Q: Which minor league affiliate will be the most fun to watch next year? – @JakeLobito
by Sammy Benbow
This is a great question for sure, and with all the talent that the Padres have in their farm system, there really is no wrong answer here. However, if I had to choose one team, I would have to say the Lake Elsinore Storm. With all of the success that Class A Fort Wayne has had in the second half of this season, there is a notable amount of talent moving up to High A Lake Elsinore next year. Most prominent of this group would have to be stud Shortstop and Padres No. 4 prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., who has impressed in his first stint in full season ball. Also, the big right arms of Michel Baez, Pedro Avila (17 K’s last time out!), Ronald Bolaños, and so many more should have the Storm in a great position moving forward, and a very fun team to watch.
I’ll also add that Triple A El Paso should be fun to watch next year, mostly due to the fact that the pitching staff could be lethal in a very short time. Prospects Cal Quantrill (Padres No. 2), Eric Lauer (No. 8), Joey Lucchesi (No. 9), and Enyel Dos Santos (No. 13) all seem to be capable of making the jump to start the next season. Add in the intrigue of first base prospect Josh Naylor, and talented second baseman Luis Urias, and this team could be equally as fun to watch, and very exciting, as many will be only a single step from the Big Leagues.
Q: Who is the next guy currently on the AZL teams to jump into the Padres top 10, or potentially a top 100 list?
by Travis Barnett
Since the system is so loaded with guys that aren’t likely to graduate from prospect status for a while, it’s difficult to peg who is going to make a jump over the next year or two if we’re limited to just the AZL teams. Luis Campusano, who was the first catcher selected in this year’s draft, certainly could be that guy but that all depends on how quickly his play behind the plate develops. Another player on the radar should be the prize of the Cahill trade, Esteury Ruiz, as he’s done nothing but continue to hit since joining the organization, slashing .300/.382/.533; though, at this point, baseball pundits are torn over whether Ruiz will ever have enough power to boast the type of ceiling he’d need to crack a top 100 list.
Anyways, while others might pick those two, my money would be on Eguy Rosario to be the next guy not only in the Padres top 10 but also with a shot at cracking a top 100 list. At 16 years of age, Rosario produced a 161 wRC+ and stole 21 bases in the DSL league before earning a cup of coffee in the AZL. In 2017, He kicked off the season at Fort Wayne (Single-A), but after flirting with the Mendoza Line, he was sent back to the AZL, where he’s produced a 131 wRC+, stolen 13 bases, and walked 11 percent of the time. It’d be easy to knock the organization for being overly aggressive with him to start the year, but he already possesses such an advanced approach that there was little reason to not challenge him. In addition to the stellar plate discipline, Rosario’s plus bat and plus speed could transform him into an elite lead-off option, so I’d say his combination of risk and ceiling is the best among the Padres’ AZL rosters.
Q: What is up with this Rod Boykin turnaround and should we be paying attention to it? – @bmetzmetz
by Travis Barnett
While it’s been great to see Boykin thrive since joining Lake Elsinore, there aren’t very many encouraging signs of sustainability. He is striking out in almost a third of his plate appearances, and his .508 BABIP and 23.1 percent HR/FB rate suggest that he’s been primarily the recipient of some crazy good luck. And even if some of that could be attributed to Boykin being locked-in, there’s nothing in his history or scouting profile to think he should even be league average considering the struggles at a lower level prior to his promotion. I’d say just enjoy it while it lasts and hope that his ephemeral success will serve as a turning point in his career.