BA Newsletter: Subscribe Today!
Use the options to filter your search.
When the Red Sox signed Guerra for $250,000 out of Panama in 2012, he showed advanced instincts and defensive tools while also displaying a solid swing that offered an offensive foundation. After a year in the Dominican Summer League, he made a strong impression on Rookie-level Gulf Coast League observers in 2014, especially for his work in the field and high baseball acumen. GCL Red Sox manager Tom Kotchman called Guerra the best defensive shortstop he had in 35 years, and evaluators for other organizations back the view of Guerra as a potential Gold Glover at shortstop. His offensive development is more shocking, and he has advanced faster than anyone anticipated. The Red Sox believed that Guerra could become at least a gap hitter, but at low Class A Greenville in 2015, he turned heads with the frequency with which he showed pull power. He ranked seventh in the South Atlantic League with 15 home runs. The Padres targeted him as a key--along with center fielder Manuel Margot--in their fourplayer haul from Boston when they traded closer Craig Kimbrel. With his easy, graceful actions, lean, athletic frame and plus arm, Guerra fits what the current Padres brain trust seeks in a shortstop. His game features an element of electricity, both in terms of his ability to make standout plays on defense and his ability to barrel fastballs. His on-field instincts further amplify his potential impact. The combination of plus defense and surprising home run potential at shortstop offer considerable ceiling, though his high strikeout rate (23.5 percent), particularly against lefties (33.8 percent), raises questions about just how much of an impact his bat can make at the big league level. Scouts are also split on whether Guerra's power is sustainable. Many who watched him in the South Atlantic League saw him as a future 8-10 home run hitter, not the plus power shortstop he showed in Greenville. But he improved his plate discipline considerably and has room to grow physically, so others see his power spike as sustainable. If his plate approach continues to improve his ceiling is that of a championshipcaliber shortstop. Guerra's offensive improvement is attributed to his aptitude and intelligence, portending future adjustments are possible when necessary. On defense, he combines plus arm strength with pinpoint accuracy and the ability to make throws from all angles. He has smooth hands, reads hops well and has a knack for making the difficult play look routine at shortstop. Guerra gets plus grades for character, with what one evaluator called championship makeup. His weakest tool is his below-average speed, but his instincts, first-step quickness and ability to read the ball off the bat gives him excellent range. The Padres were desperate for a shortstop in the major leagues in 2015, so Guerra may be on the fast track. Compared with the Padres' shortstop holdovers, Guerra is a better defender than Ruddy Giron and has much more offensive potential than Jose Rondon, making him the organization's shortstop of the future. Guerra's ability to handle a crucial defensive position, coupled with his bat potential, give him an excellent opportunity to be at least a future solid-average regular. If the power spike he showed in 2015 is a sign of things to come, he could be even better than that. Guerra may not start the season at Double-A San Antonio, but he could finish up there with an eye on a mid-2017 ETA.
Margot opened 2015 with a stretch of 62 straight at-bats without a strikeout, but between a shoulder injury that required a disabled list stint and a promotion to Double-A Portland, his production leveled off. Still, he played in the Futures Game and earned comparisons with Carlos Beltran from Carlos Febles, Margot's high Class A Salem manager. Margot's strong wrists create plus bat speed, and he can manipulate the bat well enough to post high contact rates that should allow him to hit for average. He also has the strength to occasionally drive the ball out of the park, though his aggressive approach--he chases pitches out of the zone--and emphasis on hitting the ball up the middle and to right-center field mean that his power is primarily to the gaps. Margot combines above-average speed with baserunning smarts in a way that makes him an impact runner, and his ability to glide to the ball in center field grades as plus. Though young, he's close to maxed out physically, limiting his future projection. Margot profiles as an everyday center fielder, if not an impact bat. Though he has moved quickly, he could benefit from a lengthier apprenticeship at Triple-A El Paso as he adjusts to pitchers attacking him with more advanced mixes. He could challenge Travis Jankowski for the center-field job in San Diego in 2016.
