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San Diego Padres 2013 Top 15 Prospects

Written By on 3rd December, 2012

Bullpen Banter’s 2013 Top 15 Prospects

Bullpen Banter San Diego Padres 2013 Top 15 Prospects

Player Name
1Max FriedLHP
2Joe RossRHP
3Austin HedgesC
4Casey KellyRHP
5Jedd Gyorko3B
6Robbie ErlinLHP
7Rymer LirianoOF
8Walker WeickelRHP
9Zach EflinRHP
10Matthew WislerRHP
11Joe WielandRHP
12Travis JankowskiCF
13Cory Spangenberg2B
14Keyvius SampsonRHP
15Adys PortilloRHP

Al Skorupa: Its difficult to find a farm system with more depth in interesting prospects than San Diego’s. Some shrewd trades and a series of strong drafts have quickly filled the system with talent. This was roughly how I described the Padres org a year ago, too, but there are some differences. First off, the depth is even more considerable following a 2012 draft that I loved. Secondly, entering the 2012 season this system lacked marquee guys. To some degree this is still an issue, but there are three players who stick out for me this year. Joe Ross and Max Fried are an exciting duo of young arms. I see both guys as #2 starters and they could thrive at the front of the rotation in PetCo. I have Jedd Gyorko as the top position player. He’s not an electric tools type nor does his athleticism stand out, but he can definitely hit.

Austin Hedges received a surprisingly challenging assignment to the MWL in his first full pro season. He grabbed the opportunity by the throat and answered some questions about his bat this year. I’ve always been a believer in Casey Kelly’s stuff and I think he shows us something this season. At first glance Robbie Erlin doesn’t fit the ideal mold for a starting pitcher, but he’s going to be a very effective major hurler. Erlin misses bats and doesn’t give up free passes. That’s a recipe for success even if you’re an undersized change-up artist. Rymer Liriano shows flashes of exciting talent, but when all is said and done I’m not confident he hits like a star, fields like a star or runs like a star. I imagine a solid (if inconsistent) major leaguer… but there is the potential for more there. I think the Padres did really well with three other 1st round arms from the last couple drafts in Michael Kelly, Walker Weickel and Zach Eflin. We need to see where they are in a couple years, but I’d wager you’d find a fair share of talent evaluators who would take that trio over the top three arms in at least a few systems. I’ve seen a lot of Travis Jankowski and he’s a very good defensive centerfielder who can make some hard contact at the plate. Due to his frame and shape he’s never going to produce big power numbers… I do think he will surprise people with the amount of extra base hits when he gets into his prime. I’m not sure there’s a whole lot of difference between Cory Spangenberg and Jankowski. Spangenberg will hit a bit more but neither will be a big HR guy. Jankowski is the better runner and plays an up the middle position well while Spangenberg has the tools to play a decent 2B but needs a lot of work there to stick.

The Padres are potentially building something nice here. They need to keep pushing, though. While there are lots of talented players on the farm its really easy to end up with a whole lot of fringe average major leaguers and not a lot of wins.


Jeff Reese: Quality depth is indeed the foundation of the San Diego Padres’ farm system. Impact prospects at the top are still somewhat wanting. That fact allowed first round pick (7th overall) Max Fried to immediately claim the top spot. Fried was the less famous half of the pitching duo at Harvard-Westlake HS but pitched his way out from under the shadow cast by Lucas Giolito over the summer and subsequent spring. The athleticism, present stuff, and command all bode well. It is a shame that Casey Kelly went down with an elbow injury early in mid April; he had been dominant during his first two PCL outings and garnering scouting reports that backed up the statistics. He was putting all of his tools together into tangible performance; performance worthy of the lofty #2 starter projection that I seem to hang on him every off-season. He eventually returned in late July and saw major league time a month later. I’m looking for him to finally emerge in 2013. I’m probably the most reserved on Joe Ross of the Bullpen Banter family (Josh the most enthusiastic), and he still came in as the 4th best prospect on the list I submitted. His raw stuff gives him a chance to be the best player on this list.

