Sign Up! Join our newsletters, get a FREE e-Edition
Hedges knows how to stand out from a crowd. Southern California area scouts regarded him as one of the finest defensive catchers they had seen at the high school level, the product of six years under the wing of JSerra High coach Brett Kay, a former catcher at Cal State Fullerton and in the Mets system. The Padres nabbed Hedges with the 82nd pick (second round) in the 2011 draft and lured the strong student away from a UCLA commitment with a $3 million bonus. Evaluators have singled him out as best defensive catcher and one of the top handful of position prospects in the low Class A Midwest (2012) and high Class A California (2013) leagues in successive years. Hedges finished 2013 at Double-A San Antonio as the Missions barreled toward the Texas League title. He started eight of 10 playoff games, including two shutouts against Arkansas in the finals. He might have reached Double-A even sooner had he not missed most of May with a deep bone bruise on his left hand, the result of being hit by a pitch. Hedges impressed the Padres by launching home runs during batting practice at Petco Park the summer after he signed. While he has strength and explosiveness to his swing, his ticket to the All-Star Game will be equal parts power and defensive prowess. Strong technique and abundant confidence are apparent in the way he sets targets for his pitchers, receives the ball and shifts his feet while blocking balls in the dirt or firing missiles to second base. He records consistent 1.8-second pop times and has thrown out more than one-third of basestealers in each of the past two seasons. His plus arm plays up due to accuracy and a quick release. Being ahead of the curve defensively has allowed Hedges to study the art of game-calling and refine his hitting technique at a stage where most catchers are grinding through fundamentals. Scouts almost uniformly view Hedges as a good bet to hit and an even better one to deliver extra-base power. He strikes the ball with a quick, balanced swing, hitting enough line drives to keep his average in the black while not striking out excessively. Hedges can pull the ball for power, but he's most effective against all pitch types when using the whole field. An energetic presence on the field, Hedges has a durable frame, though he won't beat out many infield hits with below-average speed. The Padres have Hedges on the express train to San Diego, and when he reaches his destination they envision him as a first-division catcher who can impact the game on both sides of the ball. He made quick work of Class A, then spent his offseason in the Arizona Fall League, where he threw out 12 of 22 basestealers, and he will begin his age-21 season back at Double-A in 2014. Despite the defensive demands of his position, he may not require much more than another season of development before he's ready for the big leagues, putting him on target for a 2015 arrival.
The Padres drafted five righthanders before calling Wisler's name in 2011, but the seventh-rounder has rocketed to the head of the class after forgoing an Ohio State commitment to signing for $500,000. Following a six-start tuneup at high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2013, he advanced to the Double-A San Antonio rotation and thrived as a 20-year-old, especially in the Texas League playoffs when he allowed one run in 16 innings, striking out 13. Wisler pounds both sides of the plate with a 92-93 mph heater that features plus life and solid sinking action. He can dial his fastball up to 95 mph when he needs it, though he just as effectively deploys an assortment of quality secondary pitches, including a low-80s slider that grades as plus. Just when opposing hitters begin looking for the hard stuff, Wisler will drop in an average changeup or, later in the game, a fringy mid-70s curveball. With a career walk rate of 2.3 per nine innings, he shows exceptional control for a young power pitcher, and for the second straight season he decimated righthanded batters, holding them to a .184 average and striking out one-third of them. He'll need to tighten his secondary pitches to combat lefties, who made considerably more contact while hitting .254 and slugging .421. Wisler's mental toughness, competitive streak and poise put him on the fast track, and the Padres won't back off now that he's ready for Triple-A El Paso. He has No. 2 starter upside and might be a callup candidate to San Diego in the second half of 2014.
The seventh overall pick in 2012, Fried paired with fellow Harvard-Westlake School product Lucas Giolito, now the Nationals' No. 1 prospect, to become the seventh pair of high school teammates selected in the first round of the same draft. Signed for $3 million, Fried advanced to low Class A Fort Wayne in 2013 and made all 23 of his starts in a six-man rotation. His strikeout (7.6 per nine innings) and walk (4.2) rates ranked among the highest in the Midwest League for ERA qualifiers. Fried can spin a plus curveball and has two other pitches that scouts grade favorably, but what enhances his ceiling is the projection remaining in his lean 6-foot-4 frame. He fires 90-91 mph fastballs and tops out at 95 in each start--doing so from a textbook delivery and clean arm action--and scouts project a future plus fastball once he's done filling out. Fried's power curve turns the most heads for its tight rotation and top-to-bottom spin, and it was responsible for claiming the most strikeout victims. His changeup came a long way in 2013 as he began incorporating into his everyday repertoire. The Padres believe Fried's walk rate will drop once he challenges hitters more frequently in the zone. A three-pitch lefty who misses bats and has a good pickoff move, Fried will zoom through the minors if he throws more strikes. He has No. 2 starter upside, with a chance to jump quickly to Double-A San Antonio if he excels early at high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2014.
A 31st-round pick by the Red Sox out of high school in 2010, Renfroe headed to Mississippi State rather than turn pro after establishing the Magnolia State's single-season prep record with 20 home runs. After two shaky years at MSU, he blossomed as a junior, tying for the Southeastern Conference lead with 16 homers while driving the Bulldogs to the College World Series finals. The Padres evaluated Renfroe as one of the top power bats available in the 2013 draft and signed him for $2.678 million after taking him 13th overall. His value will be tied to how often he unleashes his well-above-average raw power in games. He has tremendous strength and bat speed but needs to simplify his swing in order to shorten his bat path and not get under the ball so frequently. He'll also need to polish his strike-zone discipline after fanning five times as often as he walked in 2013, though he tracks the ball well out of the pitcher's hand. A plus athlete who caught and pitched in high school, Renfroe is an average runner--but plus underway--who has above-average range and instincts in the outfield. His arm compares favorably with those of Rymer Liriano and Yeison Asencio, two other strong-armed right fielders in the system. Renfroe will begin 2014 at high Class A Lake Elsinore. Scouts who like him see him as a future .270 hitter with 25-home run potential.
Just when he appeared ready to deliver on the promise that made him the 30th overall pick by the Red Sox in 2008 and the centerpiece of the Adrian Gonzalez trade two years later, Kelly missed half the 2012 season with a strained elbow ligament and then all of 2013 after having Tommy John surgery in April. He shook a reputation for projection over production with his injury-abbreviated performance at Double-A and Triple-A in 2012, which included a 32/3 SO/BB ratio and 0.91 WHIP over 29 innings. He owed much of his enhanced strikeout rate to improved fastball location and finish on a curveball that had only teased plus in the past. Kelly wears out the bottom of the zone with a low-90s sinking fastball that features consistent armside run, and generating groundballs is one of his strong suits. Just when batters get used to seeing the fastball he mixes in a changeup, though he could improve his results by adding more separation on the pitch between either his fastball or curveball. An exceptional athlete who played both ways in high school and his first year as a pro, Kelly repeats his delivery, so further improvement of his secondary pitches is possible. Assuming a full recovery, he has mid-rotation upside. In a best-case scenario Kelly could be on regular schedule by May and in the big league rotation near the all-star break.
Liriano developed soreness in his right elbow in December 2012 during the Dominican League season, then blew it out in spring training while long-tossing in the outfield. He had Tommy John surgery in mid-February 2013 and missed the entire season. Liriano flashes all five tools, highlighted by plus raw power to all fields, arm strength and range in right field. His power will play better in games if he makes more contact and once he plays in a more favorable park for power. Shaky pitch recognition, though, may mean Liriano never hits for a high average. A solid runner, he chooses his spots well and has swiped 30 bases in each season from 2010-12. Scouts expect him to fill out and lose a tick of speed, though that won't prevent him from being a strong defender. Liriano started taking batting practice in August, then hit in games during Dominican instructional league. The Padres expect him to return at full strength to Double-A San Antonio, where he finished 2012.
At McNeese State, Peterson starred on the diamond and as a cornerback on the football team, but he made the right decision in pursuing baseball. He spent all of 2013 as shortstop at high Class A Lake Elsinore, ranking among the California League leaders in average (.303), stolen bases (42) and triples (13). Peterson has no single plus tool, but he adeptly combines athleticism, skill and instincts, so his average tools play. He shows average range and arm strength at shortstop to go with throwing accuracy and first-step quickness. That quickness, combined with his ability to read pitchers, makes up for his average run times, and he boasts a career 80 percent stolen-base success rate. Peterson shows no give in left-on-left matchups and sprays line drives where the ball is pitched. Though he has below-average power, he can turn on the inside pitch when he's geared to do so. If he reaches his ceiling, Peterson will be a table-setting starter at shortstop.
Smith led the high Class A California League with 5.1 SO/BB ratio in 2012 and continued in that vein with a 4.4 ratio at Double-A and Triple-A in 2013. Called on as an emergency starter after just six starts at Double-A San Antonio, Smith received three different callups to San Diego in 2013. His physicality, clean arm action, up-tempo delivery and above-average fastball stand out immediately. He sits 92-93 mph and can run his fastball up to about 97, often with natural cutting action. Getting bushwhacked by big league hitters taught him that he'll need more than his fastball to succeed. Smith threw his changeup about one in five pitches for San Diego and it's his go-to secondary weapon, which he sells with good arm speed. Finding conviction in his curveball has been more of a challenge, though the Padres say it should be an average pitch once he uses it with more power and learns to better sync his delivery when throwing it. Smith seemed to get his feet under him in September, going 1-2, 3.80 with 31 strikeouts in 24 innings over four starts. He might be ready to claim a permanent rotation spot in spring training and has mid-rotation potential.
Signing Sampson for $600,000 in 2009 signaled a shift in the Padres' preference from college to prep arms at the top of the draft. He overcame a disastrous four-start opening at Triple-A Tucson to thrive in 2013 at Double-A San Antonio, overhauling his approach, improving his velocity and leading the organization with 135 strikeouts. Sampson went 8-0, 1.57 through his final 12 appearances at San Antonio before a return trip to Tucson, owing his dominance to improved fastball velocity and the substitution of a slider for his below-average curveball. Scouts clocked Sampson's heater at a consistent 93-95 mph in 2013, while his slider gave him the weapon and aggressive mindset to retire righthanders on a consistent basis. He still throws a quality changeup that he sells with the same arm slot and speed as his fastball. Below-average command remains an issue for Sampson, who tends to catch too much of the plate. His near 1.0 SO/BB ratio and 1.71 WHIP with Tucson in August indicate he still has work to do. Sampson worked as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League, and his newfound power arsenal means a career in that role could still be a productive one.
Though the results haven't indicated as much, Ross may have more arm speed than any of the projectable pitchers the Padres drafted in 2011 or 2012, a list headed by Matt Wisler and Max Fried. Ross signed for $2.75 million as the 25th overall pick in 2011, but shoulder tendinitis dented his full-season debut in 2012. His brother Tyson turned in a career-best performance for the big league Padres in 2013. Ross remained healthy in 2013 and made all 23 starts in low Class A Fort Wayne's six-man rotation. He shows two plus pitches with consistency, though his changeup still has a long way to go for scouts to confidently peg him as a quality starter. Ross pitches at 93-94 mph and tops out at 97 with above-average riding life, which helps him keep the ball on the ground and home runs off the board. He can alter batters' eye level with a power slider that darts out of the zone and flashes plus potential. He loses velocity in later innings and doesn't have the best feel for mixing his pitches. The Padres believe his changeup can be an average pitch because he's athletic and is refining his delivery and feel for pitching. Some scouts see Ross as a mid-rotation starter, while others see a power reliever. He is right where he needs to be on the development cycle, on target for high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2014.
