Spring Training is quickly approaching, and although the spotlight will soon be on the Padres big league club, the organization’s minor league system has received some well-deserved recognition from prospect evaluators in the past few weeks.
Last Monday, Baseball America revealed their top 100 MLB prospects for the 2018 baseball season. The Padres had six players crack the list in total, which was second only to the Atlanta Braves (who had eight):
- LHP Adrian Morejon (66)
- RHP Cal Quantrill (52)
- 2B Luis Urias (32)
- RHP Michel Baez (28)
- LHP MacKenzie Gore (26)
- SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (9)
Then, this past Saturday, MLB Pipeline unveiled their top 100 MLB prospects. The Padres had seven players on this list:
- RHP Anderson Espinoza (89)
- LHP Adrian Morejon (50)
- RHP Michel Baez (42)
- RHP Cal Quantrill (40)
- 2B Luis Urias (36)
- LHP MacKenzie Gore (19)
- SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (8)
-Still only 19 (he will turn 20 in March), RHP Anderson Espinoza was acquired for Drew Pomeranz in the middle of the 2016 season. He was highly regarded in the Red Sox organization at the time, and had a solid half-season debut in the Padres organization. Entering 2017, he was expected to highlight a very good Lake Elsinore rotation. However, he reported right forearm tightness a few days before Opening Day and ended up needing Tommy John surgery in early August. If all goes well, Espinoza may return to in-game action in the fall of 2018, but 2019 seems like a surer bet.
-Cuban LHP Adrian Morejon was signed by the Padres for a historic $11 million dollars in June of 2016 as a 17-year-old. He made his stateside debut in 2017 as an 18-year-old. Bouncing around short season Tri-City and Class A Fort Wayne, Morejon registered a 3.86 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched.
-Drafted with the 8th overall pick in the 2016 MLB First Year Player Draft, RHP Cal Quantrill reached AA ball in 2017. In 116 innings between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio, Quantrill struck out 110 hitters with a 3.80 ERA. Perhaps more importantly, he was able to stay healthy in what was his first full season of pitching since 2014.
Cal Quantrill finished his first half in the Cal League strong; @KyleAGlaser gathered 📽️ of him. pic.twitter.com/GFsLrHFWxx
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 19, 2017
-Like Morejon, 6’8″ Michel Baez was signed by the Padres as part of their 2016 international free agent class. Although Baez did not sign for as much as Morejon ($3 million), he impressed in his first professional season. Flashing a high-90s fastball, the 22-year-old struck out 82 in just 58 2/3 innings at Class A Fort Wayne. Opposing hitters hit only .192 against Baez, who may very well skip Lake Elsinore and begin 2018 with AA San Antonio.
The 6-foot-8 Cuban right-hander who struck out 82 hitters in 58 innings with the @TinCaps.
Get to know #PadresOnDeck prospect, @BaezCruz1! pic.twitter.com/5Ny07e3BdC
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 30, 2017
-2B Luis Urias started out scorching hot in AA in 2017, but a couple of nagging injuries caused him to fall off the pace a bit- although he still put up impressive numbers. The 20 year old hit .296 with a .398 OBP; walking more times (68) than he struck out (65). Following the season, Urias packed his bags and headed to Arizona to play in the Arizona Fall League, where he played both middle infield positions and was named to the All-AFL team. MLB.com has listed him as the second-best 2B prospect in all of baseball.
-LHP MacKenzie Gore was drafted 3rd overall by the Padres in the 2017 draft, and he has already vaulted up to being named MLB.com’s best LHP prospect. The 2017 Gatorade National Player of the Year drew rave reviews in rookie ball with the AZL Padres. He has drawn comparisons to Cole Hamels and stands to make his pro ball debut to open 2018.
Two 18-year-old #Padres prospects are on our Top 10 LHP list, including No. 1 MacKenzie Gore, who posted a 1.27 ERA in his 1st pro season. Cuban lefty Adrian Morejon is No. 6: https://t.co/DE0ZcuLlUm pic.twitter.com/RagfgCkiDr
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) January 17, 2018
-SS Fernando Tatis Jr. is the highest ranked prospect the Padres have had since Sean Burroughs. Acquired by the Padres as part of the James Shields trade, Tatis Jr. hit a franchise-record 21 home runs with a .910 OPS for the Fort Wayne TinCaps– at the age of 18. He was promoted to San Antonio near the end of the season to aid the Missions’ playoff run, and more than held his own there against older competition. He figures to start 2018 in San Antonio, with eyes on breaking through to the big leagues sometime in 2019.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Spring Training on February 14, and the first Spring Training game will be played on February 23.