division starter or a utility player on a playoff-level team.  Assuming health, the Padres will assign him back to San Antonio where he should spend most of the season.  Since the Padres will have to place him on their 40-man roster, there’s a chance he will see a September callup.

Fantasy Impact:  The primary value in rostering Rondon in a fantasy league is the 20 stolen bases he should steal annually.  There will be no power but he does have chance to hit .280.  Even if he gets a starting job, he’s likely an injury fill-in for most fantasy teams.

2016 Emerging Prospect

Logan Allen (LHP)

Logan Allen was the third player included after Margot and Guerra in the Craig Kimbrel haul.  He was taken in the eighth round of the 2015 first year player draft and really pitched well in 2015, albeit a tiny sample size.   In eight starts (24.1 innings), he struck out 26 and walked only one, posting a 1.11 ERA.   While he doesn’t currently throw hard, his body screams projection so the Padres hope that he will add enough velocity to have his fastball sit 91 to 93 MPH in the next couple of years.   If that happens, the arsenal and the mechanics give him a ceiling of a mid-rotation starter.

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