The 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Spangenberg's production tailed off in the second half of 2012 following a concussion he endured when struck in the head by a ball during batting practice. He advanced to Double-A San Antonio at midseason 2013, and he still turns in double-plus run times and has the above-average range to play second base. Scouts, however, don't see eye to eye about his overall potential. Because Spangenberg still is ironing out the finer points of his swing and defensive technique, the most charitable explanation proffered may be that he's a good athlete who's learning to refine his baseball skills. The high Class A Lake Elsinore coaching staff succeeded in getting Spangenberg to tone down his stride and square himself off at the plate in 2013 so that the lefty hitter could pull the inside pitch instead of flicking everything to left field or rolling over for 4-3 groundouts. With a flat swing plane, he won't elevate many pitches for home runs, but he can shoot balls into the gaps. He's an excellent runner and good basestealer who only will get more efficient. Spangenberg worked with San Antonio manager and 10-year big league second sacker Rich Dauer to smooth out his defensive actions at the keystone, touching on the backhand play, the double-play pivot and throwing accuracy. Reports from scouts outside the organization indicate that Spangenberg could be an average defender with a fringe arm. If he hits, he can be a starter at second base. If not, his speed and lefty bat could make him an attractive utility option at second and third base and perhaps in center field.
Trainer Antonio Arias presented Cordero to teams as a third baseman, but when the Padres signed him for $175,000 in November 2011 they determined that his athleticism would allow him to play shortstop. While the lean, 6-foot-3 Cordero might one day outgrow the position, he has the first-step quickness, range, sure hands and above-average arm to stay there for the foreseeable future. In his U.S. debut in 2013, he tied for the Rookie-level Arizona League lead in slugging (.511) while also finishing among the leaders in average (.333) and OPS (.891). The rare lefthanded hitter from the Dominican Republic, Cordero has exciting offensive potential thanks to plus bat speed and an innate feel to hit. When he barrels the ball it travels a long way with big-time carry, leading some to project above-average power to go with a strong batting average. He's also an above-average runner who went a perfect 11-for-11 on steals in the AZL and will leg out his share of doubles and triples. Like many young shortstops, Cordero suffers from occasional lapses in focus, but overall he has five-tool talent with the luxury of having time on his side to hone his skills. No lefty-hitting Dominican shortstop ever has played in the major leagues--and the number of second and third basemen totals just four players--so Cordero is fighting history as he advances to low Class A Fort Wayne.
The Padres acquired Wieland and lefthander Robbie Erlin when they dealt reliever Mike Adams to the Rangers at the 2011 trade deadline. Wieland had Tommy John surgery a year after joining San Diego, but not before making five big league starts early in 2012. His rehab from elbow surgery stretched to 15 months, due to setbacks, before he took the mound again in the 2013 Arizona Fall League. Wieland's stuff will play against major league hitters, though he doesn't have a large margin for error given that he relies on precision over power. His fastball sits at about 91 mph and can bump 94 with late life. He favors a big-breaking curveball that sits in the high 70s and a low-80s changeup that fades away from the barrels of lefthanders. Wieland had success incorporating a fringy slider into his repertoire after joining the Padres, and he goes to it when he needs to throw a strike. Add it all up and he profiles as a strike-throwing No. 4 starter. Erlin made nine starts and logged 55 innings for San Diego in 2013, losing his prospect eligibility, and Wieland ought to follow suit in 2014.
