Under General Manager A.J. Preller the Padres have been building their minor league system, stocking it with guys they think (hope) will be impact Major Leaguers. It would appear that folks around baseball believe it is working.
Baseball America, a well-respected baseball publication, revealed its Top-100 MLB Prospects of 2018 list on Monday and San Diego was well-represented. The Friars placed six players in the top 66, the most they've had since BA started putting this list together in 1990. Only the Atlanta Braves have more with seven in the top 65 and eight on the list in all.
Here’s the list of Padres in the Top-100:
9) Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
The shortstop stud burst onto the scene with a mammoth year at Low-A Fort Wayne and Double-A San Antonio. After becoming the youngest player in Midwest League history to have a 20-20 season (20 home runs and 20 steals) Tatis was promoted to the Texas League in time for a playoff push. After a few games to adjust he performed well enough to hit leadoff for the Missions in the post-season. He finished the playoffs with a .350 average and scored a run in every game. Tatis made the biggest jump of any prospect in the Top-100. Keep in mind last year he was not even on the list. Tatis received a Major League Spring Training invitation, an impressive feat for a guy who just turned 19 years old on January 2.
26) MacKenzie Gore, LHP
San Diego made Gore the 3rd overall pick in the 2017 Draft and he immediately lived up to his substantial hype. Over seven starts in the Arizona Rookie League Gore, who will turn 19 in February, struck out 34 batters in 21.1 innings with just seven walks. Those are impressive numbers, which was to be expected when you look at the way he finished his high school career. In his senior year Gore had a ludicrous 0.19 ERA, striking out 158 hitters in 74.1 innings. The truly breathtaking number is five. That’s the number of walks he issued and the number of complete games he threw en route to being named the Baseball America and Gatorade Player of the Year.
28) Michel Baez, RHP
Gore is a big kid at 6-foot-2 and he gives up half a foot to Baez. A Cuban import who signed for a $3 million international bonus, Baez is 6-foot-8 and at 220 pounds still filling out his frame. Baez, who just turned 22 years old, made 10 starts at Fort Wayne and dominated Midwest League hitters with 82 strikeouts against just eight walks in 58.2 innings. His fastball sits in the mid-90’s and can touch 98 MPH. He’ll likely start the year in Single-A Lake Elsinore but don’t’ be surprised to see him move quickly though the system.
32) Luis Urias, INF
Another young infielder (he’ll go to Major League Spring Training at the age of 20), Urias has hit at every level of the minor leagues. In 2016 he was the California League MVP and Rookie of the Year as an 18-year-old. The native of Sonora, Mexico, followed that up with an All-Star nod last year at Double-A. A career .310 hitter in the minors, Urias is not going to be a big power threat but his hit tool will allow him to get on base and score a ton of runs. Urias can play second base or shortstop and is the closest position player the Padres have to being ready for the big leagues.
52) Cal Quantrill, RHP
The Padres’ 1st round pick in the 2016 Draft is coming off his first full professional season. Quantrill missed his final year at Stanford recovering from Tommy John surgery and spent most of 2017 regaining his old form. Actually, he may be even better now. Quantrill’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90’s and it has natural sink to it. His best pitch is an advanced changeup and he’s working to improve a third pitch which right now is a slider. He threw 116.0 innings between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio and while the numbers were not stellar (he had a 3.80 ERA between the two stops) he says he was figuring out what he can and can’t get away with as a professional. He earned his engineering degree from Stanford so expect Cal to be able to make adjustments quickly.
66) Adrian Morejon, LHP
Another Cuban starting pitcher, Morejon signed for a massive $11 million bonus on the international market. The 18-year-old started the year with the short-season Tri-City Dust Devils and threw well enough to earn a promotion to Fort Wayne, where he was the 3rd-youngest pitcher in the league. He had a little bought of wildness, walking 13 in 27.2 innings, but showed swing-and-miss stuff with a mid-90’s fastball and a solid curve. In 2017 was about getting his feet wet in professional baseball then 2018 will be about seeing how far he can advance.
For the full list of Baseball America’s Top-100 MLB Prospects of 2018 click here.