2014 Organization Report: San Diego Padres

by Chris Mallonee

Organization grades:

Hitting: B+ ... Pitching: A ... Top End Talent: B+... Depth: A- ... Overall:  A-

Minor League Affiliates:

Triple-A: El Paso (PCL)
Double-A: San Antonio (TEX)
High-A: Lake Elsinore (CAL)
Low-A: Fort Wayne (MWL)
Short-season: Eugene (NWL)
Rookie:  AZL Padres (AZL)

1. Austin Hedges (C) … 6-1, 190 … R/R … 21 … 2011 (1) HS (CA)

Team (LG)                AB    BA/OBP/Slg      bb%   ct%    Eye   HR/SB
===================     ===   ==============   ===   ===   ====   =====
Lake Elsinore (CAL)     233   .270/.343/.425    9     81   0.49    4/ 5
San Antonio (TEX)        67   .224/.297/.269    9     87   0.67    0/ 3

Comments:  Strong and athletic backstop was limited to 300 at-bats due to injury. Hedges is an amazing defender and could catch in big leagues now. Owns very strong, accurate arm with polished blocking ability. Offers some potential for batting average with average pop. Utilizes a compact stroke to hit hard line drives to gaps, but can be fooled by breaking balls and offspeed stuff. Savvy baserunner who can steal an occasional base despite just average speed.

Development Path: Will start 2014 at Double-A but could be the Padres starting catcher as soon as 2015.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: His outstanding defense is certainly the reason he’s on the fast track to the majors, but he should be able to handle the bat enough not to be a liability. At maturity, a .250 hitter with moderate power is a reasonable expectation.

Upside Rating:  8B

2. Max Fried (LHP) … 6-4, 185 … 20 … 2012 (1) HS (CA)

Team (LG)             IP     ERA   WHIP   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   oppBA
===================  ====   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   =====
Fort Wayne (MWL)      118   3.50   1.38   4.3   7.6   1.8    .249

Comments: Very projectable lefty who has huge upside. Needs to add strength, but has quick, clean arm action to generate velocity and movement. Best pitch is hard curveball that he can throw for strikes or get hitters to chase, followed by a plus fastball that can hit 95 with some late arm-side run. Dominates LHH (.174 oppBA), but has a few things to polish. Needs to reduce walk rate and polish change-up. Throws with some deception in his delivery.

Development Path: Fried will start 2014 at High-A Lake Elsinore but could see a promotion to Double-A fairly quickly if he keeps progressing as anticipated. In addition to working on improving his change-up, the Padres will work with him on not being too fine with pitch location and trusting his stuff to get swings and misses. His arsenal is good enough to strike out more hitters while walking fewer.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity:  Fried has the potential to be a solid #2 starter who contributes in every category.

Upside Rating:  9C

3. Matt Wisler (RHP) … 6-3, 175 … 21 … 2011 (7) HS (OH)

Team (LG)             IP     ERA   WHIP   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   oppBA
===================  ====   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   =====
Lake Elsinore (CAL)  31.0   2.03   0.90   1.7   8.1   4.7    .196
San Antonio (TEX)   105.0   3.00   1.07   2.3   8.8   3.8    .223          

Comments: Tall and athletic starter who continues to evolve into top prospect. Has feel for pitching by spotting 90-95 mph fastball with hard sink impeccably, and using two above-average breaking balls to keep hitters off guard. Slider misses bats on any level and change-up continues to improve steadily. Posted an impressive 4.0 Cmd for second straight season. Throws easy strikes despite pitch movement, but hasn’t fared well against left-handed hitters.

Development Path: At 21 years old in a system stacked with pitching depth, there is no hurry to rush Wisler’s development, though he should see significant Triple-A time in 2014. He will spend time this season continuing to develop his change-up which should help him even out LHH/RHH splits.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Still some projection left in his pitches and could add a tick or two to his velocity. Though he might not post elite Dom, he has the tools to contribute nicely with solid Cmd, Ctl, ERA, and WHIP as a durable mid-rotation starter.

Upside Rating:  8C

4. Hunter Renfroe (OF) … 6-1, 210 …R/R… 22 … 2013 (1) Mississippi State

Team (LG)             AB    BA/OBP/Slg      bb%   ct%    Eye   HR/SB
================     ===   ==============   ===   ===   ====   =====
Eugene (NWL)         104   .308/.333/.510    5    75    0.19    4/ 2
Fort Wayne (MWL)      66   .212/.268/.379    6    65    0.17    2/ 0

Comments:  Big and strong outfielder played CF in college but fits more of a classic RF profile with plus power and arm strength. Has tendency to expand strike zone with unrefined approach, but has decent hitting instincts with quick hands to the ball. Generates plus bat speed, but can be fooled by breaking balls, as evidenced by 49 strikeouts in his first 170 AB. Runs well for size and has enough range and savvy in the outfield.