The Padres hit the state of Florida hard in the 2012 draft, selecting three prep righthanders in the first four rounds. Eflin, taken 33rd overall and signed for $1.2 million, appears to be a safer bet to reach his ceiling than either Walker Weickel (sandwich round) or Walker Lockett (fourth). After all, he won the low Class A Midwest League ERA title (2.73) in 2013 while also placing fifth with a 1.19 WHIP, throwing three average-to-above pitches but no wipeout offering. Eflin touched the mid-90s in high school but sits more comfortably at 90-92 mph with sink in a pro rotation. He threw one of the top changeups in the MWL, showing advanced arm speed, and he throws the above-average pitch in any count. Eflin scrapped the fringy curveball he threw as an amateur to pick up a slider, and he succeeded in throwing it as a chase pitch, though it will require further power and precision to be a consistent average pitch. A physical 6-foot-4, Eflin tends to stay tall and rigid in his delivery, preventing him from getting ideal extension and plane on his pitches. Scouts see him as a potential No. 4 starter in the big leagues if he can refine his command, and he's ready for high Class A Lake Elsinore.
Andriese spent the second half of 2013 at Triple-A Tucson and showed a strong blend of command (3.6 SO/BB ratio) and ability to keep the ball on the ground (1.8 groundout/airout ratio). Both ratios placed him within the top 60 for qualified minor league starters. While he gets results, Andriese doesn't do it pretty, nor does he have knockout stuff. He unleashes low-90s sinkers that run in on the hands of righthanders, doing so with a long, hooking arm action and closed-off delivery that force him to pull the ball across his body. This appears to have no effect on his control because his career walk rate is 2.1 per nine innings. Andriese worked in more four-seamers at 93-94 mph in 2013 to change eye levels and set up an average high-70s curveball and mid-80s changeup. His curve often features vicious downward break, and he'll sometimes try to spot a slider/cutter or a splitter. Andriese could be a mid-rotation starter if he can improve his performance against lefthanders. They've hit .280/.335/.408 in full-season ball, so he'll try to improve upon that at Triple-A El Paso in 2014.
Signed at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, Quintana didn't blow away the Padres during his tryout, though he did have evident leverage in his swing and a sturdy frame with room to add muscle mass. He began to show San Diego the player they had envisioned with his play in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2012, batting .291/.337/.483 with 17 extra-base hits in 37 games. That showing earned Quintana a ticket to low Class A Fort Wayne for 2013, and he quickly earned admirers with his plus bat speed, loose actions and propensity for loud contact. He missed a month and a half at midseason with a broken hand after being hit with a pitch, but when he returned, Quintana hit .344 with 11 extra-base hits over his final 35 games. He has impact potential with the bat, profiling as a third baseman who can hit for average and power, but his over-anxiousness at the plate was apparent with nine times as many strikeouts as walks. Though he has present strength, he's not quite done filling out yet. Quintana throws well, but he probably won't win any Gold Gloves with fringe-average range and fielding ability. The Padres want him to use his legs while fielding grounders, not simply bend at the waist. Quinatana could be a breakout star in 2014 when he tackles high Class A Lake Elsinore.
Evaluators in the high Class A California League in 2013 singled out Jankowski as fastest baserunner, best baserunner and best defensive outfielder in a survey of best tools. Those attributes will be his ticket to the big leagues. Batters seldom hit the ball over Jankowski's head in center field, with some scouts throwing 70 grades on his defensive ability. His below-average arm would not play in right field. Jankowski went 71-for-85 (84 percent) on the bases for Lake Elsinore and led the Cal League in steals, showcasing double-plus run times to first base. He improved his stealing efficiency in 2013, but he'll need to take another step forward with the bat to profile as an everyday player. Jankowski must add heft to his frame and authority to his swing to keep defenses honest, though adding loft to his swing would be fruitless given well below-average power potential. Jankowski profiles as a table-setter, one who has relied on line drives, ground balls, speed and the occasional bunt to reach base. A season at Double-A San Antonio in 2014 will tell the Padres a lot about his future potential.
