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The 2016 San Diego Padres Top 10 Prospects

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1. Hunter Renfroe, RF                                              
Born: 01/28/92 Age: 24 Bats: R Top CALs: Matt Spencer, Brandon Jones,

Zoilo Almonte, Edgardo Baez, Quincy Latimore

Height: 6-1 Weight: 215 Throws: R
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 21 A- 111 9 0 4 0.308 0.333 0.510 0.202 4.5% 23.4% 142
2014 22 A+ 316 21 3 16 0.295 0.370 0.565 0.270 8.9% 25.6% 137
2014 22 AA 251 12 0 5 0.232 0.307 0.353 0.121 10.0% 21.1% 90
2015 23 AA 463 22 3 14 0.259 0.313 0.425 0.166 7.1% 24.2% 103
2015 23 AAA 95 5 2 6 0.333 0.358 0.633 0.300 4.2% 21.1% 158

Background: Sandwiched between a couple disappointing first rounders, Seattle’s D.J. Peterson and Pittsburgh’s Reese McGuire, Renfroe – who was taken with the 13th overall pick in the 2013 draft – was thrust into the spotlight after an out-of-nowhere junior campaign for Mississippi State University. Renfroe hit a respectable .271/.308/.459 during stops in the Northwest and Midwest Leagues during his debut. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound corner outfielder followed that up with a dominant 69-game run as the club aggressively pushed him up to High Class A for the start of the 2014 season, hitting .295/.370/.565 with 21 doubles, three triples, 16 homeruns, and nine stolen bases. And that’s where the string of dominance promptly ended – at least for a while.

San Diego promoted Renfroe up to the Texas League in mid-June, but he managed to only cobble together a lowly .232/.307/.353 triple-slash line. He would find himself back in Class AA for another extended stint to start last season, though the results were only modestly better: .259/.313/.425 with a 103 wRC+. Renfroe would also make a (dominant) 21-game appearance in Class AAA, which undoubtedly helped buoy his overall yearly production.

Projection: Here’s the thing about Class AA: it’s the single most difficult challenge for a minor league prospect. It’s literally the make it or break it level – bar none. So, with that being said, it’s not overly surprisingly when a player struggles in their first initial run at the level, a la Renfroe, which he certainly did. But here’s the thing: something clicked in the former Bulldog after disappointing for more than 100 games in the Texas League and he put together a rather impressive run once the calendar flipped to June last year, hitting .283/.337/.494 in 276 plates.

For those counting at home, he finished the year by slugging .296/.342/.531 with 16 doubles, five triples, and 18 homeruns in his last 88 games. And let’s not forget that after leaving college Renfroe spent all of 112 games before making his way up to Class AA. It looks like he just needed a bit of time to get acclimated to the league.

He’s not going to be a perennial All-Star caliber bat, but he should settle in as a slightly better-than-average regular.

Finally, here’s what I wrote prior to the 2013 draft:

“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-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2016

 

2. Manuel Margot, CF                                     
Born: 09/28/94 Age: 21 Bats: R Top CALs: Jae-Hoon Ha, Albert Almora,

Gerardo Parra, Max Kepler, Shannon Wilkerson

Height: 5-11 Weight: 170 Throws: R
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 18 A- 216 8 2 1 0.270 0.346 0.351 0.081 10.2% 18.5% 113
2014 19 A 413 20 5 10 0.286 0.355 0.449 0.162 9.0% 11.9% 125
2015 20 A+ 198 6 5 3 0.282 0.321 0.420 0.138 5.6% 7.6% 114
2015 20 AA 282 21 4 3 0.271 0.326 0.419 0.147 7.4% 12.8% 113

Background: In a matter of 12 or so months Padres General Manager A.J. Preller has taken the franchise from the brink of despair to the talk of the town as a potential playoff contender and then back down to complete rebuild status – enter Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, and a couple of minor league wild cards. Preller, who would eventually acquire veteran ace reliever Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton’s albatross of a contract in early April, turned around and dealt the dominant reliever to Boston for the quartet of prospects in November. Margot, a wiry, quick-twitch center fielder out of the Dominican Republic, has proven to be an offensive force during his four-year tour through the low levels of the minor leagues. He would slug .285/.382/.423 as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League and handled his promotion to short-season ball a year later with aplomb. He followed that up with a strong showing two years ago between the Sally and Carolina League, hitting .293/.356/.462. Last season, his final as a member in the Red Sox system, Margot – once again – split time between two different levels. He opened up the year by hitting .282/.321/.420 with Salem in High Class A and posted a nearly identical triple-slash line, .271/.326/.419, in the Eastern League.

