San Diego Padres Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects 2023

Chris Clegg ranks the San Diego Padres top prospects.

The San Diego Padres farm system looks much different than it did a year ago. The organization has pushed its chips in and moved top prospects to acquire the likes of Juan Soto, Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, and Josh Hader. While that meant seeing top prospects James Wood, CJ Abrams, Robert Hassell, MacKenzie Gore, and others leave the system, the team is primed for a World Series run. The system may seem a bit bare, but there are still some intriguing prospects for fantasy among the San Diego Padres’ top prospects.

 

San Diego Padres Top Prospects for Fantasy Baseball

*For consistency with other top prospect articles, Ethan Salas was not included, though he would slot in fourth in the system.

1. Jackson Merrill, SS

Age: 19/2022 Stats (Rk/A): 227 AB/.339/.395/.511/6 HR/11 SB/38 R/40 RBI

The Padres’ 2021 first round pick, Jackson Merrill, had a strong debut at the complex in 2021, but really took things to the next level in 2022. The helium has moved him higher in rankings all offseason, and there is a good reason behind it. Not only did he dominate from a statistical standpoint, but all the underlying data backs it. Despite being 6’3/195, Merrill still has a bit of projection left in his frame. He already showed improved strength this year as he posted solid exit velocities and hard-hit rates. Merrill’s flaw is that he hits the ball on the ground too often.

It may concern you to know that Merrill’s ground ball rate last season was over 59 percent. But, there did to seem to be tangible improvement when I saw him in the Arizona Fall League. When watching his swing there seemed to be a conscious effort to lift the ball by dropping his back shoulder some. His swing is beautiful and he makes elite zone contact at nearly a 90 percent rate. There is also some speed that he turns into stolen bases. If you want a detailed writeup, I would encourage you to go check out Tieran Alexander’s article on Prospects Live.

 

2. Dylan Lesko, RHP

Age: 19/2022 Stats: Did Not Pitch

Dylan Lesko was labeled one of the best prep pitchers in the 2022 draft class by many. He was arguably the best prep arm we have seen in years. Unfortunately, his senior season ended early due to Tommy John Surgery. If he were healthy, Lesko likely would have been a sure fire top-ten pick. Instead, he fell to 15 to the Padres.

Lesko won National Player of the Year honors as a junior after pitching 60 innings with a 0.35 ERA and 112 strikeouts. Lesko is highly athletic and features a big fastball that sits mid-90s and can get to 98 mph. He locates it well up in the zone. Lesko’s curve is a high spinning 12-6 that still needs refining but flashes being plus. As good as his fastball is, Lesko’s changeup may be his best pitch as it gets nice fade. Lesko will likely debut late in 2023 and has a chance to fly up rankings if he shows strong health coming back from Tommy John. Just watch the video in the Tweet from Josh Norris and come away impressed!

 

3. Samuel Zavala, OF

Age: 18/2022 Stats (Rk/A): 151 AB/.272/.366/.530/8 HR/5 SB/30 R/32 RBI

Samuel Zavala is one of my favorite breakout prospects for 2023. The Padres outfielder was just 17 years old when complex ball began last year. Despite being young for both the complex and Low-A, that did not slow him down as Zavala posted an impressive .272/.366/.530 slash. He adds power and good instincts on the base paths as well.

The exit velocities that Zavala posted for his age were extremely impressive. While he did struggle a bit with contact, he made it work. The batting average was solid, but Zavala will need to show improved contact as he moves up the minors. But, there is major breakout potential here if all clicks right.

 

4. Eguy Rosario, 2B

Age: 23/2022 Stats (AAA): 490 AB/.288/.368/.508/22 HR/21 SB/98 R/81 RBI

Eguy Rosario, pronounced “Egg-E,” has probably been underrated for some time. While being a bit undersized at 5’9/150, Rosario gets to more power than you might expect. Rosario’s home run totals did get a boost from playing in the hitter-friendly PCL, but he still posted exit velocities that were above average among Minor Leaguers. While he makes solid zone contact, he still chases at a high rate. His best asset for fantasy purposes is his speed, and he could regularly steal 15 bases. The profile is not sexy and despite not having standout tools, Rosario just gets the job done. He could be a utility bat in the Majors and could have seasons that approach 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases.

 

5. Victor Lizarraga, RHP

Age: 19/2022 Stats (A): 94.1 IP/3.43 ERA/1.28 WHIP/95 K

The more I watched and researched Victor Lizarraga, the more he moved up my ranks. He spent the 2022 season as an 18-year-old in Low-A, where he showed plenty of dominance. The tall and lean righty features a fastball, curve, and changeup with his changeup being arguably his best pitch. Lizarraga’s fastball has some inconsistencies but sits in the low-90s with room to add velocity. His changeup gets nice arm side fading action. The pitch would play up if he gains velocity on his fastball to get better separation. His curve is a pitch that still needs work but has potential. It is important to remember we are talking about someone who was 18 and showed consistency on the mound. He pounds the strike zone and with some refining of his arsenal could really move up the rankings.

 

6. Adam Mazur, RHP

Age: 21/2022 Stats: Did Not Pitch

Adam Mazur was the Padres’ second-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. Mazur’s first two college seasons at South Dakota State was far from ideal, but a strong showing the Cape Cod League led Iowa to offer him a transfer spot in their class. Mazur was highly impressive, showing a fastball that sits in the mid-90s (and gets up to 99 mph). His slider is a dominant swinging strike pitch that can reach 90 mph. He also mixes in a distinct 12-6 curve and a changeup with nice fade. Command was an issue in the past, but Mazur’s season at Iowa seemed to put some of that behind him. The Padres were impressed with his instructs performance so we will see if the 2022 improvements carry over into games in 2023.

 

7. Robby Snelling, LHP

Age: 19/2022 Stats: Did Not Pitch

Robby Snelling is an impressive athlete who was committed to LSU for both baseball and football. He was a four-star linebacker recruit, but the Padres paid him well above slot at pick 39 to get him to sign. Snelling saw his velocity tick up several mph his senior year, and it continued in instructs this fall. Snelling has a high-spinning curve ball that generates plenty of swings and misses. His changeup still needs work, but he was able to dominate prep hitters without it. The development of that pitch will carry him a long way to being a starter. Snelling has a bulldog mentality on the mound that you might expect from a linebacker on the football field. His delivery is repeatable and he can throw strikes regularly. His 2023 season could be a big step forward in his development as he focuses on baseball only.

 

8. Daniel Montesino, OF

Age: 19/2022 Stats: Did Not Play

Daniel Montesino was a popular breakout pick after a strong debut in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old in 2021. Unfortunately, he did not play during the 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery. Montesino generates easy power from the left side and does not chase pitches out of the zone often. There are some swing-and-miss concerns but in the DSL, he did walk 43 times to just 53 strike outs. 2023 will be a big season for Montesino as he returns from Tommy John and looks to build on the 2021 DSL performance.

 

9. Nathan Martorella, 1B

Age: 22/2022 Stats (Rk/A): 90 AB/.322/.421/.511/3 HR/14 R/21 RBI

Nathan Martorella has not got much love for FYPDs this year, but in deep leagues, you should target Martorella everywhere. The California University product dominated in 2022, which earned him a fifth-round selection by the Padres. The lefty has a short and compact swing, but generates plenty of power from his 6’1/225 frame. Last season at Cal, he walked more than he struck out and slashed .333/.424/.553 with 11 home runs. That success continued into pro ball after being drafted. Martorella slashed .322/.421/.511 with three home runs in 90 at-bats. Martorella should be drafted in deep leagues in FYPD. His impressive combo of exit velocities and zone contact reminds me of early Kyle Manzardo.

 

10. Jay Groome, LHP

Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 144 IP/3.44 ERA/1.33 WHIP/140 K

Jay Groome has had quite the long road that has led to here. Groome was a highly regarded prep prospect who the Red Sox drafted in the first round of 2016. Tommy John kept him out of games in 2018 and 2019. The pandemic set him back another year in 2020. Groome finally settled in nicely in 2022 and pitched a full season as posted solid numbers. Groome does not have elite stuff, but is more of a sum-of-the-parts pitcher. The expectations have fallen significantly over the years, but there is a chance that he could get some starts in San Diego this season.

 

11. Henry Williams, RHP

Age: 21/2022 Stats: Did Not Pitch

What do you know? The Padres took a fourth straight pitcher in the 2022 MLB Draft, and that pitcher was Henry Williams. Williams spent most of this time at Duke injured and pitched a total of 37.2 innings. Tommy John Surgery kept him out all of 2022 but the Padres felt there was more upside to be had with Williams. He has a big, athletic frame and throws strikes consistently. His fastball ranges from 90-95, depending on the start. He mixes in a slider and a changeup in his arsenal as well. There are still major questions on what Henry Williams will be as a pitcher, but pre-Tommy John Williams showed upside.

 

12. Yendry Rojas, SS

Age: 18/2022 Stats (DSL): 154 AB/.279/.373/.357/0 HR/14 SB/29 R/18 RBI

Yendry Rojas caught my eye with his elite zone contact rate in the Dominican Summer League last year. Rojas walked more than he struck out and shows good awareness of the strike zone. His power was non-existent last year, but as a 17-year-old with a projectable body, there is room for growth. There are still many question marks here with Rojas, but I am willing to take a chance in deep leagues and see how Rojas develops.

 

13. Jackson Wolf, LHP

Age: 23/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 129.2 IP/4.37 ERA/1.18 WHIP/142 K

Jackson Wolf is a huge presence on the mound, standing at 6’7/205. Wolf is a lefty with a huge sweeping slider from a low arm slot. In some ways he has some resemblance of Chris Sale. His fastball likely keeps him from being a dominant starter due to poor velocity. A curveball is also a solid pitch, but without a fastball

 

14. Korry Howell, OF

Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA): 146 AB/.253/.390/.486/6 HR/12 SB/37 R/20 RBI

Korry Howell‘s contact skills are far from ideal, but there is intriguing power and speed. In 2021, he hit 16 home runs and stole 23 bases in just 97 games. In an injured 2022 season, Howell collected 6 home runs and 12 stolen bases across 48 games. Howell posted above-average exit velocities and has speed that grades out above plus. His contact skills will always limit him, but if he can find a way to put it all together there is an intriguing hitter in the profile.

 

15. Nerwilian Cedeno, 2B

Age: 21/2022 Stats (A): 270 AB/.256/.362/.400/6 HR/18 SB/60 R/54 RBI

If you saw Nerwilian Cedeno in public, you might confuse him for CJ Abrams. The body, the hair, his left-handed swing, I legit thought I was looking at Abrams when I first saw Cedeno in the AFL.

Anyways, Cedeno is not a hitter that stands out in any one way. He is a switch hitter, who is stronger from the left side. There is a chance that he could continue to fill out and add more power to his profile. He posted a hard-hit rate north of 35 percent, which is encouraging. Cedeno has average clock speed but good instincts on the base paths. After spending most of 2021 and 2022 injured, Cedeno needs a full season in 2023 to see what kind of hitter he can truly be.

Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)

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