As part of the new rules for the 2020 Major League season, each of the 30 organizations will maintain a 60-man player pool for the duration of the campaign. Some members of the player pool will feature on the active Major League roster while others will work out at an alternate training site in the hopes of staying fresh for a potential call up or getting in much-needed development time.
The MiLB.com staff is rounding up the notable prospects in each organization’s 60-man player pool and analyzing what the new system will mean for their 2020 seasons.
Padres general manager A.J. Preller's long-standing affinity for prospects was apparent upon announcement of the team's player pool. Nineteen of San Diego's top 30 prospects -- along with 2020 first-rounder Robert Hassell III -- made the cut. In fact, the Padres sport a National League high with their 14 highest prospects on the roster.
While a majority of these roster moves account for critical development in an otherwise-lost Minor League season, a few of them have a legitimate chance in landing a Major League callup. The club's prized pitching duo of MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patiño, along with fifth-ranked Taylor Trammell, stand at the top of that list, and players such as Owen Miller, Edward Olivares and Jorge Mateo could all be considered in more dire circumstances.
Long considered one of the top Minor League systems in the game, the Padres seem ready to propel some of their self-proclaimed "Hot Talent Lava" onto baseball's main stage -- and clearly, they have plenty of it.
MacKenzie Gore, LHP -- The top pitching prospect in the game may be on his way to his highly anticipated (to put it lightly) Major League debut, but only if the Padres feel they really need it. San Diego has a solid rotation and an even more sturdy bullpen, but if the organization dubs Gore as one of its top 12 arms, the 21-year-old could be added to the official roster at some point -- especially in a "sprint-like" 60-game season. The Padres' No. 1 prospect has yet to reach Triple-A, but his 2019 numbers were nothing short of dominant. In 15 games for Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore, Gore posted a paltry 1.02 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP, racking up 110 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings. He was promoted to the Texas League in July, when he notched five more starts before being shut down for the rest of the season. The 2017 first-round pick did not yield an earned run in three of those outings and added 25 more K's through 21 1/3 frames. Among Minor League pitchers with at least 100 innings, Gore posted a first-place ERA of 1.69, had the second-lowest average-against at .164 and recorded a fifth-best strikeout percentage at 35.7. As a result, he wrapped up the 2019 campaign as MiLB.com's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The prolific southpaw also got a taste of facing big league hitters this spring -- he needed just eight pitches to retire the side against the Mariners in his first Cactus League outing in March. Before COVID-19 concerns realigned the season, a midseason callup was likely for Gore anyway. Should the Padres find themselves in contention, expect Gore to be there too.
CJ Abrams, SS -- San Diego's first-round pick in the 2019 Draft, Abrams' inclusion in the pool is strictly for developmental reasons. At 19 years old, Abrams already possesses an elite 80-grade speed, and he truly hit the ground running in his professional debut last year. The No. 25 overall prospect was crowned the Rookie-level Arizona League's Most Valuable Player with a .401/.442/.662 slash line and swiped 14 bags through 32 games. Abrams played in two games with Class A Fort Wayne to end the year, going 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a stolen base in his final contest. The club's second-ranked prospect utilizes a quality left-handed bat with room to grow and his dynamic speed allows him the versatility to play multiple positions on the diamond -- although the Padres are confident he'll be able to stick at shortstop.
Luis Patiño, RHP -- The latter half of San Diego's cherished pair, Patino also could factor into the 2020 pitching formula. Whether that's as a starter, reliever or somewhere in between remains to be seen. The 20-year-old made 18 appearances (17 starts) for Lake Elsinore, recording a 2.69 ERA and an 11.7 strikeout-per-nine-inning rate. The No. 8 overall right-hander followed Gore to Double-A Amarillo, where he logged two more starts -- giving up just one run over both outings. He made two appearances this spring and had been training through the hiatus with Major Leaguer Jose Quintana to stay sharp. In a normal season, a midseason callup wouldn't have been out of the question for Patiño. Now it's beginning to look a little more in his favor.
Luis Campusano, C -- After a breakout 2019 campaign, Campusano's inclusion on the pool roster is more about continuing his development. The 21-year-old delivered the best season of his professional career in the California League last year -- he played all of his 110 games at Lake Elsinore, where he belted a career-high 15 homers and 31 doubles. Campusano also earned plenty of hardware: His .325 average was good enough to land him the circuit's batting title, MiLB.com named him an organization All-Star, and he was crowned the league's co-MVP. Behind the dish, the game's fourth-best catching prospect has been making waves of improvement. In 77 games, Campusano allowed only four passed balls, but threw out just 29 percent of runners. Still, the Padres are pleased with his overall progression, and if both sides of his game continue to climb as projected, he could unseat Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia sooner rather than later.
