The 2015 San Diego Padres Top 10 Prospects

Announcement: For my analysis – including Ranking the Top 250 Prospects, Ranking the Farm systems, and in-depth commentary for over 900 minor leaguers – check out my book, The 2015 Prospect Digest Handbook, now available on Amazon!

For an explanation on the CAL, the Comparison And Likeness prospect classification system I derived, click here.





1.  Matt Wisler, RHP

Born: 09/12/92  Age: 22   Height: 6-3   Weight: 195  B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Tyler Skaggs, Eduardo Rodriguez, Jair Jurrjens, Randall Delgado, Jonathon Niese
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2013 20 A+ 31.0 2.03 3.06 8.1 23.5% 1.7 5.0% 0.29 79.7%
2013 20 AA 105.0 3.00 2.79 8.8 24.7% 2.3 6.5% 0.60 74.9%
2014 21 AA 30.0 2.10 2.25 10.5 29.2% 1.8 5.0% 0.60 85.6%
2014 21 AAA 116.7 5.01 5.14 7.8 19.7% 2.8 7.0% 1.47 71.5%

Background: Plucked out of Bryan HS (Bryan, OH) in the seventh round four year ago, the Wisler Express momentarily stalled in Class AAA last season after blowing through three levels the previous two years. San Diego has aggressively pushed the young right-hander through the minor leagues, having him essentially make his pro debut in the Midwest League and then splitting his time between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio at the age of 20.

Wisler, who stands a sturdy 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, began last season by rattling off six more impressive starts in the Texas League (30.0 IP, 35 punch outs, and just six free passes) before convincing the front office he was ready for the next stop. And while he still managed to post some promising peripherals, especially as a 21-year-old in the PCL, Wisler’s season was ultimately plagued by his propensity for surrendering the homerun ball, something unseen since entering professional ranks.

Wisler finished his first go-round in Class AAA with an unsightly 5.01 ERA and an equally unsightly 5.14 FIP to go along with 101 strikeouts and 36 walks in 116.2 innings.

Projection: Overlooked because some of his more famous counterparts – Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley, Robert Stephenson, etc… – Wisler’s production largely measures up with the best of them. And the homerun spike in the PCL last season – he coughed up 19 in 116.2 innings, eight more than he surrendered in his previous 280.0 innings – should prove to be an anomaly. A strong feel for the mound with a solid ability to miss bats, Wisler should develop into a #2/#3-type arm.

Ceiling:  3.5-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  2015



2.  Austin Hedges, C

Born: 08/18/92  Age: 22   Height: 6-1   Weight: 190   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: J.R. Murphy, Alex Monsalve, Austin Romine, A.J. Jimenez, Roberto Pena
2012 19 A 373 .279 .334 .451 .785 .172 6.20% 16.60% 119
2013 20 A+ 266 .270 .343 .425 .768 .155 8.30% 16.90% 102
2013 20 AA 75 .224 .297 .269 .566 .045 8.00% 12.00% 61
2014 21 AA 457 .225 .268 .321 .589 .096 5.00% 19.50% 67

Background: Widely lauded for his defensive aptitude, Hedges, who’s allowed just 29 passed balls in 292 games and has thrown out 34% would-be base stealers while working with young, often wild hurlers, struggled mightily with the stick last season, his first stint in Class AA. The then-21-year-old backstop got off to a sluggish April (.220/.256/.305), rebounded nicely in May (.286/.350/.495), and completely tanked the rest of the way, hitting .205/.242/.264 over his final 66 games. Defensively, though, he was a sturdy as ever, nailing 38% of would-be thieves.

The 2014 season marked the first time for the former second round pick that he failed to tally a Weighted Runs Created Plus north of 100 at a stop in which he received more than 100 plate appearances. And for his career, Hedges owns a .251/.311/.382 triple-slash line.

Projection: Defensively, Hedges could step in right now and command the respect of a veteran-laden pitching staff. However, typical of most barely-20-something-year-old catchers, the bat is lagging behind, though there’s plenty of optimism to believe it will develop into at least a league average tool. Prior to the year, Hedges flashed above-average power, decent patience, and solid contact skills. He may never been a star, but Hedges should develop into an all-around contributor.