The defensive acumen of Austin Hedges is what propelled his stock as a draft prospect; the bat speed was there but how much he would hit was in question. The quality of his bat in the Midwest League was a revelation and has driven his stock up substantially. Speaking of bats, Jedd Gyorko has a damn good one. Rymer Liriano has the raw tools to have more of an impact than Gyorko, but he is still trying to find a way to put them to better use. As Al said, he shows flashes. The Padres had one of the best draft classes in 2012 and it shows by the number of them whom made this list. Walker Weickel and Zach Eflin were both getting middle of the first round projections at various points during the winter/spring; snagging and signing both in the supplemental round could be quite the coup. Travis Jankowski was also a supplemental round pick and shows good center field tools. There are gems throughout the rest of the class that don’t make San Diego’s top 15 as well.

Matt Wisler’s emergence was the most pleasant surprise in the system. The righthander came into the season as simply a player of interest from the 2011 draft class and saw all of his stuff tick up during his full season debut in the Midwest League. Adys Portillo likewise emerged during the season, finally using his electric fastball effectively. His control is still a major issue, and it’s easier to see him moving to the bullpen long term than finding a home in the rotation. Keyvius Sampson has solid stuff across the board and held his own in the Texas League. I see him as having more of a solid mid rotation type of ceiling than impact.

The only real knock is the lack of true superstar ceilinged prospects. Depth alone cannot make up for that deficiency. That leaves the Padres as a good but not great farm system.


Peter Wardell: Back-to-back solid drafts & a few well-timed trades (notably Erlin/Wieland for Mike Adams) has the Padres’ future looking bright; this is a top 10 farm system. There may not be a true elite level prospect but there’s definitely some big leaguers here & potential impact ones at that.

Max Fried, the Padres’ 2012 first rounder, is the clear-cut guy atop this list for me. From what I saw this spring, he has a very real chance to be a future No. 2-3 starter. Fried already shows terrific stuff & projects for three above average or better offerings — his hammer curve already borderline plus. He’s a terrific athlete that shows excellent body control & repeats his delivery — excellent building blocks as he grows into his lean 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame. In that sense, he’s rather advanced for his experience and should find success early on heading into his first full-season in 2013.

I also got in-depth looks at more advanced prospects Robbie Erlin and Rymer Liriano this fall in the AFL. Erlin, acquired at the 2011 trade deadline, could very well compete for a spot in the Padres’ rotation this spring. He’s a strike-throwing lefthander with great pitchability and while he ultimately lacks a true out-pitch, his confidence and consistency makes him very valuable. I’ve got him down as a future No. 5 starter but know some evaluators have him a tick higher as a No. 4.

Liriano, on the other hand, is quite the opposite, displaying impressive tools but next-to-no consistency. Some games Liriano looks like a future all-star. The following day, he may look terrible and easily frustrated. Liriano is certainly a hot head with a bit of a diva/star mentality but he?s confident in his ability and continues to progress regardless. Overall, the 21-year-old outfielder displays a solid right field profile — good bat speed, power potential, surprising speed and a plus arm. He’s still a year away from San Diego, needing to refine his approach and defense, and should return to Double-A San Antonio in 2013. He’s not far away though and is someone to keep an eye on. Needless to say, I’m not as down on him as many are across the industry.


LHP Max Fried (Steve Fiorindo) 

3B Jedd Gyorko (Steve Fiorindo) 

LHP Robbie Erlin (Peter Wardell)

OF Rymer Liriano (Steve Fiorindo) 

OF Travis Jankowski (Al Skorupa)

2B Cory Spangenberg (Steve Fiorindo) 

RHP Walker Weickel (Steve Fiorindo) 

Al Skorupa
Albert Skorupa
About Albert Skorupa

Al Skorupa writes about baseball & baseball prospects for Bullpen Banter and Fangraphs/Rotographs. He lives in Rhode Island. He watches & videotapes a good amount of amateur and minor league baseball. You can follow him on twitter @alskor.

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6 Comments on "San Diego Padres 2013 Top 15 Prospects"

  1. Profile Photo
    RutgersJPM December 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm -

    I was wondering why the omission of Jonathan Galvez?  Is it the defensive concerns?  I can’t help but compare him with Spagenberg (both 2B) and think that Galvez is the better prospect.  He’s only 2 months older but is performing better at a higher level.

    • Profile Photo
      Jeff Reese December 5, 2012 at 10:15 am -

      It was mainly a depth thing. Galvez is an interesting prospect, but he’s not quite on the same level as the guys who made it. Al was higher on Spangenberg than I was, but his ceiling trumps Galvez’s so it’s a bit easier to dream on him.

  2. Profile Photo
    Chuck December 5, 2012 at 9:45 am -

    Thanks for not buying into the Liriano hype.