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While some teenage international standouts fly under the radar, Espinoza is one whose promise has been evident for some time. Considered the top available pitcher by a wide margin in the 2014 international class, he signed with the Red Sox for $1.8 million. If Espinoza felt any pressure from the lofty expectations he never showed it, zooming all the way from the Dominican Summer League to low Class A in 2015, his age-17 season, and ranking as one of baseball's top prospects one year after signing. The Red Sox were reluctant to part with him but ultimately did in a one-for-one swap for Drew Pomeranz two days after Pomeranz pitched in the 2016 All-Star Game as a member of the host Padres. The lean Espinoza is not physically intimidating but possesses a strong lower half and electric arm speed that allows him to nonetheless pitch with elite velocity. He is not dissimilar from fellow 6-foot flamethrower Yordano Ventura in that regard. Espinoza's 95-98 mph four-seam fastball possesses so much late tail away from lefthanded batters that Padres broadcaster and former major league pitcher Mark Grant confused it for a two-seamer--a mistake made by others before him--and Espinoza commands it masterfully to both sides of the plate. His main secondary pitch is a mid-80s changeup that is above-average on a bad day and "simply fantastic" in the words of one opposing scout on a good one. His upper-70s curveball lacks consistency but still flashes plus with 11-to-5 movement. Spotty command of his breaking pitches led to Espinoza getting hit more often at low Class A in 2016 than his pure stuff indicates he should, and he also struggled with trying to be too fine at times rather than attacking hitters. He admitted being a bit shell-shocked after being traded and struggled in his first few outings in the Padres system, but he adjusted and finished strong with 10 strikeouts and just two runs allowed in his final two starts at Fort Wayne. He continued that with a dominant 1-2-3 inning in the Padres' futures game at Petco Park on Oct. 7, where he struck out two Rangers batters. His exceptional performance on a big stage at Petco was nothing new for Espinoza, who draws raves for his ability to reach back and find something extra in big moments. He possesses exceptional makeup and intelligence, signified both by his poise on the mound and the fact he learned English almost fluently by age 18, less than two years after first coming to the U.S. Ventura is a common comparison for Espinoza in terms of size and raw stuff, but Espinoza does it easier and possesses superior makeup and maturity that should help him surpass the Royals righthander. He has all the tools to become a front-of-the-rotation ace and will look to solidify that profile atop high Class A Lake Elsinore's rotation in 2017.
The Red Sox signed Margot for $800,000 as a 16-year old international free agent in 2011 and watched him stand out at every level as he ascended their system. He was a consensus Top 100 Prospect when the Padres acquired him and three other well-regarded minor leaguers in exchange for closer Craig Kimbrel after the 2015 season. Margot possesses strong wrists and exceptional feel for the barrel, allowing him to make consistent hard contact. His plus speed helps his bat play up, turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples, and his control of the strike zone was uncanny for a player his age at Triple-A. The sum of all of that profiles Margot as a plus offensive player, even with fringe-average power. The Padres were surprised at Margot's lack of defensive polish when he first arrived, but he dramatically improved his reads and routes throughout 2016, which combined with his raw speed and athleticism, turned him into one of the top defensive outfielders in the upper minors. His above-average arm also took a huge leap forward in 2016, with corrected footwork leading to more strength behind his throws to the point he led the Pacific Coast League with 18 assists. Margot has everything you want in a top-of-the-order center fielder. His superior offensive profile to Travis Jankowski makes Margot the Padres' center fielder of the future, beginning in 2017.
Renfroe was a star prep athlete in small-town Mississippi and was drafted by the Red Sox in the 31st round out of high school in 2010. He instead attended Mississippi State, where he anchored the middle of the Bulldogs' lineup and led them to the College World Series as junior. He was drafted 13th overall after that season in 2013 by the Padres and signed for $2.678 million. Renfroe's carrying tool has long been his double-plus raw power, but up until 2016 it was largely to his pull side and came with a 25 percent career strikeout rate. He closed his stance and shortened his stroke in 2016 at Triple-A El Paso and had his best season yet, hitting 10 of his Pacific Coast League-leading 30 home runs the opposite way and cutting his strikeout rate to 20 percent as he rolled to the circuit's MVP award. He continued to mash after his first big league callup in September with four home runs in 11 games--including a titanic blast onto the roof of the Western Metal Supply Co. building, beyond the left-field wall at Petco Park. He was named the National League Player of the Week for the final week of the regular season. Renfroe's improved feel to hit and massive power comes with a double-plus arm in right field and the athleticism to hold down the position ably. His aggressiveness swinging in early counts will keep his strikeouts high and his walks low, but the swing adjustments he has made give him a better chance to make conisistent contact and annually reach his 30-homer potential. He will be the Padres' Opening Day right fielder in 2017 and represents the franchise's best hope to be its first impactful first-round draft selection since Derrek Lee in 1993.
The son of former Blue Jays all-star reliever Paul Quantrill starred on Canada's 18U national team growing up in Port Hope, Ontario, and was drafted by the Yankees in the 26th round out of high school. He instead went to Stanford, where he became the first freshman pitcher to start Opening Day since Mike Mussina in 1988. Quantrill pitched just three games as a sophomore before requiring Tommy John surgery, which kept him out all of his junior season as well. Undeterred, the Padres drafted him eighth overall and signed him for $3,963,045. Quantrill displayed no ill effects from surgery once he got into the Padres system, showing a 92-96 mph fastball and diving 81-84 mph changeup that was considered the best in the 2016 draft class. His slider is his third pitch but showed vast improvement by sitting 83-84 mph with late bite and generating swings and misses to become an above-average offering. Quantrill's command remains shaky post-surgery, but he was around the strike zone with all of his pitches during his pro debut, which he spent primarily at short-season Tri-City. He possesses the poise and pitchability expected from the son of a former major leaguer, and his competitiveness earns raves. Because Quantrill hasn't pitched a full season since 2014, the Padres will manage his workload carefully in 2017 at low Class A Fort Wayne.
Morejon jumped on the international radar when he was named MVP of the 15U World Cup in 2014 while pitching for the Cuban national team. His biggest moment came in the gold-medal game, when he threw 124 pitches in a complete-game, 6-3 victory against the U.S. with 12 strikeouts and one walk. Morejon became a talent considered on par with any top-10 draft pick, and the Padres signed him for an eye-popping $11 million in July 2016. Morejon throws a 91-93 mph fastball that touches 96 with an athletic, easy delivery that portends more velocity as the teen southpaw's body matures. His ability to spin a future plus curveball draws the highest praise from scouts, and he throws two different changeups--one a knuckle-change with late diving action and the other a more traditional changeup with sink and run. Both project above-average. Morejon's above-average command, stuff, arm action and feel for pitching are all advanced for his age and make few opposing evaluators doubt the wisdom of signing him, though some shied away from the price tag. The Padres compare Morejon with the Dodgers' Julio Urias, while scouts outside the organization compare his delivery and stuff with Padres 2012 first-rounder Max Fried. Morejon is targeted for 100 innings in 2017 and will begin the year in extended spring training.
The Padres purchased Urias from the Mexican League's Mexico City franchise when he 16, intrigued by his bat control and plate discipline. He has rewarded that interest by posting a career .317 career average in the minors with more walks than strikeouts. Urias' foundation for success is his approach. He rarely swings at anything outside the strike zone, forcing pitchers to come to him. When they do, his quick hands and elite hand-eye coordination allow him to barrel any velocity, while those same tools allow him to track breaking balls and square them up as well. Using those attributes as his base, Urias hit .330 at high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2016 to win the California League batting title and MVP award despite being the circuit's youngest player on Opening Day. He faces questions about his below-average speed and power, though he showed progress on the latter front by slugging .505 in the second half of 2016 by staying back and driving the ball rather than settling for line-drive singles. Defensively he is above-average at second base with soft hands and excellent footwork, with an above-average arm strong enough to make throws from deep in the hole at shortstop. His range is best suited for second base. Urias resembles 16-year big league vet Placido Polanco in terms of size and skill set, and he has perennial .300-hitting ability to match. He will begin 2017 at Double-A San Antonio.
The Astros drafted Nix in the fifth round out of Los Alamitos (Calif.) High in 2014 but failed to sign him after the Brady Aiken debacle curtailed their bonus-pool amount. Nix, a UCLA commit, instead went to postgrad IMG Academy in Florida and went to the Padres a year later in the third round. He signed for $900,000. Long described as physical, athletic and projectable, Nix found a consistent, repeatable delivery in 2016 and saw his stuff take off at low Class A Fort Wayne in 2016. He recorded one of the highest average velocities in the Padres system with a 93-95 mph fastball that touched 97. His curveball shows improved depth thanks to a consistent release point and now projects to plus. It has 12-to-6 action and earned recognition as the best breaking pitch in the Midwest League. Nix's above-average changeup also began getting swings and misses in the bottom of the zone with his improved delivery. His control leapt forward as well. He cut his walk rate nearly in half from 2015 to 2016, highlighted by a midsummer stretch where he walked only one batter in six starts. Everything is trending up for Nix, who will begin 2017 at high Class A Lake Elsinore and projects as a quality mid-rotation starter.
Gettys was an enigmatic talent in high school who posted off-the-charts measurables at showcases but often disappointed in game action. The Padres gambled on his raw upside and drafted him 51st overall in 2014 and signed him for $1.3 million to forgo a Georgia commitment. Gettys' primary problem had always been a lack of hitting instincts, pitch recognition and balance in the box, which led to high strikeout rates and poor quality contact in the early part of his career. He made major strides on those fronts in 2016, adding a back stretch to the start of his swing to improve his rhythm and timing, while also giving him a better look at the pitches as they approach the palte. The result was a more athletic swing with less chasing and harder contact, albeit with a poor contact rate and just average power. Center field is where Gettys really shines, using his plus speed and elite defensive instincts to track down fly balls in every direction, with double-plus arm strength to boot. His speed is limited out of the batter's box but ticks up on the basepaths to make him a dangerous basestealing threat. Gettys is starting to turn his loud tools into baseball skills but needs to continue improving as a hitter to reach his everyday potential. He will jump to Double-A San Antonio in 2017.
The Padres signed Lamet for $100,000 as a rare 21-year old international signee, but despite the late sign he has used his experience to climb the minor league ladder rapidly. He skipped short-season ball and went straight to low Class A Fort Wayne in 2015, and then in 2016 rose through three levels to finish the year at Triple-A El Paso. Lamet possesses a strong, durable, athletic build, allowing him to repeat his delivery and hold his stuff deep into starts. His mid-90s fastball and upper-80s slider both possess sharp, late movement and grade above-average to plus. He added an 85-88 mph changeup during 2016 spring training under the tutelage of high Class A Lake Elsinore pitching coach Glendon Rusch that evaluators project to average. The addition of the change allowed Lamet to better neutralize lefthanded batters and make it through the order a third time. The result was he led the Padres system in wins (12) and strikeouts (158) while ranking second in innings (150) and ERA (3.00). Lamet's control is fringe-average, but the overall quality of his stuff generates plenty of swings and misses and limits hard contact. Lamet can be a No. 4 or 5 starter with further changeup development or a high-leverage reliever if the pitch stagnates. He will begin 2017 at El Paso with a strong chance to join the Padres by midsummer.
The Marlins drafted Naylor 12th overall in 2015, making him the highest-drafted Canadian position player ever, and Miami signed him for $2.2 million. He wowed during Futures Game batting practice in 2016 with long home runs deep to right-center field at Petco Park, and three weeks later the Padres acquired him and two others from the Marlins for Andrew Cashner. Plus raw power is Naylor's carrying tool and will have to be because he is a thick-bodied lefthanded batter limited to first base. He generates his power using a strong lower half and quick hands, creating elite bat speed to drive the ball with authority. Naylor is presently able to tap into his power on fastballs but has trouble with offspeed pitches, especially against lefthanders, limiting his ability to get to his power in games. Defensively he is below-average and prone to errors because his focus wavers, but in short bursts will show unexpected athleticism. He is an average runner who is faster than his body might indicate but projects to slow down as he ages. Naylor faced questions about his maturity when he was drafted, and questions still linger after he injured Marlins minor league teammate Stone Garrett with a knife in what team officials described as a "prank gone bad." Naylor will begin 2017 at high Class A Lake Elsinore as he tries to live up to his middle-of-the order potential.
Asuaje was born in Venezuela but raised in South Florida and attended Division II power Nova Southeastern (Fla.) before the Red Sox drafted him in the 11th round in 2013. He was one of four prospects the Padres acquired for Craig Kimbrel after the 2015 season. Asuaje is an above-average hitter who combines excellent strike-zone discipline with a picturesque load and line-drive stroke to spray base hits all over the field and into both gaps. He led the Pacific Coast League with 172 hits in 2016. Asuaje's power grades as below-average, but he showed at Triple-A El Paso he is capable of driving the ball on a line over the fence on occasion. He is an average runner but a fringe-average defender at second base, which complicates his upside. He has steady hands and a reliable arm but lacks the range or reflexes for the position, which is also true at third base. He has experimented in left field as well. Asuaje's bat has everyday upside, but his defensive limitations will likely limit him to a bench role, much as they have for the Cubs' Tommy La Stella. Asuaje is in position to break camp with the Padres in 2017 and be an oft-used and valuable reserve.
Ona first made waves at the 2014 COPABE 18U Pan American Championship in Mexico, when he hit .636 (14-for-22) with four homers and a 1.364 slugging percentage in eight games. He left Cuba in July 2015 and trained in the Dominican Republic for a year before the Padres signed him for $7 million in July 2016. Ona is a muscular specimen with plus power to all fields, both present and projectable. His bat speed is above-average and his hand-eye coordination earns positive reviews, giving him a promising foundation as a hitter. Some evaluators, however, note stiff actions and poor timing in his swing, raising concerns he won't ever be more than a fringe-average hitter. The Padres acknowledge these shortcomings but believe they can be fixed with mechanical adjustments. Ona is a fringe-average runner and fringe-average defender limited to a corner, likely left field, though his above-average arm gives him a chance to stick in right. He hasn't played competitive game situations since leaving Cuba, so rust was a factor in his early evaluations. Ona's bat will be what carries him, with the potential to be an annual 25-home run threat. He will begin his career at low Class A Fort Wayne in 2017.
Lauer was a first-team All-American as a junior at Kent State in 2016 after he went 10-2, 0.69 with 125 strikeouts in 104 innings. His ERA was not only the best in the nation but the lowest in Division I since 1979. The Padres drafted Lauer 25th overall and signed him for $2 million. He pounds the strike zone with a four-pitch mix, topped by an 89-92 mph fastball with downward angle that he locates well. His 82-86 mph slider flashes above-average but has such short break it looks like a cutter at times, while his mid-70s curveball showed good shape but not much finish in his pro debut, registering as an average-at-best pitch. He also has a rarely-used changeup. Scouts worry about Lauer's future command of his breaking pitches because of his cross-body delivery and lower arm slot, though his fastball command is above-average. While his stuff doesn't stand out on the surface, deception in his delivery helps it play up, while his loose, athletic body creates optimism his stuff will improve. Lauer's poise, pitchability, and well-rounded mix have him poised to move quickly as a back-end starter. He will begin 2017 at low Class A Fort Wayne.
Potts, who went by Hudson Sanchez before adopting his stepfather's surname, wasn't considered a first-round talent entering the 2016 draft, but the Padres took him 24th overall and gave him $1 million to forgo a Texas A&M commitment. Potts made the Padres look prescient for drafting him above industry consensus in his pro debut, which he spent primarily in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He showed such advanced feel for the barrel, pitch recognition and poise in the batter's box that he projects as a plus hitter with above-average power as he fills out. He was so advanced at the plate the Padres felt comfortable bumping him to short-season Tri-City, where he hit third in the lineup as a 17-year old and got on base at a .352 clip. Potts was drafted as a shortstop, but his average lateral range and stiff throwing motion have most evaluators projecting a move to third base, where his plus arm strength will play. Potts' bat is his carrying tool, but his average speed and potential to be an above-average defender at third give him a chance to be a well-rounded everyday player. He is advanced enough to begin 2017 at low Class A Fort Wayne as an 18-year old.
The Marlins made Paddack the first player ever drafted out of Cedar Park (Texas) High in 2015 and signed him away from a Texas A&M commitment for $400,000. Almost one year to the day after drafting him, the Marlins sent him to the Padres in a one-for-one swap for Fernando Rodney. Paddack used his darting 90-95 mph fastball and double-plus mid-80s changeup to put up video-game numbers at low Class A Greensboro in 2016, where he recorded an 0.85 ERA with 71 strikeouts to just five walks in 42.1 innings. His fastball-changeup combo has been evident since high school, but he also made strides with his mid-70s curveball by finding a consistent release point and giving it increased depth, making it project now as a possibly average pitch. Health concerns overshadow Paddack's pitch mix and strong control. He missed the first six weeks of 2016 with biceps tendinitis and then had Tommy John surgery in August after just three starts in the Padres system, which will keep him out all of 2017. Paddack is a potential mid-rotation starter with room in his projectable body to still add velocity, but he must prove he can stay healthy to reach that ceiling.
The Mariners signed de los Santos for just $15,000 as an international free agent in 2014, but he blossomed quickly as he went from upper-80s fastball velocity when they signed him to mid-90s less than a year later. The Padres acquired him for Joaquin Benoit after the 2015 season, a trade that dismayed some in the Mariners organization who felt de los Santos was the most promising starter in their system. De los Santos made good on some of that promise in 2016, showing a 92-95 mph fastball that frequently touched 97, with room in his frame to add even more velocity. He experienced less success after a midseason promotion to high Class A Lake Elsinore because of inconsistent feel for his breaking pitches, but still held his own as a 20-year-old playing against older competition in the hitter-friendly California League. His curveball projects average and his changeup above-average as he gets better command of them, but he presently has fringe-average control overall. De los Santos projects as a No. 4 or 5 starter, but his youth and room for physical growth raise the possibility he could grow into more. He will begin 2017 back at Lake Elsinore.
The son of former big league third baseman Fernando Tatis split scouts as an international amateur because of what some felt was a weak physical frame. The White Sox went against the grain in 2015 and signed him for $700,000, then used him as the main prospect in a trade to the Padres for James Shields a year later. Tatis showed the White Sox were on to something. He grew two inches and improved his strength and coordination after signing. He now shows plus arm strength and impressive lateral range for his size at shortstop with reliable hands, combined with above-average feel for the barrel and power potential at the plate. Tatis has a lot of moving parts to his swing and struggles swinging at pitches outside the zone, most notably on breaking balls, but he showed he was capable of driving anything in the strike zone with good leverage. Big and strong at the plate and free and easy with his movements at shortstop, Tatis projects as an above-average everyday shortstop as long as he tightens up his strike-zone discipline. He will begin 2017 at low Class A Fort Wayne as an 18-year-old.
Maton was an all-Conference USA starter at Louisiana Tech but shifted to the bullpen after the Padres drafted him in 2015. He missed most of the first month of 2016 with an oblique injury, but still zoomed through the system to reach Triple-A El Paso only a year after being drafted. Maton operates with a heavy 93-96 mph fastball, a low-80s curveball with one of the highest spin rates in the organization, a low-90s cutter that saws bats off and plus control. He began the year at low Class A Fort Wayne but ended it as closer for the Pacific Coast League champions, notching three saves in as many chances in the postseason. He continued his run of dominance with a 2.92 ERA and 15-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the Arizona Fall League. With a repeatable delivery, a good pitcher's body and elite stuff, Maton profiles as a high-leverage reliever or possible closer. Multiple scouts reported they had already written him up as a trade target by the end of 2016. Maton is in position to make his major league debut in 2017 and stay there.
The Red Sox made Allen a 2015 eighth-round pick out of IMG Academy and signed him for an above-slot $725,000--third-round money--to forgo a South Carolina commitment. The Padres acquired Allen as part of the four-player package for Craig Kimbrel after the 2015 season. Allen's first season in the Padres system was limited by elbow soreness that shelved him for two months in the middle of the year, but he returned to make three starts at low Class A Fort Wayne at the end. Allen works at 90-92 mph with his fastball and touches 94, and he commands it well with a repeatable delivery. He also possesses advanced command of his breaking pitches for a 19-year-old, spinning an above-average curveball and average changeup he can land for strikes. Overall, Allen's solid-average command, deep pitch mix and good tempo on the mound portend a reliable back-of-the-rotation starter. A full season without elbow trouble could help his stuff tick up and go beyond that projection. He will begin 2017 at high Class A Lake Elsinore.
Almanzar was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, came to the U.S. and played high school baseball at prep power American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla., for one year, then moved back to the Dominican to take advantage of the less-restrictive bonus pools available to international amateurs. He emerged as arguably the top hitter in the 2016 international class and the Padres signed him for $4 million. Almanzar has excellent bat speed and takes a short, direct path to the ball that produces a vast amount of hard line drives, combined with a discerning batting eye that allows him to work counts and get his pitch to hit. He uses the whole field and projects as a plus hitter with above-average power as he matures physically. Defensively, Almanzar has an above-average arm, though scouts are split whether he will stay at shortstop or have to move to third base as he fills out. His speed is average. Almanzar's bat will carry him, with a ceiling as a potent offensive shortstop. He is many years away from that, however, and will begin his pro career in the Dominican Summer League in 2017.
The Athletics signed Torres for $150,000 as a 16-year old international free agent out of Venezuela in 2010 and traded him in the five-player deal that sent Drew Pomeranz to the Padres after the 2015 season. Pomeranz blossomed into an all-star, but the Padres also received a great return on Torres in 2016. The starter-turned-reliever began the season at high Class A Lake Elsinore and finished in the majors, posting a 2.14 ERA and strikeout rate of 8.8 per nine innings across four levels. Torres' main weapon is his 94-96 mph fastball, which touched 98 in the Arizona Fall League. He uses a three-quarters arm slot that produces cut action on his fastball, helping it play against batters on both sides of the plate. He deploys an above-average power curveball as his main secondary pitch, and it shows tilt and downward action at 83-86 mph. He rarely uses a fringy upper-80s changeup. Near-average control led to high walk rates and less strikeouts than his pure stuff would indicate, but he limits damage by keeping the ball on the ground about half the time. Torres is ready to compete for a spot in the Padres bullpen in 2017.
Rondon signed with the Angels for $70,000 out of Venezuela as a 16-year old international free agent and was traded to the Padres three years later as the centerpiece prospect in a deal for closer Huston Street. Rondon owns a career .290 average in the minors despite being roughly two years younger than average at every level. A fractured elbow on a slide ended his 2015 season prematurely, but he returned in 2016 and hit .279 at Double-A San Antonio to earn his first big league callup. He hit .300 at Triple-A El Paso after returning to the minors. Rondon's barrel control is his one above-average offensive skill. His bat stays through the hitting zone, allowing him to make consistent contact and use the whole field, making him an average hitter. He is an average defender at shortstop with suitable lateral range, reliable hands and an above-average arm, but he is a fringe-average runner with below-average power, limiting his overall upside. Rondon rarely does anything flashy but is the lone shortstop in the Padres system with a track record of consistent offensive production and defensive reliability. He will start 2017 at Triple-A El Paso.
The Padres signed Cordero for $175,000 as a 17-year old international free agent with the idea of making him a shortstop, but they moved him to the outfield after he made 126 errors in 165 career games at short. In his first full year in the outfield in 2016, Cordero showed exceptional first-step quickness and range, plus speed and an above-average arm, making him an above-average defender almost immediately. Freed from the burden of his infield mistakes, Cordero also eased up at the plate and had his best season yet, with 24 doubles, 16 triples, 11 home runs and 23 stolen bases as he moved from high Class A Lake Elsinore all the way to Triple-A El Paso. Cordero's struggles controlling the strike zone make him a fringe-average hitter in the eyes of evaluators, but as an above-average defender hitting from the left side with plus speed has a chance to be a valuable fourth outfielder in the majors--if not more. He will begin 2017 at Triple-A and could join San Diego before long.
Lucchesi went undrafted after his junior season at Southeast Missouri State but added a tick to his fastball velocity as a senior to sit 91-94 mph with deception and late movement. He went 10-5, 2.19 and led all of Division I in with 149 strikeouts as a senior and became the highest player ever drafted out of SEMO, signing for $100,000. Lucchesi continued to show his improved stuff in pro ball, with his fastball velocity holding steady and peaking at 96. He complemented it with an above-average curveball with 12-to-6 action and an above-average changeup, all with plus command that led to an astounding 56-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his pro debut. Lucchesi's stuff plays up with a funky delivery that includes a high leg kick and a pause mid-windup, not dissimilar from Clayton Kershaw. His delivery also makes baserunners freeze and allows him to hold them close. Lucchesi's dominant showing came as a 23-year-old playing against younger competition, giving some evaluators pause. Still, with three usable pitches and plus control, Lucchesi fits the profile of a solid back-end starter. He will start 2017 at low Class A Fort Wayne with a chance to move quickly.
The Red Sox signed Guerra for $250,000 as an international amateur and the Padres acquired him along with three others in exchange for Craig Kimbrel after the 2015 season. Wiry, athletic and rangy, Guerra looks the part at shortstop but regressed at the plate at high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2016 so much it affected his play on defense, dropping him from the system's No. 1 prospect to, in the eyes of some evaluators, a non-prospect. Guerra struck out 141 times in 105 games with swings so out of line with incoming pitches that some scouts questioned his eyesight. Others saw an abrupt load, swing that didn't stay in the zone and persistent inability to adjust, grading him a poor hitter overall. Guerra visibly appeared defeated in the box by mid-June and brought it onto the field with him, committing an organization-worst 30 errors. He showed exceptional lateral range and double-plus arm strength but frequently booted routine grounders, while inconsistent footwork and arm action resulted in wild throws. Guerra was placed on the disabled list for the final month of the season with an unspecified, non-baseball-related ailment. He will repeat the California League in 2017 to try and re-establish his everyday potential.
Thompson was considered a first-round talent as a prep underclassman but blew out his elbow as a junior and had Tommy John surgery in March 2015. He pitched only one inning as a senior, but the Padres liked his upside enough to draft him 85th overall and sign him away from a Texas commitment for $1.75 million. Thompson impressed in his five outings in the Rookie-level Arizona League, sitting in the low 90s with his fastball and touching 94 mph. He also showed feel for an above-average power curveball and a potentially plus changeup with fade and deception. He also added a slider to his repertoire the Padres feel can eventually be an average pitch. Thompson is long-levered at 6-foot-7 and not expected to have better than average control, but the overall quality of his stuff should generate swings and misses regardless. He also has plenty of room to add strength to his ultra-lean frame to add more velocity. Thompson must prove he can stay healthy to reach his mid-rotation ceiling. He will begin 2017 in extended spring training as the Padres monitor his workload.
The Padres signed Giron for $600,000 as an international free agent in 2013 and he impressed quickly, reaching low Class A Fort Wayne as an 18-year old and excelling in a partial season there. Sent back to Fort Wayne to begin 2016, Giron suffered a groin strain early that threw off his lower-half mechanics and timing at the plate. The result was a swing that got too long with no power, and at the end of June he was hitting .189 with no home runs. Giron earned plaudits for staying mentally strong through his slump and finally broke out of it in July. hitting .305 with 24 extra-base hits the rest of the season. When right, Giron is an above-average hitter, though he struggles with good breaking pitches, and his power potential remains fringe-average. Defensively, he is a question mark at shortstop, with rigid movements and inconsistent glove work, which overshadows his plus arm. Giron's defensive shortcomings limit his upside, but his bat can carry him if he stays mechanically sound. He will begin 2017 at high class A Lake Elsinore.
The Padres drafted Lockett in 2012 after he led Providence High to the Florida state 3A championship with a shutout in the title game. He signed for $393,000 to forgo a South Florida commitment. Injuries to his finger and shoulder limited Lockett to just 31 pro innings entering 2015, and then he was demoted twice during that season, first for poor performance and second for missing curfew, all the way down to Rookie ball. Written off as a bust, Lockett re-emerged in 2016. He increased usage of his 91-94 mph sinker and made huge leaps in the development of his slider and changeup, both of which now project to average. Working out of a three-quarters arm slot, Lockett excels at pounding the bottom of the strike zone with all three pitches, keeping his walks low and his ground ball rate high. Finally healthy and matured, Lockett began 2016 at low Class A Fort Wayne and rose all the way to Triple-A El Paso, ultimately leading the Padres system in ERA (2.96) and innings (164). While he doesn't have supreme stuff, Lockett's strike-throwing ability and groundball tendency bode well for him, especially now that he's a member of the 40-man roster, to see innings in 2017 in a Padres rotation short on able bodies.
Cordoba signed for just $7,500 as part of the Cardinals' 2013 international class and was more raw than many of his fellow Panamanians after growing up in the remote northwestern part of the country near the Costa Rica border. He needed more development time as a result but busted out in his third year in Rookie ball, winning Gulf Coast League MVP honors in 2015. Cordoba followed up by winning the Appalachian League batting title (.362) at Rookie-level Johnson City in 2016. The Padres selected him with the third pick of the Rule 5 draft at the 2016 Winter Meetings. He had been Rule 5 eligible only because his initial contract with St. Louis had been voided. Cordoba controls the barrel well and shows exceptional strike-zone discipline, allowing him to wait for a hittable pitch and drive it to the gaps. His offensive game is enhanced with above-average speed that allows him to leg out infield hits and steal bases efficiently. He has no power present or projectable, however. Defensively he can stick at shortstop with good short-range quickness and plus arm strength, though he struggles with accuracy. Cordoba is nowhere near ready for the majors, but the Padres will try to hide him at the end of their bench until they can send him down to the minors for further development in 2018.
Allen was arguably the top Division II hitter available in the 2015 draft, and the Padres took him in the fourth round, making him the highest player ever drafted from Florida Tech. He signed for $484,000. Allen lived up to that offensive profile in 2016 by using his above-average bat speed and natural strength to hit .320/.364/.425 at low Class A Fort Wayne to rank sixth in the Midwest League batting race. Behind the plate is where Allen needs the most work. Evaluators consider him a well below-average defender, and his average arm strength is nullified by a hitch that costs him valuable time throwing to bases. Opponents successfully stole 119 bases in 150 attempts against him in 2016. Allen has made strides to improve his blocking, receiving and framing, and optimistic reports indicate he has fringe-average potential overall. Allen has a chance to be an offensively-driven, lefthanded-hitting platoon catcher. He will begin 2017 at high Class A Lake Elsinore.
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