2020 Prospect Opportunities — Padres by Mike Podhorzer July 13, 2020 Today, we continue through our last division, as we finish our series in the National League West to discuss potential opportunities for prospects to earn starting jobs at positions currently manned by a player at risk of losing his job if his poor play continues. We’ll move on to the Padres. American League Prospect Opportunities AL East AL Central AL West Blue Jays Indians Angels Orioles Royals Astros Rays Tigers Athletics Red Sox Twins Mariners Yankees White Sox Rangers National League Prospect Opportunities NL East NL Central NL West Braves Brewers Diamondbacks Marlins Cardinals Dodgers Mets Cubs Giants Nationals Pirates Padres Phillies Reds Rockies 2B At Risk: Jurickson Profar Replacement: Ty France After finally playing a full season, Jurickson Profar enjoyed a solid year back in 2018, making good on the promise he showed many, many years ago before injured delayed his career. Sadly, his offensive output tumbled last year, as his wOBA fell 40 points. While his walk and strikeout metrics, along with his power, remained stable, it was a plummeting BABIP that did him in. While that should rebound, he needs to get those pop-ups under control (18.9% IFFB%, highest in baseball among qualified batters). He’s been basically neutral defensively at second base throughout his career, so he’ll need his offense to rebound or he’s at risk of losing his job. Ty France enjoyed an insane breakout at Triple-A last year, which included an absurd .372 ISO, driving a .502 (not a typo) wOBA. Amazingly, he was able to maintain his strikeout and walk rates. His strikeout stuck in the mid-teen range, while his SwStk% rose, but sat just below 10%, keeping his SwStk% in single digits at every stop since his professional debut in 2015. For a guy with that much power, that’s super impressive. Things didn’t go his way during his Padres debut, as his strikeout rate spiked (though his SwStk% barely increased), while his ISO and HR/FB rate looked closer to his 2018 days, rather than his 2019 breakout. It’s possible 2019 was a small sample fluke, but given how strong those skills were, I want to own him to find out if he ends up with a starting job. RF At Risk: Franchy Cordero Replacement: Josh Naylor I was a big fan of Franchy Cordero heading into the 2019 season, but injury limited him to just 20 plate appearances. He’s an intriguing bat. He strikes out a ton, doesn’t walk nearly enough to compensate, but man, that power. In addition to the immense power, he has posted an exceptional batted ball distribution that lends itself to inflated BABIP marks. A high BABIP could help offset all the strikeouts so he won’t be a complete drain on your batting average. We only have 273 MLB plate appearances and nearly a whole season missed to injury. So he’s a crapshoot right now, which makes him a risky bet, even if the upside is large. With the addition of the DH, it’s likely that Josh Naylor is already set to earn meaningful playing time there. But if not, there’s a chance Naylor simply steals playing time away from Cordero if he fails to bounce back from his injuries. I’m interested in anyone with a 70 grade raw power score, even if that hasn’t shown up in game action yet. Naylor has shown power given the 19.2% HR/FB rate and .233 ISO he posted at Triple-A last year, but you definitely expect more with a near perfect raw power grade. Perhaps there’s more in him, and when you look at his low strikeout rates, you can see exciting fantasy potential. Along with France above, Naylor gives the Padres two strong power guys with significantly better than average strikeout rates. Those are two primary skills that can drive offensive stardom. SP At Risk: Zach Davies Replacement: MacKenzie Gore Somehow, Zach Davies has significantly outperformed his SIERA over his career. It hasn’t happened every year (he actually underperformed in a shortened 2018 season), but the gap is large enough to make one wonder. Then again, it comes over just 614.1, and I’m not confident that’s enough of a sample size to be convinced he owns the skills driving such outperformance. With a weak strikeout rate, a high line drive rate allowed, and inability to induce pop-ups, he would seem to be one of the league’s worst pitchers. We’ll see if he could keep the magic alive in a new uniform or if there’s really something special he’s doing. Given such poor skills, he’ll always be at risk of losing his job in my eyes. MacKenzie Gore is the team’s top prospect and the game’s third overall prospect. He posted an elite 38.2% strikeout rate at High-A, and then a strong 27.8% strikeout rate at Double-A last year, and those were backed by strong SwStk% marks. Based on his pitch grades, he doesn’t possess any standout pitches, but rather a collection of solid to above average pitches, to go along with solid command. The only issue here is that he hasn’t pitched at Triple-A and only has 21.2 Double-A innings to his name. It sounds like the Padres will be open to pushing him to the Majors this year anyway.