Welcome back to my annual off-season series that has a quick-and-dirty review of all 30 minor league systems around baseball. This feature began way back in 2008.
The San Diego PadresIf you were perusing this series back in 2013, you would have read this:
The Sleeper: Matt Andriese, RHP Andriese has been one of my favorite sleepers for a couple years now and he continues to fly under the radar in part because he doesn’t have the electric stuff that gets scouts’ hearts palpitating. His fastball has at least average velocity but it’s the heavy sink that makes it stand out. Andriese, 24, is very close to big-league ready and he could settle in to the role of back-end, innings-eating starter.
Now on to the new stuff:
First Taste of The Show: Joey Lucchesi, LHP: What a year for Lucchesi, a former fourth round pick who needed just over one full year of baseball to reach The Show. He benefited from advanced control while incorporating basically a two-pitch attack with his fastball and changeup. Lucchesi may need to rely on a breaking ball more often in his sophomore season in the Majors now that the scouting report is out on him. He was hurt by the home run ball in 2018 and oddly gave up more homers at home. He’ll need an added weapon against right-handed hitters with almost half the hits against him going for extra bases.
The Draft Pick: Xavier Edwards, SS: With apologies to seventh overall selection Ryan Weathers, I’ll pick Edwards as the top selection in that draft all day long. He caught my attention prior to the draft with his outstanding athleticism, plus speed and advanced approach at the plate for his age. Edwards showed all of those skills in his pro debut. He showed a great eye with a BB-K of 31-25 and stole 22 bases in 45 games. He has a ways to go to hit for even consistent gap pop but Edwards could be a quick mover if he sticks with what’s worked — focusing on contact over pop. He might be ready for low-A ball in 2019.
The Riser:: Logan Allen, LHP: In some ways, Allen is similar to Lucchesi as a southpaw with a strong fastball-changeup combo, who needs to polish the breaking ball. But while his control may not be as good, he may have more pure stuff than his more advanced org mate. This young lefty has the build to be a mid-rotation, innings-eater but he did have some elbow issues a couple of years ago, which bears watching. Just 21, Allen had a solid late-season showing in triple-A and could be ready for The Show in the summer.
The Fallen: Josh Naylor, OF/1B: Naylor didn’t have a bad season in 2018 at all but he’s kind of getting lost in the shuffle of such a deep system. He’s also in danger of letting his conditioning get away from him. He’s spent some time in the outfield but will almost assuredly develop into more of a 1B/DH type. He has a very good eye for the plate — especially for a young, cold-weather-developed prospect. Naylor has lots of raw power but doesn’t sell out for it.
The 2019 Contributor: Luis Urias, 2B/SS: A very advanced hitter for his age, this 21-year-old prospect could be an impact hitter for the Padres in 2019 if given the playing time. Like Jose Altuve, Urias has excellent strength despite his modest build, although he has more of a line-drive swing than Altuve so don’t expect 20+ homers. Urias should, though, rack up a lot of doubles and triples. He has solid speed and very good instincts. I could see Urias playing either shortstop or second base in the majors so it will come down to whatever the club needs most.
The Padres system is so deep and impressive that I’m going to quickly talk about two sleepers and two lottery tickets, rather than the usual one of each.
The 2019 Sleeper: Buddy Reed, OF: Reed is a very exciting player to watch. He oozes athleticism and has natural raw pop that belies his frame. He swings out of his shoes far too often for a player with that type of natural power. And he could steal a base in his sleep with his speed, which is close to plus-plus. He also swings at far too many pitcher’s pitches and needs to wait back and wait for a good pitch to drive. There is so much potential here it’s almost frightening — Reed is just his own worst enemy. He’ll likely open 2019 in double-A so he’s not a traditional sleeper but if the light clicks on — watch out.
The 2019 Sleeper: Luis Patino, RHP: Just 19 with a year of full-season ball under his belt, Patino may be on the edge of a breakout. The Colombia native reminds me of Marcus Stroman for a number of reasons. He’s undersized but has a mature build with little projection left. With that said, his present stuff is very impressive. Much like Stroman, Patino is also demonstrative on the mound, wears his emotion on his sleeve — which can be good and bad — and seems to enjoy the spotlight. His control is more advanced than his command at this point and a toned down delivery from the full wind-up might help.
The 2019 Lottery Ticket: Frank Lopez, RHP: A raw but intriguing arm, Lopez has very long arms and throws from a low 3/4 arm slot that appears to give hitters difficulty when trying to pick up the ball. His breaking ball is a work-in-progress and it looks like he’s trying to guides it in at times — which also makes it easier to differentiate between his curve and fastball — something more advanced hitters will pick apart. Lopez, 19, already throws in the low 90s but appears to have room to add velocity. He also has big strides to make with controlling his delivery which will improve his command and control.
The 2019 Lottery Ticket: Jeisson Rosario, OF: Rosario’s approach at the plate belies his age. He has a very spread out stance and grinds out at-bats. He never appears to give away at-bats — or even pitches. He’s on top of everything. He has a very ground-ball heavy swing but he has a ton of speed and beats out a lot of ground balls that appear to be outs. Rosario also uses the entire field. I could see him eventually walking more than 100 a times in a season and he took 66 free passes as a teenager in the Midwest League, which is impressive. He strikes out too much but that should improve with time as he gets more experience recognizing spin and what pitches to lay off.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.