Even after trading for Blake Snell and Yu Darvish this offseason, the San Diego Padres still have one of the top farm systems in the major leagues. Their top prospect MacKenzie Gore is ranked as the number three overall prospect in all of the league on MLB Pipeline. Four of their top five are in the Top 100 on MLB Pipeline and they have found great success with their farm system in recent years. With the perfect combination of homegrown talent and trade acquisitions, young and veterans, they have a real shot at going places this season. Not only that but with their current farm system, they have what it takes to contend for a while. Let’s get into it.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
1. MacKenzie Gore – LHP
Following his senior season at Whiteville High School in North Carolina in which he posted an 11-0 record with a 0.19 ERA and 158/5 strikeout to walk in just 74 1/3 innings, the Padres drafted Gore third overall in the 2017 MLB Draft. The left-hander signed for $6.7 million, but a recurring blister issue limited him to 16 starts in his first full pro season. Gore’s coming-out party was in 2019 when he won MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year, pitching between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A Amarillo. This was awarded to him after he led all pitchers with at least 100 innings in ERA (1.69) and WHIP (0.83), and was second in opponent average (.164) and fifth in strikeout rate (35.7 percent).
Gore is a pure athlete as he consistently repeats a high-leg-kick delivery before exploding towards the plate which generates power behind his pitches. The southpaw’s fastball sits around 92-96 with life which is joined by his mid-70s big-breaking curveball, a mid-80s slider, and late action changeup, to make a terrific repertoire. His changeup is his least used pitch, but it also projects as plus along with the other offerings. He will make his debut this season and will need to learn how to be consistent with his secondary offerings, as he didn’t consistently have multiple pitches working at the same time. But his floor is high and he could definitely develop into an ace in the near future.
2. CJ Abrams – 2B/SS
The Padres selected Abrams with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Blessed Trinity Catholic High School and signed him for $5.2 million. The left-handed shortstop proved the pick worthy in his pro debut, as he won the Rookie Arizona League MVP award after hitting .401/.442/.662 with 23 extra-base hits and 14 steals in 32 games. After which he was called up to Single-A Fort Wayne where he went 2-for-8 with a double, a stolen base, and a walk, in two games.
Abrams’ best tool is his blazing 80-grade speed while his hit tool is nothing to scoff at either. His speed isn’t just in his legs as he has a quick bat and can barrel up pitches to all fields. Abrams has plenty of power potential as well, and if he can tap a little more into that he will be a big threat at the top of the Padres lineup very soon. Fantasy-wise he will be a great asset in redraft and dynasty leagues.
3. Luis Campusano – C
The Padres drafted Campusano as the first catcher in the 2017 MLB Draft at the 39th overall pick, out of Cross Creek High School. He was showing off his raw tools in his pro debut season before having his season cut short after 37 games. That was due to a concussion he suffered in early August. The Padres still assigned him to Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore to start 2019 and he did not disappoint. In his age-20 season, Campusano earned co-MVP honors in the California League after claiming the batting title with a .325 average and finishing second in OPS (.906) and RBI (81). He also established career-highs in home runs (15) and doubles (31), while having almost as many walks (52) as strikeouts (57).
The right-handed catcher has great bat speed and strength while being able to hit the ball on a line. Campusano can barrel up to all fields and will be an above-average hitter, for his position especially, and doesn’t chase many pitches. While he has a plus arm, his defense is behind his bat but he has the athleticism and skills to stick behind the plate. Some more development is needed, of course, but Campusano projects as a solid everyday contributor at the plate and behind it.
4. Ha-Seong Kim – IF
Despite already having Jake Cronenworth – NL Rookie of the Year finalist – and phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. at second base and shortstop, respectively, the Padres went out and signed Kim to a four-year deal this offseason out of the KBO. He isn’t the traditional prospect. He will use up his rookie eligibility very quickly because he should get into the everyday lineup right away. The 25-year-old Kim excelled in the KBO over the last six years. He recorded a .294 overall average and had a 162-game pace of 24 homers and 24 steals. He probably won’t be able to translate this to the majors but he has intriguing abilities that could make him a stud in the league. Kim has raw power and a 15/15 season is certainly possible. His speed is definitely something that can translate to the majors and he should be able to hit around .260 with at least 15 mashed taters. It may take some time for him to adjust as he makes his debut. But once he is comfortable he should thrive.
5. Robert Hassell III – OF
San Diego drafted Hassell eighth overall in last year’s draft as the best pure high school bat in the class. The Padres always look to grab players with advanced hit tools. Hassell showed off his tools by leading the U.S. national team in almost every offensive category at the under-18 World Cup in South Korea in September. He slashed .514/.548/.886 with his majestic left-handed swing and barrelling ability. The youngster can line the ball to all fields. However, he can sometimes have too much uppercut in his swing instead of just swinging naturally. Hassell still has raw power and if he taps into it he can be one of the most dangerous power hitters in the league. In addition to that, he also has great plate discipline. If he sticks to his swing, he will develop and fill out into more power. He has the arm to play any outfield position while his fielding is also plus.
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