San Diego Padres Top 10 Midseason Prospects
As the Padres hurtle toward their eighth straight losing season, the franchise is again looking to the future.
But it’s no longer the long-term future they are looking at. It’s the short-term.
Padres managing partner Peter Seidler has repeatedly said he expects the team to contend for the postseason by 2019. General manager A.J. Preller boldly stated that this year would be the last the Padres would pick in the top 10 of the draft.
The expectation is things will turn upward, and shortly.
To that end, the Padres traded All-Star closer Brad Hand and rookie reliever Adam Cimber to the Indians for a hitter who can help them soon in top prospect Francisco Mejia. Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen are two other relievers popular in trade discussions, but both are signed into 2019 and could be kept with the Padres attempting to compete by then. Tyson Ross is another starter they have to dangle to contenders.
The Padres are past the mass asset-collection stage of their rebuild, and have moved onto the "shaping the big league roster” stage.
Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe, Dinelson Lamet, Franchy Cordero, Eric Lauer, Joey Lucchesi and Phil Maton have all been brought up to play their first full major league seasons the last two years. Combined with the franchise-record $144 million contract given to Eric Hosmer last offseason and the contract extension for Wil Myers, the Padres have an under-30 group of players they believe will be their talent base to contend. Now it’s a matter of filling in the gaps, with Mejia, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias, on standby in the high minors.
With a farm system that’s already one of the best in baseball, the Padres feel no pressure to add more high-upside, low-level prospects. Now it’s about finding players who will help them contend for the postseason, and soon.
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- RHP Luis Patino has increased his fastball velocity from 90-95 mph to 93-98 mph while adding a power slider in the 87-90 mph range. His curveball has also jumped forward and his changeup is flashing above-average, making him the rare 18-year old with power stuff and a well-rounded pitch mix.
- OF Buddy Reed got lower in his stance, choked up and shortened his stroke to create a more direct swing path to the ball, and the result was more contact than ever and the lead in the California League batting title race before a promotion to Double-A San Antonio.
- RHP Reggie Lawson introduced a changeup this season to give him a third pitch and has found consistency with his fastball command, giving him the foundation for a breakout campaign.
- C Austin Allen came into camp leaner and gained a slight uptick in bat speed as a result, allowing him to get to his power against Double-A pitching and prove his bat plays at higher levels. His leaner frame has also allowed him to get out of his crouch faster and increase his caught stealing rate from 21 to 33 percent.
- LHP Osvaldo Hernandez leads the organization in ERA (1.97) as a "kitchen sink”– type pitcher. The crafty 20-year-old Cuban throws just about every pitch in the book, headlined by a low 90s fastball and a true 12-to-6 curveball.
- SS Gabriel Arias developed a bat wrap after finding power in the Australian Winter League, and the result has an enormous amount of chasing and overswinging. He’s batting .217 with one home run.
- 3B Luis Almanzar continues to show a polished approach at the plate but lacks the strength to drive or impact the ball when he gets his pitch. He’s batting .173 and has enormous gains to make in both his strength and bat speed.
- RHP Mason Thompson lost a few ticks of velocity after repeated arm injuries and now sits 89-92 mph, with his curveball and changeup inconsistent. He had a 5.30 ERA as a starter in low Class A and went back on the disabled list July 20 with a triceps strain.
- SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (fractured thumb) will miss the rest of the season but will be back for the start of 2019.
- LHP Adrian Morejon (flexor soreness) has not pitched since June 15 but the Padres don’t consider it serious and expect him back before the end of July.
- RHP Anderson Espinoza (Tommy John surgery) has played catch up to 120 feet and is scheduled to get on a mound for the first time in the coming weeks. Fall instructional league remains the tentative target for him to return to full action.
- RHP Andres Munoz (elbow) had a platelet-rich plasma injection in March was held back in extended spring training to recover. He made his season debut on June 15.
- LHPs Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer have both moved into the Padres rotation and are taking regular turns. Lucchesi was 4-5, 3.34 and Lauer was 5-6, 4.87 at the All-Star break.
- OF Franchy Cordero took over as the Padres starting left fielder before a forearm injury sent him disabled list in May. A bone spur was found in his elbow during rehab in late June and he will miss extended time after having surgery.
- 3B Christian Villanueva won the Padres starting third base job and leads all rookies with 19 home runs, although after a hot April he hit just .197/.235/.399 from May through the All-Star break.
- RHP Adam Cimber won the final bullpen spot on the Opening Day roster and delivered a 3.15 ERA with 51 strikeouts and 10 walks in 48.1 innings, making him a target for the Indians to acquire along with Brad Hand.