Projection: Ignoring the tons – and tons ­– of lost money the organization agreed to take on with the additional of Melvin Upton’s hapless bat, the Padres actually did quite well in the Kimbrel trade. They dealt away Matt Wisler, a backend starter, Carlos Quentin, who eventually retired before appearing in a game for Atlanta, Cameron Maybin, who’s more of an overpaid fourth outfielder now, and Jordan Paroubeck, a 2013 second round pick who has yet to make it above the rookie leagues. And in their place – or eventual place – San Diego added a pair of promising young hitters in Margot and Javier Guerra.

Margot has the foundation – though it’s not fully developed – in place to become a dynamic big league bat. He’s show average power against much older competition with the potential to grow into 15 to 20 homeruns down the line. He combines that with above-average speed, a solid eye, and a hit tool that could develop into .300 down the line.

Ceiling: 3.0- to 3.5-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2016/2017

 

3. Javier Guerra, SS                                                
Born: 09/25/95 Age: 20 Bats: L Top CALs: Richard Urena, Kenneth People-Walls,

Arismendy Alcantara, Yamaico Navarro, Luis Palacios

Height: 5-11 Weight: 155 Throws: R
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 17 R 253 9 0 0 0.248 0.356 0.290 0.043 13.0% 15.8% 103
2014 18 R 207 14 4 2 0.269 0.286 0.408 0.139 2.4% 20.3% 97
2015 19 A 477 23 3 15 0.279 0.329 0.449 0.171 6.3% 23.5% 119

Background: Another part of the package received from Boston in the Craig Kimbrel deal. Guerra, a 5-foot-11, 155-pound lefty-swinging shortstop out of Panama, originally signed with the Red Sox back in 2012 for a quarter-million dollars – a pittance given his offensive potential. He looked a bit overmatched during his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League three years ago, hitting .248/.356/.290, but he’s made steady progress as he’s moved stateside into the Gulf Coast and eventually up to the Sally. In 116 games with Greensville last season, Guerra slugged .279/.329/.449 with career highs in doubles (23) and homeruns (15) while adding a trio of triples and seven stolen bases (in 16 attempts). According to Weighted Runs Created Plus, his overall production topped the league average mark by 19% last season.

Projection: Consider the following: the last time a 19-year-old shortstop slugged at least 15 dingers in a season in the South Atlantic League was four years ago when Colorado’s Trevor Story and Pittsburgh’s Alen Hanson accomplished the feat (18 and 16, respectively). Overall, San Diego’s shiny new prospect finished the year tied for seventh in the league in long balls last season. Guerra showed a tremendous amount of development as his plate discipline jumped from a lowly 2.4% up to an average-ish 6.3%; his power leapt up into above-average territory. It’ll be interesting how the organization handles two potential solid shortstop prospects – both of whom are ready for High Class A. The other, of course, being Ruddy Giron.

Ceiling: 3.0-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2018

 

4. Ruddy Giron, SS                                                  
Born: 01/04/97 Age: 19 Bats: R Top CALs: Paul Kelly, Gleyber Torres,

Chris Owings, Wilmer Flores, Jake Hager

Height: 5-11 Weight: 175 Throws: R
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2014 17 R 198 10 0 0 0.168 0.205 0.222 0.054 4.0% 21.2% 29
2015 18 A 419 12 4 9 0.285 0.335 0.407 0.122 6.9% 16.2% 116

Background: Signed for a relatively meager amount – at least in terms of baseball dollars – of $600,000 in early July three years, Giron proven to be an incredible bargain for the Friars – especially after his putrid showing in the Arizona Summer League in 2014. Last season, though, San Diego made the incredibly bold move by pushing the then-18-year-old shortstop up to South Atlantic League – despite hitting a lowly .168/.205/.222 with just 10 doubles in 198 plate appearances the year before. And it looks like an absolute stroke of genius for the player development program. In 96 games with the Fort Wayne Tin Caps, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound shortstop slugged an impressive .285/.335/.407 with 12 doubles, four triples, nine homeruns, and 15 stolen base (though, it took 29 attempts to get there). His overall production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, topped the league average mark by 16%.

Projection: A couple things:

  • First, prorating his counting stats to a 162-game season: 20 doubles, seven triples, 15 homeruns, and 25 stolen bases.
  • Second, here are some interesting facts about Giron:
    • Among all shortstops in the South Atlantic League with 400 plate appearances last season, Giron finished tied for second in homeruns with nine.
    • The last time an 18-year-old shortstop slugged at least nine homeruns in the Midwest League was some guy named Carlos Correa three years ago.
    • Taking it one more step further, Giron and Correa are the only two 18-year-olds to slug nine dingers in a Midwest League season since 2006.

Needless to say, Giron’s encroaching on some incredibly interesting territory as a prospect. The power could prove to be an above-average, repeatable skill down the line, with above-average speed, a solid hit tool, and a not-so-terrible eye at the plate. He’s very, very, VERY underrated as a prospect.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2018

 

5. Travis Jankowski, CF                                    
Born: 06/15/91 Age: 25 Bats: L Top CALs: Brian Horwitz, Billy Burns,

Javon Moran, Brandon Roberts, Kyle Wren

Height: 6-2 Weight: 190 Throws: R
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 22 A+ 556 19 6 1 0.286 0.356 0.355 0.069 9.7% 17.3% 93
2014 23 AA 112 4 1 0 0.240 0.297 0.300 0.060 7.1% 12.5% 72
2015 24 AA 321 11 5 1 0.316 0.395 0.401 0.085 11.2% 12.5% 127
2015 24 AAA 113 6 2 0 0.392 0.464 0.495 0.103 11.5% 8.8% 164
2015 24 MLB 96 2 2 2 0.211 0.245 0.344 0.133 4.2% 25.0% 62

Background: A supplemental pick in the first round in the famed 2012 draft, Jankowski, the 44th overall pick that year, made up for a lost 2014 season with a strong showing in the Texas League and torching the Pacific Coast League following a late-season promotion. The speedy center, who missed all but 46 games two years ago courtesy of a broken wrist suffered during an unbelievable catch, hit a combined .335/.413/.425 with 17 doubles, a career high seven triples, one dinger (which tied a career high), and 32 stolen bases in 43 attempts. His overall production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, topped the league average mark by 37%. And for his minor league career Jankowski is sporting a decent .293/.360/.369 triple-slash line. He would also appear in 34 games with the big league club, hitting a paltry .211/.245/.344.

Projection: Jankowski’s breakout season was buoyed – greatly – by his ridiculous, ungodly 24-game stint in the PCL last season (.392/.464/.495) which, of course, was on the back of an unsustainable .432 BABIP. But that wasn’t the only fluky part of his season: in 326 minor league games he’s slugged three homeruns; in 34 games with the Padres he slugged two. Jankowski’s greatest asset is his speed, an above-average to plus-skill which helps him on the base paths and in the field (obviously). The hit tool is pretty good, but, again, the power is next to nil. He might be able to carve out a couple league-average seasons, but don’t expect too much more.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk: Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2015

 

6. Alex Dickerson, 1B/LF/RF                                      
Born: 05/26/90 Age: 26 Bats: L Top CALs: Allen Craig, Johan Limonta,

Ryan Rua, Rebel Ridling, Mark Canha

Height: 6-3 Weight: 230 Throws: L
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 23 AA 491 36 3 17 0.288 0.337 0.494 0.206 5.5% 18.1% 126
2014 24 AA 147 11 2 3 0.321 0.367 0.496 0.175 6.1% 19.0% 146
2015 25 AAA 519 36 9 12 0.307 0.374 0.503 0.196 8.7% 18.5% 132
2015 25 MLB 8 0 0 0 0.250 0.250 0.250 0.000 0.0% 37.5% 38

Background: Among the many recent hitters to come out of the University of Indiana, Dickerson was originally taken in the third round of the 2011 draft by the Pirates, but got flipped to San Diego in a late 2013 challenge trade that saw Jaff Decker and Miles Mikolas head back the other way. Dickerson, immediately upon donning a Padres minor league uniform, suffered a pretty severe Spring Training ankle injury and was limited to just 41 games – albeit 41 promising games – in 2014. Last season, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound first baseman/corner outfielder spent the year bashing the Pacific Coast League competition to the tune of .307/.374/.503 while tying a career best 36 doubles with nine triples, 12 homeruns, and a quartet of stolen bases. His overall production, per Weighted Runs Created Plus, topped the league average mark by 32%. And for his career, Dickerson is sporting an impressive .300/.360/.485 triple-slash line.