Ceiling:  3.0-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  Late 2015/Early 2016



3.  Hunter Renfroe, RF

Born: 01/28/92  Age: 23   Height: 6-1   Weight: 200   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Zoilo Almonte, Christian Marrero, Mike Daniel, Brandon Jones, Jacob Brugman
2013 21 A- 111 .308 .333 .510 .843 .202 4.50% 23.40% 142
2013 21 A 72 .212 .268 .379 .646 .167 5.60% 31.90% 77
2014 22 A+ 316 .295 .370 .565 .935 .270 8.90% 25.60% 137
2014 22 AA 251 .232 .307 .353 .659 .121 10.00% 21.10% 90

Background: No player in the 2013 draft class did more to enhance his stock than Renfroe, the former Mississippi State product who entered his junior season with a forgettable .242/.318/.355 triple-slash line but broke out in a major way when he slugged .345/.416/.620. The Padres would eventually grab Renfroe with the 13th overall pick and send him directly to short-season ball, where he hit .308/.333/.510 in 111 trips to the plate. The organization would then bump him up to the Midwest League for a quick – albeit largely unsuccessful – cup of coffee to finish out the year.

In spite of his lackluster showing with Fort Wayne – he hit .212/.268/.379 – the organization opted to have Renfroe begin the 2014 season in the California League. And he torched the competition, hitting .295/.370/.565 with 21 doubles, three triples, and 16 homeruns. The club bumped him up to the Texas League and for the first time since his sophomore campaign for the Bulldogs, Renfroe struggled for an extended period of time: he hit .232/.307/.353 in 60 games.

Projection: Prior to the 2013 draft I wrote,

“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.”

Fast forward two years and Renfroe certainly looks like a potential above-average regular. He really seemed to tire down the stretch, hitting .218/.298/.300 over his final 29 games. He offers a pretty solid offensive package: better than average pop, a little bit of speed, decent walk rates, and the ability to hit .280-ish. CAL remains unconvinced at this point, largely from his initial struggles in Class AA, but I pegged Renfroe as a three-win player in 2013 so I’ll stick with it for the time being.

Ceiling:  3.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate

MLB ETA:  Late 2015/Early 2016



4.  Taylor Lindsey, 2B

Born: 12/02/91 Age: 23   Height: 6-0   Weight: 195   B/T: L/R                                                        
Top CALs: Marcus Lemon, Kike Hernandez, Justin SellersDavid Nick, Scooter Gennett
2011 19 R 307 .362 .394 .593 .987 .231 4.20% 15.00% 143
2012 20 A+ 589 .289 .328 .408 .736 .119 4.90% 11.20% 91
2013 21 AA 566 .274 .339 .441 .780 .167 8.50% 16.10% 119
2014 22 AAA 492 .238 .306 .372 .678 .134 8.10% 12.00% 74

Background: Well, that was a complete misfire on my behalf. Not only did I list the lefty-swinging second baseman atop the biggest prospect breakouts in last year’s book, but I ranked him as the 76th best prospect in all of baseball. And then Lindsey, the 37th overall pick in 2010, disappointed in his debut in the PCL with the Angels (.247/.323/.400) and then barely hit his body weight when the organization acquired him as part of the Huston Street deal. Overall, he batted .238/.306/.372 with 20 doubles, five triples, 10 homeruns, and seven stolen bases.

Projection: Prior to the deal, a lot of Lindsey’s downturn in production can be attributed to a wonky-ish .267 BABIP. His power, .153 ISO, patience, 9.3%, and strikeout rate, 13.2%, are all in line with his career norms. I’m still a big, big believer in him. If everything break the right way, Lindsey could develop into a better than average bat, something along the lines of 110 wRC+, with solid defense.