Oramas pitched for Double-A San Antonio's Texas League champions in both 2011 and 2013, sandwiching those playoff runs around Tommy John surgery in 2012. He announced his return to full health by making 12 starts for the Missions in 2013 and going 3-2, 3.07 with a 4.0 SO/BB ratio, then dealing 12 scoreless innings in the playoffs. The Padres non-tendered Oramas following the 2012 season to make room for other players on the 40-man roster, though they subsequently re-signed him to a minor league deal for 2013. The reason San Diego has made such a great effort to retain Oramas is because he projects to have three major league pitches with a feel to deploy them for maximum impact. Short and stout, he locates an 89-92 mph fastball all over the strike zone with a fearless demeanor, hiding the ball until the last instant and varying his arm angle. His curveball features tight rotation and average power, while he doesn't hesitate to lean on his fading changeup when he has feel for it. Oramas returned to the familiar surroundings of the Mexican Pacific League in October 2013 as he prepares to audition for the big league club. Making or not making the rotation might have more to do with inventory than ability, seeing as Oramas will be competing for innings with veterans such as Andrew Cashner, Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Cory Luebke, Tyson Ross and a host of prospect hopefuls.
Among players drafted by the Padres in 2012, only seventh overall pick Max Fried received a higher bonus than Weickel, who signed for $2 million as the 55th selection. Lean, 6-foot-6 and broad-shouldered, he tantalizes scouts with his frame, clean arm action and potential for two plus pitches. Weickel made the low Class A Fort Wayne rotation in 2013, though he stumbled to the most bloated ERA (5.04) and WHIP (1.52) among the club's primary starters. Pro scouts still like his arm strength and projectability but question his feel to pitch. Weickel sits 91-92 mph with vicious sink at times and has topped out at 95, but he struggles to maintain rhythm in his delivery, particularly from the stretch. He snaps off plus mid-70s curveballs early in starts, but he can lose feel and rotation on the pitch when his arm angle creeps too high. Weickel has shown a developing feel for a changeup, though it's a third pitch now. His overall profile suggests a ceiling along the lines of a No. 4 starter if he can iron out his command.
The Padres rewarded Fuentes, a Red Sox first-round pick in 2009 and part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal, for his improved maturity, plate discipline and effort level in 2013 by calling him up on Aug. 26. He didn't play much in San Diego, but he hit .330/.413/.448 with 35 stolen bases in 107 games in the minors, mostly at Double-A San Antonio. Thanks to a career-high walk rate of 11 percent, his on-base percentage ranked 19th in the minors. Missions batting coach Jacque Jones had Fuentes spread out his stance at the plate, and he made more hard contact and hit to the middle of the field unlike he ever had before. If he doesn't keep up that pace, he still has supporting tools that will make him an attractive reserve, including plus speed and range. His arm is fringy and not suited to regular play in right field. A wiry athlete, Fuentes has very little power potential but should be able to leg out the occasional double. He could better utilize his speed by bunting more often. Fuentes appears destined for Triple-A El Paso in 2014, but he's not far away.
Campos injured his elbow and required Tommy John surgery after his first pro appearance for short-season Eugene in 2011. Because he signed out of Venezuela at age 23 after pursuing soccer as a youth, his elbow surgery effectively put off his debut season until 2013, which he finished as a 26 year old at Double-A San Antonio. Few in the system can out-stuff Campos, however. He sits 93-95 mph with a double-plus fastball that tops out at 98 and saws off righthanders with sinking, boring action. Same-sided batters went just 16-for-137 (.117) with strikeouts nearly 44 percent of the time in 2013. Campos throws a low-80s curveball that features late, tight breaking action, and he sometimes toys with a fringy changeup. Despite his inexperience, he throws from an athletic, repeatable delivery, and he ought to throw more strikes once he stops overthrowing as much as he does now. That will be a crucial task for Campos after he walked 5.1 batters per nine innings in 2013. The Padres expect him to contribute to the 2014 bullpen, perhaps in the second half.