Taylor Trammell, OF -- Perhaps the prospect with the highest odds of cracking the big league roster, Trammell used a rather lackluster 2019 season as motivation this year -- and he made quite the impression during the spring in his first Cactus League with the Friars. In the offseason, the team's fifth-ranked prospect told MiLB.com he "was glad" he went through a frustrating trial last year -- a season in which he was traded from Cincinnati that ultimately ended with a Texas League championship-clinching grand slam. After joining the Padres, Trammell posted a slash line of .229/.316/.381 -- considerably lower than his career averages. But as a non-roster invitee to big league camp, the No. 57 overall prospect raced to a .391 average and a 1.049 OPS to boot, catching first-year manager Jayce Tingler's eye with his "overall baseball IQ" while doing so. Tommy Pham, Wil Myers and Trent Grisham are all but a lock on the Opening Day roster, with Franchy Cordero and Josh Naylor sliding in after, but with the National League introducing a designated hitter this season, Trammell could beat the odds and sneak in.
Adrian Morejon, LHP -- 2019 was a roller-coaster year for Morejon, who battled injuries in the Texas League before skipping the Triple-A level completely and making his Major League debut on July 21. He logged just eight big league innings before being shut down for the season with shoulder impingement. Injuries have plagued the 21-year-old for most of his career, but San Diego remains encouraged by his "stuff" -- including a 60-grade fastball and a curveball. Before his callup, the sixth-ranked Friars prospect tossed 36 innings and recorded a 4.25 ERA, but he limited opposing hitters to a .215 average while posting an 11.0 strikeout-per-nine-inning rate.
Michel Baez, RHP -- Baez also made the jump to the big leagues from Double-A last year. In 15 relief appearances for the Sod Poodles, the 24-year-old put up a 3-2 record with a 2.00 ERA over 25 innings. At a hulking 6-foot-8, Baez's presence on the mound is rather intimidating. He found some success in the Majors after his callup, establishing himself as a solid relief option in a charged Padres bullpen. The native of Havana, Cuba, put up a 3.03 ERA through 29 2/3 frames. He also looked sharp this spring, Baez allowed just one earned run and struck out five in three appearances.
Gabriel Arias, SS -- A surprise non-roster invitee to big league camp this spring, the 20-year-old was coming off a breakout 2019 season in the California League. Arias put up a career-best .302 average and .809 OPS while legging out 21 doubles and four triples for Lake Elsinore. San Diego's No. 8 prospect also showed a major power boost with 17 homers -- which nearly tripled his previous Minor League total combined. Prized for his defense, Arias is a shortstop by nature, but could play second base as well. The Padres would like to see him continue to progress at the plate, and if he does that, he could be a solid backup behind Fernando Tatis Jr. in the next two years.
Ryan Weathers, LHP -- San Diego wasn't too concerned by a flat second-half performance by its 2018 first-rounder, attributing the 20-year-old's high numbers to fatigue in his first full professional season. (In his 12 second-half starts, the southpaw went 1-6 with a 4.42 ERA for Class A Fort Wayne.) Still, 2020 was poised to be a crucial year development-wise for the Friars' ninth-ranked prospect. His fastball command is still strong, and with an addition to the pool roster, he will have ample opportunity to work on his secondary pitches.
Joey Cantillo, LHP -- Another impressive lefty in the Padres system, Cantillo dazzled in the Midwest League, boasting a 9-3 record with a 1.93 ERA and an 0.87 WHIP for the TinCaps prior to his promotion to the California League in August. Cantillo is only 20 and has plenty of potential to work on. San Diego is eager to see how the Hawaii native can improve his offspeed pitches, and with his inclusion on the roster, he should get plenty of direction to do so.
The utility-player selection in the Padres' Organization All-Stars, the defensive versatility of the team's No. 11 prospect Owen Miller combined with his alluring offensive stroke makes him an appealing fill-in candidate should San Diego need him. ... Tucupita Marcano (No. 12) is another solid middle infielder who can hit for contact, although the Padres hope his arm can develop a bit more. ... Recently acquired from Oakland, Jorge Mateo became San Diego's No. 13 prospect. Renowned for his speed, the 25-year-old could break camp in a bench role, but his streaky reputation in the Minors could affect that. ... Five-tool player Hudson Head (No. 14) posted a .283/.383/.417 line in his pro debut in the Arizona League. At 19, he's already an up-and-coming prospect to watch in the organization. ... Ronald Bolanos (No. 16) made his Major League debut last season for the Friars, striking out 19 in 19 1/3 innings, and he could factor into the back end of the bullpen equation. ... Two-way player Jake Cronenworth (No. 18) made his way to San Diego midseason after being traded from Tampa Bay. He had a breakout year offensively for Triple-A Durham with a .329 average and a .934 OPS. San Diego has the 26-year-old listed as an infielder, but he could swing his way on the roster as a right-handed bat. ... Edward Olivares(No. 20) ripped a .283/.349/.453 line in the Texas League and is well on his way to establishing himself as another quality outfield option. ... Originally a highly touted shortstop prospect, Javy Guerra (No. 24) never quite got it going offensively, but he's reinvented himself as a right-handed reliever and posted a 3.38 ERA in his first pro season on the mound. ... David Bednar, the club's 30th-ranked prospect, is yet another pitcher who skipped Triple-A and landed in San Diego last season, striking out 14 hitters over 11 frames. ... Hassell and 2020 third-rounder Cole Wilcox also included on the 60-man roster. ... The Padres currently have 53 of their 60 spots filled and are expected to finish slotting in players in the next few days.
Katie Woo is an editorial producer for Minor League Baseball. Follow her on twitter at @katiejwoo.