Renfroe's has earned a reputation for running hot and cold. His college career started slowly, but he broke out in 2013, leading Mississippi State to the College World Series finals with 16 home runs. He signed with the Padres for $2.678 million as the 13th overall pick in that year's draft. He finished 2015 on a hot streak, hitting .333 with 13 extra-base hits in 21 games at Triple-A El Paso. Renfroe hit just .224/.278/.324 with two homers through 45 games at Double-A San Antonio in 2015, prompting him to finally embrace help from Missions hitting coach Morgan Burkhart and roving instructor Luis Ortiz. They had Renfroe shorten his leg kick and adjust his hands, which helped him become shorter and quicker to the ball. He also employed a more selective approach. Strikeouts are the tradeoff for Renfroe's plus power, and he's no future batting champ, because his swing can get long and he tends to slip back into bad habits. He's a strong athlete who runs well for his size and has a plus arm well-suited for right field. He led the Texas League with 14 outfield assists. He has the range to handle center field occasionally. Renfroe came to 2015 spring training in poor shape and must make conditioning a priority to reach his ceiling as a profile right fielder. He could reach the majors late in 2016 with continued refinement at El Paso.
The Padres signed Giron for $600,000 on the 2013 international free agent market. He began 2015 in extended spring but went 6-for-6 in his May 18 debut at low Class A Fort Wayne. The youngest player in the Midwest League in 2015 until teammate Luis Urias arrived in July, Giron shows an uncommon plate approach for a player his age. He takes a short path to the ball with a tick below-average power. He projects to be an above-average hitter with a swing geared for line drives, which will keep his homers in the 10-15 range until he learns to put air under the ball. Giron has the strength and physicality to drive the ball, but his mature frame lacks projection. He is an above-average runner underway who needs to improve his leads and first-step quickness to steal bases more efficiently. He has soft hands and a plus throwing arm, though his movements and actions can be rigid, and his fielding percentage (.938) ranked toward the middle of the pack in the MWL. Giron should be able to remain at shortstop for now, but even if he fills out, a move to second base is probable. With his maturity and leadership--he tutored international players during instructional league--he should begin 2016 at high Class A Lake Elsinore.
The Angels signed Rondon out of Venezuela for $70,000 in 2011, then traded him to the Padres in July 2014 as the best prospect in the four-player package that relocated Huston Street to Anaheim. Rondon's presence was part of the reason the Padres bent to the Nationals' wishes to include Trea Turner in a deal for Wil Myers in the winter of 2014. While not flashy, Rondon has good lateral range, sure hands and an accurate, above-average arm. With soft hands and smooth footwork, he is capable of being an at least average everyday defender at short, with the ability to slide over to second base and be an above-average defender there. Outside of bat control, he has no outstanding offensive skill. Rondon has a linear bat path and solid strike-zone judgment. He tends to stab with the barrel, which tamps down his hit tool and power. A fringe-average runner, his stolen-base success rate as a pro is just 63 percent. Rondon fractured his right elbow in July at Double-A San Antonio on a slide, ending his season, but he should be ready for spring training. He may have the glove to be a regular but the bat of a utility player. He'll return to San Antonio in 2016.
As a junior in 2012, Jankowski hit .414 to lead Stony Brook on a Cinderella run to the College World Series. That year he led NCAA Division I with 79 runs, 110 hits and 11 triples. Drafted 44th overall in 2012, he became the Seawolves' highest draft pick ever and finished 2015 in the big leagues. Double-plus speed and plus defense are the tickets to the majors for the man known as "Fred" because of his affection for late children's TV personality Fred "Mister" Rogers. Jankowski is an excellent, willing bunter, and his quick, short swing limits his strikeouts (15 percent as a pro). He worked with Double-A San Antonio hitting coach Morgan Burkhart on a mechanical change and pulled the ball more in 2015, but not necessarily for power. Opening the field prevented pitchers from busting him inside. Jankowski's flat bat path limits his loft ability, and his power is well below-average. He has a below-average arm. With Manuel Margot now in the organization, Jankowski has to establish himself as the Padres' center fielder in 2016. He'll have to retain some of the plate discipline he showed at Double-A to fulfill his ceiling as a table-setting regular or possible reserve.