Development Path: Should start 2014 at Lake Elsinore and reach San Antonio by year end. Needs to improve pitch recognition and ability to make contact against secondary pitches and improve his reads in the outfield.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: His plus power gives him the potential to be among the league’s leaders in HR with a decent batting average.

Upside Rating:  9C

5. Joe Ross (RHP) … 6-3, 185 … 20 … 2011 (1) HS (CA)

Team (LG)            IP      ERA   WHIP   Ctl    Dom   Cmd   oppBA
================    =====   ====   ====   ===   ====   ===   =====
Fort Wayne (MWL)    122.0   3.76   1.34   2.9    5.8   2.0    .267  

Comments: Very athletic starter who has the stuff that should result in more strikeouts in the future. Works with very quick arm action that produces late movement to electric fastball that can hit 97. Keeps his pitches in the lower half of the strike zone and hitters bury them into the ground. His slider shows above average potential but gets flat at times, and his change-up is still in the infancy stage. A move to the bullpen may be in his future as he loses steam in later innings.

Development Path: Ross will advance to High-A Lake Elsinore. Injuries have limited him to 178 career IP, so he needs to continue to get reps while working to improve his change-up.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Ross definitely has the potential to be a solid #3 starter for SD, but it hinges on developing a third average or better pitch and proving his durability as he matures. He has the fastball/slider combo to rack up lots of strikeout with a decent ERA and good WHIP.

Upside Rating:  9D

6. Casey Kelly (RHP) … 6-3, 195 … 24 … 2008(1) HS (FL)

Team (LG)            IP      ERA   WHIP   Ctl    Dom   Cmd   oppBA
================    =====   ====   ====   ===   ====   ===   =====
Did not pitch in 2013

Comments: Tall and very athletic starting pitcher who missed the 2013 season after having Tommy John surgery in April. He thrives on impeccable fastball location despite late, sinking action. Induces lots of groundballs and shown an increased ability to strike batters out due to an excellent, consistent curveball. His change-up is a good pitch, but needs to add polish to overall arsenal. It should not take long for him to return to normal and post the numbers he was prior to injury.

Development Path: Kelly is projected to be fully healthy early in the season, and should pitch at Triple-A El Paso. There’s not much left to his development beyond proving his stuff is still good following TJ surgery and tightening up his secondary pitches a bit.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Both his Dom and Cmd took a nice uptick in 2012, and he showed the ability to produce those same results at the highest level during his 29 inning call-up. If he reaches his potential, will contribute nicely in Cmd, ERA, and WHIP from the middle of the SD rotation.

Upside Rating:  8C

7. Rymer Liriano (OF) … 6-0, 225 … 22 … 2007 FA, D.R.

Team (LG)             AB    BA/OBP/Slg      bb%   ct%    Eye   HR/SB
================     ===   ==============   ===   ===   ====   =====
Did not play in 2013

Comments: Toolsy and strong outfielder who missed entire season after TJ surgery in February. Has the potential to hit for power and steal bases due to eclectic mix of talents. Needs to make more contact and can expand strike zone due to lack of pitch recognition. Ranges very well in RF with a plus arm and speed.

Development Path: Liriano is expected to start the year at Double-A, and will work on plate approach and plate discipline while striving to make more consistent contact.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: The ceiling on Liriano’s ability to hit for power and steal bases is pretty high. If he can make the needed adjustments to contact rate and plate approach, he will be able to contribute across all categories.

Upside Rating:  9D

8. Jace Peterson (SS) … 6-0, 200 … L/R … 23 … 2011 (1) McNeese State

Team (LG)              AB    BA/OBP/Slg      bb%   ct%    Eye   HR/SB
===================   ===   ==============   ===   ===   ====   =====
Lake Elsinore (CAL)   423   .303/.382/.454    13    86   0.93    7/42

Comments: Very athletic infielder who has good tools and well above average savvy. He put together an impressive year at High-A, showing his ability get on-base and utilize his plus speed. Can be a flashy defender with ideal quickness and SS range. His arm isn’t strong, but he can make all the routine plays. Hits left-handed pitching with simple approach and has line-drive pop. His advanced plate discipline helps him draw lots of walks. Steals loads of bases (132 past three seasons) which is enhanced by on-base skills.

