5 SD prospects who could make MLB splash

August 9th, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- Jake Cronenworth, Edward Olivares and Javy Guerra are quickly becoming regular contributors in San Diego. Luis Patiño, meanwhile, earned his callup on Tuesday, and the Padres expect the 20-year-old rookie to become a force in their bullpen this season.

The Padres' excellent farm system has already begun to pay dividends this season, and there's more where that came from. Fifteen of San Diego’s top 30 prospects are stationed at the team’s alternate site at the University of San Diego. Here's a look at five of those prospects who have a serious chance to impact the big league club this season:

1) SS (No. 15)
Mateo is the most obvious choice on this list. He will be a contributor in the big leagues -- and probably soon. If Mateo hadn't missed the entirety of Summer Camp while awaiting clearance to return from his positive coronavirus test, he'd probably have made the Opening Day roster.

Sure, the Padres already have plenty of utility options. But Mateo is unique among them. He has elite speed and swiped 283 bags in eight Minor League seasons. Plus, he's the only San Diego utility man capable of bouncing regularly between the infield and outfield.

"He's getting really good reports over at the university, over with the taxi squad," said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. "He's been bouncing around, a little bit of the infield, a little bit of the outfield. ... We haven't gotten into deep discussion on when that day is and what his role is. The main thing has been trying to get him back into midseason shape."

2) LHP (No. 7)
Of all the pitchers on this list, Morejon is a safe guess for the next to follow Patiño to the big leagues, given that he received similar praise for his performance during Summer Camp. Like Patiño, Morejon probably wouldn't be promoted into a traditional starting role, but he could serve as a long man or in short bursts as a starter.

It's essentially the same role that Morejon filled after his midseason promotion last year. In five appearances, including two starts, Morejon posted a 10.13 ERA before he was shut down with a left shoulder injury. Clearly, the Padres think Morejon -- a lefty with a legit four-pitch mix -- has made strides since then.

3) LHP (No. 1)
When Patiño earned his promotion, the next logical question was: Where's Gore? Answer: He's at the alternate site, reportedly showing improvement after he struggled during Summer Camp.

Gore, the top-ranked pitching prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, has not been called up yet because he has not earned his callup yet. It's that simple. The 21-year-old left-hander struggled to find the strike zone for much of camp. Because of those struggles, he wasn't seriously considered for the Opening Day roster in the way Patiño was.

That's not to be viewed as a knock on Gore. So he wasn’t sharp facing big league competition in makeshift intrasquad games immediately after a four-month layoff? The Padres are prepared to excuse that, so long as he makes strides at the alternate site. Evidently, Gore is beginning to regain some of his dominance, and if that continues, a second-half callup might be in the cards.

4) LHP (No. 10)
There's not a single prospect at the Padres' alternate site who has boosted his stock more than Weathers. He legitimately stunned team officials when he arrived in camp sitting at 95 mph and touching 97. Previously, the 20-year-old Weathers had a fastball that sat in the low 90s.

Combine Weathers' newfound velocity with his excellent command and three-pitch mix, and the Padres are suddenly considering their 2018 first-round Draft pick as an outside candidate for a roster spot. There are still hurdles to clear. Weathers isn't on the 40-man roster, and he's never pitched above Class A Fort Wayne.

But if the need for a left-hander arises, Weathers has pitched himself into consideration.

5) RHP (No. 8)
Before we get to Baez, let's address a couple prospects who aren't on this list -- notably Taylor Trammell and Luis Campusano. Given the state of baseball in 2020, it'd be foolish to rule them out. A need for a catcher or an outfielder could arise at any moment.

But Campusano and Trammell seem like longshots to crack the big leagues this season, and 2021 is a better bet at this point. The Padres are obviously still high on their Nos. 4 and 5 prospects. But they also acknowledge some development time ahead of them.

As for Baez, he's also on the outside looking in for a roster spot. But there's more opportunity available in the bullpen, and his performances have picked up lately at the team's alternate site, according to those in attendance. In short: Baez might offer quality bullpen depth in the event of an injury.