San Diego Padres: Top Five Prospects to Watch in Spring Training
Spring baseball is finally here after a long, dry, and absolutely boring offseason. Sure, the San Diego Padres biggest splash this offseason is clearly them signing Manny Machado to that large contract. However, chances are he probably won’t come into play until the regular season. Spring training is about those guys that have an opportunity to seize to make the opening day roster to fill some perceived holes. This is why a lot of the times the starters from last season don’t even play the entire game, mainly because it doesn’t really matter to the ones that already know they’re in the starting nine come opening day.
Therefore, normally if it was five guys to watch in the regular season, I would be talking about guys like Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers. This piece is different, it’s kind of a fans guide to going to spring training that way you know who to watch for, because they may be your future. Let’s hit the first prospect, shall we?
Francisco Mejia, C/OF:
This prospect currently holds the record for the longest hitting streak in the minor leagues since 1963. In 2016, Francisco got on base in 50 straight games, the streak lasted four months and two different levels of the minors. Did I mention he is a switch hitter? So what makes that streak even more impressive is he did it from both sides of the plate. In the 2016 MLB All-Star Futures game, he was hand-selected as the starting catcher for the world team.
Even with all that success he still wasn’t finished. He ended up earning the Eastern League Rookie of The Year award. In fact, he did all this as a member of the Cleveland Indians organization. He actually came to the San Diego Padres by way of a trade for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. Last season after becoming a member of the Padres organization, he ended up hitting with a .328 batting average in El Paso in 122 at-bats. He’s also starting to learn the outfield as a new position in 2018. Although he is learning the outfield, sources close to the organization say they want to keep him as a catcher
Fernando Tatis Jr., SS:
Last year, MLB.com had this guy number two on their 2018 prospect watch list. He is the son of former 11-year player Fernando Tatis. Fernando came to the Padres by way of the James Shields trade they made with the White Sox in 2016. He burst on the scene with a lot of noise in his first season in single A ball. In 2017, Tatis Jr. became the first 18-year-old in Midwest league to have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Since then he has been wowing the fans of the Padres minor league team, the San Antonio Missions.
In San Antonio, he had a batting average of .286 with 101 hits, 16 homers, and 43 RBIs in 88 He’s ranked as the number one prospect in the San Diego Padres system, number two in the MLB rankings, and the number one shortstop prospect in the entire league. With such high rankings with a lot of important sources, it’s important to watch out for this guy making waves within the organization.
Luis Urias, 2B/SS:
This prospect came in from the Mexican League in 2013. A few years later he was the youngest everyday player on opening day in the California League. When he was 19, Luis won MVP in the California league and their batting title, the following year after that he was chosen as a minor league all-star before eventually showing out at the Arizona Fall League. Last year he batted .296 with 8 homers and 45 RBIs on 133 hits in 120 games. That averages out to at least one hit per game, earning him a .398 on-base percentage. Although he came in as a shortstop, chances are you’ll see him play a lot of second base. Especially after the Padres got Machado. He is ranked 27th on com, 4th in the Padres system, and the number one 2B prospect in the MLB according to MLB.com.
Chris Paddack, RHP:
This guy was originally drafted in the eighth round in 2015 by the Miami Marlins. They believed in him so much they actually paid him $400,000 to tell Texas A&M, forget it, I’m going to the majors. He came to the Padres in a trade for Fernando Rodney on June 30 of the same year. He went down in 2016 and had to get Tommy John surgery that shut him down for all of 2017. Tommy John surgery is one of the hardest things to come back from.
In his 2018 season, he went to the fall instructional league and immediately got moved to the California League where he put up a 2.24 ERA and 84 strikeouts with four walks in 10 starts, earning him a promotion to double-A ball. While at that level of the minors, he had a 1.91 ERA with 7 saves. Experts are saying he may become a good number three or four starter in the league someday. Along with being #35 on MLB’s top 100 list, he is also ranked number five of the top 30 San Diego Padres prospects.
Adrian Morejon, LHP:
Ever since he was a child, he was sought out by international scouts. He played for Cuba’s 12-and-under, 15-and-under, and 18-and-under teams. Adrian earned the title of MVP in the 15-and-under league’s world cup in 2014. Right now he is 20 years old and has a 91-93 fastball with a nasty knuckle change-up and a regular change-up. Some scouts are saying that he faces some issues with his delivery that need cleaning up. There are also some worries about his durability. However, even with those things, there are other scouts that believe with growth in both age and maturity he may be a number one starter in the MLB someday.
The thing about the Padres is that they are a victim of their past failures. They are constantly remembered for their last-place finishes. In other words, they are the Cleveland Browns of the MLB. Let’s get real for a second, they have some of the worst seasons the past few years. But, there are a few other teams that have had similar stretches, the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs. Teams that have spent years building and putting the time into their guys and eventually growing into some of the best teams in baseball. From the outside looking in, it looks like the Padres have followed suit. So if you get the opportunity, go and check out spring training. Cause chances are, you are going to be watching some future superstars and not even know it.
How do you feel about the San Diego Padres heading into 2019? Leave a comment below.
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Photo Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre