High hopes followed the Padres into 2019 after the team’s offseason signing of free agent Manny Machado, and that hype only grew when they opted to break camp with top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack. The duo emerged as two of the best rookies in baseball, fueling San Diego to a .500 finish in the first half, but the Padres went 25-47 after the All-Star break to finish 22 games below .500 (70-92), recording their third last-place finish in the National League West in the past four years.
While the Padres’ season didn’t play out as hoped, the success by the team’s rookie class, on top of the performances of its other promising young players, was an encouraging development for a franchise that’s now gone 13 years without a postseason appearance.
|AL East ||BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR |
|NL East ||ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WSH |
|AL Central ||CLE, CWS, DET, KC, MIN |
|NL Central ||CHC, CIN, MIL, PIT, STL |
|AL West ||HOU, LAA, OAK, SEA, TEX |
|NL West ||ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF |
|Division ||Team |
Tatis and Paddack led Padres hitters and starting pitchers in WAR, respectively, and the club also received contributions from a slew of other players who opened the season on San Diego’s Top 30 list. Francisco Mejia and Josh Naylor spent much of the season in the big leagues, while Luis Urias and Ty France bolstered the Padres’ lineup down the stretch. On the mound, 2017 first-rounder Cal Quantrill ended up working 100-plus innings, and Michel Baez, Ronald Bolanos, Adrian Morejon and Andres Muñoz each received their first taste of the big leagues.
Despite graduating many of the aforementioned players to the big leagues, the Padres’ system, after checking in at No. 1 on MLB Pipeline’s preseason and post-Trade Deadline farm system rankings, is still one of the best in baseball.
The organization’s six Top 100 prospects are tied (with Miami and Tampa Bay) for the most among all 30 teams, and four of those players rank inside the Top 50. The group is headlined by left-hander MacKenzie Gore, MLB Pipeline’s top-ranked pitching prospect, and, overall, the Padres' Top 30 list is teeming with former top Draft picks and international signings.
TOP 5 PROSPECTS
1) MacKenzie Gore, LHP (No. 4 on Top 100)
2) Taylor Trammell, OF (No. 28)
3) Luis Patiño, RHP (No. 30)
4) CJ Abrams, SS (No. 45)
5) Xavier Edwards, 2B/SS (No. 72)
Complete Top 30 list »
HITTING & PITCHING PROSPECTS OF THE YEAR
Gore: The 20-year-old left-hander posted a Minor League-best 1.69 ERA (100 IP min.) with 135 strikeouts and 28 walks in 101 innings (20 starts) between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A Amarillo en route to honors as MLB Pipeline’s Pitching Prospect of the Year. Gore also led the Minors in WHIP (0.83), ranked second in opponent average (.164), third in strikeout-to-walk rate (28.3 percent) and fifth in strikeout rate (35.7 percent).
Luis Campusano, C: The Padres’ 2017 second-round pick was named co-MVP in the Class A Advanced California League after he ranked among the circuit leaders with a .325 average (first), a .906 OPS (second) and 81 RBIs (second). The 20-year-old backstop also enjoyed an uptick in power, hitting 15 homers and 31 doubles, and he walked (52) nearly as often as he struck out (57) over 110 games. More »
Reggie Lawson, RHP (No. 21): The Padres’ second-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Lawson spent much of the 2018 season on the injured list with a balky right elbow, but he returned late in the season to make six starts for Double-A Amarillo, then dominated while making three impressive outings in the Arizona Fall League (0.82 ERA, 14 K, 11 IP), where he operated with a mid-90s fastball, a sharp, 12-to-6 curveball and a promising changeup.
Buddy Reed, OF (No. 25): Reed scuffled in his first Double-A exposure during the second half in 2018 (.461 OPS in 43 G), and the former 2nd-round pick’s (‘16) struggles only deepened last year in his return to the level as he produced a .228/.310/.388 line over 121 games at Amarillo. The 24-year-old switch-hitter did hit a career-high 14 homers and also chipped in 23 steals.
Draft: CJ Abrams, SS, 1st round (No. 4 on Top 30); Joshua Mears, OF, 2nd round (No. 30); Logan Driscoll, C, Competitive Balance Round B; Hudson Head, OF, 3rd round (No. 20); Drake Fellows, RHP, 6th round
International: Ismael Mena, OF (No. 23); Reginald Preciado, SS (No. 22); Brayan Medina, RHP; Jose Cordero, OF; Carlos Rodriguez, C; Oswaldo Linares, C
Trade: Taylor Trammell, OF (No. 2; from Reds)
The Padres infused their system with young, high-ceiling players via all routes in 2019. The club landed two of the more electric talents in the Draft in Abrams and Head -- who collectively signed for more than $8 million -- and they also added a perennial Top 100 prospect at the Trade Deadline in Trammell. As for the Padres' international efforts, they gave seven-figure bonuses to Mena ($2.2 million) and Preciado ($1.3 mil), and Medina, Cordero, Rodriguez and Linares all received bonuses of at least $550,000.
2020 IMPACT PROSPECT
Gore: Gore overcame the blister problems that plagued him in 2018 to earn MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year honors while reaching Double-A in his first fully healthy season. The Padres pushed many of their top pitching prospects up to the Majors last season, and that trend should continue in 2020 with Gore, who could quickly establish himself as one of the game’s premier young hurlers.
Hit: CJ Abrams
Power: Luis Campusano
Field: Gabriel Arias
Best athlete: Abrams
Fastball: MacKenzie Gore
Slider: Luis Patiño
Changeup: Joey Cantillo
Control: Ryan Weathers
HOW THE TOP 30 WAS BUILT
That former Draft picks comprise half of the Padres Top 30 Prospects list speaks to the organization’s strength in the Draft, and all but one of those 15 picks were selected in or above the third round. Trades have netted the Padres a pair of upper-level outfield prospects in Trammell and Olivares, and the club’s system could grow even stronger in 2020 should the Padres decide to trade more big league assets. And while seven of the club’s 10 international prospects signed for at least $1 million -- Morejon, Baez, Bolanos, Arias and Rosario all received seven-figure bonuses as part of the Padres’ massive international haul in 2016-17 -- the organization’s top-ranked international player, Luis Patiño, was inked for just $130,000.
TOP 30 BY POSITION
The next wave of young Padres should arrive in 2020 as the club continues to tap into its wealth of talent on the farm. There are five pitchers on the Padres Top 30 list who saw Major League time in ’19, and, altogether, 13 players on the list have experience at or above the Double-A level. Gore and Patiño headline the latter group, and both of the 20-year-old hurlers could be ready for their first taste of the Majors in the coming year. The Padres’ crop of position prospects is collectively less advanced, with many of the organization’s highly touted young hitters residing at lower Minor League levels. But a large chunk of that group appears poised to open 2020 in Double-A, including up-the-middle youngsters like Luis Campusano and Gabriel Arias.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.