With the offseason in full swing, that means it will be time for teams to assess their needs for next season and start planning for a longer than hoped offseason. We're at the same point for fantasy owners in dynasty leagues, and we're here to help you with the information you need as you prepare for your minor league drafts.
In previous years, we have done rather intensive top 10 prospect lists, including an organizational rundown, opportunities in the coming season, as well as the top fantasy prospects. However, we have found that a number of these topics are covered as we continue through the offseason, and specifically through profiles done as a part of our preseason redraft rankings. As a result, this year's top 10 lists will be primarily that: a list of the prospects with brief writeups rather than the 4000-8000 word opuses that have occurred in the past. We feel that this year's format will both suit the goal better (of providing fantasy relevant information and rankings) as well as allow us to move through them much more quickly so that they can be completed by the Christmas holiday.
The schedule itself is fairly basic: We cover a division, going in alphabetical order of city/location name. This means the next team after this post will be the Giants.
With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.
Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat I provide every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the offseason, and so it is very possible that by the end of the offseason, how we view a player may be very different from where we had them originally. We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.
Something new I wanted to introduce this year is a tier system to help delineate where prospects are likely to fall on the overall top prospect list. We have not completed our top prospects lists yet, and will not likely do so until we are close to finishing all the prospect rankings. The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers which do not have prospects for certain teams.
Tier 1 -- The Elite Prospects
These prospects are expected to be in the top 25-50 prospects overall and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.
The Padres have no prospects in this tier.
Tier 2 -- The Top 100 Candidates
These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall and are expected to be starting options in all formats.
#1 - Manuel Margot (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 21
Margot was the prize of the Kimbrel trade, and when acquired, immediately became the Padres' top prospect. Margot reached Double-A Portland last year at the ripe old age of 20 and didn't embarrass himself. His first-class speed has been on display since he began his pro career, but Margot has other plus tools as well, including his surprisingly advanced plate discipline. For fantasy purposes, it would be nice if his power could develop a bit more. If so, Margot would grade out as a very tasty power-speed combo outfielder a la Starling Marte or Charlie Blackmon. Even if the power doesn't quite get there, the speed alone will get Margot attention in the fantasy world as a Denard Span clone. Margot will start out in double-A again this season but will likely be promoted to triple-A sooner rather than later, and a promotion to the majors is certainly not out of the question. With his speed, defensive prowess, and plate discipline, he is a good bet to stick as soon as he gets the chance, even if the power never comes.
Tier 3 -- The Next Group of Starters
These prospects likely would slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list and would be starters in mid-depth formats such as 12- and 14-team leagues.
#2 - Hunter Renfroe (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 24
Renfroe, the Padres 1st round pick in 2013 (13th overall), currently holds the title as the Padres' top power hitting prospect. Indeed, it is Renfroe's power potential that had many scouts drooling (and still do). So, er, to be clear... if Renfroe is going to make his mark, it will be because of his power but unfortunately for him right now, the power is merely good, not great. Last season, Renfroe slugged 20 homers combined in double-A and triple-A, mostly double-A. His other hitting numbers in double-A San Antonio (.259/.313/.425, 16 homers) do not exactly scream excitement, although he enjoyed much better success in triple-A El Paso albeit in a small sample size. Renfroe had better hit because his defense is somewhat underwhelming. Renfroe will start 2016 in El Paso and could be one of the first call-ups to the majors as soon as Wil Myers suffers his first injury. Renfroe will undoubtedly struggle in his first exposure to the big leagues, but if given enough chances, a righty slugging platoon 1B/OF floor is eminently reachable, and with some further development, even more is certainly possible.
#3 - Javier Guerra (SS)
Age on Opening Day: 20
Guerra was one of the prospects obtained from Boston in the Kimbrel trade. The Padres desperately need a shortstop (it seems like they always need a shortstop!). Guerra is one of three shortstops on this list, but he is the player who is most likely going to stay at shortstop. His defense is excellent, especially his arm, allowing him to make any throw needed from the position. His hitting is just ok right now, although he did manage to hit 15 homers at Greenville (low-A) as a teenager. He will likely settle in as an 8-12 homer a year guy with a good many doubles if he makes it to the majors. He has below average speed so don't expect many steals. Guerra will try to conquer high single-A next year at an age where he still can't buy a drink legally. He is a couple years away, but if he does well, the Padres may be tempted to bring him up as soon as next year.
#4 - Colin Rea (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 25
A year ago, Rea was your typical 12th round pick carving out a career as a minor league organizational player. Last year however, Rea enjoyed a breakout season jumping all the way from single-A to the majors. So what happened? Rea himself stated that he "tweaked" his mechanics to add more deception. Well, whatever it was, it worked pretty well. Rea now has command of four pitches that he can throw for strikes. Too bad that none of those pitches grade out as a true plus pitch, and because of that, Rea's ceiling is probably limited to 4th starter. However, in the short term (and maybe longer), Rea will likely be a useful pitcher to own.
#5 - Ruddy Giron (SS)
Age on Opening Day: 19
Giron started off 2015 like a house afire. His numbers at the end of June were .351/.405/.545, and even those were a comedown from where he was in May. From July onward, Giron frankly stunk, and his final numbers ended up being just ok (.285/.335/.407). So, what to make of this? On the one hand, hitting .285 with some patience and power as a 19 year-old in the Midwest League is no mean feat. On the other hand, it's possible that the opposing pitchers in the Midwest league found Giron's weaknesses and exploited them mercilessly. On the third hand, perhaps Giron just wore down, since it was his first full professional season. Here is what we know: Giron's defense is good enough to stay at the position, his plate discipline is decent, and he has excellent hitting ability for at least half a season. Lots of questions about Giron, but he very well could be a stud.
Tier 4 -- Single-League and Deep-Format Plays
These prospects likely would slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list and would have the most value in mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.
#6 - Jose Rondon (SS)
Age on Opening Day: 22
The third shortstop on this list, Rondon came over in the Huston Street trade in 2014 with the Angels. Taylor Lindsay was supposed to be the prized prospect in that deal, with Rondon essentially a throw-in, but Rondon has surpassed expectations to become a top-10 Padres prospect (and Taylor Lindsay? Not so much). Rondon got a taste of double-A at age 21, and the taste was certainly more bitter than sweet. However, Rondon is a solid defensive shortstop with decent speed and an ability to hit for a respectable batting average. He also displays just enough power to keep pitchers honest. His .300/.360/.414 numbers at Lake Elsinore (high single-A) with 17 steals in 23 tries provide some hope for the future. The big test (double-A) looms in 2016.
#7 - Rymer Liriano (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 25
Liriano has been a prospect in the Padres system for a very long time (since 2008!). Now, finally, at age 25, Liriano is at long last ready to contribute to the big league team, right? Well... um, not quite. Liriano has oodles of tools and so forth, and has flashed some of them at various times in his minor league career, sometimes impressively. However, this "plate discipline" thing is just not so easy to learn, and Liriano still hasn't mastered it. 39 strikeouts in 109 at bats in the majors is just not going to get it done. Pitchers will barely be able to contain a giggle as they watch Liriano flail away at their pitches in the dirt if Liriano doesn't make further adjustments soon. Unfortunately, time is running out and the chances Liriano ever makes good on his impressive power/speed potential are waning quickly. He is out of options at this point, and so will need to make the team or be exposed on waivers.
#8 - Austin Smith (RHP)
Age on Opening Day: 19
Austin Smith was drafted by the Padres in the 2nd round in 2015 (51st overall) making him their top pick in the draft (the Padres had no 1st round pick in 2015). He pitched 17 dreadful innings in rookie ball (7.94 ERA) which of course doesn't mean much of anything, but given the woeful history of the Padres' previous drafts over the last decade, this debut can't exactly have the front office brimming with confidence. Anyway, Smith's stuff is pretty standard: low-90s fastball, with a curveball and change-up that both need work. He has good athleticism, and should be durable (he's 6-feet-4, 215 pounds). Next year should be far more revealing regarding what the Padres have in Smith.
#9 - Travis Jankowski (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 25
Jankowski was a supplemental 1st round pick for the Padres (44th overall) all the way back in 2012. He has slowly climbed the ladder and reached the majors last season, getting 90 underwhelming at bats in San Diego. He hasn't exactly wowed anyone at any level, but rather has plugged along like an old reliable jalopy, until finally reaching San Diego at last.
Jankowski is all about speed (he has 173 career stolen bases in the minors) and also all about having zilch power (3 career homers in the minors). His most realistic hope for achieving lasting success in the majors is to carve out some sort of Denard Span-like career, but Jankowski doesn't have the hitting chops to make that a likely scenario... but since he's a career .293 hitter in the minors, there is a sliver of possibility. More likely, Jankowski will follow the Endy Chavez career path, which for fantasy purposes means that some seasons he will be worth owning, just for the steals, but most of the time, he would (and should) be ignored.
#10- Michael Gettys (OF)
Age on Opening Day: 20
Gettys was the 2nd round pick of the Padres (51st overall) in 2014. He had a promising enough beginning to his pro career in 2014 in rookie ball, although the strikeouts were a concern. 2015, however, was different: a .231/.271/.362 slash line with 162 strikeouts in 494 at-bats equates to "unmitigated disaster". Gettys is only 20 years old, and has multiple plus tools, especially his speed, but obviously, he is a long way away from making it to the majors. Even making it to double-A is a question at this point.