2014 San Diego Padres Top 10 Prospects

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Update: The 2014 Prospect Digest Annual finally hit e-book shelves. Check it out!!! 

After a long delay – something measured in the months, not days –  I have a bit of an announcement to make: I will be publishing the first ever Prospect Digest Annual sometime late January/early February.

The Prospect Digest Annual will feature each organization’s Top 30 Prospects, ranking the farm systems, and several additional articles.

Until the big day happens, I will be posting each organization’s Top 10 Prospects, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks and working through alphabetically. Enjoy!

For more Top Prospects click HERE

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1. Matthew Wisler, Position: RHP, Age: 21

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A+

31.0

2.03

3.15

8.13

1.74

23.5%

5.0%

0.29

41.7%

AA

105.0

3.00

3.15

8.83

2.31

24.7%

6.5%

0.60

37.2%

Profile: A seventh round pick out of Bryan, OH, in 2011, Wisler has made quick work of the lower and middle levels of minor leagues in two seasons. After averaging nearly a punch out per inning with above-average control/command in low Class A in 2012, basically his professional debut, it took just six starts in high Class A to convince the organization he was ready for the Texas League. And boy was he.

Across 105.0 innings with San Antonio, the then-20-year-old struck out 103 and walked just 27 while posting a 3.16 SIERA.  

Analysis: If he’s not big league ready now, then he’s going to be in a matter of weeks. Not sure if the arsenal is “ace” quality, but the fantastic control/command will push him towards that status.

Ceiling: 5.0- to 5.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Above-Average

 

2. Austin Hedges, Position: C, Age: 21

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A+

266

102

.270

.343

.425

8.3%

16.9%

.155

22

1

4

5/9

AA

75

61

.297

.297

.269

8.0%

12.0%

.045

3

0

0

3/4

Profile: Hedges missed the month of May resulting in his second consecutive season of playing fewer than 100 games. The former second round pick was a touch better than league average offensive production in the Cal League, a nice showing for a 20-year-old backstop. His overall numbers in San Antonio tanked the end result quite a bit, though. Defensively, however, he’s nearing big league readiness.

Analysis: In his 162 games between low Class A and high Class A, Hedges slugged 50 doubles, suggesting that his solid-average power that could develop into 20+ HR territory down the line. Nice patience. Strong contact skills. And, again, the defense is going to be an above-average or better asset.

Hedges is a potential All Star, a middle-order-of-the-lineup bat that should top league average production on both sides of the ball. Brian McCann offensive upside.

Ceiling: 4.5- to 5.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

3. Franmil Reyes, Position: LF/RF, Age: 18

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

RK

186

139

.315

.387

.467

10.8%

21.0%

.152

12

2

3

5/10

A-

45

49

.205

.222

.295

2.2%

22.2%

.091

1

0

1

0/0

Profile: Reyes isn’t your typical 17-year-old prospect. The Dominican-born corner outfielder already stands an impressive 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds. And after topping the DSL average production by 27% as a 16-year-old two years ago, Reyes upped the ante during his first stint in Arizona Summer League.

Reyes hit .315/.387/.467 with 12 doubles, a pair of triples, and three homeruns en route to posting a wRC+ of 139. His line drive rate, 19.4%, was the seventh highest in the AZL, and it was the only LD-rate above 16.2% by a 17-year-old.

Analysis: This is the single most aggressive ranking I’ve made in the entire book. Bar. None. But there’s something about this kid. The size. The age. The line drive rate and subsequent untapped power. The patience.

The groundball rate – 51.6% – is quite high but watch out when he starts to elevate the ball more often.

I’ll be the first to admit that my aggressive ranking could completely discredit everything else I’ve written in this book. He’s an extreme long shot. But I like the kid – a lot.

Ceiling: 4.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

4. Burch Smith, Position: RHP, Age: 24

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

31.1

1.15

2.19

10.63

1.72

31.4%

5.1%

0.29

49.3%

AAA

61.0

3.39

2.98

9.59

2.51

26.3%

6.9%

0.59

37.8%

Profile: Made a quick rise through the system last year, Smith began the season by making six starts in the Texas League, 12 starts in PCL, and 36.1 more innings in San Diego. 

Analysis: The minor league numbers – 9.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a tidy 2.79 SIERA – and quick ascension up the ladder all suggest elite potential. The low 90s heater says something else, something like mid rotation, maybe peaking as a fringy #2.  