Ceiling:  2.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  Late 2015/Early 2016



5.  Zech Lemond, RHP

Born: 10/09/92  Age: 22   Height: 6-1   Weight: 170   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: John Means, Joshua Turley, Earl Oakes, William Anderson, Paul Applebee
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2014 21 A- 38.0 3.79 3.08 8.1 21.4% 1.2 3.1% 0.24 66.5%
2014 21 AA 4.0 0.00 2.12 4.5 14.3% 0.0 0.0% 0.00 100.0%

Background: One of my favorite collegiate hurlers last season. In response to an injury to right-hander Jordan Stephens, the Owls moved the dominant reliever into the rotation and Lemond turned in his best season to date, though he did suffer through some elbow inflammation. In 53.2 innings for Rice, the 6-foot-1 right-hander fanned 52, walked 16, and posted a barely-there 1.33 ERA. San Diego took him in the third round, 86th overall, and sent him to Eugene (38.0 IP, 34 K, 5 BB, and a 3.08 FIP) before promoting him to Class AA for one start.

Projection: I slapped a second round grade on the lanky right-hander, comparing him to southpaw Tony Cingrani, a former Rice University reliever-turned-pro-starting-pitcher. I concluded Lemond’s analysis by writing,

 “[F]or his part, [he’s] been nearly unhittable throughout his entire career, posting a 1.92 ERA while averaging 8.55 K/9 and 2.89 BB/9 in his first 159 innings. He’s going to need to be stretched out and his stamina built up, but there’s really no reason to believe he won’t develop into a good #3-type arm.”

Ceiling:  2.0- to 2.5-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  2017



6.  Alex Dickerson, 1B/RF

Born: 05/26/90  Age: 25   Height: 6-3   Weight: 230   B/T: L/L                                                        
Top CALs: Stephen Head, Daniel Ortiz, Russ Mitchell, Matt Spencer, Erik Lis
2011 21 A- 173 .313 .393 .493 .886 .180 .20% 16.20% 153
2012 22 A+ 541 .295 .353 .451 .803 0.156 .20% 17.20% 127
2013 23 AA 491 .288 .337 .494 .832 .206 .50% 18.10% 126
2014 24 AA 147 .321 .367 .496 .864 .175 .10% 19.00% 146

Background: After torching the collegiate competition for three years, Dickerson, who slugged 47 homeruns with Indiana, including a career best 24 as a sophomore, came back quicker than expected from a severe spring training ankle injury, one that was expected to knock him all for the entire year. And despite missing the opening several months, the lefty-swinging first baseman/corner outfielder hit .321/.367/.496 with 16 extra-base hits in 34 games.

Projection: One has to figure that Dickerson would have likely made his big league debut if not for the injury. He handles both southpaws and right-handers well, hits for above-average power, and will take the occasional walk. CAL doesn’t seem to be overly optimistic, but Dickerson could carve out a role as fringy everyday guy.

Ceiling:  1.5-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  2015



7.  Rymer Liriano, RF

Born: 06/20/91  Age: 24   Height: 6-0   Weight: 230   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Zoilo Almonte, Zach Collier, Shane Peterson, Daryl Jones, Yorman Rodriguez
2012 21 A+ 314 .298 .360 .443 .803 0.145 6.70% 22.00% 108
2012 21 AA 206 .251 .335 .377 .712 0.126 9.70% 24.30% 97
2014 23 AA 415 .264 .335 .442 .777 0.178 8.40% 24.60% 122
2014 23 AAA 71 .452 .521 .661 1.182 0.210 11.30% 19.70% 213

Background: One of the many San Diego prospects to miss a significant amount of time recovering from Tommy John surgery in recent years, Liriano headed back to the Texas League last season and put together a strong, though far from great showing: .264/.335/.442 with 20 doubles, three triples, 14 homeruns, and 17 stolen bases (in 24 attempts) en route to topping the league average offensive production by 22%. He then spent 16 scorching hot games in the PCL (.452/.521/.661) before getting called up to San Diego for the final two months.

Projection: A toolsy outfielder who’s had two dominant seasons (his stateside debut in the Arizona Summer League and his second trip through the Midwest League) and plenty of ho-hum campaigns. At his best, Liriano will flash 20/20 potential, but looks more like a fringy everyday guy on a championship caliber squad. His initial work at the big league level, .220/.289/.266, proved that he needs some more Class AAA seasoning.

