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Newsletter Snippet: Padres Outfield Prospects, Reviewed

The Outfielders

Overview: It’s something of a theme for various areas of the farm, specifically on the position player side, but there’s all kinds of talent here but no slam-bang, no-doubt future superstar. There are enough young, promising players, however, that it wouldn’t be surprising if one emerged over the next year or two. There’s also a nice complement of safer, closer-to-the-majors types, like Franchy Cordero and Franmil Reyes, to balance things out. With Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, and Alex Dickerson already at the big-league level, the Padres should be able to put together solid homegrown outfields for the next half decade, if that’s the route they choose.

  1. Franchy Cordero

If you count his work between Triple-A El Paso and the majors, Cordero had the rare 20/20/20 season in 2017, collecting 24 doubles, 21 triples, and 20 home runs in 518 plate appearances. That feat—plus good defense and base running—gives you a sense of the power-speed game that earned Cordero the top spot on this list.

The problem remains the strikeouts: In 99 plate appearances in San Diego, Cordero whiffed 44 times. After a hot start in the majors, pitchers simply figured out how to exploit the rookie, and in a stretch of 24 plate appearances in late June, he went hitless while striking out 17 times. His strikeout rate in Triple-A was a more manageable (but still high) 28.2 percent.

Cordero’s batting average on balls in play was high at both levels, which is something of a regression concern going forward. He BABiPed .400 with the Padres and a crazy-high .431 in El Paso, where, apparently, even tumbleweeds fall in for hits. That’s a sign he was consistently hitting the ball hard, sure, but also unsustainable. From 2010-2017, the highest BABiP among big-league hitters with at least 1,000 PAs is Miguel Sano’s .362 mark.

If Cordero can cure his swing-and-miss issues, he’s a star in the making. More likely, that problem will accompany his return to the majors, limiting his upside. Ultimately, he’s still a fleet-footed center fielder with speed and power, which is why he sits atop this list despite the obvious faults. He’s got a good shot to be a solid platoon/fourth outfielder, at least, and maybe something more.

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Newsletter Snippet: Padres First Base Prospects, Reviewed

The First Basemen

Overview: Unlike at catcher, there’s not a ton of depth here. Josh Naylor is a bonafide prospect, but the lack of power production keeps him at something less than blue-chip status. Brad Zunica hit 18 home runs in about half a season’s worth of work at Fort Wayne, but that was his second tour of the league, plus he destroys entire ant colonies when he runs at full speed. After Zunica, there’s just not much out there.

That’s not necessarily a problem, however, because most teams aren’t all that keen on developing players at first base. Oftentimes first basemen end up being outfield or third base transplants, so there are plenty of potential eventual candidates spread throughout the system (not to mention Naylor and Zunica). Plus, in theory, an adequate first baseman should be easier to find on the free agent market or, perhaps, through another astute trade.

  1. Josh Naylor

It took former Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso nearly a full decade of professional baseball to tap into the power potential that he showed as a junior at the University of Miami. Alonso connected for 28 round-trippers this season, besting his previous big-league career-high by 19 home runs. He made a conscious effort to—get this—hit more home runs in 2017, and it worked. With the new strategy came more strikeouts, more walks, and an ISO nearly double his previous career mark. Despite a late-season power outage, Alonso emerged as a truly effective hitter for the first time in his career.

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Newsletter Snippet: What Till Next Year

Another baseball season came to close on Sunday, ended for the Padres on a swing by Pablo Sandoval, the broken down former Giants hero whose brief resurgence won San Francisco the finale but cost them the coveted first overall draft pick next June.

For the Padres, with a final tally of 71-91, the results were business as usual. That’s the sixth time in seven years that the Padres have finished with 70-something wins, a stretch that was rudely interrupted only by last year’s 68-win team. On balance, it’s been an unremarkable stretch of bad but not downright terrible performance, shag carpeting and wood paneling repurposed in the form of a baseball team.

This squad was supposed to be really bad, though, projected by most algorithms and talking heads to be the worst team in baseball. In the end, they weren’t—at least if you ignore our old friend Pythagoras. The Padres won more real-life games than expected, outpacing six other clubs, some of which entered April with legitimate playoff hopes (like the Mets and those Giants).

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