Ceiling: 3.5- to 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

5. Max Fried, Position: LHP, Age: 20

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

A

118.2

3.49

3.97

7.58

4.25

20.0%

11.2%

0.53

54.2%

Profile: The first southpaw taken in the 2012 draft, Fried, the seventh overall pick, had a decent showing in the Midwest League, missing a handful of bats, allowing a few too many free passes, but generated a ton of action on the groundball (54.2%).

Analysis: Fried seemingly wore down at the end of the season, despite the club’s careful monitoring. April through the end of July, he tossed 86.1 innings with 81 strikeouts and 42 walks. Those numbers are more indicative of his actually ceiling. Note front-of-the-rotation-type ability. Something between a #2/3.

Ceiling: 4.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Low to Moderate

 

6. Keyvius Sampson, Position: RHP, Age: 23  

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

AA

103.1

2.26

3.06

9.58

2.87

26.8%

8.0%

0.78

41.1%

AAA

38.0

7.11

5.87

5.92

6.87

13.7%

15.9%

1.18

33.1%

Profile: The knock on Sampson thus far has been some questionable control. For the first time in his five-year career, the former fourth rounder posted a sub 3.0 BB/9 – at least temporarily. After walking 33 in 103.1 innings, the wheels just fell off. FELL. OFF.

Sampson walked 29 in 38 innings in the PCL. Ouch.

Analysis: There’s been a whole helluva lot of talk among the blogosphere about Sampson potentially moving to a bullpen spot. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. A high leverage reliever isn’t nearly as valuable as even a league average starting pitcher, something that Sampson should easily surpass. Another solid mid rotation arm.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

7. Casey Kelly, Position: RHP, Age: 24

Level

IP

ERA

SIERA

K/9

BB/9

K%

BB%

HR/9

GB%

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Profile: Kelly, who was acquired in the Adrian Gonzalez deal with Boston in 2010, missed all last season due to a frumpy elbow needing Tommy John surgery. Prior to the injury, Kelly looked like a lite version of LA’s Zack Lee, a right-hander with an average-ish fastball, poise, and command.

Analysis: Assuming Kelly makes a full recovery, he should slide into the middle of the Padres’ rotation in another year or so. Strong groundball totals and control with decent K-rates.

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

8. Hunter Renfroe, Position: RF, Age: 22

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

A-

111

142

.308

.333

.510

4.5%

23.4%

.202

9

0

2

2/2

A

72

77

.212

.268

.379

5.6%

31.9%

.167

5

0

4

0/0

Profile: Renfroe went from a nondescript outfielder on Mississippi State to the 13th overall pick last season after hitting .345/.431/.620 with 35 extra-base hits during his final season. He destroyed short-season pitching to the tune of .308/.333/.510, but struggled in an 18-game stint in low Class A.

Analysis: Pre-draft evaluation: “Having spent some time behind the plate as well as on the mound, Renfroe is certainly one of the more athletic prospects in the collegiate class. But with that being said, there’s a rather sizeable risk given that his production is relegated to this year. Still, though, he could be an above-average regular, maybe similar to a Hunter Pence or so.”

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

9. Rymer Liriano, Position: RF, Age: 23

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Profile: Missed the entire year due to reconstructive elbow surgery – also known as Tommy John surgery – after feeling a pop while playing long toss. Prior to the boo-boo, Liriano split his 2012 season between high Class A and Class AA, essentially producing around the leagues average.

Analysis: Overrated. Liriano has shown spurts of solid-average power combined with decent walk rates and plus speed, but his overall production from 2012 – .280/.350/.417 – hardly screams superstar. Now he’s lost a year of development. Liriano’s a nice prospect, maybe capable of posting a 3.0-win season, but he’s not going to be an All Star.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate

 

10. Alex Dickerson, Position: 1B/RF, Age: 24

Level

PA

wRC+

AVG

OBP

SLG

BB%

K%

ISO

2B

3B

HR

SB/AT

AA

491

126

.288

.337

.494

5.5%

18.1%

.206

36

3

17

13/23

Profile: Acquired for serviceable fourth outfield prospect Jaff Decker, Dickerson had a nice little showing in the Eastern League in 2013, hitting .288/.337/.494 while slugging a career best 56 extra-base hits. The former third round pick (2011) topped the EL average production by 26%.

Analysis: A better prospect than the player he was exchanged for, Dickerson’s power could develop into a 20-HR territory given his doubles totals and solid line-drive (15.3%) and fly ball (32.4%) rates.  A nice little #5/6-type hitter.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate to Above-Average

 

 



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.


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