Ceiling:  1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk:  Moderate to High

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2014



8.  Cory Spangenberg, 2B

Born: 03/16/91  Age: 24   Height: 6-0   Weight: 190   B/T: L/R                                                        
Top CALs: Yadiel Rivera, Estarlin De Los Santos, Starlin Rodriguez, Kevin Russo, Harold Garcia
2012 21 A+ 426 .271 .324 .352 .675 .081 6.10% 16.90% 78
2013 22 A+ 253 .296 .364 .460 .824 .164 9.10% 20.20% 116
2013 22 AA 319 .289 .331 .366 .697 .077 5.30% 19.10% 98
2014 23 AA 304 .331 .365 .470 .835 .139 4.90% 20.70% 138

Background: A compensation pick for failing to sign star-crossed Karsten Whitson in 2010, Spangenberg was nabbed with the tenth overall selection, just ahead of George Springer, Jose Fernandez, and Sonny Gray among others. For his part, the former Indian River Community College alum slugged a robust .331/.365/.470 in Class AA last season and continued his torrid stretch in his 20-game stint in the big leagues (.290/.313/.452). For his career, Spangenberg owns a .296/.356/.405 minor league triple-slash line.

Projection: The overall toolkit scream future utility role. Spangenberg owns a career .109 Isolated Power with a slightly below-average walk rate, and above-average speed. He has the speed to post some friendly BABIPs, which in turn would boast his overall value.

Ceiling:  1.0- to 1.5-win player

Risk:  Low to Moderate

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2014



9.  Michael Gettys, CF

Born: 10/22/95  Age: 19   Height: 6-1   Weight: 203   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Nick Williams, Alex Llanos, Cesar Puello, Isaiah Yates, Geulin Beltre
2014 18 R 233 .310 .353 .437 .790 .127 6.40% 28.30% 125

Background: The club’s most recent second round pick – and highest owned draft pick from last year’s crop with the supposed trade of Trea Turner to Washington – Gettys, a 6-foot-1, 203-pound center fielder, was taken out of Gainesville HS, home to two-way player Micah Owings, with the 51st pick last June. Gettys began his professional career on a positive note, hitting .310/.353/.437 with 16 extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases (in 16 attempts) in the Arizona Summer League.

Projection: Per the usual for an incoming prep player, the data’s incredibly limited. But Gettys showed a pretty impressive offensive skill set: solid speed and knowingness on when to use it, good pop and a decent eye at the plate. The lone red flag on an otherwise strong debut was his red flag-encroaching K-rate (28.3%).

Ceiling:  Too Soon to Tell

Risk:  N/A




10.  Casey Kelly, RHP

Born: 10/04/89  Age: 25   Height: 6-3   Weight: 210   B/T: R/R                                                        
Top CALs: Edgar Garcia, Carlos Martinez, Jacob Turner, Eddie McKiernan, Allen Webster
YEAR Age Level IP ERA FIP K/9 K% BB/9 BB% HR/9 LOB%
2011 21 AA 142.3 3.98 3.77 6.6 17.1% 2.9 7.5% 0.51 67.9%
2012 22 AA 16.7 3.78 2.62 9.7 28.1% 1.6 4.7% 0.54 51.5%
2012 22 AAA 12.0 2.25 1.58 10.5 29.2% 0.0 0.0% 0.00 76.9%
2014 24 AA 12.0 0.75 2.54 6.0 16.7% 0.8 2.1% 0.00 78.6%

Background: Acquired along with Anthony Rizzo (who would look pretty good in the Padres’ newly-tooled lineup by the way), Reymond Fuentes, and Eric Patterson as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal with Boston in December 2010, Kelly missed all of 2013 courtesy of Tommy John surgery. The former first round pick – and two-way player – originally came back from the injury in early May, throwing 20.1 innings of solid ball split between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio, before being shut down with elbow soreness.

Projection: Kelly, who once flirted (unsuccessfully) with the idea of becoming a shortstop, has now totaled just 87.0 innings since the beginning of 2012. Prior to the injuries/setbacks he flashed a low-90s fastball, curve, and hard mid-80s change up. And I remarked in last year’s book that Kelly “looked like a lite version of [Los Angeles’] Zach Lee.” He flashed above-average control/command and a ton of groundballs (nearly 50% for his career). Here’s hoping to a full recovery.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk:  High

MLB ETA:  Debuted in 2012



**All Statistics Courtesy of FanGraphs**






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