Development Path: Peterson will begin the year at Double-A San Antonio, but could see the big leagues as soon as 2015. Not much further skill development is needed in the minors; just needs to prove he can keep posting the same production at higher levels.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Has shown an excellent ability to hit for average, draw walks, and make consistent contact. He brings fantasy value in every category except for power.

Upside Rating:  8C

9. Keyvius Sampson (RHP) … 6-0, 185 … 23 … 2009 (4) HS (FL)

Team (LG)             IP     ERA   WHIP   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   oppBA
=================    ====   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   =====
San Antonio (TEX)    103.1  2.27   1.04   2.9   9.6   3.3    .199
Tucson (PCL)          38.0  7.11   1.92   6.9   5.9   0.9    .306

Comments: Short and aggressive pitcher who began in AAA, but dominated AA upon demotion. His velocity increased throughout the year and he ditched his curveball in favor of a hard slider that misses bats. Sampson is very tough on right-handed hitters and has a decent change-up to retire left-handed hitters. His command still needs polish, but he’s learning how to sequence his pitches and does a nice job holding velocity deep into games.

Development Path: Sampson will give Triple-A another shot this season, hopefully with much better results after a successful year at Double-A under his belt. With the uptick in velocity and development of slider, the Padres gave him a look as a power-reliever in the AFL where he fared very well. With so much starting pitching depth, it’s reasonable to see a move to the pen at some point if his command falters, but he’s going to be given ample opportunity to prove he can stick as a starter.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: He has the type of stuff to continue striking out a batter an inning while also contributing solid ERA and WHIP.

Upside Rating:  8C

10. Zach Eflin (RHP) … 6-4, 200 … 19 … 2012 (1) HS (FL)

Team (LG)             IP     ERA   WHIP   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   oppBA
=================    ====   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   =====
Fort Wayne (MWL)     118.2  2.74   1.19   2.4   6.5   2.8    .239

Comments: Athletic and durable starting pitcher who was consistently good all season. Still very young with a lot of projection left in his stuff. Throws from a ¾ arm slot and likes to change speeds by cutting and sinking plus fastball and mixing in excellent change-up with similar arm speed. Has a nice feel for pitching and throws lots of strikes, but fails to adequately drop curveball in the zone. His strikeout rate is a bit low and is more of a flyball pitcher.

Development Path: Eflin will start the season at High-A Lake Elsinore. It is interesting given his height (6’4”) and downward action on his pitches that he doesn’t get more strikeouts and groundballs, though he will certainly work on that this year. Given his age, the Padres may continue moving him up a level or season or bump him to Double-A by the end of the season, but he is still 2-3 seasons away from being ready for the majors.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Still has a bit of work ahead of him, but has the potential to for an ERA around 3.00 with 6-7 Dom and decent WHIP.

Upside Rating:  8D

11. Burch Smith (RHP) … 6-4, 215 … 23 … 2011 (14) Oklahoma

Team (LG)             IP     ERA   WHIP   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   oppBA
=================    ====   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   =====
San Antonio (TEX)    31.1   1.16   0.74   1.7   10.7  6.2    .155
Tucson (PCL)         61.0   3.39   1.20   2.5    9.6  3.8    .246
Padres (NL)          36.1   6.45   1.65   5.2   11.4  2.2    .269

Comments: Tall, physical right-hander had a breakout season that culminated with his first call-up. He is very tough with his plus fastball that can hit 97 mph and is difficult to elevate due to plus movement. Smith establishes the plate with his fastball then counters with an impressive, deceptive change-up. He can register strikeouts with either offering. Though his curveball is far from polished, he will stick as a starting pitcher.

Development Path: Burch has an outside shot for a rotation spot this season out of spring training. More likely, however, is starting out at Triple-A and developing curveball while figuring out what caused his command breakdown during his 2013 call-up.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Smith has the potential to post Elite-dom and low-ERA, though expectations of solid Ctl are a bit risky until he can prove he’s made some necessary adjustments.

Upside Rating:  7C

12. Matt Andriese (RHP) … 6-3, 210 … 24 … 2011 (3) UC-Riverside

Team (LG)             IP     ERA   WHIP   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   oppBA
=================    ====   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   =====
San Antonio (TEX)    76.0   2.37   1.16   2.0   7.5   3.7    .242
Tucson (PCL)         58.2   4.50   1.31   1.9   6.5   3.5    .287

Comments: The durable and strong starting pitcher has progressed through the system quickly and was promoted to Triple-AAA at midseason. He pitches off his plus sinker and rarely allows hitters to put the ball in the air. Throws consistent strikes and saw his command on all three pitches improve. Has good enough breaking stuff to miss some bats. His curveball could become plus, though he needs a better offspeed pitch to counter left-handed hitters.