Not wanting to miss the boat on another Peterson brother, area scouts zeroed in on Dustin at Gilbert High in 2013 after letting big brother D.J. slip to the 33rd round three years earlier. While D.J. blossomed at New Mexico and eventually went 12th overall to the Mariners in 2013, Dustin slipped to the second round (50th overall) of the same draft and pulled down $1.4 million from the Padres to forgo a commitment Arizona State. San Diego regarded Peterson as one of the best bats in the draft thanks to his quick hips, natural rhythm and electric bat speed. He creates enough loft and backspin to hit for average power one day while also hitting for a high average because he uses the whole ballpark. A prep shortstop and an average runner, Peterson shifted to third base in the Rookie-level Arizona League, but many scouts don't view him as a fit for the left side of the infield because of an unconventional throwing motion and fringy arm. Opinion on future position varies from second base to first base to left field. Peterson will head to low Class A Fort Wayne in 2014.
A shoulder injury at Santa Clara cost Medica virtually all of 2009 and forced him out from behind the plate to the outfield when he returned as a redshirt junior in 2010. A 14th-round pick by the Padres that year, he hasn't fared much better at avoiding the injury bug in pro ball, averaging about 90 games a season from 2011-13 as he has dealt with shoulder surgery (his second after having one in college) and a strained muscle in his ribcage. The organization received a pleasant surprise when a 25-year-old Medica, now a first baseman, put up a .954 OPS at Double-A San Antonio in 2013 while leading the system with 20 homers to receive a September callup. At high Class A Lake Elsinore the year before he led the system with a .330 average. That is to say, he has a track record for hitting whenever he's been on the field. Scouts like Medica's approach at the plate even if he doesn't have elite bat speed. He looks to hit the ball to all fields, recognizes spin on breaking balls early and hits with authority to right-center field with a strong righthanded stroke. He doesn't lift the ball all that well, so he'll probably be limited to below-average home run output. An ordinary defender at first base, Medica would enhance his attractiveness to the big club if he could play left field or possibly spot at his college position of catcher. He could be an early callup from Triple-A El Paso in 2014 if he hits.
Asencio won the low Class A Midwest League batting title in 2012 and ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Rookie-level Arizona League the year before that. However, the latter feat he accomplished while playing as Yoan Alcantara, the identity he assumed to take three years off his age when he signed in 2009. Nevertheless, he played at two levels in 2013, reaching Double-A San Antonio in June. At the plate, Asencio leaves nothing in reserve, swinging at the first pitch he can handle and frequently hitting the ball hard. The definition of a bad-ball hitter, he carries a .295 average in full-season ball while striking out only once out of every 10 trips to the plate. He puts on a show with long drives to his pull side during batting practice, but in games Asencio is susceptible to pitches on the outer half because he pulls off the ball. For this reason, he may never hit for a consistently high average. An average defender in right field, Asencio has one of the strongest arms in the system and sports perhaps the quickest release in the minors. He recorded 16 assists in 2013 and 21 the year before. He's a below-average runner, with no chance to handle center field if he doesn't hit it off in right. A return engagement at Double-A awaits Asencio in 2014.
Dickerson won the Big Ten Conference triple crown as a sophomore at Indiana in 2010. He tailed off as a junior, however, as he dealt with a back injury and fell to the third round of the draft. The Padres acquired him in a November 2013 trade with the Pirates in which they parted with Jaff Decker and Miles Mikolas. Dickerson has a good hitting approach, using the whole field and showing good bat-to-ball skills. A line-drive hitter, he does not generate the power typically expected from a corner player, particularly one with his physicality. At Double-A Altoona in 2013, he went on a power binge in June and July, mashing 11 home runs. The Pirates converted Dickerson to first base immediately after signing him after he played the outfield in college, but he played primarily right field in the Eastern and Arizona Fall leagues in 2013. He has below-average range and speed, though, and many scouts believe his future lies at first base. Dickerson will begin 2014 at Triple-A El Paso as he attempts to chase down Yonder Alonso and Tommy Medica on the depth chart.
