Where the Padres' Top 30 prospects are starting season

April 5th, 2023

With the Minor League season opening this week, here's where the Padres’ Top 30 prospects are projected to start:

1. Jackson Merrill (MLB No. 19), SS -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
2. Dylan Lesko (MLB No. 100), RHP -- Injured (Tommy John rehab)
3. Ethan Salas, C -- Extended spring training
4. Samuel Zavala, OF -- Lake Elsinore (Single-A)
5. Robby Snelling, LHP -- Lake Elsinore (Single-A)
6. Adam Mazur, RHP -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
7. Victor Lizarraga, RHP -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
8. Eguy Rosario, INF -- Injured (left ankle)
9. Jay Groome, LHP -- El Paso (Triple-A)
10. Henry Williams, RHP -- Injured (Tommy John rehab)
11. Jairo Iriarte, RHP -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
12. Nerwilian Cedeño, 2B/1B/3B -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
13. Korry Howell, OF -- San Antonio (Double-A)
14. Joshua Mears, OF -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
15. Rosman Verdugo, SS -- Lake Elsinore (Single-A)
16. Jackson Wolf, LHP -- San Antonio (Double-A)
17. Yendry Rojas, SS -- Extended spring training
18. Noel Vela, LHP – Injured (undisclosed)
19. Garrett Hawkins, RHP -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
20. Daniel Montesino, 1B -- Extended spring training
21. Lamar King Jr., C -- Extended spring training
22. Jakob Marsee, OF -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
23. Nathan Martorella, 1B -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
24. Ryan Bergert, RHP -- Fort Wayne (High-A)
25. Isaiah Lowe, RHP -- Lake Elsinore (Single-A)
26. Alek Jacob, RHP -- Injured (right shoulder)
27. Jagger Haynes, LHP -- Lake Elsinore (Single-A)
28. Tirso Ornelas, OF -- San Antonio (Double-A)
29. Angel Felipe, RHP -- El Paso (Triple-A)
30. Brandon Valenzuela, C -- Fort Wayne (High-A)

Team to watch
Any team with Jackson Merrill on it is going to become a must-watch for San Diego fans, and that will be High-A Fort Wayne to begin the 2023 season. The Padres gave their top prospect plenty of run on the Major League side in Spring Training, proving how advanced they believe him to be, so the shortstop’s stay in the Midwest League may not be a long one. He’ll have some good protection in the TinCaps' lineup, too, with Nerwilian Cedeño, Joshua Mears, Jakob Marsee and Nathan Martorella hitting around him. Fort Wayne's pitching staff could also be intriguing, headlined by Adam Mazur’s pro debut and Victor Lizarraga’s jump to High-A at 19 years old.

Teams on MLB.TV and MiLB.TV
Triple-A El Paso
Double-A San Antonio
High-A Fort Wayne
Single-A Lake Elsinore

Players we could see in MLB in 2023
Jay Groome competed for a San Diego rotation spot until the last minute of spring, and he could be called upon early if the Padres need to dive into their starting depth. Eguy Rosario should see some time on the Major League dirt once he recovers from a broken left ankle, and Alek Jacob and Angel Felipe are interesting -- if completely different -- bullpen options, with the former leaning on offspeed stuff and the latter a hard-throwing righty.

New faces
Ethan Salas, the top international talent of this year’s Jan. 15 class, won’t open with an affiliate, but the 16-year-old catcher is expected to skip over the Dominican Summer League and open stateside later this year. The Padres haven’t ruled out him seeing Single-A Lake Elsinore at some point in 2023 either, on account of his advanced bat and ability to work with a pitching staff. 2022 Draft picks and Top 10 prospects Robby Snelling and Adam Mazur will open in Lake Elsinore's and Fort Wayne's rotation, respectively.

On the shelf
The Padres went for risky high-ceiling picks by taking Dylan Lesko in the first round and Henry Williams in the third last July. Both right-handers will have their pro debuts delayed as they recover and rehab from Tommy John surgery, but they are expected to see the mound this summer.