Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Padres Prospect Primer: Talent abounds

Urias leads next wave in baseball's top-ranked farm system
Luis Urias compiled a slash line of .296/.398/.447 in Triple-A last season. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/El Paso Chihuahuas)
March 28, 2019

Some players are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and still others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. With the 2019 season approaching, takes a look at the most intriguing prospects from each MLB organization. Shining Star: Luis Urías,

Some players are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and still others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. With the 2019 season approaching, takes a look at the most intriguing prospects from each MLB organization.
Shining Star: Luis Urías, INF
With a top-ranked farm system for the second consecutive year, and one that's introducing players like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack this season, the Padres' extensive list of prospects in the wings serves as a reminder that their waves of talent continue to approach The Show. After making his big league debut for the Padres in September, Urias is at the crest of the newest one, and he'll probably be back in the Majors sooner rather than later.

San Diego's No. 3 prospect was projected to begin the year in the Majors, but the offseason acquistion of veteran infielder Ian Kinsler and Tatis' outstanding spring campaign led the team to start Urias in Triple-A. The 21-year-old -- who rates a 70 grade on the 20-to-80 scouting scale for offense -- struggled at the plate in Cactus League action this spring, batting .224 with an OBP of .309.
Urias' best position is second base -- he played all 12 of his Major League games last year there -- yet the majority of his reps over the spring came at shortstop. Urias plugged away at both those aspects of his game this spring. 
"I'm working on a lot of things defensively," baseball's No. 23 overall prospect said. "I want to focus on being confident at short, all the plays and positions that I play I have to learn about that. ... Obviously, hitting is always important. I felt like I was struggling ... but I'm still working on it."
A couple of weeks after Urias made his debut last year, he pulled his left hamstring trying to leg out a grounder. A setback in the rehab process led to him being unable to play in the Mexican Pacific League during the offseason, which may have contributed to his slow start in the spring. Regardless, Urias has shown he can make easy work of the Pacific Coast League. In 120 games for Triple-A El Paso in 2018, he posted a line of .296/.398/.447 with eight home runs and 30 doubles.
"The most important thing to me right now is to stay healthy," Urias said. "I couldn't end my season last year the way I wanted to, so I'm trying to stay in good form to stay through the season."
Back and healthy: MacKenzie Gore, LHP
The ceiling is high for the game's No. 25 overall prospect. Drafted third overall in 2017, Gore was plagued by lingering blisters in his first full season of pro ball with Class A Fort Wayne. Eventually, he was shut down for the season in August. The second-ranked Padres prospect didn't have his best stuff last season, posting a 2-5 record with 4.45 ERA over 60 innings, but a strong spring in Minor League camp showed he's more than ready for a turnaround. 
"You can't control the injuries, but I think the way he approached it last year was really good," San Diego senior director of player development Sam Geaney said. "I think it was frustrating for him, but this is a guy who flashes plus to well-above average stuff across the board. He has tremendous command and is a tremendous athlete."

Expectations persist that with four above-average offerings -- fastball, curveball, slider and changeup -- Gore could be a steady front-of-the-rotation arm. The Padres are loaded with left-handed talent, but few have this kind of upside.
"He's very much back to his old self," Geaney said, "We want to see him take the baseball every fifth or sixth day and just be himself. He's tremendously talented and gifted, and if he does that, he's going to be really successful this year."
Breakout prospect: Hudson Potts, 3B
Originally drafted as a shortstop but converted to a third baseman, Potts will need to show flexibility defensively now that San Diego has locked up the hot corner via Manny Machado for the foreseeable future. He did just that, earning considerable playing time at both second and third in his first big league spring. Known for his offensive power, Potts batted a combined .260/.335/.455 with 19 homers and 63 RBIs between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A El Paso last year. Although he struggled to break the Mendoza line during Spring Training (.176/.176/.382 in 16 games), the 20-year-old slugged two home runs and made an impression on San Diego. 
"We're really pleased with the way he goes about his work, the way he attacks challenges and the way he plays the game," Padres manager Andy Green said. "Obviously, the power is impressive. We all feel really confident in the organization that he's going to be a great player for us."

The club's No. 15 prospect, who was the No. 24 overall pick in the 2016 Draft, will continue to see time at third and second in the Minors. San Diego feels it's imperative to make room for him, wherever that may be.
"We exposed him to second base in camp and he'll get more exposure as time goes on," Green added. "We'll find out his versatility and put him in a position to be impactful for us, because we really like him."
At the crossroads: Cal Quantrill, RHP
This will be the first season in which Quantrill -- who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 -- takes the mound without an innings limit. The Padres' No. 12 prospect logged 116 innings in 2017 and 148 last year, with no signs of any lingering issues. But 2019 figures to be an important year for the 2016 first-rounder, who competed for a rotation spot in Spring Training. His best pitches are his fastball and changeup, but he's been inconsistent with his secondary offerings. 

"We've seen flashes of really good secondary stuff," Geaney said. "His slider has gotten a lot better."
After a promotion to Triple-A El Paso near the end of last season, the son of 14-year Major League veteran Paul Quantrill went 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA in six starts. Provided he can harness his slider and curveball, he could be a nice midseason addition to the big league rotation.
Full-season debutant: Ryan Weathers, LHP
The son of former big leaguer David Weathers was selected with the seventh overall pick in last year's Draft and has climbed quickly up the prospect rankings, sitting 10th among Padres and 92nd overall. The 18-year-old from Tenneessee made four starts in the Class A Short Season Northwest League before finishing last season with Fort Wayne.
"This is a very polished young left-handed pitcher," Geaney said. "He throws a ton of strikes. Even amongst a group of really talented pitchers that our group has assembled over here, he stands out his for his ability to throw the ball where he wants it."

More to keep an eye on: Luis Patiño (RHP, No 48 overall) dominated in the Midwest League last season, posting a 6-3 record with a 2.16 ERA and 98 strikeouts over 83 1/3 innings. The 19-year-old posseses a 65-grade fastball and a 60-grade slider. ... Left-hander Logan Allen (No. 74 overall) was intriguing as a non-roster invitee in big league camp, establishing himself as a strong rotation candidate. He possesses a solid four-pitch mix, along with strength and durability. ... Right-hander Anderson Espinoza (No. 13) faced live hitters in mid-March for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017. Still penciled in as a starter, the Padres will monitor his innings in 2019 and re-evaluate if necessary.
Most home runs in the system: Potts
Most stolen bases: Xavier Edwards
Most strikeouts: Michel Baez
Current prospect to get most Major League playing time: Urias
Non-Top 100 prospect to end 2019 in the Top 100: Pedro Avila

Katie Woo is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo.