Rymer Liriano was, at one point, the most prized prospect in the Padres system. A couple OK seasons and an elbow surgery that kept him out all of 2013 dropped his stock a bit. But there's plenty of reasons for rejoicing in San Diego, following the team's latest news.
The Padres will promote Liriano, their No. 6 prospect, to the Majors in time for their series opener against the Rockies on Monday, according to multiple reports.
This will be the first time he has gotten the call to the game's biggest stage since the Padres signed him as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic back in 2007. No corresponding move was immediately announced to make room for the outfielder on the 25-man roster. He is already on the 40-man roster. [Update: Jeff Francoeur was designated for assignment on Monday, the Padres announced.]
Liriano had just been promoted to Triple-A El Paso on July 23 and had torn through the Pacific Coast League in his first trip there, batting .452 with a triple, 11 doubles, 13 RBIs and three steals across 16 games. Before that, he had a .264/.335/.442 slash line with 14 homers, 53 RBIs and 17 steals in 99 games at Double-A San Antonio.
The 23-year-old outfielder missed all of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He was ranked as high as No. 51 on MLB.com's list of the game's best prospects after the 2012 season but the injury, along with a career 24.3 percent strikeout rate, had caused him to drop out of the top 100 completely.
Still, Liriano's profile is an exciting one, given that all five tools are at his disposal. He's considered an above-average defender, and indeed, he had 14 outfield assists in the Minors while playing all three spots this season before the promotion. He's also an above-average runner with 20 or more steals in each of his four seasons playing full-season leagues. He notably swiped 66 bags between Class A Fort Wayne and Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore back in 2011.
His hit and power tools were both given average 50 grades, but there was plenty of improvement in the latter department this season, as his .473 slugging percentage and 14 homers were each full-season career highs for the right-hander. There is, however, still plenty of swing-and-miss in his game -- he's struck out 116 times in 115 Minor League games this season.
The Padres outfield has been in flux recently following the absences of Carlos Quentin (knee injury) and Cameron Maybin (serving 25-game drug suspension).
Will Venable has taken over in center for the most part and Seth Smith has received five of the last seven starts in right while Alexi Amarista, Yangervis Solarte, Abraham Almonte, Tommy Medica and Jeff Francoeur have also received time in the outfield. Liriano could provide a steady option in left, where San Diego has trotted out six different starters in its last seven games.