Rea is from tiny Cascade, Iowa--population: 2,159--and while Midwest area scouts were intrigued by his loose arm and projectable body in high school, they felt he was better served going to college. He played his freshman year at Northern Iowa, but budget cuts killed the program. After a year at St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC, Rea reunited with former Panthers coach Rick Heller at Indiana State, where his repeatable delivery and clean arm action attracted the Padres. Rea has a four-pitch mix, and while not one of them grades as plus, he can throw all for strikes. His fastball sits 91-93 mph, and he has a cutter that touches 89. His curveball is average and shows tight spin. The biggest difference for Rea in his breakout 2015 season at Double-A San Antonio was the development of a splitter, which he uses as a changeup. He used the split to neutralize lefthanded batters, who hit just .198 across all levels in 2015. The addition of the splitter allowed him to pitch more aggressively after nibbling too much his first two pro seasons. Rea projects as a back-of-the-rotation option for the Padres. His ability to retire lefthanders and limit damage--he allowed just three homers in 102 innings in 2015--portends well for expansive Petco Park. He'll get a long look in 2016 spring training.
One of four prospects acquired from the Red Sox in the Craig Kimbrel trade, Allen is a native of Asheville, N.C. Prior to his junior year, he transferred to the IMG Academy--the Bradenton, Fla., high school team, and not the post-grad version for which organization-mate Jacob Nix played. Allen's fastball velocity jumped from the upper 80s to the low 90s in 2015, when Boston signed the eighth-rounder for third-round money ($725,000). The Red Sox likened Allen internally to former Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester, for his delivery and body type. Allen won't fill out physically like Lester, and no one suggests he has Lester's ceiling, but he regularly worked at 92-93 mph in his debut. His fastball could develop into an above-average pitch given his ability to repeat his delivery and command it. He showed comfort incorporating his changeup, demonstrated the ability to spin a curveball and threw four pitches for strikes while showing advanced control and potential solid-average big league command. Allen was considered one of the safer bets in the 2015 high school class, though the median projection among evaluators indicates he probably is a command-over-stuff, back-end starter. He is polished enough to spend 2016 at low Class A Fort Wayne.
Smith had a successful season as an amateur in 2014, playing a key part on USA Baseball's national team that won the COPABE 18U Pan American Championship in Mexico, during which he started a combined no-hitter against Guatemala. The Padres signed Smith for $1.2 million as their top pick (No. 51 overall) after they lost their first-round pick for signing free agent James Shields. Smith hails from the same Park Vista Community High program in Lake Worth, Fla., that also produced Padres' 2014 first-rounder Trea Turner. Smith has some projection left in his large frame and could end up throwing harder than his current 94-95 mph. He has a clean arm action, a good delivery and three pitches that have flashed at least average, with a fastball that projects to plus. Smith has advanced feel for his changeup which has a chance to be plus, while his breaking ball is the least advanced at this point. He has a natural ability to throw strikes. Smith is a physical pitcher and gets high marks for his bulldog demeanor. After a tough pro debut, Smith will build experience gradually. His could begin 2016 in extended spring training before heading to short-season Tri-City.