Projection: Every once in a while there’s a late-blooming minor league veteran that takes everyone by surprise, like Steven Pearce or Brandon Moss or Allen Craig or Stephen Voigt. And Dickerson could be the next in line. He’s hit at every stop along the way during his five-year professional career, posting a Weighted Runs Created Plus total of at least 126. Solid-average eye with 15- to 18-homer pop and a .270-ish batting average – there’s an awful lot of teams that are in need of that type of production. He’s likely to get bumped into a DH role in the coming years.

Final note: he handles righties and lefties equally well.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2015

 

7. Zech Lemond, RHP                          
Born: 10/09/92 Age: 23 Bats: R Top CALs: Diogenes Rosario, Kevin Comer,

Julian Hilario, Ricky Knapp, Nathan Culp

Height: 6-1 Weight: 170 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2014 21 A- 38.0 2 3 3.79 3.08 8.05 1.18 21.4% 3.1% 0.24 66.5%
2014 21 AA 4.0 0 0 0.00 2.12 4.50 0.00 14.3% 0.0% 0.00 100.0%
2015 22 A+ 130.0 5 10 5.54 4.58 6.99 3.05 16.9% 7.4% 0.83 63.9%

Background: One of the few pitchers to make it safely out of Arm Shredder U. – kind of, for now – Lemond spent the majority of his collegiate career as Rice University’s late-inning relief specialist. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound hurler was in the midst of transitioning into starting pitcher after the loss of Jordan Stephens before – wait for it – elbow inflammation caused him to be temporarily shutdown. San Diego would grab Lemond in the third round two years, 86th overall, and after a strong showing in Northwest League during his debut he bypassed Low Class A and headed right into the California League last season. In 32 games with Lake Elsinore, 22 of which were starts, Lemond would post an unsightly 5.54 ERA with 101 punch outs and 44 walks in 130.0 innings of work.

Projection: Lemond’s 4.58 FIP wasn’t all that better than his horrible ERA, but he’s a candidate for a strong bounce back season in 2016. He got smacked around quite a bit by a .374 BABIP and succumbed to a lower-ish 63.9% strand rate. Plus, he seemed to tire – greatly – over his final 11 starts. Consider the following breakdown:

Innings ERA K BB
63.2 3.96 51 19
46.0 9.39 33 19

San Diego would eventually push him back into a relief role in mid-August to help govern his already bloated innings total. There’s still an awful lot to like here, especially when you realize that he jumped from being a dominant collegiate reliever straight into a full-time starting pitcher in the California League with just 42.0 innings in between. Best case scenario: he develops into a #4-type arm. Worst case scenario: middle reliever.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: 2017/2018

 

8. Jose Rondon, SS                                             
Born: 03/03/94 Age: 22 Bats: R Top CALs: Reegie Corona, Justin Sellers,

Jose Pirela, Greg Garcia, Luis Jean

Height: 6-1 Weight: 160 Throws: R
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 19 R 316 22 2 1 0.293 0.359 0.399 0.105 9.5% 9.8% 98
2014 20 A+ 478 26 5 1 0.319 0.365 0.409 0.090 6.3% 15.3% 105
2015 21 A+ 264 12 3 3 0.300 0.360 0.414 0.114 8.0% 14.4% 113
2015 21 AA 107 2 1 0 0.190 0.219 0.230 0.040 3.7% 14.0% 20

Background: Part of the package the franchised received from the Angels as part of the Huston Street/Trevor Gott deal in July 2014. Rondon, who was acquired along with Taylor Lindsey, Elliot Morris, and R.J. Alvarez, had a bit of breakout season between both organizations two years ago, hitting a combined .315/.363/.404 with 26 doubles, five triples, one homerun, and 13 stolen bases in 111 games, 109 of which were spent in the California League. The 6-foot-1, 160-pound wiry shortstop started last season back in High Class A – a move that seems a bit questionable after his stellar showing the previous year – until he completely flopped in 28 games in the Texas League before a fractured elbow shut him down in late-July. He finished the year with .267/.320/.359 showing, most of which was bogged down by a terrible .190/.219/.230 line with San Antonio.

Projection: Despite some strong offensive performances at various points in his five-year minor league career, Rondon profiles as a bit of tweener in terms of his big league ceiling. He runs well, but isn’t a burner. He owns a strong hit tool with decent walk rates and handles himself well at shortstop. The problem, though, is his inability to consistently drive the ball – an issue that will likely be further exploited against more advanced pitching.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

9. Franmil Reyes, RF                                                      
Born: 07/07/97 Age: 18 Bats: R Top CALs: Nick Longhi, Henry Ramos,

Abraham Almonte, Austin Dean, Jorge Bonifacio

Height: 6-5 Weight: 240 Throws: R
 

Season Age LVL PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 17 R 186 12 2 3 0.315 0.387 0.467 0.152 10.8% 21.0% 139
2014 18 A 552 24 2 11 0.248 0.301 0.368 0.120 6.9% 21.4% 91
2015 19 A 509 25 7 8 0.255 0.320 0.393 0.138 9.0% 17.9% 107

Background: Very few everyday guys – let alone 19-year-olds – can match up with Reyes’ imposing stature. Standing 6-foot-5 and a lean 240 pounds, Reyes has the look that would suggest his ability to impose his will on opposing pitchers. And after two mediocre seasons in the Midwest League that’s all he has going for him – his look. The young right fielder burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old manhandling the Dominican Summer League four years ago, hitting a solid .267/.360/.416 with 16 doubles, four triples, four homeruns, and a dozen stolen bases. He followed that up with an even better showing in the Arizona Summer League in 2013 (.315/.387/.467) before a late-season promotion to Eugene pulled his overall production down quite a bit. San Diego’s aggressiveness reached a simmering point two years ago as they bumped him up to Low Class A, despite his previous struggles in short-season action, and Reyes promptly batted .248/.301/.368. He would repeat the level last year with better – though far from great – results: .255/.320/.393.

Projection: I’ve hitched my analytical wagon to Reyes’ tractor trailer-like frame for the past couple of seasons. And he hasn’t rewarded my faith – yet. While he’s spent the past two seasons developing his approach in the Midwest League it’s important to remember that he’s only entering his age-20 season. Reyes started to elevate the ball more often last year as his fly ball rate ticked up from 25.3% to 29.2%, taking his ISO with it (it jumped from .120 to .138). He also shows a solid, improving eye at the plate, strong contact skills, and some speed. Don’t’ give up on the kid yet.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Risk: High

MLB ETA: 2019

 

10. Enyel De Los Santos, RHP                                     
Born: 12/25/95 Age: 20 Bats: R Top CALs: Kyle Lobstein, Julio Rodriguez,

Casey Meisner, Jean Cosme, Alex Kisena

Height: 6-3 Weight: 170 Throws: R
 

YEAR Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 19 R 24.7 3 0 2.55 2.72 10.58 1.82 28.2% 4.9% 0.36 76.9%
2015 19 A- 37.7 3 0 4.06 3.58 10.04 3.11 26.4% 8.2% 0.48 69.6%

Background: Acquired along with former Georgia infielder Nelson Ward from the Mariners in November for veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit. De Los Santos looked absolutely brilliant during his professional debut last season. He was merely breathtaking in five starts in the Arizona Summer League and nothing short of amazing upon his promotion to Everett. Overall, he finished with 71 K, and 18 BB in 62.1 IP.

Projection: Signed for a measly $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in July 2014, De Los Santos is proving to be quite the impressive little find. He’s tall, lanky, and made quick work out of both low level stops last season. The sample size is only slightly bigger than the typical incoming rookie, but he’s certainly one to watch in the coming years.

Ceiling: Too Soon to Tell

Risk: N/A

MLB ETA: N/A

 

 

Note: All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.com.



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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