Development Path: Andriese will look to have a good full year at Triple-A, polishing his curveball and getting valuable higher-level reps. He will be in the starting rotation discussion in the very near future and could potentially see a call-up in 2014 if someone goes down with injury or is a victim of poor performance.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: He has posted impressive command at every stop. Has the frame, velocity, and arsenal to become a dependable #3 starter contributing well in ERA, WHIP, and Ks, particularly pitching in PETCO park.

Upside Rating:  8D

13. Walker Weickel (RHP) … 6-6, 195 … 20 … 2012 (1) HS (FL)

Team (LG)             IP      ERA   WHIP   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   oppBA
=================    =====   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   =====
Fort Wayne (MWL)     110.2   5.06   1.52   3.5   6.7   1.9    .283

Comments: Tall and lean starter who uses his height well. Has been too hittable, but a lot of upside and projection. He pitches downhill with sinking FB and keeps the ball on the ground. All three of his pitches could become average to above-average offerings, but they certainly need some polish and fine tuning. Weickel lacks deception in his delivery and needs to gain consistency on the mound.

Development Path: Should start the year at Lake Elsinore and continue to work on his command and locating well to both sides of the plate. Definitely still some projection in his arm and could see a tick or two more velocity on his fastball in the coming seasons. He is at least two seasons away from fighting for a spot in the middle of the Padres rotation.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Without much deception in his delivery and elite velocity, he projects to a Dom of 6.0-7.0 but could contribute nicely in ERA and WHIP.

Upside Rating:  8D

14. Joe Wieland (RHP) … 6-3, 195 … 24 … 2008 (4) HS (NV)

Team (LG)          IP     ERA   WHIP   Ctl   Dom   Cmd   oppBA
==============    ====   ====   ====   ===   ===   ===   =====
Did not pitch in 2013

Comments: Wieland got a taste of the major leagues in 2012 and was in the 2013 rotation discussion before Tommy John surgery and setbacks caused him to miss the whole season. He received his first call-up in ’12 based upon polished pitch sequencing and plus control. He sets up his secondary pitches well with a quality fastball that he locates to all quadrants. Complements his fastball with a big curveball that can register strikeouts and a change-up that flashes above-average but not as consistent as his other two offerings.

Development Path: He appeared healthy during limited AFL action and will spend 2014 in the high minors building back endurance following TJ surgery. Assuming he’s back at full health, he will soon be knocking on the door of the SD rotation, though there is certainly lots of competition throughout the organization.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: Wieland doesn’t project to post great fantasy numbers as he will probably never rack up lots of strikeouts, but his plus command profile will provide some WHIP and ERA value.

Upside Rating:  8B

15. Cory Spangenberg (2B) … 6-0, 185 … L/R … 23 … 2011 (1) Indian River JC

Team (LG)                AB    BA/OBP/Slg      bb%   ct%    Eye   HR/SB
===================     ===   ==============   ===   ===   ====   =====
Lake Elsinore (CAL)     226   .296/.364/.460   10    77    0.45    4/17
San Antonio (TEX)       287   .289/.331/.366    6    79    0.28    2/19 

Comments:Lean and athletic infielder put together a quality 2013 season with a .292 average and 36 stolen bases. He tweaked his swing focusing on more consistent, hard contact. Lacks present power as strength and bat speed a little short, but reads pitches well and uses entire field. Has excellent speed and good quickness for a second baseman, though he still needs to work on improving his infield play a bit. His ceiling is a starter, floor a useful utility player.

Development Path: Spangenberg will most likely start back at San Antonio but could spend significant time at Triple-A this season. Not much projection left in his skill set, just a matter of getting reps defensively and showing he can get-on base effectively at the higher levels to utilize his above-average speed.

Fantasy Impact at Maturity: He will never provide much in the way of power numbers, but could provide decent fantasy value with his ability to hit for average and steal bases. If he reaches his full potential, would be a nice second-tier 2B fantasy option.

Upside Rating:  7B

2014 Contributors: Reymond Fuentes (OF), Tommy Medica (1B), Everett Williams (OF), Juan Oramas (LHP), Kevin Quackenbush (RHP), Ryan Jackson (SS), Dean Anna (2B), Cody Decker (1B), Jonathan Galvez (IF/OF), Dan Robertson (OF).