Despite his North Georgia roots and obvious athleticism, Gettys did not play football in high school. In fact, he avoided most other athletic pursuits to concentrate on baseball, and it paid off. A 1-for-14 performance in the cold at the 2014 National High School Invitational helped trigger a move down draft boards, and he signed for $1.3 million as a Padres second-round pick. For a player with Gettys' physical tools, he gets high marks for his grinder mentality and hard work. But he struggled with pitch recognition and just making contact in 2015 at low Class A Fort Wayne. He led the Midwest League with 162 strikeouts and struck out nearly 31 percent of the time. In the first half of the season, Gettys had trouble with letter-high fastballs and then after a mechanical adjustment, struggled to hit breaking balls. He has above-average power and impacts the ball when he makes contact. In the field is where Gettys shines. A plus defender in center field, he uses his double-plus speed to get a great first step, and he has good instincts and runs efficient routes. His double-pus arm helped him tie for the MWL lead with 21 assists. Gettys showed frustration in 2015 and some issues with immaturity were evident. He has tantalizing talent, though, and if the Padres can improve his approach at the plate, he has regular potential. He could return to Fort Wayne in 2016.
An Astros fifth-round pick out of Los Alamitos (Calif.) High in 2014, Nix agreed to terms with Houston and even passed a physical. The Astros withdrew their offer, however, when they experienced a shortfall in bonus-pool money as a result of failing to come to terms with No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken. Nix filed a grievance with the Astros, with the pitcher receiving an undisclosed payment in December 2014. Nix enrolled at the IMG Academy's post-graduate program in Bradenton, Fla., with an eye toward the 2015 draft. The Padres made him a third-round pick and signed him for $900,000. Nix has a durable body with room for additional strength and the physicality of a starter. He tantalizes with easy fastball velocity up to 95 mph, but his secondary offerings are fringy at best. His curveball flashes decent depth, and he has feel for his changeup, but it can get too firm, and he has trouble finding a consistent release point for both pitches. Nix completely lost feel for throwing strikes briefly, and he chalked up his struggles to anxiety. He worked with the Padres' mental-conditioning staff before turning to his inconsistent mechanics, working to tighten his delivery, which had gotten long in the back. Nix likely will head to short-season Tri-City in 2016 to work on a repeatable delivery.
The Mets intended to begin Mazzoni at Triple-A Las Vegas as part of a prospect-laden rotation alongside Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Rafael Montero. Instead, New York wound up trading Mazzoni (along with 6-foot-9 lefthander Brad Wieck) to the Padres at the end of spring training for veteran lefthanded reliever Alex Torres. A solidly-built righthander, Mazzoni is durable and has a repeatable delivery, but the Padres found his stuff ticked up after being moved to the bullpen. His four-seamer sat 90-94 mph as a starter but rose to 96 as a reliever, and his slider showed sharper break and better depth. He generates a healthy rate of groundballs and a fair share of swings and misses with his above-average slider. Mazzoni doesn't throw his changeup much. It's firm and he can cut it. With his competitive nature and plus fastball, Mazzoni should get another shot in the big league bullpen, where he could be a setup man.
Whatever the Red Sox expected from Asuaje, an 11th-round pick in 2013, they didn't expect him to hit .310/.393/.533 at two Class A levels in 2014 and rank 13th in the minors with 65 extra-base hits. The way he consistently drove the ball with a big swing from a diminutive, 5-foot-9 frame was startling. Asuaje proved to be far streakier at Double-A Portland in 2015, batting .251 with 38 extra-base hits in 110 games. Boston bundled him with Javier Guerra and Manuel Margot when they traded for the Padres' Craig Kimbrel in November 2015. The lefthanded-hitting Asuaje tends to struggle against same-side pitchers, but he does a good job of swinging at strikes overall, which has limited his strikeouts to 16 percent of his plate appearances as a pro. He is fringe-average defensively at second base and average in left field, and he has experience at both third base and shortstop, positions where he could help in a pinch, though he is limited by below-average arm strength. Asuaje profiles as a bat-first utility player and could be ready for the majors in 2016.
Butler took a winding road to pro ball. He pitched sparingly as a freshman at Marshall in 2011 and not at all for Northwest Florida State JC in 2012 before having Tommy John surgery and missing 2013. The Yankees drafted him in the 16th round in 2013 after seeing him throw 97 mph in a workout, but he passed on signing and went to Charlotte. He wound up being drafted by the Padres in the seventh round in 2014. A large-framed righthander, Butler's fastball sits 91-95 mph as a starter but ticked up to 98 out of the bullpen. His secondary offerings lag behind, with a firm slider that has inconsistent tilt and a fringe-average changeup. He began the season in the high Class A Lake Elsinore rotation and performed well, but a shoulder issue knocked him out for two months, and he returned in a relief role. The absence of a reliable second pitch and a hitch in his delivery make it likely that Butler's future lies in relief, but the Padres will have him start to build innings. An improved slider will help Butler miss more bats.
The Mariners signed an 18-year-old de los Santos for just $15,000 out of the Dominican Republic in July 2014, and he made his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2015 because of his easy delivery and feel for pitching. The Padres acquired him in November 2015 when they dealt closer Joaquin Benoit to Seattle. At the time he signed, de los Santos was not overpowering, but with a throwing program and better nutrition, his stuff has improved dramatically. His fastball now sits 93-95 mph and has touched 97. He also possesses an average curveball and a changeup that flashes plus. The thin, 6-foot-3 righthander has good control. In one start at short-season Everett, 62 of 76 pitches went for strikes, and he has a chance to have reliable pitch command thanks to a clean arm action and repeatable mechanics.
Guerrero weighed about 170 pounds and threw about 85 mph when the Padres signed him out of Colombia. Six years and 40 pounds later, the 6-foot-7 righthander possesses premium velocity and a slider that looks like a wipeout weapon at times. But those times are elusive. Guerrero finally appeared to harness control of his stuff at Double-A San Antonio, when he lowered his walk rate to a still-high 4.3 batters per nine innings. He compiled 13 saves with the Missions and was promoted to Triple-A El Paso. His wildness got worse in the Pacific Coast League as his walk rate spiked to 7.2 per nine. Guerrero is still inexperienced--he didn't begin pitching until he was 18 years old. He lacks coordination at times and resembles what one observer called an angry stork when pitching, leading to imprecision in his offerings. With a fastball that sits in the high 90s and touches 100 mph and a slider that flashes plus, Guerrero will get a long look in spring training as a potential bullpen piece, but a return to El Paso is likely.
The Padres signed the lanky, 6-foot-4 Lamet for $100,000 in July 2014. Because he turned pro at age 21--ancient by Dominican amateur standards--his stuff was more advanced than his teen peers. That was evident when after just two appearances in the Dominican Summer League in 2014, Lamet bypassed short-season ball and began 2015 at low Class A Fort Wayne, and he excelled. He ranked among the Midwest League leaders with 120 strikeouts and recorded a 2.99 ERA. Lamet's frame has plenty of room for additional growth, but he has a perfect pitcher's body, with a long, loose arm that adds fluidity to his motion. He is athletic and a great competitor. His fastball sits 90-94 mph with good, late tail, and his slider projects to be an above-average pitch as he gains consistency. Despite his workload increase, Lamet actually improved as the season progressed, recording a 1.42 ERA in August. Scouts say he could move quickly as a reliever because he lacks a developed third pitch, and in his two relief appearances, he struck out 10 of the 21 batters he faced. Lamet will begin 2016 at high Class A Lake Elsinore, but a move to Double-A San Antonio is possible.
Torres, a key part of Cal Poly's rise to prominence as a Division I program, had a resurgent 2015 season after a mediocre pro debut the year before as a fourth-round pick. He hit .305/.352/.439 at two Class A levels in 2015 with 44 doubles that ranked one behind the Rockies' Jordan Patterson for the most in the minor leagues. Torres' best tool is his above-average raw power, but he also has feel for hitting. His power is more to the gaps rather than over the fence, but his bat speed and physicality portend more homers. Torres worked with high Class A Lake Elsinore hitting coach Xavier Nady on using more of the field along with adding power. Torres has tweaked his stance slightly to try to get more explosive and improve his profile as a corner outfielder. Defensively, he showed more versatility than expected and can play both corneroutfield spots. His arm is average but accurate enough to play right field and he is an average fielder overall. He draws high marks for leadership and makeup. A trip to Double-A San Antonio will kick off 2016.
The Padres signed Brasoban in May 2011 for $75,000 as a 17-year-old from the Dominican Republic. A late bloomer, he spent two years in the Dominican Summer League before hitting the U.S. late in 2012. Two more seasons in short-season ball with little success followed before Brasoban finally broke through at low Class A Fort Wayne in 2015. Tantalized by his loose, quick arm and good fastball/slider mix, the Padres built him up as a starter, but they finally moved him to the bullpen in 2015 and saw fantastic results. His fastball shot from 90-94 mph as a starter to 97-98 with late sink, and his slider sharpened into a double-plus weapon to the point that he has what scouts called the best slider in the organization. He has some feel for his changeup, but it's less necessary now in a relief role. So dominant was Brasoban that he ranked fourth in the Midwest League among relievers in lowest opponent average (.199) and fifth in fewest baserunners per nine innings (8.9). He took a big step forward with his control, too, cutting his walk rate to 3.1 batters per nine innings in 2015, and he does a good job keeping the ball in the park. He showed an ability to pitch multiple innings and has embraced his new role as a reliever. A move to Double-A San Antonio is possible in 2016 if he pitches well in spring training.
Born in Ensenada, Mexico, a coastal town an hour's drive from San Diego, Perez graduated high school a year early and attended Central Arizona JC in 2012, hitting .338 as an 18-year-old in a wood-bat conference. His bat is expected to be his carrying tool, but it was certainly less potent in 2015 than 2014, when he slugged .454 at low Class A Fort Wayne. Switching parks to high Class A Lake Elsinore certainly didn't help, because the Storm play in the second-worst offensive environment in the hitter-friendly California League. But Perez's lessened output also resulted from a lack of a consistent approach at the plate. He has a classic lefthanded swing and the ability to consistently lay the barrel on the ball, but in 2015 he hit the ball on the ground more often than in 2014. Perez continued working with Lake Elsinore hitting coach Xavier Nady in the Arizona Fall League on incorporating some swing changes. Perez also is working on his defense after committing 18 errors in 2015 while playing the majority of his games at second base. The Padres feel Perez made real strides in the dirt, and they see a potent offensive second baseman as his ceiling. He could move to Double-A San Antonio in 2016.
The Yankees signed Pirela for $300,000 as a shortstop out of Venezuela in 2006, and he finally broke through to crack the big league roster in 2014 and 2015, his eighth and ninth seasons as a pro. He had sporadic success as a utilityman with New York, playing second base and the corner-outfield posts and showing a lively, righthanded bat at times. The Yankees traded Pirela to the Padres to clear 40-man roster room in November 2015, receiving righthander Ronald Herrera in exchange. Pirela has shown the ability to grind at-bats and hit with two strikes--he owns a .311 career average in nearly 200 Triple-A games-- but he has not been particularly adept at any defensive position. He's an average fielder at second, but below average in left field. His throwing arm is average, as are his hands. Pirela is a high-energy presence, and like fellow offseason trade pickup Carlos Asuaje, is a versatile role player going forward.
Lightly recruited out of high school in Poway, Calif., Dickerson starred in the Cape Cod League before winning the Big Ten Conference triple crown as an Indiana sophomore in 2010. A 2011 third-round pick by the Pirates, he went on to win the high Class A Florida State League MVP award in 2012 and the rookie of the year trophy in the Double-A Eastern and Triple-A Pacific Coast leagues in 2013 and 2015. The Pirates traded Dickerson to his hometown Padres after the 2013 season for Jaff Decker and Miles Mikolas, but his San Diego career got off to a rocky start. He severely sprained his ankle during 2014 spring training, then an MRI revealed a cyst on his left heel that required surgery, which knocked him out for most of the season. When healthy, Dickerson has shown he can hit. He stays on the ball with a balanced lefthanded swing and makes enough hard contact to project as an average hitter with fringeaverage power. He'll have to hit to have a career of any kind because the natural first baseman doesn't add value with defense or baserunning. Because of a depth-perception problem, Dickerson is a fringe-average defender on the outfield corners with an average arm. He turns 26 early in the 2016 season and could be an option for the big league club in a part-time role at first base and left field.
Liriano signed for $300,000 in July 2007 and has logged seven years in the Padres organization-he missed all of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He finally reached the majors in August 2014, but he conspicuously did not receive a September callup in 2015, despite hitting 14 home runs at Triple-A El Paso and ranking ninth in the Pacific Coast League with a .383 on-base percentage. One evaluator believed the lack of a callup was intended as a message to the toolsy outfielder. Liriano drew a career-high 64 walks in 2015, while his strikeout rate held steady at 24 percent, but the overhauled Padres front office has no tie to 24-year-old and perhaps has tired of waiting for the powerfully-built right fielder to translate his tools to the field. At his best, Liriano has plus bat speed and above-average raw power. Though he was far more selective in 2015, he still strikes out too much with a long and hard swing that doesn't produce quite enough power to justify the whiffs. He has plus speed underway, helping him rate as a tick aboveaverage fielder with a prototype right fielder's arm. Because he will be out of options, Liriano cannot be sent to El Paso without first clearing waivers.
Urena was a teammate of Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna on Mexico's 16U COPABE Pan American Championships team in 2010 that lost to Team USA in the championship game. The Padres purchased Urena's rights a year later from the Mexico City Red Devils of the Mexican League for $550,000. After a poor 2014 season, he bounced back in a big way at short-season Tri-City in 2015 by leading the Northwest League in walks (47) and finishing among the league leaders with seven homers and 45 RBIs. Urena has a good feel for the game, a good approach at the plate and plus raw power generated by quick hands. He showed much improved plate discipline in 2015 with a confidence to spit on offspeed pitches he used to chase. A fringe-average runner, he moves well enough laterally to be an average defender in right field. He has an above-average arm but a slow release. He will advance to low Class A Fort Wayne.
The highest-ever drafted player out of Lincoln Trail (Ill.) CC in tiny Robinson, Ill., Hancock went unselected in the 2014 Rule 5 draft after being left off the Padres' 40-man roster, and he posted another solid season, reaching Triple-A El Paso for the first time at the end of 2015. The thin righthander has a fastball ranging 92-95 mph with good, boring action to righthanded battters and a changeup that flashed plus in 2105, but his mid-70s curveball lags behind those offerings. He also lacks an out pitch, averaging just 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings as a pro. The Padres have developed Hancock as a starter, but he lacks the physicality and breaking ball to have a regular rotation spot. Again left off the 40-man roster, Hancock likely will return to Triple-A in 2016, where he will continue to develop as a starter, with a future in the bullpen.
Maton was a second-team all-Conference USA selection at Louisiana Tech as a senior in 2015, leading the conference in strikeouts (90) and going 4-4, 3.68 in 14 starts. The Padres shifted him to the bullpen after making him a 20th-round pick because he averaged nearly 90 innings per season while in college. Maton's bat-missing efficiency improved dramatically with the role switch, and he recorded a 58-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 33 innings at short-season Tri-City. He led Northwest League relievers with 15.8 strikeouts and 1.4 walks per nine innings. Maton is not overpowering, but his fastball can reach 94 mph with late life and tail, and it appears to find another gear when it reaches the strike zone. His hard slider--which he calls a cutter--is deceptive and comes in at 86-88 mph, and he also throws a curveball. One NWL manager who saw him said both secondary offerings project to at least average. Maton has a great pitcher's body, with plenty of room to grow, which allows for projection on his fastball and continued durability. The Padres plan to give him a chance to start in 2016, perhaps at high Class A Lake Elsinore, but he will need to reintroduce his changeup in order to make it in the rotation.
A combination of size and arm strength enticed the Rays to sign Castillo for $1.55 million, the secondlargest bonus of the 2012 international signing period and the most ever given to a Venezuelan southpaw. The Padres were drawn to the raw materials and insisted on him as part of the return from Tampa Bay in the 12-player, three-team deal that brought Wil Myers to San Diego and sent away Trea Turner and Joe Ross to the Nationals. The Rays hadn't soured on Castillo, but he lost some value after missing most of 2014 with left arm tenderness. He rewarded the Padres with a solid season in 2015 in which he hit 96 mph at short-season Tri-City, but he tended to sit 90-92 with the makings of an average slider. Castillo has solid athleticism and an average delivery. His walk rate spiked to 5.3 batters per nine innings when while he pitched at low Class A Fort Wayne at the beginning and end of 2015. The lack of a reliable changeup might relegate Castillo to the bullpen, but the Padres will continue to develop him as starter, probably at Fort Wayne in 2016.
Torres signed with the Athletics for $150,000 out of Venezuela in July 2010 and joined the 40-man roster in November 2015. Oakland traded him to the Padres (along with lefthander Drew Pomeranz) a couple weeks later in a trade for Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski. Torres has a fastball that sits 92-94 mph and has touched 96 with late life. He has a long way to go in his development. He still is learning how to pitch as opposed to just throw. His changeup is a work in progress but has flashed some fade and depth after Torres worked with Beloit pitching coach Steve Connelly. The evolution of his change has made Torres more effective against opponents from both sides of the plate. His best secondary pitch is his curveball that has hard, slurvy action and 11-to-5 movement, and he can use it as a chase pitch or throw it for strikes. The A's worked Torres as a starter through 2014. He wasn't effective and did not enjoy the role, but he thrived out of the bullpen. He should spend a good portion of 2016 at Double-A San Antonio.
The Padres purchased Urias' rights from the Mexico City Red Devils in 2013 when he was just 16 years old. It didn't take long for him to impress. After just 10 at-bats in the Dominican Summer League in 2014, Urias enticed the Padres to send him to the U.S., where he hit .310 in the Rookie-level Arizona League with more walks (18) than strikeouts (13) despite a lack of power. Of Urias' 116 hits since signing, just 13 have gone for extra bases. He has a contact-oriented approach, striking out just 7 percent of the time. He hit his way to low Class A Fort Wayne after just 31 at-bats at short-season Tri-City. Urias supplanted Fort Wayne teammate Ruddy Giron as the youngest player in the Midwest League. Scouts believe Urias eventually will fill out and be able to impact the ball, though he'll always have below-average power. They like the way he controls the zone and believe he will be an above-average hitter. Urias' arm is average but good enough for second base, where he can be an above-average defender because he has good hands and excellent footwork. He has been compared with Marco Scutaro for his makeup and intelligence.
An under-the-radar signing in November 2012, Ramirez kept a low profile until 2015. After spending three seasons in the Dominican Summer League as a reliever with middling results, Ramirez came to the U.S. in 2015 and opened eyes as a starter. After walking 49 batters in 36 innings as a reliever in 2013, Ramirez walked just 20 in 73 innings at three stops in 2015. An athletic righthander, he has a solid, repeatable delivery and receives high marks for aptitude. Ramirez leads with a fastball that can touch 93 mph but sits 90-92, but his separating pitch is a curveball that rates as the best in the organization. While Padres 2015 third-rounder Jacob Nix has a hammer curve with power, Ramirez has a diving tumbler with a better spin rate than Nix. Ramirez could return to Tri-City in 2016 if he doesn't make a full-season club.
In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account.
Login or sign up