A junior-college teammate of Bryce Harper, Roach toned down his delivery after signing with the Angels and has ranked as one of the more extreme groundball pitchers in the minors. He ranked seventh among minor league ERA title qualifiers with a groundout/airout ratio of 2.4 in 2013, his first extended exposure at Double-A San Antonio. Roach throws his sinker with below-average velocity at 87-89 mph but with 100 percent conviction and solid-average life. He throws an average, mid-80s splitter that helps him evade bats, but not nearly so many as he had at high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2012. His strikeout rate dropped from 7.4 per nine innings to 4.9 between 2012 and 2013. Roach throws consistent strikes with an easy arm action--especially in the second half, when he walked 13 batters in 14 starts--and his fringy, mid-70s slurve gives him a different look the second time through the order. If everything breaks right for him, Roach could be a groundball-oriented No. 5 starter or middle reliever.
Quackenbush has closed games for every Padres affiliate from short-season Eugene up through Triple-A Tucson, where he spent the second half of 2013. He creates deception with a short arm action, hiding the ball to the last instant, which enables his 91-93 mph fastball to play up to plus. Quackenbush creates excellent plane from a high three-quarters slot, making the heater tough for batters to lift, and he's allowed just two home runs in 144 appearances. Quackenbush throws a loopy high-70s curveball, but he picked up a splitter in 2013 that could function as a second go-to pitch to pair with his fastball. He struck out nearly 40 percent of righthanded batters in 2013, while holding lefties to a .200 average, but some scouts are hesitant to buy into Quackenbush's fastball-heavy approach due to a lack of premium velocity. After walking 5.0 batters per nine innings at Triple-A in 2013, he'll attempt to put his typical strong control on display at El Paso in 2014.
Portillo's career has been a series of peaks and valleys since he signed with the Padres for $2 million in July 2008, and in 2013 he dealt with his first extended bout with injuries. He suffered a lat injury at the end of spring training that cost him the entire season, save for three rehab starts at low Class A Fort Wayne in June. The Padres assigned him to the Arizona Fall League to get more work. Portillo sat at 94-96 mph with sinking action during the 2012 season, but he pitched a few ticks lower in the AFL as he eased back into a routine. Feel to pitch never has been his strong point, though his high-70s slider has become an average pitch for him. Portillo can throw a good changeup when he stays on top of the ball, though organization consensus is beginning to coalesce around the idea that his future lies in the bullpen, owing to a career walk rate of 5.3 per nine innings. If he makes the bullpen home in 2014, then Portillo could begin at Triple-A El Paso.
The Padres purchased the rights of the 17-year-old Urena from the Mexican League in August 2011, sending $550,000 to Mexico City for the strong-framed, righthanded hitter. He led the Rookie-level Arizona League with nine home runs in 2013, and among the system's lower-level prospects he may have the most power, owing to quick hands, above-average present strength and high rate of hard contact. Scouts give him a chance to hit for average because he can drive the ball to the off field. Urena played a lot of left field in the AZL, though the Padres view him as a right fielder long term, based on average range and solid-average arm strength. A slow release negatively affects how his arm plays, and he's a below-average runner. Urena will bat in the middle of the order at low Class A Fort Wayne in 2014.
Barbato played dual roles at high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2013, closing games for the first four months before shifting to the rotation for seven starts down the stretch. In a relief role he sits at about 94 mph while dialing up to 97 with explosive life. He also generates swings and misses with a big, high-rotation, high-70s knuckle-curveball, though the Padres would like to see him refine or learn a slurvy breaking ball, something that won't be as recognizable out of his hand. Barbato shows the potential for three pitches--he also shows feel for a decent changeup as a starter--but sometimes his rigid delivery prevents him from throwing quality strikes. If he returns to the bullpen, Barbato could one day surface in the big leagues as a set-up man.